Friday, March 30, 2012

Lenten Contest II Winner

Congrats to Joseph Volpe III who is the winner of the Lenten Contest II. Joseph, please email me your address and I will get the Sperry book out to you. My email: mccorm45 (at) yahoo (dot) com. Thanks to all who entered!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

News on LRCSB Deluxe Edition

According to the Little Rock site:

Enhance your Bible study with this elegant, limited edition of the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible with a beautiful embossed, brown, leather-like cover. Gold, gilt-edged pages, ribbons, plus a presentation page and three family tree pages also make it a perfect family Bible or gift.

Experience Sacred Scripture with ease and understanding. Find solid scholarship plus insightful connections to life, ministry, and the practice of the faith. Filled with informative sidebars, charts, maps, photos and cross-references, this lasting volume uses the authorized translation in the New American Bible, Revised Edition.

Open the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible and feel at home with the Word of God. Through accessibly written information and engaging visuals that highlight and clarify significant areas of Scripture, readers will easily gain an understanding of these ancient texts that can be carried into today’s world. Using the authorized translation in the New American Bible Revised Edition, this lasting volume is ideal for both personal use and group Bible study.

The valuable information in the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible is offered in small notes and inserts that accompany the Bible texts as well as in expanded essays, articles, and graphics. Key symbols help readers quickly identify the type of information they need, such as explanations, definitions, dates, character and author profiles, archaeological insights, personal prayer starters, and insights connecting Scripture and its use in today’s church. Colorful maps, timelines, photographs, and charts further enhance the study experience. Longer articles are dedicated to explaining study Bible fundamentals, the Catholic Church’s use of the Bible, and the people and places of the biblical world.

Mark Shea on Reading Genesis 1-11

Celebrated Catholic blogger, Mark Shea, recently answered a question from a reader concering how one is to read Genesis 1-11. The question:

I’ve got sort of a followup question to the one somebody asked you about Abraham in a recent NCR article of yours. It’s about how to read Genesis 1-11. I’ve heard that Catholics tend to read those chapters as containing figurative language, and I noticed that one commenter in the article said that Catholics take them as allegorical. I’ve been increasingly struggling with how to read those chapters myself recently, and I was wondering if you could help me.

To read his helpful response, go here. However, to discuss your thoughts on this NCR article go to the comments sections!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Which Vulgate is Best?

Taylor Marshall recently posted on the question of which Vulgate is best. You can read the full blog post here. What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lenten Contest II

All you need to do to enter is simply to put your name in the comment section of this post. No anonymous entries will be considered. The winner will be randomly drawn at the end of the contest, which will be Thursday, March 29th at 11:59PM. This contest is open to anyone in North America. (Sorry again to my loyal readers in the rest of the world.) Also, if you have a blog and would like to advertise this contest, it would be much appreciated. I will announce the winner on Friday.

The winner will receive a new copy of Mary Sperry's Bible Top Tens: 40 Fun and Intriguing Lists to Inspire and Inform.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Bible Top Tens

Pope Benedict XVI, in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, expressed his 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 (72).” Many of us who are involved in the promotion of the Bible in the Church wholeheartedly respond to that statement with a loud: "AMEN!"

One of those people, is our friend Mary Sperry, Associate Director for the Utilization of the NAB at the USCCB, who has just written a book, published by OSV, entitled Bible Top Tens: 40 Fun and Intriguing Lists to Inspire and Inform. This fun book is "intended to open Scripture in a brand new way. By organizing important people, places, and events into lists, we can reframe our experience and understanding of God's Word, while serving as a memory aid or providing ideas for further reading and study." It certainly accomplishes this goal. I could easily see this book becoming popular with youth and young adult groups, not to mention being a great gift for Confirmation, RCIA, or Easter.

After the brief introduction and three introductory top-ten lists about reading the Bible, this book goes on and consists of three distinct parts. The first deals with people, and includes lists of the top-ten sibling rivalries, unsung heroes, villains, among others. Part two covers both important places and events, for example battles and miracles. Finally, part three looks at the top ten "sayings and such" which consists of famous sayings, parables, promises, etc... Mary leaves the fortieth list blank and encourages the reader to "think back on the Bible stories you have read or heard throughout your life" and list which ones have been most meaningful and why. I found this to be a nice touch and wonderful conclusion to the book.

Probably the most enjoyable thing about this book is seeing where I agree or disagree with Mary's selections and orderings. For example, in her list of top ten friends, she puts "Jesus and the Beloved Disciple" at #1, while "David and Jonathan" are #2. No way! Nothing in all of Sacred Scripture can compare to David's lament for Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:25-26. At times, I have found myself while reading saying things like "yes, I totally agree" or "now why did she forget to leave that event of the list?" But that is what makes this book so fun to read. Of course, Mary is certainly aware that some people would order these lists differently, so she encourages the reader to "write in their own selections and rankings (10)." She has even provided an email address, bibletoptens (at) gmail (dot) come, for people to submit their own lists. Do I smell a sequel in the future?

Again, if you are looking for a highly enjoyable book about the Bible that you can just pick up and read in short settings, this book will definitely meet your needs. Bible Top Tens is a fun and informative read that will entertain the everyday person who is already reading the Bible, as well as the person who is looking for a good place to start. We need more books like this! (To view a few sample pages, go here.)

