Sunday, July 31, 2011

Recent Contest Winners

For the Haydock Bible: Inigo Montoya who wrote on Philippians

For your Top 5 Bibles: Chrysostom

If both of you could send me an email with your actual name and address, I will send your prizes out to you early this week. You can find my email on the right, under the "About Me' section.

Thank you to all who entered these contests. I must say that these two contests were the toughest to judge so far. I definitely enjoyed reading your submissions. Well done!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Top 5 Catholic Bibles #5

The Douay-Rheims: Still a classic

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil." -Matthew 6:9-13 (DR)

The Douay-Rheims (DR) remains a classic, even today. Much like the King James Version, which was published shortly after the DR, the DR maintains a devoted following centuries after being produced. Since languages change over time, the DR has been "updated" at various points in her history. Some of the changes to the DR have been more extensive than others. Blessed Newman wrote a very helpful history about the various editions of the venerable DR, which you can read here.

Translation Philosophy 3/5
In many ways, the DR is probably the most literal/formal of all the available Catholic Bibles in English. The DR, unlike the others in this Top 5, was translated directly from the Latin, with some consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek. The online Catholic Encyclopedia has a wonderful article examining a number of the particularities of the translation. The article notes that "In the translation, many technical words were retained bodily, such as pasch, parasceve, azymes, etc. In some instances, also where it was found difficult or impossible to find a suitable English equivalent for a Latin word, the latter was retained in an anglicized form. Thus in Phil., ii, 8, we get He exinanited himself, and in Hebrews 9:28, Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many." This type of formal translation can certainly be helpful, since there is no NASB equivalent for Catholics. As stated earlier, the DR has been "updated" at various points in history, which means that most editions available today are not the original. The Challoner revision is the most extensive and for many the one that is contained in their DR edition. For a brief note on the changes made by Challoner, one can be read about them here. Finally, while the Church has declared the DR free from doctrinal error, this does not necessarily make it a more accurate translation than any of the more modern versions. (Jimmy Akin has provided an interesting article on this subject.)

One other note on the translation, which clearly does not employ inclusive language. However, through my praying of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I noticed that the edition of the DR used does, at least in one instance, use inclusive language in Psalm 126: "Children are an heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb a reward. Like as arrows in the hand of the mighty one: so are the children of those who have been cast out." Note that the Latin filii is translated children, which is often rendered as "sons". See the RSV, NRSV, and NABRE.

Readability 2/5
Archaic English is used throughout, which can make reading for long periods difficult for those who are not familiar with it. Personally, while I can work through the archaic language, it does slow things down slightly. I say this as one who prays the traditional Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary everyday, which uses the Douay-Rheims Psalter. In addition to the "thees" and "thous" there are words like "peradventure", "holpen", "superadded", among others that are not used much these days, which can slow down reading. This I grant you is all dependent on a person's preferences, but from my own personal reading and ministry work, the DR can be difficult for use in most situations.

Available Formats 1/5
The DR is still available from a number of Catholic publishers, most notably Baronius and Saint Benedict Press. (It is also available for Kindle.) Saint Benedict Press, in particular, has produced editions which are a bit more attractive than the usual facsimile reproductions. However, if one looks at what is available for a comparative translation, like the KJV, there is no question that the DR does not receive the same treatment as the the KJV. While there are KJV youth Bibles on the market, I wonder if there is a market for a Douay-Rheims version. In addition, I should also mention the Vulgate Bible project from Harvard University Press and the editions from Ex Fontibus Company. Overall, however, there is not much new for those who would like to go further with the DR. There are no DR study Bibles, thinlines, youth Bibles, etc... In many ways, this is a shame.

Miscellaneous 2/5
With the expanded use of the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy, it is clear that the DR will remain alive and well in some capacity. There is also a renewed interest in the older pre-Vatican II breviaries, like the Little Office, which utilize the DR. But outside of more traditional Catholic circles, the DR is rarely used. I have led a number of Bible studies over the past few years and only a total of two people have ever brought a DR to the study. One wonders if there would be interest in an "update" to the DR, much like the NKJV is to the KJV. There is certainly no indication from the Vatican that future Scriptural translations into the vernacular are going to be based on the Latin, as opposed to the original languages. So, then, is there a future for the DR?

