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?


Anonymous said...

Well, Brumley and Hahn have been making claims that they will finish (by 2015). I will not get my hopes up. I do hope someone at Ignatius owns an ESV Study Bible so that they can see that they CAN publish the whole ICSB between two covers!!!

Timothy said...

It would be a mistake if Ignatius Press could not publish a complete ICSB in a one volume edition. And again, it can and should be of a reasonable size, much like the ESV Study Bible.

Amfortas said...

The ESV Study Bible isn't as detailed as the ICSB and has several books missing. Ignatius sould be able to produce a one volume version but will have to reduce the font size used for the ICSB NT.

Timothy said...


The ESV Study Bible has far more detailed, in color maps and charts scattered throughout it. It has a much better overall look to it as well.

Biblical Catholic said...

I don't think the number of volumes matter all that much because something like 80% of all books sold in the US are e-books......I won't say that print is dead, or that it will die, but it is a lot less important than it used to be.

And speaking of which....are they releasing this in e-book format, or are they waiting until the entire OT is done?

I also want to say be patient, a Bible commentary takes a long time to prepare, especially when it is done by two people working by their lonesome, and they also have full time jobs of their own

George RR Martin has spent 16 years working on the 'Song of Fire and Ice'....

It took Stephen King nearly 30 years to write The Dark Tower.

The Anchor Bible has been in production since 1956 and still isn't done, it will probably need at least another 20 years before it's done......

Good writing takes time, be patient.

Amfortas said...

I must take a closer look at the ESV Study Bible. My assertions were based on a look through in a bookshop. I can't quite bring myself to buy a copy. Put it down to Catholic prejudice!

Biblical Catholic said...

I keep confusing the ESV Study Bible with the Reformation Study Bible....obviously the latter I have no interest in...but I have no idea if the former is any good or not...I wonder if it is in my local library or somewhere else that I can read it without paying for it to decide if it is any good...

ThisVivian said...

(After writing interminably, I have deleted much of the below comment and reshuffled the rest: please forgive any disconnection in the preserved remnant of thoughts.)

The ESV Study Bible has one of the best layouts I've ever seen, but the notes are humdrum at best (moderately conservative historical scholarship of the sort that often paraphrases the passage annotated or points out the obvious for not-so-bright students) and some, especially in the NT, when it comes to passages on baptism, faith, justification, works, etc. are downright hostile to the faith. The articles in the back range from moderately quite-good (in the British sense of "almost") to absolutely useless (one is essentially an extreme condensation of the chapter headings in Grudem's "Systematic Theology"). The NT notes are much less bland than the OT, and much more interesting, and more thorough, dealing with just about every view of eschatology, baptism, etc. there is within conservative Protestantism; however, these may make it more disagreeable to some Catholics (although not to myself) than the bland OT annotation.

And it's missing the Catholic books, but that's something I've come to accept when looking for a good version of the Bible, period, and all the more so when looking for a study Bible - Catholics have no decent ones written from a perspective of even moderate faith except for the ICSBNT and Haydock.

That doesn't make it a bad Bible though; it's large, but it's still my favorite ESV, being printed on better paper and in single-column, which I have found in no other ESV except in the $100+ range (the Heirloom edition, the SCR, etc.), and the notes can sometimes be useful.

On the other hand, I like the Reformation Study Bible very much; the notes are not humdrum, they are unabashedly what they are - Reformed - which is what all should be; to hold to a view in that way is far better than to attempt to satisfy everyone and are eviscerated in the process. Some Bibles can pull this off part of the time: cf. notes to Gen 1-3 in the Life Application Bible. Young-earthers will come away vaguely dissatisfied, and old-earthers will come away vaguely dissatisfied, but hopefully still take something of value from the text itself: it is worded with the utmost care to not alienate any segment of believers (indeed, a Catholic and a Calvinist could read through it and find little to disagree on in the notes, although the Calvinist would accuse it of Arminianism or Semi-Pelagianism at times: this comes from it not addressing the "important points" much at all, instead of taking a stand, or, instead, spiritualizing them for "Life Application" instead of exegeting them).

Personally, my favorite single-volume study Bible is the MacArthur NASB. Seriously. If you know even basic theology (i.e. have read the Catechism), MacArthur's not going to "convert" you to Calvinism or to Free Church Evangelicalism or Presbylutheranism or whatever he is, and will likely give you a great deal to think about, and even some valuable spiritual and theological insight that's missed in the commentaries you may normally read. "As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another."

ThisVivian said...

