Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guest Review: Christian Community Bible Revised Edition (2013)

Thank you to Chris for this review of his CCB:

One of the pleasant surprises coming out of last week's Catholic Bible Taxonomy was getting to spend time with some less familiar translations. This week, let's take a closer look at the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition.

 This is the English translation adapted from Father Hurault's Biblia Latinoamericana in 1986. Although it's been in print consistently since then, and older editions are widely available used and online, it's very hard to locate new in the US. (Thanks to Lenny for locating new copies on sale through St. Paul's Press.) Because I wanted to review the latest (59th!) Revised Edition published in 2013, I contacted Claretian Publications in Macau, who makes this Bible available to English-speaking Christians in China, India, and the Philippines (where the Imprimatur was issued).

The volume itself is quite attractive and very comfortable to read. Using it for a week in Morning Prayer, I can say it's probably my most comfortable Bible to hold and read. It has a surprisingly large typeface for a Bible that's not large print, and a compelling "global" design.

Consistent with Fr. Hurault's desire for a Bible that can be read easily by "ordinary poor people," the distinctive pen and ink drawings for each book of the Bible interpret key themes of the book through the experience of the working poor in the developing world. Here are some of my favorites.

Though I don't have an older copy to compare it to, I rather like the translation of the 2013 Revised Edition. It's definitely a translation, and not a paraphrase. If the New Jerusalem Bible and the Good News Translation (Catholic Edition) had children, this would be their firstborn. Liked the NJB, it uses the Divine Name to render the tetragrammaton. Like the GNT, it is conversational without being dumbed down. To be glib: this is the NJB for pastors instead of scholars, or the GNT for grownups. You can sample the text online, and here are some passages for flavor.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the spirit of God hovered over the waters.

Is 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.

Jer 20:7 Yahweh, you have seduced me and I let myself be seduced. You have taken me by force and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; they all make fun of me.

Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God

Eph 1:3-14 (One sentence in the Greek!) Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in his presence. From eternity he destined us, in love, to be his adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling his free and generous will. This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness, which he granted us in his beloved might finally received all glory and praise. For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by his blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of his grace, which he lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us his mysterious design, in accordance with his loving-kindness, in Christ. In him, and under him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth. By a decree of him, who disposes all things, according to his own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the gospel that saves you, have believed in him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of his glory.

Earlier versions use a much criticized two-size typeface to pop essential passages off the page for visual emphasis. That's still here in the 2013 Revised Edition, but it's not as distracting as I feared, so maybe they've dialed it back a bit. Traditionalists and original language purists will not like the extensive use of horizontal inclusive language. One strange choice I think everyone will find jarring is the highly unusual decision to print the Old Testament not in Catholic or Protestant order, but rather in the order of the Torah!

Essentially this gives us a Catholic Bible built out of the New Testament with an English-language Tanakh in front of it. The guiding editorial principal of this translation is a pastoral focus on Catholic community organizing, so I can't imagine what real-world scenario made this a necessary choice. Perhaps a polemic strategy to counter some Protestant sect in the field?

For my money, the real star of this edition is the commentary. It's quite different, at least to North American ears. Where most Catholic Bibles hew either to  historical-critical academic notes or dogmatic-catechetical notes, the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition reads more like the preaching notes of a missionary trying to make clear the sense of Scripture that will help group leaders build and organize communities around the gospel for dignity and survival. That's because they are: essentially the commentary is Fr. Hurault's homiletic notes from his missionary work in 1960s / 1970s Argentina.

To that end, it finishes with a few handy charts of the Liturgical year for easy reference guiding Bible study or planning Liturgy. 

I could imagine a revitalized interest in this text given that it shares a common culture with the Holy Father. I could easily see teen and college ministers leading groups with this Bible in one hand and the Didache NABRE in the other.

What do you think? Especially if anyone has older editions, I'd love to hear how it compares and how you've encountered Scripture through it.

Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn.


Javier said...

Hi Christopher,
very nice post on this interesting bible. The version officially in use for liturgy in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay (and the only spanish bible on the Vatican site), 'El Libro del Pueblo de Dios', from the late 70s and early 80s, made a similar decision with the order of the books: the OT follows the order of the Tanakh, while the deutoerocanonical books are placed between the OT and the NT. It was probably some sort of fashion in South America at the time.
Also, I'd like to point out that Fr. Hurault pastoral work took place in southern Chile, not in Argentina. He might have visited Argentina, but he did his pastoral work, and his Biblia Latinoamericana translation, in Chile.

