Friday, December 28, 2012

Your Allan's Catholic Bible

R. L. Allan, of the UK, is known for producing quality high-end Bibles.  As stated on their website: "Since 1863 we have been producing and selling our own exclusive Allan range of high quality, hand-finished Bibles which are both beautiful and durable. They are probably the finest leather-bound Bibles you can buy."  Indeed, from the reviews I have seen, their Bibles seem to be produced with the utmost care and quality.  However, for those seeking a truly Catholic edition, with all 73 canonical books incorporated, Allan has yet to produce one.  All of their Bibles are Protestant editions, with the closest one a Catholic might get would be the beautiful NRSV in Brown Highland Goatskin.  Of course, this edition does not include the Deuterocanonicals.

So, what is a Catholic to do? Complain of course!  No, not really.  In truth, most have simply found their favorite Bible edition and simply had it rebound by the fine people at Leonards Book Restoration Station.  I have done this and so have quite a few others who have done guest posts on this blog.  But, wouldn't it be nice to be able to purchase a premium edition Catholic Bible?  The closest to this, I maintain, is the NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha from Cambridge.  Yet, again, it isn't truly a Catholic edition. 

So, let's just suppose that Allan's decided to produce a high-end Bible in a Catholic edition.  What would be your dream Allan's Catholic Bible edition?  When answering that question, consider the following questions: 1) Which current translation would you like to see utilized?  (Please stick to a translation that is already published, not one like the proposed ESV-CE which no one is sure will ever actually be published.)  2) What kind of page layout would you like?  3) What, besides the text itself, would you like to see included? 4) What kind of cover?

My choices:
1) NRSV or NABRE (not sure which one to be honest) 
2) Two-columns, center references
3) Nice selection of maps (Cambridge NRSV Reference Edition), concordance, Sunday Mass Readings, and three Bible ribbons
4) Brown Highland Goatskin

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fine Tuning the ICSB and RSV-2CE (Guest Post)

Thanks to guest blogger Jonny for this post.

Fine Tuning For The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible
I am just one of certainly many who deeply appreciate the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.  As a convert from Protestantism, the ICSB provided me with detailed, faithfully Catholic notes to help me understand the Scriptures that had been interpreted to me incorrectly in various ways by many people.  The ICSB and study questions also provided the resource for a group of Catholic men at my parish to have an excellent Catholic Bible study (as the priests are much to busy to lead every small group.)  The RSV-2CE was the most universally acceptable translation for this diverse group.  Cradle Catholics of various ages, Protestant converts, and Traditionalists could find common ground in acceptance of this translation.  Also, the ICSB notes and study questions complemented and enhanced my RCIA experience, the homilies, and many other things included in my search for a deep understanding of what the Catholic Church believes.  I would later find the Haydock Bible, the older Catechisms, writings of Saints, and other resources, but the ICSB remains for me in regular use as an excellent modern commentary on Sacred Scripture.  I look forward to the release of the entire Bible.

Despite my appreciation of the ICSB, and my excitement about the forthcoming edition containing the entire Bible, I do have some qualms with the RSV-2CE translation that I would like to see changed before the entire Bible is released in the next couple of years.  These range from simple stylistic details that are pet peeves, to things that conflict with the dictates of Liturgiam Authenticam and things that are detrimental to the Christolgical continuity of the Bible as a whole.  I will list them below in order of appearance.

1. Gen 12:3.  Go with the alternate reading “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  That is the interpretation quoted by St. Paul in Gal 3:8, used in the CCC #59 & 2676, and also in the D-R, KJV, ESV, and NRSV.

2. Gen 12:7, 13:15 & 16, 17:19, etc.  “Descendants” is not a bad translation… until you get to Galatians 3:16 in the NT and find out the word was meant to remain ambiguous as being singular or plural as in the Hebrew and Greek words for “seed.”  I personally like the traditional, literal translation “seed,” and it shows continuity from Gen. 3:15 which also has “seed,” but the NRSV and the ESV’s use of the word “offspring” is acceptable as well.  Why purposely translate a Christological reference out of the OT?  One is especially referred to the Genesis/Galatians passages in the NABRE to see an even worse example of preserving the continuity of the Testaments.

3. Gen 22:1, 7, 11, 46:2, Ex 3:4, Is 6:8, 52:6, 65:1, Heb 2:13.  “Here am I?!”  How about “Here I am!”  This also is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and one should note the more natural English was used in most instances in the D-R and KJV, and was brought back in the NRSV and ESV 2011.

4. Genesis 37:3, 23, 32.  Joseph’s “Long robe with sleeves.”  Take a cue from the ESV and go with the traditional rendering everyone wants to hear: “a coat of many colors.”  When the Hebrew is obscure, the traditional rendering is a good choice, especially when supported by the Vulgate and the Greek.

5. Ps. 16:10.  “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your godly one see the Pit.”  Ignatius Press, thank you for Is. 7:14, but can we see the NT quotation harmonized here as well?  For “You will not let your Holy One see corruption,” see Acts 13:35 and also Ps. 16 in the Revised Grail that will be eventually incorporated into the NAB, LOTH, and Mass.

6. Ps. 109:8.  “May another seize his goods” would be better translated to conform to its quotation in the NT, Acts 1:20.  See the D-R, KJV, Revised Grail Psalms, NABRE, ESV, etc.