Conclusion 8/20
While I have ranked the DR #5, this does not mean I find it unacceptable for use or not worthwhile to have as reference. I have an early 20th century hardbound version, which I found at a used bookstore, that I consider a treasure. However, ever since the publication of Divino Afflante Spiritu, the course of Catholic Biblical studies has taken a definitive turn to emphasizing the original languages in research and translation.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Top 5 Criteria

In the coming days I will begin listing my top 5 favorite Catholic Bible translations in English. Before I begin, however, I want to list three considerations which will be factored into my rankings:

1) The five translations that I have chosen to rank are the Douay-Rheims, NABRE, New Jerusalem Bible, New Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition, and the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition. The rankings are limited to these five, since all of them come in Catholic editions and are easily available. This would exclude translations like the ESV w/Apocrypha, which does not come in a Catholic edition, and the original Jerusalem Bible, which is not easily available in its original edition. I should also note that I will consider the RSV-CE and the RSV-2CE as one translation, since the work Ignatius did was simply to eliminate archaic langauge and make the occasional change to a possible rendering due to theological or liturgical needs/desires. In the end, it is the same translation, certainly not equivalent to what they did with the ESV.

2) I just want to emphasize again that this top 5 is from my own perspective. I am sure many, if not most of you, will disagree with me, which I accept and in some ways expect! My perspective is formed by my own use of these translations for personal study and devotion, as well as my experiences teaching at the high school and leading Bible studies.

3) I will be "judging" these translations in four specific categories: 1) Translation philosophy; 2) Readability; 3) Available formats; 4) Miscellaneous issues. Translation philosophy will briefly look at how formal/literal a translation each is, with my preference for a reasonably formal translation, along with considering the use of archaic and inclusive language. Readability is probably the most subjective of the categories, since it will analyze how a translation has been used, in my experience, for longer sittings of reading as well as public reading. In this category, I will also look at the consistency of the translation from Old to New Testament. The third category will examine the available editions for each translation, including page formats, covers, styles, and the use of textual notes/cross-references. The final category will cover miscellaneous issue, like a translation's use in the Liturgy and scholarly books, it's ecumenical background, and considerations on what the future holds for that particular translation.

While I am sure few will agree 100% with my thoughts, I figure this will spark a nice conversation during the usually quiet summer months. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Top 5 Catholic Bible Translations Preview

If any of you were reading this blog almost three years ago, one of my first posts was a list of my Top 5 Catholic Bible translations. At the time, I think perhaps my future wife and a co-worker were the only two who did! Well, a lot has changed over these past three years in regards to English language Catholic Bibles. I have certainly learned a great deal through my own studies and experiences in personal reading and ministry work, as well as through many numerous posts by all of you who taken the time to stop by this blog. Three years ago, I ranked the RSV, NRSV, NAB, NJB, and Douay-Rheims. I think it is time to revisit that top 5 list. So, over the next week or so, I am going to list my new Top 5. This is, of course, only one man's perspective, so I certainly don't think everyone will agree with me. And who knows, three years from now it could change.

So, I will open the comments up on this post for your top 5 favorite Catholic Bible translations into English. Please give a short reason why for each. Perhaps I will pick my favorite entry, who will then get a free box of Catholic Bible goodies.