Stay tuned, since I plan on having a contest in the next week or so for a free copy of this fun new book.

A quick thanks to OSV for providing me a review copy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bible Study Series: Philippians 1:27-2:18

“Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. Yours is the same struggle as you saw in me and now hear about me. If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.” (NABRE)

This section of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is probably the most famous, due to the beautiful and theologically-rich Christ-hymn of 2:6-11. While a number of Paul’s letters deal with ethical and behavior admonitions during the second half of the correspondence, in Philippians, however, Paul quickly moves from his thanksgiving and personal circumstance to giving instructions to the community about how to live in Christ. That is not to say that this section is lacking in theological importance, but it is clear that Paul is emphasizing the continued importance of communal life, in Christ, for the community of Philippi.

We see in verse 27 that Paul reminds them to “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ”. Again, this comes immediately after Paul’s own account of his Gospel work (12-26), where he describes the difficulties and at times opposition he has experienced. The Church of Philippi, too, has her enemies or “opponents (28)”, yet they are called to continue the struggle. The opponents that are mentioned are likely some of the Pagan Roman citizens of Philippi (ICSB NT/NABRE). This struggle may include suffering, which should not be surprising considering what Paul has had to endure. The ICSB NT mentions that “Suffering brings great benefit to ourselves and others. On the one hand, it purifies us of selfishness and makes us sharers in Christ’s redemptive work. On the other hand, it pushes the gospel into the world as believers bear witness to the Lord Jesus through persecution and martyrdom (358).” In any situation or circumstance, they are called to “stand firm”.

Philippians 2:1-11 is a plea to remain united and humble, with Christ as their example. Verse 3 is particularly forthright: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” Thus, what makes St. Paul most happy is when “Christians are at one with each other, in union based on love and the example set by Christ-the very best example of humility (Navarre 501).”

This leads into the majestic Christ-hymn of Philippians 2:6-11. Likely an early Christian hymn, these verses are some of the earliest written testimony to the divinity of Christ. It is difficult to say if this hymn comes directly from Paul or from the community or even a combination of both. In any case, Philippians 2:6-11 has two clear movements. The first, consisting of verses 6-8, reveals the humiliation of Christ, who “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (or “exploited” as in the NRSV).” Not only did God condescend and become man in the Incarnation, He also did not use his divinity for any “selfish purposes (ICST 359).” Paul is contrasting the mind of Christ, with those of the many rulers of his day, Herod or Caesar, who used their position for personal gain. One can hear the echoes of Matthew 20:25-26 here: “But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.’” The model is clearly Jesus, who came as a “slave” and accepted death, and not some ordinary death, but rather the humiliating death of crucifixion.

Beginning in verse 9, we begin the transition from humiliation to exaltation: “Because of this God greatly exalted him.” In his discussion about what, in Christ, is exalted, St. Athanasius remarks: “This expression ‘he exalted him’ does not mean that the nature of the Word was raised up [...]. Terms such as ‘humbled’ and “exalted’ refer only to the sphere of humanity, since only what is humble can be exalted (Navarre 502).” This is important, because of the typological connection between Adam and Christ, the second Adam. For Adam was made in God’s image and then grasped at equality with God in Genesis 3, thus he was brought low by God. Christ, on the other hand, was in the form of God and did not grasp at equality with, thus he was exalted by God. Because of this reality, the “name” of Jesus has great power! This is very obvious in the Acts of the Apostles, where miracles and entry into the Church are done through the “name of Jesus Christ”, see Acts 2:38, 3:6, 8:16, 10:43, and 22:16.

The final part of this section, verses 12-18, reminds the Philippians to act as children of God. Since God has raised Christ from the dead, the daily life of a Christian should be radically transformed. The Christian must live his life recognizing these implications, thus the need to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

7 Questions: Catherine Upchurch

Catherine Upchurch is the director of Little Rock Catholic Scripture Study and General Editor of the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible. I would like to thank her for taking the time to answer the following 7 Questions:

1)How has Scripture played an important role in your spiritual life? Has it always been that way?

Certainly I was familiar with many Bible stories as I grew up in a Catholic home and went to our parish school in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I enjoyed the stained glass windows of our parish church that depicted some of the biblical scenes, and loved learning songs that helped us to remember the stories and the characters. But in all honesty I am quite sure I was in high school before I had my own complete Bible and began
to read it with any real intent of growing or knowing more about my faith. I attended a local public high school and discovered in the friendships I made there with Baptists and Presbyterians and Lutherans that I was not as familiar with the Bible as I wanted to be. Between my sophomore and junior years in high school I purchased a contemporary translation of the Bible and set out to read it cover to cover. Problem was -- I got stuck at about Leviticus, and without good footnotes or other helps to keep me going, I felt I floundered a bit. By my senior year in high school ('75-'76) Little Rock Scripture Study had begun and made its way down Interstate 40 to our town. The first biblical book I studied was the Gospel of Mark, followed closely by Exodus. I was hooked. I discovered all kinds of meaning, all levels at which my life and our lives together connected with the life of Jesus and his followers centuries ago. I am quite convinced that constant exposure to the Word of God throughout my life has been one of the most significant aspects of my own spiritual growth, and has shaped my perceptions of the world in many ways. Biblical imagery and concepts -- the kingdom of God, covenant, hopeful expectation -- these and many more have really seeped into the way I see the world around me.