7. Micah 5:2.  Prophecy of the Son of God coming in the flesh, “whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.”  The reality of the Son’s eternity is better rendered in the D-R, KJV, and the ESV.  The RSV revisers would have better left alone the Revised Version’s “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

8. Unless I am reading “Liturgiam Authenitcam” #23 incorrectly, I think we should seeing “Amen” instead of “Truly,” and “Alleluia” instead of “Hallelujah” throughout the NT.  Other than this, the RSV-2CE seems to follow LA fairly well, although I think a hyper-literal translation with a rich Catholic flavor (based on the “classics” like the D-R and KJV) is really what LA is calling for.  I think that if Ignatius followed the suggestions in this post the RSV-2CE would be closer to the mark.

9. Matt. 5:32.  “Except on the ground of unchastity…”  I have heard this, like the NIV’s “marital unfaithfulness,” misinterpreted to mean that divorce is permissible if one of the spouses cheats.  The traditional and more literal “fornication” would be better here to convey the meaning of the situation (that is quite different from adultery.)  The note in the RSV-CE helps explain the text, but ultimately the Biblical text itself is most crucial in apologetics.

10. Luke 1:34.  Mary’s “How can this be, since I have no husband?”  The first part, “How can this be” contradicts many major translations including D-R, KJV, RSV 1971, NAB, NRSV, ESV that include the traditional rendering “How shall this be.”  It also suggests a contradiction to Catholic doctrine that states that the miraculous conception happened later at Mary’s acceptance (“be it done to me according to thy word.” See CCC 494.)  The last part in the RSV’s “since I have no husband” is even more erroneous.  It even states in the ICSB notes that Mary’s “betrothal to Joseph was already a legally binding marriage.” Newer interpretations, such as the ESV and NRSV’s “How will this be, since I am a virgin” also fall short in meaning, because the last thing a virgin maiden engaged to be married would wonder about is how she might be getting pregnant!   It is a firm Catholic dogma that Mary was a perpetual virgin (CCC 499), so she was not, obviously, intending to consummate her marriage to Joseph.  Only the traditional, literal translation “since I don’t know man” really captures the meaning.  This is traditionally a widely used verse for apologetics and catechesis regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary and the miraculous conception of Jesus.  Don’t include a note that explains why this is a poor translation… change the translation!

11. 1 Cor. 7:25, 28, 36, 37, 38.  The Greek actually has “virgin,” not “unmarried,” “girl,” or “betrothed.”  I think especially in the last 3 instances listed the interpretation is detrimental to the meaning of the text and encourages someone to interfere with a couple who are already engaged to married.

To Ignatius Press: I get the impression from what I have read from Ignatius Press about the RSV-2CE that the intention was to do as light of a revision as possible, primarily removing archaic language, to make it liturgically acceptable.  Therefore, the RSV-CE 1 & 2 would still be relatively compatible.  Given the extent of the changes at this point, I personally don’t see that to be the case.  My advice is to go through the entire Bible again without worrying about changing the RSV-CE so much, and make any additional minor improvements, especially in the sour spots mentioned above.  Some of these readings are reasons that Protestants and Catholics turned their noses up to the RSV long ago.  You have done so much good to the RSV-CE so far, why not go the rest of the way, and dispense, for the most part, with the RSV-CE 1 & 2 and focus on getting the ICSB released in various editions?  The ICSB would make an excellent Family Bible to read from as the rest of the family followed along in their own smaller ICSB personal editions in various colors (including pink….)  I would also strongly recommend a fresh imprimatur and an at least an introduction by Scott Hahn, but lo, these are subjects due their own post altogether.

To the Catholic Bibles blog readers: What are your suggestions?  Are there other things you think need to be changed in the RSV-2CE?  Are any of my suggestions better left alone?  If you agree with my statements, please respond with support, and perhaps the good people of Ignatius Press will see this post and consider fine tuning the ICSB before it is released.  To me, it looks like the ICSB will be the best Catholic Study Bible in modern english for years to come, but I would much rather say it is “excellent” in its own right, than to say it is the simply the “best one available!”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Blessed Christmas to You All!

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." 
-Luke 2:11

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How about one in the NRSV-CE?

Sunday Knox: Micah 5:1(2)-4a(5)

"Bethlehem-Ephrata! Least do they reckon thee among all the clans of Juda? Nay, it is from thee I look to find a prince that shall rule over Israel. Whence comes he? From the first beginning, from ages untold! Marvel not, then, if the Lord abandons his people for a time, until she who is in travail has brought forth her child; others there are, brethren of his, that must be restored to the citizenship of Israel. Enabled by the Lord his God, confident in that mighty protection, stands he, our shepherd, and safely folds his flock; fame of him now reaches to the world’s end;  who else should be its hope of recovery?" -Knox Bible

"You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, and the rest of his kindred shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace." -NAB

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pope Benedict's Op-Ed in Financial Times

via the Vatican Radio website:

A time for Christians to engage with the world

“Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” was the response of Jesus when asked about paying taxes. His questioners, of course, were laying a trap for him. They wanted to force him to take sides in the highly-charged political debate about Roman rule in the land of Israel. Yet there was more at stake here: if Jesus really was the long-awaited Messiah, then surely he would oppose the Roman overlords. So the question was calculated to expose him either as a threat to the regime, or a fraud. Jesus’ answer deftly moves the argument to a higher plane, gently cautioning against both the politicization of religion and the deification of temporal power, along with the relentless pursuit of wealth. His audience needed to be reminded that the Messiah was not Caesar, and Caesar was not God. The kingdom that Jesus came to establish was of an altogether higher order. As he told Pontius Pilate, “My kingship is not of this world.”