(BTW, the summer contest for the Haydock Bible ends Saturday night, so get your entries in!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The biblical formation of Christians

In order to achieve the goal set by the Synod, namely, an increased emphasis on the Bible in the Church’s pastoral activity, all Christians, and catechists in particular, need to receive suitable training. Attention needs to be paid to the biblical apostolate, which is a very valuable means to that end, as the Church’s experience has shown. The Synod Fathers also recommended that, possibly through the use of existing academic structures, centres of formation should be established where laity and missionaries can be trained to understand, live and proclaim the word of God. Also, where needed, specialized institutes for biblical studies should be established to ensure that exegetes possess a solid understanding of theology and an appropriate appreciation for the contexts in which they carry out their mission.
-Verbum Domini 75

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Contest: The Haydock Bible (The Douay-Rheims Old and New Testament)

Yes, I am giving away the two volume, paperback, edition of the Haydock Bible. (Please note that this is not the one-volume, but rather two volume paperback edition.). This over 150 year old commentary is full of quotes from the Fathers and includes the Douay-Rheims translation. Winner will receive this classic free of charge, including shipping.

So here are the contest rules:

1) If you have a blog, please advertise this contest on your site. (If you don't, you can still enter the contest.)

2) This contest is only for people who are in the United States or Canada. (Again, overseas shipping costs are a bit too high for me right now. Sorry. Plus this prize would cost even more due to it's size!)

3) The question you need to answer in the comment box:
If you could only have one book of the Bible what would it be? Why?

4) Responses should be limited to no more than five sentences.

5) The contest ends on Saturday July 30 11:59PM EST.

6) One entry per person. You must leave a name at the end of your comment.

7) I will announce the winner on Sunday July 31. The winner can then email me their address.

Friday, July 22, 2011

NRSV Editions Update

Recently I have been corresponding at the NRSV Facebook page with a representative from HarperOne/ He let me know that there are indeed plans to publish an NRSV Reference Bible in the near future, as well as new editions of the NRSV-CE. This is certainly good news, particularly for those of us who have been seeking more NRSV editions with cross-references. It seems that the NRSV will continue to be published in many more attractive editions into the future. I have been told by a few people that their NRSV line has sold well over the past year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NIV 2011 Study Bible Samples

Those of you interested in the upcoming NIV 2011 Study Bible can see some sample pages here. Visually, it looks fantastic and measures up well compared to the ESV and NLT study Bibles. Would love to see this kind of production value in a future Catholic study Bible.

"Your Reading Canon" Results

I am back from a short family vacation, so let's take a look at the results from the "Your Reading Canon" post from last week. A number of these books, not surprisingly, proved to be the most popular:

Old Testament
1) Psalms (the most popular)
2) Genesis
3) Tobit
4a) Exodus
4b) Sirach

New Testament
1) John
2) Romans
3) Luke
4a) Matthew
4b) Mark
5a) Acts
5b) James
6a) Hebrews
6b) 1 Peter

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

The biblical dimension of catechesis

An important aspect of the Church’s pastoral work which, if used wisely, can help in rediscovering the centrality of God’s word is catechesis, which in its various forms and levels must constantly accompany the journey of the People of God. Luke’s description (cf. Lk 24:13-35) of the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus represents, in some sense, the model of a catechesis centred on “the explanation of the Scriptures”, an explanation which Christ alone can give (cf. Lk 24:27-28), as he shows that they are fulfilled in his person. The hope which triumphs over every failure was thus reborn, and made those disciples convinced and credible witnesses of the Risen Lord.

The General Catechetical Directory contains valuable guidelines for a biblically inspired catechesis and I readily encourage that these be consulted. Here I wish first and foremost to stress that catechesis “must be permeated by the mindset, the spirit and the outlook of the Bible and the Gospels through assiduous contact with the texts themselves; yet it also means remembering that catechesis will be all the richer and more effective for reading the texts with the mind and the heart of the Church”, and for drawing inspiration from the two millennia of the Church’s reflection and life. A knowledge of biblical personages, events and well-known sayings should thus be encouraged; this can also be promoted by the judicious memorization of some passages which are particularly expressive of the Christian mysteries. Catechetical work always entails approaching Scripture in faith and in the Church’s Tradition, so that its words can be perceived as living, just as Christ is alive today wherever two or three are gathered in his name (cf. Mt 18:20). Catechesis should communicate in a lively way the history of salvation and the content of the Church’s faith, and so enable every member of the faithful to realize that this history is also a part of his or her own life.