Anonymous said...

As having practical experience with the CCB, earlier versions, Chris are in fact, gender-exclusive. The inclusive language had made its way through several revisions of the CCB.

Maybe you found the preliminary articles on the CCB refreshing to the Catholic readers. In my edition, the liturgical readings list is located before Genesis.

But for one thing I applaud the CCB, is that its notes are compatible enough for pastoral uses of the Bible. In some printings of the CCB, particularly the Indian NCB, though for some it became controversial, inculturation of the pastoral notes, for instance to the Indian secular and cultural context would made the Indian CCB, more accessible to its readers.

It is an irony indeed in the Catholic arena that Study Bibles and Commentaries are those filled with spiritual and pastoral notes, while casual editions of the Bible are those filled with historical-critical notes.

For a casual reader, the spiritual and pastoral notes will be of much greater value, while enthusiasts and specialists will appreciate the historical-critical notes. Let us pray that this optimal scenario be the situation in the future.

For one thing, casual Catholics are often discouraged from reading the Scriptures because the notes are often "Greek" to them and do not understand fully their significance to the main text, leading to an impression that the Scriptures are reserved for those studying and has higher knowledge of the Scriptures.

CWBuckley said...

Thanks both,
Great perspectives and clarification.
On the notes, here's an example from my Office of Readings this morning (Hosea 11:1-11).

"Israel is God's spoiled child. In former days, God brought them out of Egypt, and ever since then, has been calling then and trying to draw them to himself, but they continue their depraved ways which bring punishment upon them.

I am God and not human (v. 9). Our setbacks which seem to be God's punishment are, in fact, what Good considers the most suitable ways to teach us (see Hev 12:7, 2 Mac 6:16, Wis 11:23)."

That's just amazing. In two or three sentences sentences it struck directly at why this reading matters today. Even the Pastoral notes in the Didache Bible came out "Greek" by comparison.

Unknown said...

Just got home from the Manila International Book Fair, where I saw, for the first time, the elusive "New Catholic Version" of the NT.
Yup, it has an imprimatur from Bishop Bastes, who once headed the biblical apostolate commission of the CBCP.

Regarding the CCB:
1. It's one of the widely available, yet very underrated, Catholic Bibles here in the Philippines. I overheard some youngsters, probably college students, who visited the Claretians booth at the book fair. And when they saw the CCB, they remarked that it brought back memories of high school when it was the bible they were supposed to buy, and hopefully use, for religion classes at school. Yet, you can rarely hear it proclaimed at church, read and studied at prayer meetings, or even quoted in books (except for those published by Claretians and Orbis).
Unless someone gets lucky enough to prepare (and maybe even secure Vatican permission) a lectionary and a divine office based on the CCB.
2. Both the CCB and its Tagalog counterpart "Biblia ng Sambayanang Pilipino", have a "concise edition", which is made up of major stories and verses from some of the biblical books. Most of these are the ones frequently used in the liturgy: the parables and miracle stories of Jesus, the often quoted psalms, the Canticles of the Servant of YHWH in Isaiah, etc. it's meant to give first time readers a first hand encounter with the bible.
3. Unlike other Catholic Bibles (e.g. NABRE, JB, NRSV...) the CCB is available both in print (and in all sizes), as well as online. The only other Catholic Bible doing this is the GNT and the Tagalog MBB.


Deacon David said...

From years of quietly reading this blog I know that I have been in the minority as both a fan and regular user of The Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition. I have been using it in various editions since about 1999. Just got the latest (2013) edition last year. I find its notes so helpful for praying & pondering, and often for homily crafting. As far as availability for the USA try this link. VERY easy to obtain:

CWBuckley said...

I have to laugh Deacon Dave: it's on back order. ;-)

Thanks for weighing in though. I'm really glad to hear of someone actually using this text in active ministry.

Deacon David said...

Christopher...Oh too bad! I ordered and received one to give as a gift not too long ago. Hopefully back in stock soon.

Anonymous said...

