Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday's Message: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  When I did this series last year, I showed all the readings for that particular Sunday.  However, this year I have decided to focus on just one reading each week.  I would like to pick out the one that really strikes me, particularly in light of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition translation, which often arouses some spirited debate on this blog.  (I hope it continues to do so!)   On my part, along with providing a particular reading each week, I plan to offer some personal reflections, as well as the occasional question or two for you to ponder. 

This week I picked the first reading from Jeremiah, which is, of course, quite famous.  In reflecting on this passage, I couldn't help but think of times in my life when I failed to act like a prophet.  Sure, I wasn't being called to publicly rebuke a president or governor or some other elected official, but there certainly have been times when I could have spoken to family member or friend who needed to hear a gentle word from the Lord.  Perhaps it is time we again take seriously our baptismal dignity as not only a king and priest, but also a prophet.  We, of course, must do so with great discernment and gentleness.   Yet this role as prophet is something we have been called to participate in, even before we saw "the light of day."

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
This is what God said:
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”
“But you—up on your feet and get dressed for work!
Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say.
Don’t pull your punches
or I’ll pull you out of the lineup.
“Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work.
I’m making you as impregnable as a castle,
Immovable as a steel post,
solid as a concrete block wall.
You’re a one-man defense system
against this culture,
Against Judah’s kings and princes,
against the priests and local leaders.
They’ll fight you, but they won’t
even scratch you.
I’ll back you up every inch of the way.”
God’s Decree.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

He Lives: The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus

This new audio set is by Fr. Henry Wansbrough, editor of the New Jerusalem Bible, is now available.  It is presented by Now You Know Media.  It is available in both CD and MP3 formats.  Seems like it would be a great resource for Lent.
No narrative is more beautiful than the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, you can gain a deeper understanding of these powerful events with Fr. Henry Wansbrough, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars.
Although the story of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection forms the core of Christian belief, the full depth of its meaning is often not immediately understandable to twenty-first century readers. Occurring some two thousand years ago, these events were narrated with the language and symbols of contemporaries in a civilization and culture considerably different from ours.
In He Lives: The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, you will delve into the world of the biblical authors in order to understand the religious message of these events. As you do so, you will gain a deeper understanding of not only the historical context but also the profound theology expressed in these accounts.
You will journey through the gospel accounts of the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, Jesus’ interrogation, and His ultimate condemnation by Pontius Pilate, gaining deep insights into the theological and salvific nature of these events. After looking at the powerful themes of forgiveness in the Cross, you will consider what the Resurrection means for the mission of the Church and your own spirituality. Finally, you will explore the glorification and transcendence of the Risen Christ.
Embark on this journey of forgiveness, hope, and glory today.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday's Message: Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  When I did this series last year, I showed all the readings for that particular Sunday.  However, this year I have decided to focus on just one reading each week.  I would like to pick out the one that really strikes me, particularly in light of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition translation, which often arouses some spirited debate on this blog.  (I hope it continues to do so!)   On my part, along with providing a particular reading each week, I plan to offer some personal reflections, as well as the occasional question or two for you to ponder. 

The Gospel reading this week seems perfect for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  We see Jesus proclaiming the fulfilment of the prophet Isaiah's words, as found in chapter 61 of Isaiah.  How often I have read those words of "pardon" and "recovery" and "good news" yet never allowed them to be planted deep into my soul.  This is the type of passage which I need to constantly remind myself isn't simply meant for a people far off, both in location and history.  No, these are words meant for me as well.  Perhaps this would be a good week to consider how our Lord has brought healing into your life or has shown undeserved mercy towards you.  I know that I will be.  For He is not in some distant place, but right here, right now in "this place."

Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.
He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Little Fun: Bible Translation Acronyms

Thanks to reader Chris for this guest blog.

Here's a useful guide to the various acronyms for common Biblical translations. Everyone has a favorite, but it's hard to explain  to others precisely why. Sadly, the full name of a translation rarely helps. That's why I've prepared this handy overview, unpacking the real and unspoken associations baked into each acronym. Something to mock and amuse everyone I hope.