If you want a study Bible, or even a theological-faithful commentary, you're going to have to go Protestant, because Catholics have few commentaries, and the overwhelming majority of those available suck. Of the one that doesn't, off of the top of my head, it's very basic (CCSS). The other commentaries you have are secular academic (Raymond Brown's stuff), off the wall and not even what one thinks when one says "commentary" (Berit Olam), or very uneven, weird (volumes on John with nary a mention of sacramental theology?) to heretical (Sacra Pagina). This in contrast to the likely forty full-Bible Protestant commentaries ranging from the most liberal, "Christian atheist", and secular, to the most fundamentalist, and everything in between, and half a dozen not even on the spectrum, but out in left field.*

For study Bibles, you have 1) Haydock, 2) Navarre, or 3) the incomplete ICSB, and your choices are limited by the translations used (in contrast to, for example, the Life Application Bible, which one can buy in NIV, NKJV, KJV, NLT, etc., or even MacArthur's, in NKJV and NASB and ESV, or any of a dozen generic "XYZ Study Bible"s produced by Zondervan, Tyndale, Nelson, etc.).

One can likely analyze this in terms of the comparative emphases of the two religions, one on faith in community, and one on private interpretation and the rock of Scripture. The latter are going to produce more commentaries (not to mention they can schism off the most liberal and apostate elements of their former co-religionists, leaving behind a vital core of those who thirst for the word and for religion and for righteousness - like fire and ice and rage, like the night, and the storm, for him who is ancient and eternal, and standeth at the center of time and watcheth the turn of the universe - and who have a desire to put out such commentaries, which Catholics can not, being all-the-more embroiled in what Pelikan called "the crisis of orthodoxy" for it, as, due to the nature of our polity, we can't stick our heads in the sand and withdraw (the liberal-conservative Protestant schism option).

Ranting aside, my primary whole-Bible commentary at the moment is the unstintingly Christocentric Brazos Theological (used probably 90% of the time), supplemented by, in certain books, the New American, Pillar NT, NIGNT, Rashi, Baker Exegetical, Hermeneia, Anchor Bible, New International OT, NIV Application, and a few others in no specific order (except I rarely use Hermeneia of my own desire).

Ah, in the end, back on topic, if you already have a decent, bland, basic historical/exegetical study Bible, there's no reason to get the ESVSB, but I think it's just about the best exemplar of it's kind. If you don't, and you use the ESV, you should get it. And, get rid of the Catholic bias right now, or you'll never find a decent modern study Bible, let alone have a good range of them, and forever will 95% of commentaries be closed off to you.

Go out and buy a MacArthur SB and a Reformation SB right now, and maybe even buy a Ruckman Reference Bible* for good measure, and get reading and tune those worldview filters up!

*Not really for the Ruckman.

Biblical Catholic said...

For theological commentaries, those by Thomas Aquinas are still quite also have the generally excellent 'Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture' series which collects passages from the Fathers to create a commentary...

For an historical critical commentary I generally rely on the Anchor Volumes, the Jerome and New Jerome Commentaries, the New Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture and the Oxford Bible Commentary...

Most of the Anchor volumes are very good, the early volumes tend to be more liberal, but as the series has been progressing it has been getting more and more traditional. The volume on Mark by CS Mann rejects Markan priority and the Two Source Theory and the volume on the Pastoral epistles by Luke Timothy Johnson defends Pauline authorship. Many books of the Bible have been done more than once for this series, and those volumes that have been done more than once, the second version is almost always the more conservative.

I think that in general the scholarly community is moving away from a lot of the theories that have been its bread and butter for decades, and the growing conservatism of modern Biblical scholarishiip is reflected in the Anchor series.

ThisVivian said...

I have the Aquinas commentaries on Matthew and John (published by SSPX) and the ones on 1-2 Corinthians, published by who-knows-who, for the Kindle.

Of all of those, I am actually unaware of two: the "New Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture" (I'm aware of two, one very old and one very new, that have a similar name), and the "Oxford Bible Commentary" (do you mean the Oxford Annotated?). Hermeneia is definitely more liberal than even the early Anchor Bible volumes, if it is actually the case they're becoming more conservative (I would have thought in the example you gave, it had more to do with LTJ, who is one of the better Catholic exegetes around, notwithstanding his support for priestesscraft, which doesn't affect the majority of his exegesis which tends to float around Luke/Acts/Hebrews).

If you haven't given them a try, you should definitely look at one of the Brazos volumes; I believe Hauerwas' Matthew or Pelikan's Acts are two of the best ("For this series we have employed theologians to commentate on the Bible, for war is too important to leave to the generals" - Series Introduction).

I wish there was some journal where I could publish a polished article full of half-cocked theories on why Catholics don't write Bible commentaries, and those that do tend not to write from a Catholic POV (right there is the reason why Scott Hahn is so popular, and always-mentioned - there are such a dearth of orthodox commentators, and he is one).

ThisVivian said...

Ah, I tried ACCS on the Psalms, on Genesis, and on Romans, and I found it to be far inferior to my expectations. The Fathers are culled in such a way as to support a reading in line with Oden's "Classic Christianity" whether consciously or not, there is a bias in the selection of Fathers (especially Augustine and some of Chrysostom are vastly over-represented, where the East in general is under-represented, as are many of the less-orthodox archaic theories; hardly any Origen was used, but he was ancient Biblical scholar par exellence) - much like he used a random five volumes of "Fathers of the Church" and the second series of NPNF - which is 8 Augustine, 6 Chrysostom - as his sole sources.