A Tanakh-order OT reminds me of the old French TOB (traduction oecuménique, if my memory serves me well), where I always assumed that quaint choice was supposed to be a neutral solution giving privilege to neither of the traditional Western Christian systems. I applaud the attempt at being ecumenically sensitive, but the result for me was that it took me ages to find anything in the OT.

rolf said...

I have mentioned this recently on another post, that the CCB is availible on kindle. It has the commentary notes included!

CWBuckley said...

Great reminder.

And in case I embedded the link too obscurely, you can read the full text of the English, Spanish, or Philippine versions online here:

Anonymous said...

Surprised to find a compatriot here!

John Francis,

The main reason why the CCB and the Tagalog counterpart Biblia ng Sambayanang Pilipino didn't get any ecclesiastical attention is that our bishops want to execute the virtues of Vatican II, especially the Conciliar document "Dei Verbum" which recommends Bibles from an ecumenical background.
That's why the CBCP tapped the Philippine Bible Society, which is obviously a Protestant-majority organization to collaborate and produce the Tagalog MBB. This was in line with the transition to the vernacular Mass.

You might want to find my guest post "Bibles in the Philippines" a good read:

Since you saw the NCV in the international book fair, chances are that it will be published here in the Philippines.

What's your main Catholic bible version, kapatid?

Versions that are behind the spotlight also deserve some attention.

Deacon Dave,
A rather unusual preference.

Anonymous said...

FYI there are more reviews of the CCB 2013 edition found on this blog. Type in search Catholic Community Bible and you will find reviews dated back to Feb and May 2013.


Matt said...

Are the notes still anti-Catholic though? Many of the ones in my edition are kind of offensive. If I dig it out I will post a few...

Matt said...

Are the notes still anti-Catholic though? Many of the ones in my current edition are kind of offensive. If I can dig it out to post a few I will...

birnbaum said...

As a record of evidence of the CCB´s text evolution I could provide photos of all the CCB versions I have on my shelf (about nine or so, displayed at, plus one new acquisition). But I need to know if there's still interest in that topic. I'd share text images of each an OT and an NT page if wanted. But I presently have no idea if I need to register first to CB and how to send in the scans. Please reply to birnbaum (at) I think that is the best way to show how the CCB text and commentary development advanced since the early publication dates. In addition I could add images of pages of the Indian New Community Bible which is in fact a revision of one of the earlier CCBs. Feel free to reply. Tks sb

CWBuckley said...

I can't see how a printed Bible with an imprimatur from a Bishops' conference could be "anti-Catholic." In my experience, if some aspects of our faith don't challenge and even offend us occasionally we're not really paying much attention to it.

Javier said...

I'm currently reading -cover to cover- the excellent translation 'Biblia del Peregrino' (Pilgrim's Bible), by spanish Fr. Alfonso Schökel. It doesn't have an explicit Imprimatur, but it states "con las debidas licencias de la Conferencia Episcopal Española", which translates as 'with all needed authorizations by the Spanish Conference of Bishops'. Well, the note to Luke 11:37-53 says: "In this chapter -more so than in others- it resounds the controversy between Judaism and emerging Christianity: the text probably postdates the official excommunion of the christians, 'nazarenes', by the authorities of Yamnia".
If the council of Yamnia did take place, it did after the destruction of the Temple, that is after 70 AD. So, what this note is telling me in plain spanish is: 'these words you are reading are not real words of Jesus. Rather, they are an elaboration by a christian community that took some of Jesus' ideas, and adapted them to be useful to their own controversy with the Jewish authorities, in post-Temple Judea. In doing so, the members of this 'community' didn't shy from using the Holy name of Jesus as a vehicle to give prestige to their own ideas'.
In short, the members of this 'community' made their own ideas pass for the Words of Jesus. They were, in plain english, counterfeiters. And this might very well have been the case. But if it was, then Christianity has to go, because we would have no way of knowing what is from Jesus, and what has been made up by 'communities' of counterfeiters.
This note to the Bible might be scientifically true (and I personally don't think it is). But I do think it is anti-Christian, in the sense that Christianity can't survive a note like this. (Of course, if the note were scientifically sound, our duty to intellectual honesty would compel us to choose the note, and drop Christianity).
Plus, I think notes like this are a deception to those who in good faith buy a Bible with the approval of Catholic bishops. The appropriate title to a Bible with this notes should be: 'Critical study exposing the Bible for the forgery it is'.