DRC: Dogmatically Right and Correct
KJV: Knights Jousting Version
Knox: Knox
RSV: Real Scripture Version
JB: Just Belgians
NAB: North American Bias
NASB: No Anglicans Should Buy
GNT: God Needs Teens
NIV: Non-Inspired version
NJB: Now Just a Book 
REB: Reserved European Bias
NRSV: No Really Sexist Verses
CEV: Completely Extraneous Version
NLT: No Longer a Translation
ESV: Evangelical Study Version 
MSG: Might Sound Good
HCSB: Heaven Collects Southern Baptists
NABRE: Not All Books Rendered Entirely
CEB: Cool Enough Bible

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Psalm 23 in the Jerusalem Bible

Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  In meadows of green grass he lets me lie. To the waters of repose he leads me; there he revives my soul. He guides me by paths of virtue for the sake of his name. Though I pass through a gloomy Valley, beside me your rod and your staff are there, to hearten me. You prepare a table before me under the eyes of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup brims over.  Ah, how goodness and kindness pursue me, every day of my life, my home, the house of Yahweh, as long as I live! 
-Psalm 23 (JB)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bible's

I wanted to offer a little space here to hear from those who love and read either the Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bible's.  If I had time, I would love to do a bit of research into these great translations, but that is not possible at this point in life.  So, what I would like to do is to hear from those of you who actually use the JB or NJB on a daily basis.  Why do you like it?  What edition do you use?  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday's Message: Psalm 96

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  When I did this series last year, I showed all the readings for that particular Sunday.  However, this year I have decided to focus on just one reading each week.  I would like to pick out the one that really strikes me, particularly in light of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition translation, which often arouses some spirited debate on this blog.  (I hope it continues to do so!)   On my part, along with providing a particular reading each week, I plan to offer some personal reflections, as well as the occasional question or two for you to ponder. 

I decided to look at the responsorial Psalm for today's Mass, which often does not get commented on during the homily.  As I was thinking about this psalm during the week, a couple of thoughts came to mind.  I have such an on-again, off-again relationship with the Psalms in the context of my daily prayer life.  I have mentioned on this blog before some of my daily prayer practices, for example the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The truth is that there are times during the year when I use it, as well as the full Liturgy of the Hours, while at other times I simply don't.  This often is an issue of simply being consistent with a particular devotion, which for some reason is a difficulty for me.   I have noticed that there are times when I feel like I am just "saying" the prayers/psalms instead of actually slowly praying them.  Of course, this is one of the main reasons to pray some form of the breviary, since one of its main goals is to slow down and ponder the psalms.  I also think state of life has something to do with this, particularly with two jobs and a growing family. Perhaps some of you have experienced this?  

However, when I sit down with a psalm like Psalm 96, and yes even in The Message translation, I am reminded of God's goodness and what my response should be to Him.  How often am I willing to sing with joy at Mass for all that the Lord has done for me?  How often am I willing to "get out the message" to those I meet each day, particularly the lost?  Perhaps one of the reasons to remain faithful to a daily prayer life with the Psalms is in order to be reminded of His goodness and how He waits upon my response.  

Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8, 9-10
Sing God a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to Godworship God!
Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!
Bravo, God, Bravo!
Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.
Bring gifts and celebrate,
Bow before the beauty of God, Then to your knees—everyone worship!
Get out the message—God Rules!
He put the world on a firm foundation;
He treats everyone fair and square.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Cross

“He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
-Mark 8:34-35 (NABRE)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Updates to Ignatius/Lighthouse App

Thanks to Chris for this fine article.

An interesting development: Ignatius and Lighthouse catholic Media updated their joint Catholic Study Bible App today. In addition to refreshing the UI, they've made an interesting change to the available texts.

Before, the default text was the RSV-2CE, which also allowed you to toggle to the original "1965/1966 RSV-CE" as an option. Now, the new menu differentiates between the two text options as follows:
  • "Ignatius Study Bible RSV-CE (English) - A completely new typeset and designed edition of the popular Ignatius Revised Standard Version Bible, with minor revisions to some of the archaic language used in the first edition."
    • It's still the RSV-2CE, but no longer called out as such
    • If you've purchased the Ignatius commentary as an expansion, this option contains the links to the ICSB commentaries
  • Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition RSV-CE (English) - The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition is an English-language adaptation of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible for use by Catholics."
  • Interesting that the version nomenclature is now the same between the two - both just treatments of the RSV-CE
  • If you've purchased the Truth and Life audio NT expansion, the audio will play alongside both versions, however the ICSB commentary is ONLY available with the default "Ignatius Study Bible RSV-CE" (i.e. the -2CE text)

Not to make too much of this: substantively, it's the same arrangement as prior versions of the app. But there is a clear impact to branding: whether intentionally or not, the effect is to steer away from use of RSV-2CE and toward more consistent branding as an "Ignatius Bible." 

  • Notice, that aligns with the licensed use in the Didache Bible, which is primarily branded the "Ignatius Bible Edition" to differentiate it from the NABRE
  • This may be an additional branding firewall to stem discussion and misunderstanding around whether or not it is "published with ecclesiastical approval." Think of it this way: 
    • So long as it's called a "Second Catholic Edition" RSV, then it begs the question about its approval
    • Eliminate that nomenclature, however, and it's just the RSV-CE "with minor revisions" for use with the Ignatius Bible products. Then the spectre of additional approvals (arguably) goes away

I don't see that there are any changes to the copyright notices on the app, which reads in part:

The original Catholic edition of the RSV translation was prepared by the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain in A.D. 1965

This edition was revised according to Liturgiam Authenticam 


Ignatius Press San Francisco

Published with ecclesiastical  approval.