2) How long have you been involved with Little Rock Scripture Study? What are your main responsibilities with LRSS?

As a "student" of the Bible, I have been in various LRSS groups since
1975. As a volunteer, I presented informational workshops around the
country in 1987 and 1989. As an employee of the ministry, I have been
with LRSS since 1989, serving as associate director from 1989-1998, and
as director from 1998 to the present. My work with LRSS now is quite
diverse. I write some of the printed materials that are used in small
groups as well as record wrap-up lectures for those sessions; I write
articles for our local Catholic paper on various biblical topics and
serve as an associate editor of "The Bible Today" to which I contribute
occasionally; I have thoroughly enjoyed working with various biblical
scholars both in developing new study materials and in planning a yearly
LRSS Bible Institute usually held in June of each year; I work closely
with our publishers at Liturgical Press to create, edit and market our
materials; I work with a wonderful and dedicated staff here in Little
Rock to manage the program, present workshops, and plan future
directions for our ministry nationally and here in the diocese; I teach
in various programs in our diocese, serve as a presenter at conferences
around the country, and lead days of reflection in various locations.

3) Last year, LRSS published the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible, which
utilizes the recently revised NABRE. Could you talk a little bit about
the process by which the LRCSB was produced? How long of a project was
it? Who were your main collaborators in this project?

This project began as a germ of an idea about ten years ago. We have
always had numerous requests for more information about biblical
translations and tools for Bible study, and had begun receiving requests
for more materials that could assist individuals as well as groups. From
many of those discussions, we believed we were being given a
grace-filled opportunity to produce a user-friendly Bible that could
address needs among adult Catholics for solid Catholic biblical
information and formation. In late 2001 and early 2002, we began to
gather our ideas into various proposals for format and content. But
first on the list was to find the right people to assist in the overall
project design and editing. We invited two biblical scholars who we
knew to be academically and pastorally suited to the task and invited
them to come on board as we laid out all the details. Sr. Irene Nowell,
OSB, served as the Old Testament editor and Fr. Ron Witherup, SS, served
as the New Testament editor.

The first couple of years consisted of numerous meetings in person and
by conference call to identify writers, lay out an overall plan, design
schema for each biblical book, and determine initial timelines. We
selected writers based on their areas of expertise and their ability to
write in a style that could be understood by adults who are intelligent
but not necessarily scholars and we were pleased when the following
people agreed: Mary Elsbernd, OSF, who focused attention on connections
between the Bible and the church's social justice teachings; Leslie
Hoppe, OFM, whose expertise in geography and archeology was important,
Jerome Kodell, OSB, one of the early founders of LRSS who has a
wonderful sense of biblical spirituality; Irene Nowell, OSB, whose
comprehensive understanding of Old Testament writing and theology
permeates many of the OT inserts; John J. Pilch, who shared his
expertise on ancient Mediterranean culture; Bishop Anthony B. Taylor,
whose own training in biblical theology is found in a concise article on
"Dei Verbum"; Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, who wrote every single prayer
starter that appears throughout the Bible and has a skill for reflecting
on God's Word and inner life; Ronald D. Witherup, SS, whose NT expertise
is second to none and permeates so many of the NT entries; and myself,
contributing reflections on biblical characters, ancient culture, and
practical tips for studying the Word of God.

The writing took place over about a year, which also included the time
needed for our local bishop and his censor, and the USCCB office that
deals with biblical texts to review the work. Thankfully, Sr. Irene was
part of the team of scholars who had been working on the NABRE and we
had some initial sense of what to expect. And then the process involved
some waiting which the USCCB finished their work reviewing the NABRE.
We could have published several years earlier, but knowing that the
NABRE could be released at any time, we did not want our users to buy an
edition with the NAB and then immediately have to purchase a new edition
with the NABRE.

We could not have done this work at all without the editorial and
production assistance of the staff at Liturgical Press. They took our
ideas and directions, our manuscripts and photos, and created a
beautiful and practical layout. That process took another year or so.

4) One of the features of the LRCSB that I find to be outstanding is the
overall look and readability of the text. The single-column format is a
pleasure to read from, there is plenty of space for personal
annotations, and the study helps, maps, and charts are intelligently
positioned in the text. Could you talk a little bit about how you and
the LRCSB editors went about producing such a beautiful volume? Also,
are there any plans in the future to have the LRCSB come in a premium
leather edition?

Thank you for identifying the very things that I love about the LRCSB,
but most importantly the very things we hoped would be attractive and
useful to all those who choose to use this Bible. For many Catholics, a
study edition of the Bible still is not a familiar tool. We have
thankfully become more accustomed to looking at footnotes and reading
articles, but we wanted to provide access to information that could be
found on the very pages where questions might occur or insights might be
necessary or helpful. We hope the layout of the material achieves that.

We do have a premium edition on its way to our warehouse even as I
write. It will arrive in late March or early April and is really a
beautiful edition. A soft leathery cover with a subtle and tasteful
imprint, golden edges to the pages ... lovely and feels wonderful in the

5) It must have been exciting to see Pope Benedict receive a copy of the LRCSB from Bishop Taylor last year. How's the reception been for the LRCSB since its publication last summer?