Jay said...

I know this is not quite relevant, but does this group have a Facebook page?

CWBuckley said...

I can understand your interpretation.

I also understand that the ancient world had very different notions of text and authorship than we do. Specifically, they had a literary tradition of "pseudepigraphy," writing in the name of a respected teacher to expand upon or convey the essence of his teaching.

I'm not saying whether any specific words of Christ in the NT are or aren't pseudepigraphal. I AM saying that one ordinary way in first century Roman culture to spread someone's teaching was to write an original work based in their school of thought, even in the first person, and present it as a work of the teacher himself.

To us that's "plagiarism" or "counterfeiting." To the ancients that was "teaching."
In fact, if you weren't important enough to inspire pseudepigraphical texts, you weren't important enough to remember.

That's important to Catholics for a number of reasons.
1) Most first and second generation Christian converts would have assumed ANY oral tradition the apostles passed on contained pseudepigraphical material... even when they were passing on Christ's own words.

2) ALL NT texts were completed at least 20 - 30 years after the Resurrection and Ascension. Do you think those first Christians had the Gospels to turn to as "authoritative" scripture before that?

3) That's why Catholic tradition places Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition on an even footing, as equal components preserving the full Deposit of Faith. What the Apostles passed on orally ABOUT Christ and his teachings is essential to understanding any words Christ actually SAID.

4) It was the Apostles' oral teaching in the name and tradition of Jesus, inspired by his word, that shaped and guided the Gospel texts that we DO have. The gospel writers themselves tell us that.

Luke 1:1-3 makes it clear there are lots of people writing in the tradition and name of Jesus two generations after his death. Luke states his job is to review all of that material with an ear to what the Apostles had said in order to help put it in order for the third generation of believers.

"Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received."

In other words, he's reviewing pseudepigraphal material, comparing it to the teachings passed down by the apostles through their followers, and then capturing the stuff that matches what they taught.

The author of John does something similar:

"It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written." (Jn 21:25)

He and his congregation heard PLENTY of other stories about Jesus. He's not saying to discount them. He's saying "compare them to mine, because I was there."

So I hear what you're saying, but I don't find it a threat to faith. I find it an explanation of how God enable the words of Jesus to survive, using the tradition of the ancient world.

Peace and faith-

rolf said...

I agree With Christopher's reply, this was what I was taught at The Catholic Bible Institute sponsored by our archdiocese. I was a Catholic only for one year when I attended this course for two years. It did not hurt my faith in the least, in fact it encouraged me to continue learning about my new faith!

Javier said...

Hi Christopher,
Your entry is most interesting and informative. This is getting technical real fast, and I will soon be out of my depth. So, before that happens, I’d like to clarify my point.
In the case of the verse whose note I transcribed, we’d be facing a double case of pseudoepigraphy: the first layer would be the ‘community’ presenting its work as that of Luke. The second layer would be the suppossed author, ‘Luke’, reporting his own ideas as Jesus’.
Now, I went to the Wikipedia (I know it is not the most scholarly of sources, but it is the one I have at hand). There, on the article on Pseudoepigrapha, they list (according to some scholars), seven levels of autorship and authenticity:
Scholars have identified seven levels of authenticity which they have organized in a hierarchy ranging from literal authorship, meaning written in the author's own hand, to outright forgery:
1. Literal authorship. A church leader writes a letter in his own hand.
2. Dictation. A church leader dictates a letter almost word for word to an amanuensis.
3. Delegated authorship. A church leader describes the basic content of an intended letter to a disciple or to an amanuensis.
4. Posthumous authorship. A church leader dies, and his disciples finish a letter that he had intended to write, sending it posthumously in his name.
5. Apprentice authorship. A church leader dies, and disciples who had been authorized to speak for him while he was alive continue to do so by writing letters in his name years or decades after his death.
6. Honorable pseudepigraphy. A church leader dies, and admirers seek to honor him by writing letters in his name as a tribute to his influence and in a sincere belief that they are responsible bearers of his tradition.
7. Forgery. A church leader obtains sufficient prominence that, either before or after his death, people seek to exploit his legacy by forging letters in his name, presenting him as a supporter of their own ideas.[7]:p.224