Here it is important to stress the relationship between sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as it is set forth in the General Catechetical Directory: “Sacred Scripture, in fact, as ‘the word of God written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit’, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as a significant contemporary expression of the living Tradition of the Church and a sure norm for teaching the faith, are called, each in its own way and according to its specific authority, to nourish catechesis in the Church today”.

-Verbum Domini 74

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Your Reading Canon

Spurred on by a recent post at the blog New Emmaus, I propose this question to you:
What is your reading canon? Or, in other words, which books of the Bible do you routinely return to more than the others? These would be the ones that you know well and feel most comfortable with: The Biblical canon you read!

Here are mine:

OT: Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Tobit, Psalms, Isaiah, and Daniel.

NT: Mark, John, Romans, Ephesians, James, 1 Peter, and Revelation

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

Letting the Bible inspire pastoral activity

Along these lines the Synod called for a particular pastoral commitment to emphasizing the centrality of the word of God in the Church’s life, and recommended a greater “biblical apostolate”, not alongside other forms of pastoral work, but as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work”. This does not mean adding a meeting here or there in parishes or dioceses, but rather of examining the ordinary activities of Christian communities, in parishes, associations and movements, to see if they are truly concerned with fostering a personal encounter with Christ, who gives himself to us in his word. Since “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”,[255] making the Bible the inspiration of every ordinary and extraordinary pastoral outreach will lead to a greater awareness of the person of Christ, who reveals the Father and is the fullness of divine revelation.

For this reason I encourage pastors and the faithful to recognize the importance of this emphasis on the Bible: it will also be the best way to deal with certain pastoral problems which were discussed at the Synod and have to do, for example, with the proliferation of sects which spread a distorted and manipulative reading of sacred Scripture. Where the faithful are not helped to know the Bible in accordance with the Church’s faith and based on her living Tradition, this pastoral vacuum becomes fertile ground for realities like the sects to take root. Provision must also be made for the suitable preparation of priests and lay persons who can instruct the People of God in the genuine approach to Scripture.

Furthermore, as was brought out during the Synod sessions, it is good that pastoral activity also favour the growth of small communities, “formed by families or based in parishes or linked to the different ecclesial movements and new communities”, which can help to promote formation, prayer and knowledge of the Bible in accordance with the Church’s faith.
-Verbum Domini 73

Friday, July 8, 2011

Update on Oxford's Catholic Study Bible NABRE

I contacted Oxford University Press to find out any additional information about the upcoming The Catholic Study Bible update. Below is their response:

"The publication date for the NABRE revised is early August.
It includes updates taking into account recent archaeological and textual discoveries
It has a complete revision of the Psalter
It has study notes, expanded essays and informational sidebars
It does have a Concordance"

Didn't exactly answer all my questions, like whether or not the essays and reading guide were updated since the second edition, but at least there is confirmation of a new publication date.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some Links of Interest

Thought I would share a few links that I found interesting over the past few days. Thanks to reader Tim and ceflynn for alerting me to a few of them:

Speaking of Scripture on Scripture and Divine Judgment

National Review Online on KJV and tradition

A new English language Orthodox Bible? (Esteban where are you for comment?)

Mark Shea and Fr. Z on the Fr John Corapi debacle

New book: How to Go from Being A Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps by Christian Smith

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mondays with Verbum Domini

Encountering the word of God in sacred Scripture

If it is true that the liturgy is the privileged place for the proclamation, hearing and celebration of the word of God, it is likewise the case that this encounter must be prepared in the hearts of the faithful and then deepened and assimilated, above all by them. The Christian life is essentially marked by an encounter with Jesus Christ, who calls us to follow him. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops frequently spoke of the importance of pastoral care in the Christian communities as the proper setting where a personal and communal journey based on the word of God can occur and truly serve as the basis for our spiritual life. With the Synod Fathers I express my heartfelt hope for the flowering of “a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus”.[248]