The Christmas stories in the New Testament are intended to convey a similar message. Jesus was born during a “census of the whole world” taken by Caesar Augustus, the Emperor renowned for bringing the Pax Romana to all the lands under Roman rule. Yet this infant, born in an obscure and far-flung corner of the Empire, was to offer the world a far greater peace, truly universal in scope and transcending all limitations of space and time.

Jesus is presented to us as King David’s heir, but the liberation he brought to his people was not about holding hostile armies at bay; it was about conquering sin and death forever.  The birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our very way of life. While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience. At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene? Christmas can be the time in which we learn to read the Gospel, to get to know Jesus not only as the Child in the manger, but as the one in whom we recognize God made Man.

It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs – be it in the Houses of Parliament or the Stock Exchange. Christians shouldn’t shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology. Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life. Christians work for more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources out of a belief that, as stewards of God’s creation, we have a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable. Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life. Christian belief in the transcendent destiny of every human being gives urgency to the task of promoting peace and justice for all.

Because these goals are shared by so many, much fruitful cooperation is possible between Christians and others. Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God. Christians have at times throughout history been unable to comply with demands made by Caesar. From the Emperor cult of ancient Rome to the totalitarian regimes of the last century, Caesar has tried to take the place of God. When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated world-view. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.

In Italy, many crib scenes feature the ruins of ancient Roman buildings in the background. This shows that the birth of the child Jesus marks the end of the old order, the pagan world, in which Caesar’s claims went virtually unchallenged. Now there is a new king, who relies not on the force of arms, but on the power of love. He brings hope to all those who, like himself, live on the margins of society. He brings hope to all who are vulnerable to the changing fortunes of a precarious world. From the manger, Christ calls us to live as citizens of his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that all people of good will can help to build here on earth.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ESV vs NRSV Redux (2009)

1) Overseers vs. Bishops (I Tim/Titus)

2) Propitiation vs. sacrifice of atonement (Rm 3:25)

3) Hell vs. Hades (Matt 16:18)

4) Born again vs. Born from Above (Jn 3:3)

5) Brothers vs. Brothers and Sisters

6) Son of Man vs. O Mortal/Human Beings (OT/Heb 2)

7) "a" vs. "the" (1 Tm 3:15)

8) grasped vs. exploited (Phi. 2:6)

9) made himself nothing yvs. emptied himself (Phi. 2:7)

10) Virgin vs. young woman (Is. 7:14)

11) Behold vs. Look or See

12) husband of one wife vs. married once (Titus 1:6)

13) the Helper vs. the Advocate (Jn 14-16)
(New One)

HarperOne NABRE Non-Flex Imitation Leather

Well, the question as to what HarperOne meant by "non-flex imitation leather" has been answered.  It is similar to what Baronius Press has done with its Knox Bible, a hardback edition which is covered in (bonded) leather.  In this case, however, HarperOne has simply used imitation leather, which I greatly disliked in the flexible imitation leather edition that came out in May.  (If you observe the photo on the left, you will see that the imitation leather is on the left, while the hardcover is on the right.)  Needless to say, this is a disappointment.  Why even produce a cover like this one when you already have the hardcover edition?  That simply doesn't make much sense to me.  I would have much preferred that they simply used bonded leather, like they utilized in their NRSV thinline Bibles.  Actually, I really liked the feel of the NRSV Compact Thinline, which came out in 2009.

Ultimately, if you are desiring an edition of the NABRE, the hardcover one is the way to go.  It is too bad really, since I believe that HarperOne has created a very attractive page layout with their NABRE.  Its a shame that they never completed the package by producing it in a good leather, or even imitation leather, cover.  Again, stick with the hardcover edition.

Monday, December 17, 2012

B16 on the Evil in This World

"It’s our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil…"
—POPE BENEDICT XVI (Apr 20, 2011)

7 Questions for 2013

As I am only a few days away from entering Christmas break, which will inevitably lead to a slow down in content on this blog as I spend time with friends and family over the holiday, I wanted to devote at least one post that looks ahead to 2013.  

In many ways, 2012 was a fairly quiet year in regards to Catholic Bible publications.  Yet, there were some true gems published for Catholics this year, most notably the HarperOne NABRE and the Baronius Press Knox Bible.  Both publications exceeded my expectations, although in different ways.  

In addition to those two publications, we found out two rather important pieces of translation-related information.  First, earlier in the year we discovered that the ESV would become the translation used for the Liturgy in the UK and Wales, as well as Australia (and New Zealand?).  The process of adapting the ESV for the Lectionary is on-going, and permission has been given by Crossway.  (Well, at least we assume that it is Crossway.)  Therefore it seems certain that we could legitimately see (or more properly hear) the ESV Lectionary in only a few years time.  (Well, at least those of you outside of North America will experience this.)  It seems that they are moving quite fast on this project.  This comes after the revelation that the NRSV was the translation scheduled to be adapted for the Lectionary in these countries, but there appears to have been a falling out with the NCCUSA.  