Applying this to the case I pointed out, the first layer of pseudoepigraphy, could be something like numbers 4, 5, o 6. That is, disciples of Luke finishing his work, or puting his ideas in writing.
On the other hand, the second layer is different. The spirit of the note to Luke 11:37-53 clearly is: ‘this text is so hostile to the pharisees, so bereft of mercy, so unlike Jesus, that it can’t possibly be from Jesus. It has to be a late insertion from the time after the Council of Jamnia, when the nazarenes had already been excommunicated by the Jewish authorities’. The spirit of the note itself, points to a forgery. Not to any form of pseudoepigraphy. Pseudoeqigraphy implies respecting the ideas of the Teacher one invoques. And here, the author of the note tries to get the pharisees of the hook by showing that the teaching can’t be from Jesus, because it is not in the spirit of Jesus. That is his whole point.
That it is why I still think that note is an anti-Christian note in a Catholic Bible with official approval by a Catholic Bishop’s Conference.

To be continued....

Javier said...

...part 2

On the wider subject of pseudoepigraphy in the Gospels, that is, of communities using the name of apostles or disciples to sign their works, and of those same communities writing ideas of Christ they received through oral tradition, I’d like to add:
1) Oral societies, societies where writing was rare or expensive, as in Judea in the time of Jesus, worked in ways that are very difficult to grasp to societies like ours, which are based on the written word. In those societies, people were mentally trained to memorize faithfully big chunks of information. The phenomenon has been studied in depth. It has been found that in places like the Ucraine, or North Africa, at the end of the XIX century, there were people who could repeat amazing amounts of historical data, or legends, without introducing errors. The linguistic and anthropological basis for this phenomena, was described by french Fr. Marcel Jousse, SJ.
So, in an oral society, oral transmission was assumed to be faithful. It was not hearsay. It was not something one tampered with. It was serious business, like the jewish scribes copying the Tanakh. There were errors in the transmission, but they were extremely rare.
Plus, if the transmission was originally oral, and not written, it would make sense that it was in aramaic or in hebrew, and not in the international koiné greek. Research by Claude Tresmontant (who translated Matthew to the hebrew) and by Fr. Carmignac, seems to support this hipotesis.
Having said all this, in that sort of oral culture, first and second generation christians would not have expected to receive pseudoepigraphical material as the norm.
2) So, to answer your question: ‘do I think those first Christians had the Gospels to turn to as authoritative scripture before it was commited to paper?’, my answer is: Yes, I do. They had it as oral record, which in an oral culture was as good or better than a record on paper.
3) Agreed on Sacred Tradition. Those were the teachings of Jesus, transmitted faithfully in oral form through generations.
4) Agreed. Revelation ends with the death of the last apostle. While they were alive they teached, they introduced new rules (like the end of circumcision), all of it in the name of Jesus. They never pretended those were secret teachings of Jesus. Those were their own teachings, inspired by the Holy Spirit. No pseudoepigraphy here.
5) Luke 1:1-3 says nothing of generations. It is an intriguing hipotesis. But it is not in the text itsef. He is not explicit about his material or sources. He just doesn’t count himself among the eyewitnesses. Probably his source was Paul. But he is not pretending to be Paul. No pseudoepigraphy here, either.
6) Jn 21:24-25 doesn’t, per se, point to pseudoepigraphy. If the author is John, then he was an eyewitness, and he chose to commit to writting only part of what he saw and heard. If the author is not John the Evangelist, then it would be pseudoepigraphy, but we can’t know it from the text.

To be continued...

Javier said...

...part 3 (and last).

To summarize: I don’t see it as so evident that the Gospels are pseudoepigrapha. No one is signing them as Jesus. They could be if the real authors where not Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and instead were their disciples, finishing their works, or commiting them to writing. If in the ancient world that was an usual and respected practice, it would not amount to lying, and then there would be no danger to our faith.
But, as if the note I transcribed implies, the real authors of the Gospels did not transmit faithfully the ideas of Jesus, but rather had their own agenda (like fighting the pharisee rabbis), and used the name of Jesus just as a weapon in their disputes, to better disseminate their own ideas, then we are lost. And Christianity is dead. Because we have no real way of knowing what was true and from Jesus, and what was something introduced as part of an agenda relevant to people in first century Judea. I mean, the only direct witness to the Resurrection that we have are the Gospels. If they were written at the end of the first century, by communities with their own agendas, those communities could perfectly well have made up the story of the Resurrection.