And the authors didn't get the execution of "catena" right, like Thomas Aquinas did, instead the works reading as essentially modern, with many quotations of the Fathers embedded inside of something else (instead of massaging the Fathers and selecting them so judiciously they form a running, smooth commentary on their own), like a lot of modern Orthodox theology (reminds me of Seraphim Rose's "Genesis, Creation, and Early Man").

But, when doing this, in what may be the worst of all, the "voices" of individual Fathers are lost, so one can no longer get "the mind" of a specific father, or of Patrology in general, as Orthodox attempt to do, nor can one see the lines of influence and dogmatic development, as all are smoothed over in to one (a problem with all catenis).

And they were over-priced!

I suppose if I ever write a commentary of my own, I'll have to write a scathing review of it to submit to the book reviews section of the relevant journals. I really thought I would like the ACCS (the Brazos delivered more on the promise of the ACCS to my mind than the ACCS itself did); instead, I stick to the "primary sources", such as Augustine's Exposition of the Psalms, Basil's Hexahemeron, Origen's commentary on Romans (one of the most enlightening commentaries on Romans I've ever read, as it was written a hundred years before Pelagius or St Augustine drew breath), etc.

Oh, but the ACCS did not write from a secular perspective, but, it was constrained to write from a perspective of faith due to that being the perspective of the Fathers. (Except in the Genesis volume, where there are some stabs at shoehorning day-age theory in there, using the words of young-earth Fathers, nonetheless, mainly Augustine, who believed everything was created instantly).


Biblical Catholic said...

No...I mean the Oxford Bible Commentary....

It's a fairly extensive one volume commentary published in 2001....

The Oxford Annotated Bible is okay....but doesn't have much content and most of it is just an explanatory gloss, which can be helpful if you just aren't sure what the verse is talking about, but doesn't provide much detail.

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture was published in 1953, with an update, A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, published in 1968.

Neither is still in print but used copies can be obtained with relative ease...the 1953 volume is very expensive (around $200-$300) and is better, the new one is cheap, about $50, but nowhere near as good.....

ThisVivian said...

I just borrowed, today, a "Lutheran Study Bible" (Concordia 2009) - I think I would buy one if they weren't so ridiculously overpriced, even on Amazon ($50 for hardcover, $80 for bonded leather, $110 for "genuine leather", that is, stiff and think pigskin, with plain gilt). No higher-end binding options.

It's excellent. Truly excellent.

It may be the best single-volume study Bible I've ever read in terms of the contents (but not the layout, etc.). So far, it's the only modern study Bible I've seen that is in the same league as Haydock (although nothing modern is that good!), and is likely on the same level as the ten-volume Navarre, and it uses a superior translation (ESV v RSV-1CE) that has the Christianity restored to the OT. It's just about as Christocentric as the Orthodox Study Bible, but has, I would wager, around fifteen to twenty times more annotation (based on counting the number of characters per line, multiplying by two - as the notes are in two-column) across ten random pages, averaging it out, and doing the same for the OSB and then dividing them - I get a result of 18.9, etc.).

The few parts I've read are surprisingly harmonious with the Catholic faith (it's LCMS, which is as traditional Lutheran as you can get).

It might seem off-topic, but it comes back to Patristics, and the use of the Fathers: the Lutheran Study Bible uses far, far more Fathers (cited verbatim, and referenced/attributed) than the Orthodoxy Study Bible, which, in reality, uses very few. Just on the first page dealing with the first three verses of Genesis (that's how much commentary there is), the Fathers, in ANF, NPNF1, NPNF2, FotC, and ACW, are together quoted eleven times!

The printing is tiny (albeit excellent, unlike many other Bibles, ahem, Crossway), the binding seems not-excellent and tight (either glued or saddle-stitched), it's a hardcover, etc., so my review of the form of the book would be negative (especially after finally finding the next-best-thing to the ever-elusive Holy Grail in Bible printing, the Cambridge Clarion in edge-lined goatskin) but the contents are one of those rare occasions where, with the knowledge I have now of them, I can give an unabashed, enthused five-stars and complete recommendation. If I ever buy one, it may displace my MacArthur NASB as my "main one-volume study Bible" (although I don't use one-volume study Bibles that much, so that's not saying a lot).

I shouldn't have been surprised at the quality of it, since the Lutheran Annotated Apocrypha - which is the apocrypha counterpart to the Lutheran Study Bible, based on the identical covers and layout - has quickly become my go-to reference for everything to do with the deuterocanonical books, being the best short commentary I've ever seen on them (it is disappointing that they only have annotation on the deuterocanonicals, not on the anagignoskomena, 1 Esdras, 3-4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, Prayer of Manasseh, or the pseudepigraphon 2/4 Esdras). For that matter, the commentary is more useful for regular, everyday purposes than most of the Anchor Bible volumes on the deuterocanonicals.

Off-topic is good, for that's where good discussions are born!