The other major announcement, which came during the USCCB summer meetings, was that the NAB(RE) was going to be revised again.  This time, however, it would be done, hand-in-hand, with approval for use in the Liturgy.  Thus, at least in America, the readings you would hear at Mass would theoretically be exactly the same as you would read in the NAB.  Of course, that isn't the case currently.  One thing we know for certain is that this process is going to take a very long time.  

With that, here are my 7 Questions for the year 2013:

1) Will there ever be an official ESV-CE published for Catholics?

2) What will be the full extent of this new revision of the NAB?

3) How will the NAB, and ESV for that matter, integrate the Revised Grail Psalms into their revision/adaption projects?  

4) Will we hear anything from Ignatius about their soon to be completed Ignatius Catholic Study Bible?  

5) Will Oxford make a clear announcement regarding their updating of the Catholic Study Bible NABRE reading guides?

6) Will Cambridge or Allan's produce a high-end Catholic Bible edition?  

7) Will Catholic Bible software, like Logos, continue to grow in popularity?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Contest Winner

Congrats to CJA Mayo who is the winner of the Advent contest. Just send along an email with your address. Thanks to all who participated.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Another Perspective on Is. 7:14

The following comes from a reader whom I have been in email contact with since the beginning of this blog. I have always appreciated his perspective on the various issues that have come up over the years.  He wanted to contribute to the discussion on Isaiah 7:14, the Virgin Birth, and the NABRE and gave me permission to post the following anonymously:

Timothy, I don't know if I ever discussed it with you, but even though I was raised and am a practicing Roman Catholic, I am of Jewish ancestry. With that in mind you can obviously guess that I am no stranger at all to Biblical Hebrew as the Church allows us to say many of our prayers in Hebrew, especially for celebrations like Chanukah (which is going on now) and the weekly observance of Shabbat (which with the Church, Hebrew Catholics observe from sundown on Saturday instead of Friday).

The Isaiah 7:14 subject is one that makes little sense if you speak Hebrew. The word in question (almah) is actually equivalent of the archaic English word "maid" or the little more modern word (but still out of use) "maiden." It identifies a type of person, not a description of the person's familiarity with sex. It can indeed be translated as both "young woman" and "virgin."

However the term "virgin" in modern English no longer means what it does either in Isaiah 7:14 or in Matthew 1:23 (parthenos) either. In both instances the term which Catholics traditionally translate as "virgin" applies only to a type of female. In modern English the word "virgin" no longer describes a type of person but a condition of a person, and modern English usage can apply "virgin" to both women and men (for example the popular comedy film of some years ago entitled The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which was about a man). Unfortunately it is this current usage that practically everyone you meet is using when they read these texts even though the term in both Isaiah and Matthew have little to do with a woman's sexual activity.

Both words, the Hebrew one in Isaiah and the subsequent Greek word in both the LXX and Matthew's text are used interchangeably throughout Scripture to refer to maidens, women who are at the age for betrothal with the connotation that such women usually wait until marriage before they engage in sexual activity (but it is only implied). For example, the LXX uses "parthenos" at Genesis 34:3 in reference to Dinah even though she had just had sexual relations with Shechem. This is correct since a "maiden" can still be violated sexually and still be no less of a "maiden" afterward since the words "almah" and "parthenos" just imply the status of what modern English calls "virginity" without making sexual status or lack thereof a requisite for the use of those terms.

In both Isaiah and Matthew the text is highlighting that the child to be born will bring God's presence. As Matthew uses it, he is stating the the Child to be born is to be God Incarnate.

But Matthew is also likely playing on words using what we Jews call "midrash." What we as Catholics call "Tradition," Jews call "midrash," and it is the official and often "oral" interpretation of inspired texts, with exposition or exegesis actually passed down with the way a Scripture text is read (like adding certain emphasis to a word or even using a synonym to highlight a variant way of translating something otherwise hidden in the original Hebrew of a text). Being that Matthew's gospel was written by a Jew for a Jewish audience, his readers would be used to "midrash" as a means to interpret the texts of the Tanakh in reference to Jesus.

Because the words "almah" and "parthenos" can also mean "a woman whose physical virginity is still intact," it is likely that Matthew's use of "parthenos" was midrash--one of the first examples of Apostolic Tradition or "midrash" to be written down. (For more information on this, see NRSV: The Jewish Annotated New Testament, page 4 in the box entitle "Virgin Birth.")

If one takes into account that Matthew 1:23 is now meaningless in modern English as "the virgin shall become pregnant" due to the fact that the modern non-religious reader could apply this to a man as well as a woman (a virgin man becoming pregnant would be a miracle too, some foolish people can now very well argue), we now see that no one on either side of this issue can expect a reading that will make English a perfect target language for these texts. English just isn't a good match for any of the ancient Biblical languages, and you have to admit that Westerners often expect things to match their preconceived ideas or be automatically counted as "wrong." So expecting even some very well educated persons to step out of using modern Western thought and deign to think like an ancient Hebrew may not go over very well. But a more accurate rendering for Matthew in our current sex-crazed world could be "and the virgin woman shall become pregnant," unless someone try to apply Steve Carell's character from that movie to the word "virgin."

For more information on Hebrew Catholics and links to various apostolates, see:

I hope you find some of this useful, even though I doubt it will stop native English-speakers/thinkers from their 2000 year-old-debate. It's really silly from the outside looking in.