Bishop Taylor returned from that trip to Rome, there to ordain a deacon from our diocese, and walked into my office with a surprise. He then produced two photos of our Bible being given to Pope Benedict XVI. I appreciated his pride in the work we've done, and his own pleasure in presenting it to the pope. We've had really excellent reception, both from those who are "professionals" in the church, and those "in the pews" who have begun using it regularly. We couldn't ask for more.

6) In general, is there anything else that you would like to tell my
readers about the LRSS or the LRCSB?

We feel very privileged to be stewards of this ministry that began as a
simple and faith-filled local effort in 1974. The staff of LRSS is
completely dedicated to providing the best biblical materials for adult
Catholics who want to continue growing as disciples. I couldn't ask to
work with better people. We have three goals always in our minds: 1.
To help people become more and more biblically literate (not just to
quote the Bible or be able to identify chapter and verse but to
understand how to use the tools of study that can help us to understand
and reflect on its meaning), 2. To grow in an experience of community
(sharing the Word of God with others is the most effective way to create
meaningful and lasting Christ-centered relationships), and 3. To help
people to encounter and grow in their relationship with Christ (know
that the Word of God provides a profound opportunity to encounter

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

I wish I could identify just one. I can say that the overarching truth I
have discovered in the Bible is that God says profoundly over and over
"I will be with you." And probably my favorite sections of the Bible are
the Prophets and the Gospels.

In addition, I find that there are a number of passages that have been
life-giving and challenging to me, (though I'll admit I want to get used
to them in the new translation) such as:

Gen 1:31 "God look at everything he had made and found it very good."

Isa 9:1 "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."

Lam 3:22-24 "The Lord's acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion
is not spent; They are renewed each morning -- great is your

Micah 6:8-10 "You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the
Lord requires of you ..."

The canticle of Mary (Luke1)

I think you get the idea.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The NABRE after 1 Year

March 9th marked the one year anniversary of the publication of the NABRE. Over the past year, I have done some posts that have analyzed some of the unique features of the NABRE. For the most part, I have found the NABRE to be a definite upgrade to the original NAB. While not as consistently literal/formal as the RSV, I find that it does more things right than wrong. For example, I was doing some research this week for a lecture on 1 Kings 1-11, and while comparing the NABRE with the RSV, I spotted a couple of areas where I think the NABRE is better.

The first was in 1 Kings 3:4-11, where Solomon asks for a "listening heart" instead of the more typically translated "understanding mind". Not only is the translation of "heart" instead of "mind" more literal, it also helps to maintain the parallel with verse 6 where Solomon says to the LORD that "You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart." We also know that David is describes as being a "man after his own heart" throughout 1-2 Samuel. Solomon's "heart" remains an important theme throughout 1 Kings, where by the time we get to 11:9, we see that "The LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart turned away from the LORD."

The second is found in 1 Kings 4, which describes the domestic organization of the Solomonic kingdom. 4:1-6 lists the "officials" that Solomon had in his service, most likely high officials of Solomon's central government in Jerusalem. (The RSV refers to them has "high officials".) Then in verses 7-20, we are given the twelve administrative districts of the kingdom. The RSV and NRSV refers to those who are put in charge of these districts as "officers" while the NABRE translates it as "governors". As Jerome T. Walsh points out in his volume on 1 Kings in the Berit Olam series: "The NRSV (RSV) calls them "officials", but this is misleading, since the word is entirely different from the "high officials" of 4:2 (87)." I admit that this is a very subtle difference, but I do believe it is important nevertheless.

There have been some areas where I do think the NABRE could have been better, for sure. Most notably, I feel that there are a number of decisions in Genesis 1-3 which could have been better. Also, there is that notoriously final part of Judges 3:22 that was not translated in the NABRE.

Overall, I find the NABRE to be a considerable improvement over the original, not to mention the re-revised Psalms. I am interested to hear from those of you who have spent some time in the NABRE over the past year. What are your thoughts? What do you like? What do you dislike?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The NIV11 and Catholic Bibles

Over the past 30+ years, the most widely read English language Bible has been the NIV. Many people, including Catholics, are at least familiar with this translation and the impact it has had in the Evangelical Protestant community. (I even know a number of Catholics who use it as their primary Bible.) Over the years, whenever I would purchase a Protestant book on Bible study more times than not the Bible that was keyed to the text was the NIV. In many ways, the NIV was accepted by many conservative Protestants as a compliment, or even an heir, to the more formal KJV.

I sure that some of you are aware that the NIV has fallen into controversy over the past decade, beginning with the publication of the TNIV back 2005. It was meant to be an update to the NIV, with sensitivity to inclusive language. To make a long story short, it was not well received. So much so that today the TNIV is out-of-print and no new editions will be published. It was decided by Biblica in 2009 that a completely new edition of the NIV (NIV11) would be published in 2011, followed by the ceasing of publication of both the TNIV and the older NIV.

This leads to the publication in 2011 of the most recent NIV11, which sought to make the Bible "easy to understand yet rich with the detail of the original scriptures. You are brought closer to the first experience of the Bible through the NIV. When the Bible was heard and read in its own time, its message was both clear and accurate. The NIV reunites these two features for those wanting a similar experience today. Time has passed, and language and culture have changed, but the NIV brings you close to the Bible once again."