Throughout the history of the Church, numerous saints have spoken of the need for knowledge of Scripture in order to grow in love for Christ. This is evident particularly in the Fathers of the Church. Saint Jerome, in his great love for the word of God, often wondered: “How could one live without the knowledge of Scripture, by which we come to know Christ himself, who is the life of believers?”.[249] He knew well that the Bible is the means “by which God speaks daily to believers”.[250] His advice to the Roman matron Leta about raising her daughter was this: “Be sure that she studies a passage of Scripture each day… Prayer should follow reading, and reading follow prayer… so that in the place of jewellery and silk, she may love the divine books”.[251] Jerome’s counsel to the priest Nepotian can also be applied to us: “Read the divine Scriptures frequently; indeed, the sacred book should never be out of your hands. Learn there what you must teach”.[252] Let us follow the example of this great saint who devoted his life to the study of the Bible and who gave the Church its Latin translation, the Vulgate, as well as the example of all those saints who made an encounter with Christ the centre of their spiritual lives. Let us renew our efforts to understand deeply the word which God has given to his Church: thus we can aim for that “high standard of ordinary Christian living”[253] proposed by Pope John Paul II at the beginning of the third Christian millennium, which finds constant nourishment in attentively hearing the word of God.
- Verbum Domini 72

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Reconsideration of the CTS Catholic Bible

Reader Geoff provided a guest review of the CTS Bible a few weeks back. Since then, he has reconsidered some of his comments, so he asked that I allow him to post this follow-up:

In my recent review of the CTS edition of the Jerusalem Bible, I was very negative about the commentaries contained therein. After receiving criticism for this, I decided to conduct more research into acceptable Catholic views on Holy Scripture. I've learned so much over the past month on this subject, and while the historical opinions expressed in the CTS Bible may not be to everyone's personal liking, there is nothing in them contrary to the Catholic Faith.

Fr. Henry Wansbrough, the man responsible for the commentaries, was kind enough to correspond with me by email and clear up some of my confusion. He is a very good and holy priest. I therefore retract my criticism of his historical commentaries. While I do not agree with everything he says, I cannot deny that his work is insightful, even masterful, and certainly orthodox by the judgment of the Church.

Moreover, I must amend my recommendations. The people I've begun teaching in an introductory Bible class love the CTS Bible! Contrary to my previous judgment, it appears to work great for catechesis and evangelism. I kindly ask Tim's readers to forgive my rash assessment of this fine Bible.

Below is a sample of Geoff's correspondence with Fr. Wansbrough, printed with permission fom Geoff:


Dear Fr . Henry,

Thank you so much for editing such a wonderful Bible! I have a question concerning the footnote for Luke 2:2. I've heard a lot of different theories about the census, such as maybe it took place over a period of years and ended once Quirinius became governor of Syria . But the issue ties into a larger inquiry of mine. What is the historical character of the infancy narratives, are they reliable, and is the Church's belief in events such as Jesus' virgin birth and the perpetual virginity of Mary well-founded? Or should there be discussion on re-evaluating our stance on these matters?

Thank you once again for your time and generosity!

Pax Christi,


Dear Geoffrey,

Thank you for your message. Do you expect me to answer all those questions in a quick email?

Briefly, I personally go for the literary solution. Lk wanted to integrate Jesus into contempoarary history, or rather the history of a couple of generations ago, but was not to clear about the details. Pretty good, knowing about the census under Quirinius; he used this to get the holy family to Bethlehem , but got it slightly wrong. Perhaps he confused it with a census when King Herod had blotted his Roman copybook and was no longer exempted from Roman taxes.

It is the firm tradition of the Church that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus had no human father, and that I accept because it is the tradition, going right back behind Mt and Lk. But I do not see that being ‘son of God’ in the biblical sense would be incompatible with having a human father. Furthermore, I think that the important sign value of Mary’s virginity is her total dedication to her Son and to the Lord.

I hope that helps.