Sunday Knox: Philippians 4:4-7

"Joy to you in the Lord at all times; once again I wish you joy. Give proof to all of your courtesy. The Lord is near.  Nothing must make you anxious; in every need make your requests known to God, praying and beseeching him, and giving him thanks as well.  So may the peace of God, which surpasses all our thinking, watch over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." -Knox Bible

Philippians 4:5 ‘The Lord is near’; this phrase, which does not fit in closely with the context, was perhaps a kind of Christian pass-word, that might be recalled in writing the last lines of a letter, cf. I Cor. 16.22.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." -NAB

Friday, December 14, 2012

Did Isaiah really predict the Virgin birth?

A recent article from Religion News Service entitled "Did Isaiah really predict the Virgin birth?" looks at Isaiah 7:14 in relation to the NABRE translation.

Here is a little snippet from the conclusion:

Still, there was some “pastoral concern,” when the Catholic bishops authorized the New American Bible, Revised Edition, said retired Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba of Milwaukee, who was part of the review and editing team.

“There was discussion about keeping the traditional translation so that people have the benefit of continuity,” Sklba said.  But in the big picture, changing Isaiah 7:14 doesn’t sever the connection between the prophecy and Matthew’s Gospel, he said. Isaiah stressed that Immanuel’s mother would be young, and Matthew emphasized her virginity.  “The one does not deny the other,” Sklba said. 

There are also some comments from our friend Mary Sperry. I wonder if Isaiah 7:14 will be changed back in the upcoming NAB revision?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Year of "7 Questions"

Last December I initiated a new semi-regular post called "7 Questions."  The goal of "7 Questions" was to let  you hear directly from some of the more notable people involved with the production and promotion of Catholic Bibles.  Below is a link to those interviews that I have conducted over the past year.  Which ones did you like best?  Who would you like to see interviewed in 2013?

Mary Sperry (USCCB)

Catherine Upchurch (Little Rock)

Andrew Jones (Logos)

Jason Engel (Saint John's bible)
(Part 2 Here)

Mark Brumley (Ignatius Press)

Dr. John Newton (Baronius Press)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Contest

This will be the final contest for 2012!  The question associated with this contest is tied to a recent poll on this blog about which translation should become the official translation used in quoting from Scripture.

The winner of this contest will receive the following prize pack:
Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith
 (hardcover book) by Fr. Robert Barron

A Pocket Guide to Catholic Apologetics by Patrick Madrid

Where is that in the Bible? 2 DVD set by Patrick Madrid

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 North America.  The reason is that I will be paying the shipping cost, and shipping overseas is not possible right now.

3) The question you need to answer in the comment box:
In thirty words or less, which translation should become the official translation of the Catholic Bibles Blog?

4) The contest ends on Saturday December 15th @ 11:59PM EST.

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

6) I will announce the winner on Sunday December 16th or Monday December 17th.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bible Gateway Now Has the RSV and NRSV

I know I am a little late in reporting this, but Bible Gateway now has both the RSV and NRSV, including the Catholic editions, available for search.

From the Blog:
We have some very exciting news today: the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bibles are now available on Bible Gateway!

Both the RSV and NRSV have been published in several different editions for different audiences, and they’re all available on Bible Gateway. In addition to the RSV and NRSV, you’ll find the Anglicized NRSV, Catholic editions of the RSV and NRSV, and the Anglicized Catholic NRSV.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunday Knox: Luke 3:1-6

"It was in the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius’ reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, when Herod was prince in Galilee, his brother Philip in the Ituraean and Trachonitid region, and Lysanias in Abilina, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiphas, that the word of God came upon John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he went all over the country round Jordan, announcing a baptism whereby men repented, to have their sins forgiven: as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaias, There is a voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, straighten out his paths. Every valley is to be bridged, and every mountain and hill levelled, and the windings are to be cut straight, and the rough paths made into smooth roads, and all mankind is to see the saving power of God." -Knox Bible

Luke 3:1 There is some uncertainty about the system on which the Romans computed the years of a given reign; probably the fifteenth year of Tiberius would be 28 or 29 a.d. by our reckoning.

Luke 3:2 Caiphas was the actual high priest; Annas, who had been deposed from that office, continued to exercise much influence.

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"-NAB

Friday, December 7, 2012

Why Catholics Can't Speak English

I spotted this article, by Michael Brendan Dougherty, through another website. What are your thoughts? Is this just more complaining from the traditionalist crowd?  Are there legitimate points being argued here?

It is an odd thing to go to the Bible section of the few remaining big box booksellers. You can get Bibles in metallic covers with notes directed at randy teenagers. You can get your dispensationalist “Left Behind” style Bibles, with equally appalling notes. You can find Bibles for law enforcement officers, or for nationalists seeking prophecies about America in the book of Daniel. More seriously you can lose yourself in debates about translation style. “Formal equivalence” seeks to translate the Scriptures word for word and gives you phrases that can seem obscure. What is it to “cover his nakedness?” On the other side “dynamic equivalence” tries to go thought for thought but will usually desecrate Genesis with Clintonian phrasings like “have sexual relations with.” But if you are an earnest Protestant you can junk all the cruft and debates, buy unbotched versions of the New American Standard or the English Standard Version and encounter the word of God. And there is always the King James. What you can’t find is a good Catholic Bible in English. Well, let me explain.......