In some conservative circles, the NIV11 has failed to gain acceptance, much in the same way as the TNIV. Again, one of the main issues is in regards to its use of inclusive language. (One should also keep in mind how the ESV has begun to replace the old NIV in many circles.) The use of inclusive language is no stranger to Catholics concerned about translation, either in the Scriptures or for Holy Mass.

So, what I thought might be interesting is to list a couple of articles below, some supporting the NIV and some who do not support it. I encourage you to read them before commenting on the following question:. In regards to the NIV11, how does or does this not mirror Bible translation issues in the Catholic Church? This discussion could go many ways, particularly with the recent issues concerning the ESV/NRSV/RSV-2CE Lectionary, as well as the decisions made in regards to the NABRE.

An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version (Rodney J. Decker)

The NIV 2011: Preliminary Assessment (David T. Koyzis)

The Collins Bank Bible (Leroy Huizenga)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: ICSB Exodus

Earlier this year, Ignatius Press released the ICSB: Exodus. Those of you who are familiar with the ICSB NT or ICSB Genesis will find nothing new with this volume. Although it should be pointed out that many of the more recent volumes have been considerably larger in size, this one as well comes in at a large 10.7 x 8.2 x 0.7 inches. This allows for greater space for personal annotations. While I find this to be acceptable for these individual volumes, I sure hope that when the complete ICSB is published in 2014 or 2015, it will be smaller, even more so than the ICSB NT. As usual, the translation used is the RSV-2CE.

A few notes on the particulars of this volume:

** There are four pages of introductory material which cover topics such as author and dating, structure, themes, historical authenticity, and Christian perspective.

** Three word studies on Pharoah (par'oh), serve (abad), and merciful love (hesed).

** Two topical essays on The Date of Exodus and After the Golden Calf.

** Two maps (Moses' Flight/Return to Egypt and the Exodus), an illustration of the Tabernacle, and a chart on the 10 Plagues.

** A very helpful three page section in the appendix which gives quotes from the Church Fathers and other early church writings concerning the Mosaic Ceremonial Laws: Occasion and Purpose.

** The appendix also includes study questions for understanding and application for each chapter of Exodus.

As I mentioned above, if you are familiar with any of the ICSB volumes, what you will read in the ICSB Exodus will be much of the same. Typicall, the annotations/commentary take up a third to half of each page. There are, however, some sections where the annotations are considerably fewer and take up less than a quarter of a page. You can see this in Exodus 35-40. This is not terribly surprising since this section covers the actual building of the Tabernacle which was revealed in 25-31. (The NABRE has very limited notes in this area as well.) Exodus 9-10 also has limited annotations.

When I received this volume in the mail a couple weeks back, I was excited to see another well-design ICSB edition. However, my joy was tempered due to my frustrations with the pace of production the ICSB, which has been well documented on this blog. Recent comments by Dr. Scott Hahn about a possible completion date of 2014 or 2015 are encouraging, but that is still 2-3 years away at the earliest. Let us pray that the ICSB is completed in good time, but let us also pray that there would be additional good Catholic study Bibles in some of the other translations as well.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Little Office of the BVM Question

A reader asks:

Do you know if the Fr. Augustin Bea's Amplior Edition of the Little Office conforms to Summorum Pontificum & can be considered as 'public prayer' of the Church?

I am interested to know if a printed edition is available?

Monday, March 12, 2012

More ESV and the Lectionary Info

Thanks to Theophrastus for providing the link and information:

Father Somerville-Knapman reprints an e-mail from Archbishop Coleridge:

In answer to your questions, the facts are these. The ESV was chosen over the RSV because the ESV, in its 7% modification of the RSV, seeks to incorporate the fruit of more recent biblical scholarship, i.e. since the publication of the RSV. In other words, the RSV is out-of-date. We were looking for a more up-to-date version of the RSV; and when the NRSV proved impossible, we chose the ESV. Unlike the copyright holders of the NRSV, the copyright holders of the ESV have shown themselves quite open to the kind of changes we would need or want to make for Catholic lectionary purposes; and the copyright arrangements for the project are now in place. What will appear in the lectionary will be a modified form of the ESV. This may in time look to the production of a Catholic edition of the ESV, though that is not decided. I know too little of the permission given to the English ordinariate, but I doubt that it will have an effect on the lectionary we are producing. That would depend on the Holy See. It is very hard to say when the ESV lectionary will be ready for publication. We have all but finished work on the first volume (Sundays and Solemnities), and it may be that the first volume will appear before the others. But it depends on how quickly the bishops of the five Conferences get back to us within the process of consultation. Many of them are keen to have a new lectionary as soon as possible, so it may be that we will have the entire new lectionary by 2014

Mondays with Verbum Domini (Finale)

This final selection from Verbum Domini comes from the conclusion. "Come Lord Jesus!"

God’s definitive word
At the conclusion of these reflections with which I have sought to gather up and examine more fully the rich fruits of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the word of God in the life and mission of the Church, I wish once more to encourage all the People of God, pastors, consecrated persons and the laity, to become increasingly familiar with the sacred Scriptures. We must never forget that all authentic and living Christian spirituality is based on the word of God proclaimed, accepted, celebrated and meditated upon in the Church. This deepening relationship with the divine word will take place with even greater enthusiasm if we are conscious that, in Scripture and the Church’s living Tradition, we stand before God’s definitive word on the cosmos and on history.