Biblical Catholic said...

"I also understand that the ancient world had very different notions of text and authorship than we do. Specifically, they had a literary tradition of "pseudepigraphy," writing in the name of a respected teacher to expand upon or convey the essence of his teaching."

No, I'm sorry but this is bogus. There is absolutely no evidence that in the ancient world it was considered acceptable for someone to attach another person's name onto a document. This has always been regarded as fraudulent.

Even if you go back to ancient Greece and Rome, scholars were concerned about "fakes". Platonist philosophers were concerned about weeding out inauthentic dialogues by Plato, Aristotelians were interested in identifying and weeding out fake writings by Aristotle. People interested in drama were concerned wth finding fake plays by Euripides or Sophocles, and eliminating them from collections of the works of these authors, and everyone was concerned about finding out which of the many documents bearing the name of "Homer" were authentic and which ones were forgeries.

We actually have in our possession documents written as early as the 3rd century BC where scholars debate whether or not a particular poem bearing the name of "Homer" was actually by Homer. Scholars compiled lists, some of which are in our possession, listing the authentic works by certain authors, and identifying the forgeries, and warning people to avoid the forgeries.

And in the Early Church, the debates over the canon were centred on the question of authenticity. The books that were accepted into the New Testament canon were accepted because they were believed to be AUTHENTIC, and the books that were rejected were rejected because they were believed to be forgeries.

And when you had debates in the early Church over whether to accept a book like Revelation or 2 Peter or Jude, the debate centred entirely on the question of authenticity. The people who rejected Revelation or 2 Peter rejected them because they believed that they were fake. The ones who accepted them did so because they believed them to be authentic.

At no point in these debates did anyone ever say "well, 2 Peter probably wasn't written by the apostle Peter, it was probably written after Peter's death by a disciple writing in Peter's name, but there is nothing wrong with that", no one EVER said that.

There has NEVER in any culture or society been a tradition where it was considered acceptable to write something and then attach a famous name to it to give it authority. There has never been a society where there this was regarded as anything but dishonest and immoral.

The claim that this was ever regarded as being morally acceptable is something that someone just made up one day in order to eat his cake and have it too, so that they could claim that the New Testament was not written by any of its purported authors while still claiming to be "good Christians" who believed in the Bible.

Javier said...

Linguistics note: when I wrote 'hipotesis', I meant 'hypothesis' (I used the spanish spelling. Sorry).
And here is the Wikipedia article on Pseudepigrapha wich I cited:

CWBuckley said...

Thanks for both responses.

I don't want to make more of this than it warrants. The question was simply whether commentary in the Spanish Biblia del Peregrino was anti-Catholic. I don't know, because it's not the English Bible I was reviewing here and it's not clear that it has an imprimatur. If it doesn't, anything is possible. If it does, then I was explaining what a Catholic scholar had in mind when writing it.

I think if you examine my first paragraph, Javier, I am not saying the Gospels are pseudepigraphy. I am saying the audience was familiar with pseudepigraphy, and Luke's reason for writing the gospel is to help them tell the wheat from the chaff.

As for the claims about Luke, while it doesn't speak directly to pseudepigraphy, the Ignatius Study Bible commentary does emphasize the multi-generational aspect of Luke's task:

"1:2 delivered to us: Luke is probably a second-generation Christian. His work is heavily indebted to the testimony of eyewitnesses and ministers of the gospel in the early Church. Three points follow from this: (1) Luke is a careful historian who has sifted relevant sources to obtain accurate information; (2) he transmits, not private opinions, but apostolic traditions; and (3) he writes to strengthen the faith of fellow Christians."

Looking at those "relevant sources" with the phenomenon of literary pseudepigraphy in mind suggests my hypothesis. And yes, that's what it is: a hypothesis. I'm just suggesting how the commentary note in question could be written by someone looking to support Catholic tradition.

Biblical Catholic, we just disagree. In my studies, pseudepigraphy was a real phenomena. Yes, concern over forgery was there, and Christ left us the apostles and their oral Sacred Tradition to tell the difference. Sorting real Jesus traditions from game was the whole point of Apostolic witness then and the teaching authority of the Church now:

"Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching." (Hebrews 13:7-9a NABRE)

Anonymous said...