 You can read the whole article here.  Do treat yourself to the comments, which are always very colorful when discussion is about a topic like this.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Hobbit

As many of you know, Peter Jackson's film adaption of The Hobbit will be released in a few weeks here in the US.  Like the previous films, I am looking forward to seeing it when it comes out.  Unlike Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, which I really enjoyed, I actually read The Hobbit this time around before seeing the film.  For The Lord of the Rings it was the other way around, which was ultimately a mistake.  The books are so much better, but, of course, that is not really a surprise.  Having finished The Hobbit two weeks ago, I decided to order Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit  by Joseph Pearce.  It is published by our friends at Saint Benedict Press.  This short guide to Tolkien's The Hobbit has been a joy to read and very insightful.  I haven't yet ordered the Catholic Courses The Hobbit taught by Pearce, but that might change after Christmas.  We shall see.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New American Bible (Non-Flex Black Imitation Leather) [Hardcover]

A new edition of the HarperOne NABRE is apparently set for release today.  This edition comes in a "non-flex black imitation leather" cover.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what that actually means.  Is this a response to the negative reception of the previously released imitation leather cover that came out last Spring?   The problem, for me at least, is that I haven't seen any of the HarperOne editions in any local bookstore, so I am not sure I am willing to blindly order this new edition without any further confirmation as to what this cover is like.

Bertrand's Christmas Guide to Buying a Bible

J. Mark Bertrand, of the fantastic Bible Design Blog, recently penned an article for the online edition of First Things entitled "Christmas Guide to Buying a Bible".  While the majority of the article concerns Protestant translations, there is a recommendation for Catholics as well:

Despite a rich history of liturgical publishing, like mainline Protestants, my Roman Catholic readers often complain of having a dearth of choices in comparison to the editions available for Evangelicals. An exception to the trend is the Knox Bible from Baronius Press, a new printing of the twentieth-century translation by Msgr. Ronald Knox. I haven’t had the pleasure of examining one of these in person, but from what I have gathered from those who have, it would make an excellent gift for Catholics in search of a readable, thoughtfully produced edition.

The Knox Bible’s single column text setting is a plus for readers, and so is the fact that verse numbers are moved to the margin where they don’t distract from the flow of the text (a helpful practice seen in the classic mid–twentieth-century New English Bible, as well as the more recent Message Remix).

If you’re giving the Knox Bible as a gift to a literary-minded friend, it might be worth finding a copy of his biography, The Life of Right Reverend Ronald Knox, by one of my favorite novelists, Evelyn Waugh, a lifelong friend of Msgr. Knox.

Its a fun article, so be sure to read all of it, as well as the always interesting comments from readers.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sunday Knox: Jeremiah 33:14-16

"Behold, he says, a time is coming when I will make good my promise to Israel and Juda; the day will dawn, the time be ripe at last for that faithful scion to bud from David’s stock; the land shall have a king to reign over it, giving just sentence and due award. When that time comes, Juda shall find deliverance, none shall disturb Jerusalem’s rest; and the name given to this king shall be, The Lord vindicates us." - Knox Bible

*Jeremias 33:16 vv. 15, 16. Cf. 23.5, 6 above. In the present passage, the Hebrew text represents the name ‘The Lord vindicates us’ as given, not to the king, but to the city of Jerusalem. The disparity is difficult to explain, and probably the manuscripts are at fault. The whole paragraph, verses 14-18, is lacking in the Septuagint Greek.

"The days are coming, says the LORD (oracle of the Lord), when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot ; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: "The LORD our justice." -NAB(RE)

* [33:1426] This is the longest continuous passage in the Hebrew text of Jeremiah that is missing from the Greek text of Jeremiah. It is probably the work of a postexilic writer who applied parts of Jeremiah’s prophecies to new situations. The hope for an eternal Davidic dynasty (vv. 1417; cf. 2 Sm 7:1116) and for a perpetual priesthood and sacrificial system (v. 18) was not realized after the exile. On the canonical authority of the Septuagint, see note on Dn 13:114:42.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Some Initial Thoughts on Logos 5 (Verbum)

I have found it difficult in the past months to give a proper review of Logos 4.  Why? Well, the main reason is that it such a comprehensive and useful tool for Bible study, I really never knew where to begin.  However, just when I felt about ready to post some of my thoughts, Logos 5 (Verbum) was released this past month.  In short, Verbum, which is the Catholic version of Logos 5, is wonderful upgrade in almost every way and I look forward to using it extensively in the coming years.

Again, the question is, where to begin?  I equate the transition from relying on actual physical books, like commentaries, interlinears, and concordances, for most of my Bible study research up until recently to utilizing the tools in Verbum as something akin to learning how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the first time.  What do I mean by that?  The Liturgy of the Hours can be, for the newbie, a very confusing prayer book.  There is so much flipping around and at first one may not know which prayers to use at a particular time of the year.  And let's be honest, the introduction and rubric guide at the beginning of the Office is of no real help to someone who is just getting started.  So, I have found that if someone wants to pray the Liturgy of the Hours regularly the best thing for them is to have a priest, religious, or lay person, who is already experienced with praying it, show him how to use it.  Fortunately, someone taught me a number of years back, and I have taught a number of others over the year as well.  Verbum is like that in some ways.  Why?  Well, primarily because it is such a powerful software program that it can be difficult to know where to start.  The video tutorials on the Logos website are certainly helpful, but it really does take some time to get use to vast amount of resources that Verbum has to offer.  (An example of this would be the new Clause Search feature, which you can read about here.)  But what I have found is that just as one becomes more comfortable with praying the Liturgy of the Hours over time, the same things is the case for using Verbum.  If you have never used Bible software, like myself until fairly recently, don't be scared away by it.  Once you become more comfortable with using this software, which I am getting more and more of every day, you will actually have trouble remembering how you did Bible study research in the past.