The Prologue of John’s Gospel leads us to ponder the fact that everything that exists is under the sign of the Word. The Word goes forth from the Father, comes to dwell in our midst and then returns to the Father in order to bring with him the whole of creation which was made in him and for him. The Church now carries out her mission in eager expectation of the eschatological manifestation of the Bridegroom: “the Spirit and the bride say: ‘Come!’” (Rev 22:17). This expectation is never passive; rather it is a missionary drive to proclaim the word of God which heals and redeems every man. Today too the Risen Jesus says to us: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15).

New evangelization and a new hearing
Our own time, then, must be increasingly marked by a new hearing of God’s word and a new evangelization. Recovering the centrality of the divine word in the Christian life leads us to appreciate anew the deepest meaning of the forceful appeal of Pope John Paul II: to pursue the missio ad gentes and vigorously to embark upon the new evangelization, especially in those nations where the Gospel has been forgotten or meets with indifference as a result of widespread secularism. May the Holy Spirit awaken a hunger and thirst for the word of God, and raise up zealous heralds and witnesses of the Gospel.

Following the example of the great Apostle of the Nations, who changed the course of his life after hearing the voice of the Lord (cf. Acts 9:1-30), let us too hear God’s word as it speaks to us, ever personally, here and now. The Holy Spirit, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, set Paul and Barnabas apart to proclaim and spread the Good News (cf. 13:2). In our day too, the Holy Spirit constantly calls convinced and persuasive hearers and preachers of the word of the Lord.

The word and joy
The greater our openness to God’s word, the more will we be able to recognize that today too the mystery of Pentecost is taking place in God’s Church. The Spirit of the Lord continues to pour out his gifts upon the Church to guide us into all truth, to show us the meaning of the Scriptures and to make us credible heralds of the word of salvation before the world. Thus we return to the First Letter of Saint John. In God’s word, we too have heard, we too have seen and touched the Word of life. We have welcomed by grace the proclamation that eternal life has been revealed, and thus we have come to acknowledge our fellowship with one another, with those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, and with all those who throughout the world hear the word, celebrate the Eucharist and by their lives bear witness to charity. This proclamation has been shared with us – the Apostle John reminds us – so that “our joy may be complete” (1 Jn 1:4).

The synodal assembly enabled us to experience all that Saint John speaks of: the proclamation of the word creates communion and brings about joy. This is a profound joy which has its origin in the very heart of the trinitarian life and which is communicated to us in the Son. This joy is an ineffable gift which the world cannot give. Celebrations can be organized, but not joy. According to the Scripture, joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22) who enables us to enter into the word and enables the divine word to enter into us and to bear fruit for eternal life. By proclaiming God’s word in the power of the Holy Spirit, we also wish to share the source of true joy, not a superficial and fleeting joy, but the joy born of the awareness that the Lord Jesus alone has words of everlasting life (cf. Jn 6:68).

“Mater Verbi et Mater laetitiae”
This close relationship between God’s word and joy is evident in the Mother of God. Let us recall the words of Saint Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45). Mary is blessed because she has faith, because she believed, and in this faith she received the Word of God into her womb in order to give him to the world. The joy born of the Word can now expand to all those who, by faith, let themselves be changed by God’s word. The Gospel of Luke presents this mystery of hearing and joy in two texts. Jesus says: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (8:21). And in reply to a woman from the crowd who blesses the womb that bore him and the breasts that nursed him, Jesus reveals the secret of true joy: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (11:28). Jesus points out Mary’s true grandeur, making it possible for each of us to attain that blessedness which is born of the word received and put into practice. I remind all Christians that our personal and communal relationship with God depends on our growing familiarity with the word of God. Finally, I turn to every man and woman, including those who have fallen away from the Church, who have left the faith or who have never heard the proclamation of salvation. To everyone the Lord says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).

May every day of our lives thus be shaped by a renewed encounter with Christ, the Word of the Father made flesh: he stands at the beginning and the end, and “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17). Let us be silent in order to hear the Lord’s word and to meditate upon it, so that by the working of the Holy Spirit it may remain in our hearts and speak to us all the days of our lives. In this way the Church will always be renewed and rejuvenated, thanks to the word of the Lord which remains for ever (cf. 1 Pet 1:25; Is 40:8). Thus we too will enter into the great nuptial dialogue which concludes sacred Scripture: “The Spirit and the bride say: ‘Come’. And let everyone who hears say: ‘Come!’” The one who testifies to these things, says: ‘Surely I am coming soon!’. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”. (Rev 22:17, 20).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The RSV Lectionary 2.0 (including some random thoughts)

For some additional info go here. Make sure to read the comments, which mentions a bit more on the ESV.

Some random, mostly speculative thoughts about this whole issue:

1) Are we right to assume that the RSV Lectionaries are that of the 2nd Edition? When they mention that they bought the remainder of what was in stock, does this mean Ignatius will not be producing any more in the future? With the NAB firmly entrenched in the USA and apparently the imminent publication of an ESV Lectionary, it seems probable that no large English language territory will ever use the RSV-2CE in its Lectionary. This may indicate why Ignatius is dumping its Lectionaries.