You are right there that the Church was tasked to identify which are pseudigrapha, the early Church definitely has more context to the background of the early writings and for sure, the Apostolic Oral Tradition helped the Church to distinguish which are of merit to be Scripture and which are not.

Perhaps it is not a pseudigraphical tradition, but instead an "attributive" tradition.

A good work to be in this discussion is the Letter to the Hebrews. The Tradition recognizes Paul as the author of the letter. However, modern scholarship now shows that it was apparently not Paul who wrote the letter due to:

(a) difference in style among other Pauline letters with an matching opening salutation (I, Paul, slave of God,...) and closing words (Greet each other with a holy kiss...).
(b) higher register of Greek, not only among other Pauline letters but also among other New Testament books.

That being said, just because it was scholarly conjectured that the letter was not authentic Pauline, so with respect-to Paul, the Letter to the Hebrews will fall under "pseudigrapha" since it was concluded that Paul did not wrote the letter.

Just because it was a Pauline "pseudigraphic" work, some scholars believed that it is an attributive work from someone who has been a student or someone very close to Paul, it doesn't follow that we will reject the Letter to the Hebrews as Scripture. Well, to recall, Luther attempted to remove this to the NT Canon, along with what he referred to as NT Deuterocanonical works.

But however, being guided by the Apostolic Tradition, despite the scholarly findings, the Church continues to hold Letter to the Hebrews as Scripture. However, to recognize the scholarly evidences, the Church meanwhile did not refer anymore to Paul as the writer.

Javier said...

thanks for you informative reply.
I find the whole subject -dates, authorship, oral tradition, original language, etc.- fascinating. It may be due, at least in part, to the fact that in my language -in my spanish speaking culture- it is a non-subject.
These are things of which I'd love to see more on this blog, if Timothy sees fit.

Timothy said...


Would love to do more posts like that. Life right now doesn't afford me the time to do it, however if there are some more people who would be interested in guest posting, I'd be open to that.

Anonymous said...


That perhaps I think, because of our culturally Catholic background. Since Catholicism is already part of our cultures, something that we inherited from the Spaniards way way back, we tend not to question articles of our Faith since it is culturally embedded into us.

But the ill-side of this nature is that Catholics from our nations are easily driven by other teachings, being not solidly grounded to Catholic teachings.

And the most ironic part of this, since Americans are culturally Protestant, if I am right to assume that, most American Catholics are more knowledgeable to the Faith since converts made their way through discernment in the Faith granted through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Cradle Catholics, on the other hand, are culturally empowered to stand up with the Faith.

If for anything, these topics of the Catholic faith, will make sense to cradle Catholics since this will edify our innate knowledge of the Catholic faith aside from what we have known from our cultures.

Javier said...

I think you are right, Gerald. In our catholic cultures Catholicism used to be the culture itself. One didn't need to examine the Faith, its foundations. It was just there. Now the culture is turning atheist really fast, and people, catholics, don't have a clue of what is going on ("things used to be that way back then, but now that has changed"). Why have things changed?, why did they have to change?, what is the source of Good and Evil?, what is the tape measure that atheist society uses to decide what is Right, and what is Wrong?. Is that tape measure consistent with the philosophical underpinnings of an atheist and materialist culture?. Why do we believe Jesus was the Son of God?, can we prove it from the Bible beyond reasonable doubt?, do we have a clear understanding of what a Trascendent God implies?, do we understand there is no Right and Wrong beyond and previous to a Trascendent God?.
Nobody is asking these questions. At least not here, in my nominally catholic, spanish speaking society.

Joseph said...

just a word to the wise. I used the link to order the CCB from St. Pauls. Bible just arrived today and it was the 34th edition and not the 59th. In fact, the version I received was older than the version I currently had and wanted to replace.

Disappointed to say the least.

Biblical Catholic said...

Perhaps it is not a pseudepigraphical tradition, but instead an "attributive" tradition.

A good work to be in this discussion is the Letter to the Hebrews. The Tradition recognizes Paul as the author of the letter. However, modern scholarship now shows that it was apparently not Paul who wrote the letter due to:

(a) the difference in style among other Pauline letters with a matching opening salutation (I, Paul, slave of God,...) and closing words (Greet each other with a holy kiss...).
(b) higher register of Greek, not only among other Pauline letters but also among other New Testament books."