Let me just say quickly a comment about the amount of Biblical resources you can access on Verbum.  Now that Logos has introduced Verbum, which is specifically for Catholics and contains material not only focusing on Scripture, but also doctrine, liturgy, history, and apologetics, this program is built to be an everyday tool for not only study, but also devotional use.  You not only have various translations, exegetical tools, dictionaries, commentaries, and writings from the Church Fathers, Popes, and Church Councils, but also a fully integrated Catechism of the Catholic Church that is a pleasure to search through.  In the package I received, I also found some additional surprises, like the writings of G.K. Chesterton, Raymond Brown, and the works of noted Catholic Apologist, Dave Armstrong.  And there is so much more!

Including the free Verbum-specific App.  I just downloaded this yesterday, and so far it has been a very nice addition to my I-Phone.  This App syncs with the main platform on my laptop, but it can be downloaded by anyone, even if you don't own any Logos software program.  It comes with a nice selection of free resources, including: The Catholic Lectionary, The Roman Catechism, Pictorial Lives of the Saints, Sources of Catholic Dogma (Denzinger), Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, Newman’s An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, the Douay-Rheims, King James Version, Clementine Vulgate, Novum Testamentum Graece (Tischendorf), The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition, Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament, Lexham English Bible.

In the end, the only real question I have is whether I re-purchase commentaries and other books that I already own in order to utilize them on Verbum?  I am sure that there will be a few that I do, but there is enough already loaded on to Verbum, along with the promise of future releases, that will keep me occupied.  But if you are one who is thinking about making the investment to purchase Verbum, I heartily recommend it.  It will take a little bit of time playing with the many features to feel comfortable with using it, but it is certainly worth the effort and cost.  In the new year, I plan to post occasionally about my experiences using Verbum, so stay tuned.

Thank you, again, to the fine people at Logos for providing me a review copy.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

7 Questions: Dr. John Newton of Baronius Press

A special thanks to Dr. John Newton, Editor-in-Chief of Baronius Press, for responding to my questions about their new edition of the Knox Bible.  You can also search the Knox Bible at Bible Gateway

1)  First off, thank you for taking the time to answer the following questions.  I wanted to start off with a question about your involvement with Sacred Scripture. How has Scripture played an important role in your spiritual life?  Has it always been that way?

I have grown in my appreciation of the divine text over the years, and two incidents stand out in particular. The first is the advice of my parish priest during my late teens. At the end of a chat with him he advised me to read the Bible, beginning with the Gospel of John, as that described Our Lord’s incarnation and then to go back to the Old Testament and discover not only the prophecies of Jesus, but also the inheritance we share with the Jewish faith.

The second was during a period I spent working with the Sion Community, which is the biggest provider of Home Missions in the UK. At the time they were running a course in praying the Scriptures, which involved reading and reflecting on the Gospel of Mark. When it came to choosing a version of the Bible I went into the library and saw a copy of Monsignor Knox’s translation. It was a version I had heard lots about, but never actually read, so I selected that one. Knox’s description of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel brought him alive to me in a way no other text has done before or since. Knox’s prose conjured up the events so vividly in my mind that it was like seeing the stories for the first time.

2) How long have you been involved with Baronius Press?  Could you talk a little bit about the history and mission of Baronius Press?

Baronius was set up in 2003 by a gentleman I was at university with – Ashley Paver. He had previously worked in Catholic publishing and had a personal vision of seeing the Douay-Rheims Bible available in a format that was worthy of its venerable text. For Ashley that meant digitally re-typesetting it – which was highly novel when all other versions of the Douay available were facsimiles – and using the highest quality materials: leather for the cover; gilt-edged pages; and so forth. It then expanded into publishing classics of spirituality and liturgical books for the extraordinary form of the Mass and Office – and it was as they were expanding in these areas that I first became involved.

I started working with Baronius Press back in early 2006 doing a bit of part-time writing and editing alongside another post and within a few months I had become Editor-in-Chief, Ashley having moved on from that position sometime before.

In all of its publications the goal was to ensure that books were made to the highest quality – and even Baronius’ paperbacks are smyth sewn.

3) This past month, Baronius Press published the Knox Holy Bible, which hasn’t been done in over fifty years.  Could you talk a little bit about the process by which the Knox Bible was produced?  How long of a project was it?  Who were your main collaborators in this project?

The project was quite a lengthy one. To start with we had to find the right edition - as Knox also published a couple of early drafts before it was approved by the hierarchy – and then we had to convert the text from hard copy into digital format. This was perhaps one of the longest tasks; it meant scanning the entire Knox Bible, and then painstakingly checking and correcting any errors. We had a number of people working on this to ensure the accuracy of the text.

 The project took over four years, but not all of this time was spent on the Knox by any means, our small team was working on several other projects at the same time, including our 1961 Breviary which consumed an awful lot of our time.