2) Why and how is the ESV being used? Why not the already adapted NRSV of Canada or the RSV-2CE? There are a lot of questions but very few answers. Who are they securing the rights to use the ESV? Crossway? NCCUSA? If Crossway, why would they do such a thing, considering the fact that they have been unwilling to produce an ESV with Deuterocanonicals? It was Oxford University Press that did so.

3) The link, above, states that there is a Catholic on the ESV translation team. Who might that be? Am I the only one who is a bit confused as to why any Catholic Lectionary would use a primarily Reformed translation?

4) What is the future of the RSV-2CE? We know that the complete ICSB will likely be published in the next 2-3 years, but one has to wonder if the RSV-2CE will remain a niche translation. The vast majority of theology books I have read since 2006 quote the older RSV-CE. Other than the ICSB, Ignatius doesn't seem interested in promoting or providing background information on their translation. I wish they would.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bible Tech Tools

A very cool article from Brandon Vogt in an upcoming issue of OSV.

"Imagine showing an iPhone to St. Thomas Aquinas and explaining that it holds his entire Summa Theologica. Picture a shocked St. Augustine seeing you read the Church Fathers on a thin screen, then listen to a homily preached hundreds of miles away. Modern technology provides us Catholics an array of study tools that would leave any saint in awe. Upon seeing our laptops and tablets, smartphones and iPods, they’d marvel at how easy it is for us to explore Sacred Scripture."

You can continue reading this article here

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The RSV-2CE and the Ordinariate

The Vatican has approved the first liturgical resources for the Ordinariate. According to the website of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England: "The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has published a Decree permitting the use of the Revised Standard Version (Second Catholic Edition) for liturgical use in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. This edition of the Holy Bible allows those Catholics originally from the Anglican tradition, to worship using a version of scripture which is familiar to them. It also promotes the English Bible tradition and recent efforts to renew Catholic liturgy with more accurate translations."

I am unaware if this will apply in the US, under the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

(Hat tip to Fr. Stephen's blog for the news.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Presenting the Newest Member of My Clan....

Judah Ganen

(His due date is in late July)

CWR Interview w/ Editors of Jewish Annotated NT

Catholic World Report has just posted an interview by Carl Olson with two of the editors of Oxford's Jewish Annotated New Testament. You can read the entire interview here.

Two questions (and responses) are of particular interest to me:

CWR: How might Catholic readers, in particular, benefit and learn from it?

Dr. Levine: On the general topic of Jewish-Christian relations, the Catholic Church has been in the forefront of providing guidelines on how to teach and preach about Jews and Judaism. This volume compliments these efforts. We are also attentive to matters that Jews and Catholics hold in common: the ongoing interpretation of the shared Scripture (Old Testament/Tanakh); the concern for ritual; the role of Law; the relation of the New and Old Testaments.

CWR: What are some of the main concerns or challenges that Jewish readers face in approaching the New Testament?

Dr. Levine and Dr. Brettler: Some will be unfamiliar with basic Christian concepts (therefore, we provide annotations on baptism, Eucharist, resurrection, etc.); some might be concerned with passages that have led to anti-Jewish views (therefore, we provide historical and theological commentary); some might be unfamiliar with the stories and theologies that stand behind the New Testament as well as the stories and theologies that have developed from it (therefore, we show how the text is related to the Tanakh, to Jewish history, and to Jewish theology). Ideally, the Jewish reader will come away with a sense of what the great Lutheran theologian and biblical scholar, Krister Stendahl, called, “holy envy,” the ability to find meaning in a text or a tradition not one’s own.

Judaism cannot be fully understood without an understanding of the New Testament and its interpretation, since at so many points and times in history, Judaism developed within a Christian milieu. Therefore, Jewish readers can see in this text both a recovery of early Jewish history and the points at which Church and Synagogue parted.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mark Shea on How He Reads Tobit

Mark Shea, the gold standard in Catholic blogging and the author of many books, including Making Senses Out of Scripture, recently posted a response to a reader question on how one should read the book of Tobit. I agree with his main points, because he shows the liberty the Church gives in matters of interpreting the Bible. Check it out here.

What are your thoughts?

Bible Study Series: Philippians 1:12-26

“I want you to know, brothers, that my situation has turned out rather to advance the gospel, so that my imprisonment has become well known in Christ throughout the whole praetorium and to all the rest, and so that the majority of the brothers, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word fearlessly.

Of course, some preach Christ from envy and rivalry, others from good will. The latter act out of love, aware that I am here for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not from pure motives, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. What difference does it make, as long as in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I rejoice.

Indeed I shall continue to rejoice, for I know that this will result in deliverance for me through your prayers and support from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound on account of me when I come to you again (NABRE).”

This section of Paul's letter provides us the overall context in which he writes to the Philippians. While many would see Paul's imprisonment as a hindrance to his missionary work, instead Paul sees it as a grace and a part of God's plan. He recognizes two reasons why the Gospel has actually been advanced in his current circumstance!

First off, his imprisonment has actually been made known to the Praetorium (guard) in the city where he is being held. In some way, this has actually led to some conversions to Christianity (see 4:22?). This leads to one of the questions surrounding the issue of where this letter is being written. Is he speaking about imprisonment in Rome and the emperor's Praetorian Guard or perhaps in the residence of a governor of prominent Roman province? Tough to say, as I mentioned in the introduction to this series. The ICSB prefers Rome citing 4:22, while the NOAB 4th is more vague and the NABRE notes give both options. In any case, something remarkable has occurred and a number if fairly high-ranking Roman converts have been won through his imprisonment.