The book of Hebrews does not claim to be written by Paul, in fact, it is anonymous and has no name attached. And it, not just modern scholars who thought it wasn't by Paul, the Fathers of the Church didn't think so either. It was Origen in the third century who first said that no one knows who wrote Hebrews except for God. It wasn't until the fourth century that it became common to attribute Hebrews to Paul.

However, the one thing no one has ever denied is that whether or not Hebrews was written by Paul, it is absolutely 100% Pauline in theology. So whether it was written by Paul or not, it clearly represents his style of thinking and reflects his theology, and so was clearly written by someone in Paul's circle, whether Paul himself, or Apollos or Barnanbus or whomever.

So no it is not psuedopigraphical.

Anonymous said...


That being said, it is the Pauline theology that made the Hebrews into the Canon, nevertheless

Biblical Catholic said...

There were three criteria that were used to decide the canon:


So to be canonical it had to have been written by an apostle, or someone who was closely associated with an apostle, had to be in use universally in the Church, and not just locally, and it had to teach orthodox doctrine.

So, Hebrews because it was clearly written either by Paul or by someone in Paul's inner circle, because it was used everywhere and because it taught orthodox doctrine,

CWBuckley said...

And what do we call Apostolocity that is written by someone who was "closely associated with an apostle" but traditionally attributed to the apostle himself?

*cough* pseudepigraphy *cough*


Javier said...

I guess we'd call it pseudepigraphy if, and only if, it could be shown that its real author originally intended it to be attributed to someone else (i.e. the Apostle). But, if it was written by someone different from the Apostle -who never claimed this to be the Apostle's work-, and then it was erroneously attributed to the Apostle, it would not qualify as pseudepigraphy.

Unknown said...

Kuya Gerald and Javier,

Yes, it's sad how the Philippines is recognized as the first Catholic country in Asia (formerly, it was the ONLY Catholic country in Asia) - but how because it is also a cultural practice, many of us take it for granted and do not study it religiously (pun intended). I have been there myself and it is only this year - after my theology classes in a Catholic university, my goodness! - that I began to be much more serious in studying all aspects of my faith.

Because of that, Protestantism is growing quite rapidly here - Evangelical and non-denominational churches are sprouting up left and right. And more and more of the so-called educated Filipinos are leaving the Mother Church for these churches - and how can I blame them, that is where they genuinely find Christ, precisely because growing up Catholic, there are a fair number of those who blindly follow the faith.

That is also exactly why, indeed, the Catholic Church in the USA flourishes in Catholic literature, because being a culturally Protestant country, they who become Catholics there have more of an impetus to study the faith seriously. It's like foreigners studying a certain language and being more highfalutin or deep in it than native speakers who take it for granted - kind of like us Chinese-Filipinos here.

God bless,

Thomas said...

Christopher can I ask how you contacted Macau to acquire your copy of the ccb? I have been trying to get a copy and have been stymied.

Unknown said...

I encountered this translation accidentally in a shop in Ft. Worth,Texas of all places. I purchased it and read it off and on. I liked the freshness of the translation. This was in the early 90's so I am sure it was a somewhat different translation than the revised edition that is out now. I have the 56th edition!! I am guessing it is not too different from 57-59.

One interesting story: I was in Rome in 2001 and went into the Official Vatican Bookstore - publishing house - it is in the collonade to the left as you face St. Peter's. There they have the Liturgy Of the Hours in every language imaginable, every Papal Encyclical, Documents of Vatican II, Bibles in every language, and a WHOLE lot more. When I came to the section of Bibles in English, this CCB Bible was practically the ONLY one they sold! Every shape and size imaginable. Incredible.

Regarding the above review, I enjoyed reading it. I did want to point out an error by the author: he mentions the order of the Old Testament being in the order of the "Torah". I think he meant to say "Tanakh" because, as many of us know, the Torah is just the first 5 books of the Bible, not the entire Bible for the Jews. Tanakh is the correct term for what we Christians refer to as the "Old Testament". Thank you. Great Blog!

Timothy said...

Thanks for stopping by Shawn