The Diocese of Westminster was extremely helpful in getting Mons. Knox’s translation back into print, and we were especially grateful that Archbishop Nichols granted a new imprimatur before we went to press.

4) One of the best features of the Knox Bible is its outstanding look and readability of the text, along with the quality production value.  Could you talk a little bit about how Baronius Press went about producing such a beautiful volume?  Also, are there any plans in the future to have the Knox Bible come in a flexible leather edition?  Compact edition?
We have always been keen with any title we do to ensure that it is beautiful and readable.  We still aim to produce books of the very highest quality that befit the texts inside.

I’m not too familiar with the actual binding process – as we contract skilled craftsmen to do that, it’s not something we do ourselves – so I’d hesitate to say too much about that.

At the moment there are no plans to produce the Knox in any other editions, but I’m sure we’ll be looking at how sales go and listening to feedback from our customers.

5) Dr. Scott Hahn wrote the foreword to this volume.  How did this come about? 

We wanted to get a foreword to this volume by a leading biblical scholar. As Dr. Hahn is a convert, as  Mons. Knox was, we thought he would be ideal for the job. He is rather tricky to get hold of, but we knew a close associate of his, who put us in contact with him. He was delighted to be able to contribute this foreword and somehow managed to fit it in with his large number of commitments.

6) In general, is there anything else that you would like to tell my readers about the Knox Bible or Baronius Press?

In my personal opinion the Knox is one of the best translations of the Scriptures. Bringing it back into print has been a bit of a personal quest. When I first floated the idea most people at Baronius thought it was a crazy idea – as we were publishing the Douay-Rheims and they couldn’t see the logic in publishing two translations from the Vulgate. But to give the others their due they did take soundings from other people who worked with us and Robert Asch was so overwhelmingly enthusiastic that they decided that the project might have possibilities after all. So they asked a number of priests around the world, and were surprised to find that everyone they spoke to in the UK and the USA was strongly in favour of bringing the Knox back into print.

We also decided to use the one column layout that was used in early versions of the Knox Bible. This is how the original Rheims New Testament was laid out back in the sixteenth century and so typesetting it this was reflects a very old Catholic practice – as well as making the text easier to read in many people’s opinion.

Enthusiasm for the Knox Bible has been widespread – and the enthusiasm has come from some unexpected quarters, such as Bible Gateway, who we worked with to provide an electronic, searchable form of the text on their website.

7) Finally, do you have a favorite passage or verse from the Knox version of the Bible?

Just one passage or verse? That’s a tricky question. If forced to choose just one I think I’d select Mark 1:19-39 which was the passage that really brought it all to life for me back when I was living with the Sion Community:

As soon as they had left the synagogue, they came into Simon and Andrew’s house; James and John were with them. The mother of Simon’s wife was lying sick there, with a fever, and they made haste to tell him of her; whereupon he went close and took her by the hand, and lifted her up. And all at once the fever left her, and she began ministering to them. And when it was evening and the sun went down, they brought to him all those who were afflicted, and those who were possessed by devils; so that the whole city stood crowding there at the door. And he healed many that were afflicted with diseases of every sort, and cast out many devils; to the devils he would give no leave to speak, because they recognized him. Then, at very early dawn, he left them, and went away to a lonely place, and began praying there. Simon and his companions went in search of him: and when they found him, they told him, All men are looking for thee. And he said to them, Let us go to the next country-towns, so that I can preach there too; it is for this I have come. So he continued to preach in their synagogues, all through Galilee, and cast the devils out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ICSB: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon

Thanks to an anonymous comment yesterday, it appears that the next volume in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible that will be released is ICSB: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.  The release date is set for March 31, 2013.  If this is true, I wonder if this is an indication that Ignatius will just be releasing selected volumes from the OT over the next few years, leading up to the complete ICSB in 2014 or 2015?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pope Hates Christmas

The Pope hates Christmas is a fine article from the GetReligion blog about some of the news going around about Pope Benedict's most recent book on the Infancy Narratives.  Equally as ridiculous to some of the news reports on this book is the following headline from a CNN article on this same book: "Pope's Book on Jesus Debunks Christmas Myths"  Right....

Pope Benedict's newest book Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narrative is a wonderful, though short, treatment on Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2.  I picked up a copy this past Friday and read it over the weekend.  I hope to provide some of my thoughts in the coming days.  However, take the time to get this book yourself, either in hardcover or via E-book.  It really is a perfect book for Advent.

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Cyber Monday Deals: Saint John's Bible

Finish your set! Start a new set! Give one as a gift! Give both as a gift!

Use Promo Code: SJBOGO

Go to the Saint John's Bible website to purchase.

Cyber Monday Sale: Little Rock Catholic Study Bible

Little Rock is offering a 50% off sale on their hardcover and paperback editions of the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible today only!

Hardcover Price: $49.95, Sale Price: $24.98
Paperback Price, $39.95, Sale Price: $19.98
Enter promo code: LRSB50

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sunday Knox: Christ the King Edition (Daniel 7:13-14)

"Then I saw in my dream, how one came riding on the clouds of heaven, that was yet a son of man; came to where the Judge sat, crowned with age, and was ushered into his presence. With that, power was given him, and glory, and sovereignty; obey him all must, men of every race and tribe and tongue; such a reign as his lasts for ever, such power as his the ages cannot diminish." - Knox Bible

"As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed." -NAB

"As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man. When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed." -NABRE