Secondly, and perhaps because of these new Roman converts, Paul mentions in verse 14 that "the brothers, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever (or being much more bold in the RSV) to proclaim the word fearlessly." This is a unique characteristic of the early Christian community. Whenever there seems to be events that could cause discouragement, the community reacts with even greater vigor. I prefer the RSV's use of bold, because it helps to make a connection back to Acts 4:23-31. Here, immediately after Peter and John go before the Sanhedrin, the whole community, instead of feeling downcast, pray for greater boldness. At that moment, the Spirit comes upon them and they all experience a second Pentecost. They are all empowered to go forth with boldness in their mission work. We see this here with Paul, who, through his own example, is inspiring boldness in the brothers.

It should be noted that in verses 15-18, Paul recognizes that the Gospel is being proclaimed, by the brethren, even if for different motives. It seems that some of the brothers have personal problems with Paul, while others may be doing it for selfish ambitions. Ultimately, however, "Christ is being proclaimed" which does bring great joy to Paul.

The last section of this unit consists of verses 19-26, which prove to show Paul's state of mind at the moment of his writing. Paul is appreciative of the prayer and support that he has received from the Philippians, but most especially from the "Spirit of Jesus Christ." As the ICSB points out, this is "because the Spirit proceeds from both the Father (Jn 14:26) and the Son (Jn 15:26), he (the Holy Spirit) is called both the Spirit of the Father (Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 2:11) and the Spirit of the Son (Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6)(358)." It is the Holy Spirit that is guiding him and providing the necessary support for him to continue his work. Yet, he knows that his current difficulties will provide deliverance in some way, which seem to echoe the comments made by Job in Jb 13:16 (see ICSB and NABRE note for more). Of course, he does not necessarily mean deliverance from imprisonment, but something much more.

"Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain (20-21)." These verses, and the ones that follow, are truly a beautiful section of this letter. They reveal Paul's inner debate between his desire to be with Christ in heaven, while recognizing the importance of continuing his missionary work. As we read this section, verses 19-26, we should hear the echoes of Colossians 1:24-25: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God (NABRE)." You see, he knows the mission that Christ has given him, and the part he plays in God's plan that is now being revealed. Yet, in his heart he would rather be with Christ in heaven. But Paul, recognizing this desire, knows that he is already living in Christ (1:21) and will continue his "fruitful labor" for his master.

The Navarre Compact NT has a nice comment on this, which I will conclude this study with: "Like Paul, the believer should try to identify himself with Christ (vv.21-26). A Christian's life in this world, involving suffering and even death, is in some way Christ's own life: that is what the Christian should be aiming at. Death is "gain" (v. 21), because it means being able to see God face to face (1 Cor 13:12) and obtain everlasting union with Christ(500)."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lenten Contest Winner

Congrats to Sharon Harrison who was randomly selected as the winner of the Lenten Contest. Please send an email, with your address, to mccorm45 (at) yahoo (dot) com, and I will get your prize out to you. Thanks to all who entered.

Mondays with Verbum Domini

Dialogue with other religions

Here too I wish to voice the Church’s respect for the ancient religions and spiritual traditions of the various continents. These contain values which can greatly advance understanding between individuals and peoples.[380] Frequently we note a consonance with values expressed also in their religious books, such as, in Buddhism, respect for life, contemplation, silence, simplicity; in Hinduism, the sense of the sacred, sacrifice and fasting; and again, in Confucianism, family and social values. We are also gratified to find in other religious experiences a genuine concern for the transcendence of God, acknowledged as Creator, as well as respect for life, marriage and the family, and a strong sense of solidarity.

Dialogue and religious freedom

All the same, dialogue would not prove fruitful unless it included authentic respect for each person and the ability of all freely to practise their religion. Hence the Synod, while encouraging cooperation between the followers of the different religions, also pointed out “the need for the freedom to profess one’s religion, privately and publicly, and freedom of conscience to be effectively guaranteed to all believers”: indeed, “respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. Such respect and dialogue foster peace and understanding between peoples”.

-Verbum Domini 119-120

Friday, March 2, 2012

News on Knox Bible from Baronius

Thanks to Theophrastus for spotting this:

Hi Tim:

I wanted to draw your attention to an update at Baronius Press's web page.  Of course, the big news is that Roman Breviary is now printed and in transit, but in other news ...

They claim to now have a publication date for their reprint of the
Knox Bible.  

"The title has been scheduled for printing on the 27 February and it should take approximately 5-6 weeks to complete plus 6-8 weeks for shipping. We estimate that we will be able to start shipping copies to customers around the end of May/beginning of June."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lenten Contest

This year's Lenten contest winner will receive the great Peter Kreeft's You Can Understand the Bible from Ignatius Press. All you need to do to enter is simply to put your name in the comment section of this post. No anonymous entries will be considered. The winner will be randomly drawn at the end of the contest, which will be Sunday, March 4th at 11:59PM. This contest is open to anyone in North America. (Sorry again to my loyal readers in the rest of the world.) Also, if you have a blog and would like to advertise this contest, it would be much appreciated. I will announce the winner on Monday.