Original RSV Bible text:
Nihil obstat: Thomas Hanlon, S.T.L., L.S.S., Ph.L.
Imprimatur: + Peter W. Bertholome, D.D.
Bishop of St. Cloud Minnesota
May 11, 1966

Second Catholic Edition approved under the same imprimatur by the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, national Conference of Catholic Bishops
February 29, 2000

Introduction, commentariesm and notes:
Nihil obstat: Rev. Msgr. J. Warren Holleran, S.T.D.
Imprimatur: + Most Rev. George Niederauer
Archbishop of San Francisco
January 13, 2010

I haven't noticed before these statements (are they new to this update?):

Second Catholic Edition approved by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA


Bible text: Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition
©2000 and 2006 by the Division of Christian Education of the national Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America
All rights reserved

Anyone care to compare to other print editions?

So what do you think: just basic housekeeping and design refresh?

Or intentional rebranding back toward the original RSV-CE, away from the idea of a -2CE and all that entails?

What Are You Reading?

We are now almost two weeks into 2016.  Some of you may be reading a new Bible that you got over the Christmas holidays or maybe there are some of you who have embarked on a Bible reading plan for the new year.  So, consider this an opportunity to share what you are up to, in regards to Bible reading, for 2016.  I am always eager to read these comments from you, my lovely readers!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Message: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  When I did this series last year, I showed all the readings for that particular Sunday.  However, this year I have decided to focus on just one reading each week.  I would like to pick out the one that really strikes me, particularly in light of The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition translation, which often arouses some spirited debate on this blog.  (I hope it continues to do so!)   On my part, along with providing a particular reading each week, I plan to offer some personal reflections, as well as the occasional question or two for you to ponder. 

There are a two options for the first reading for the Baptism of the Lord, both coming from Isaiah. I chose the selection from Isaiah 40.  I have always taken great consolation in the opening lines of Isaiah 40, often refered to as the beginning of second-Isaiah or the Book of Consolation.  The previous 39 chapters, though containing the majestic vision of God enthroned in heaven as well as the promise of the Emmanuel prophecies, reflects the dire situation in Israel and Judah during those centuries leading to the Babylonian Exile.  We see this with the prophet's continual call to repentence and covenant renewal which occupy many of the oracles found in the first 39 chapters. 

Yet, there is a change once we begin chapter 40.  Some suggest that this portion of Isaiah was composed during the exile, decades after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  It was a time when comfort was needed, which is exactly what God was prepared to offer to His people.  It is a reminder, at least to me, that God never gives up on us.  God is with us (Emmanuel), even when we choose to ignore his approaches and calls to return to Him.  He is particularly with us in times of difficulty and hardship.  Sometimes when life is difficult, it becomes increasingly hard to rely and look upon God.  I know that I have a tendancy to look in on myself, instead of taking my burdens and difficulties to the Lord.  This passage always reminds me that our God is a God of comfort and restoration.  He is the one who will care for me and gather me into his arms.  Sometimes all I simply need to do is "Look" not at myself, but at "Your God!"

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
“Comfort, oh comfort my people,”
says your God.
“Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
but also make it very clear
That she has served her sentence,
that her sin is taken care of—forgiven!
She’s been punished enough and more than enough,
and now it’s over and done with.”
Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road straight and smooth,
a highway fit for our God.
Fill in the valleys,
level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
clear out the rocks.
Then God’s bright glory will shine
and everyone will see it.
Yes. Just as God has said.”
Climb a high mountain, Zion.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem.
You’re the preacher of good news.
Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!
Tell the cities of Judah,
“Look! Your God!”
Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Guest Review: OSV Pocket Gospels and Psalms (NRSV)

Thanks to Joshua for this fine review of the NRSV Pocket Gospels and Psalms from OSV.  Amazon also allows you to "look inside" which you can do here.

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years now. I have seen it various editions ranging from study Bibles, pew Bibles, audio versions, eBooks, to plugins for Bible software. However pocket editions have been far and far between. The last pocket edition I've seen was The Faith-Sharing New Testament with the Psalms. This edition was released in the late 1990s by Cokesbury, a publishing company owned by the United Methodist Church. Besides the text, it had an essay about the basics of conversion and discipleship. There is an edition by Cambridge that has the anglicized NRSV New Testament and Psalms. I have not seen this edition in person.

I ran into Our Sunday Vistor's (OSV) The Pocket Gospels and Psalms by chance last fall; I was looking for new translations of John (which is my favorite Gospel). It looked intriguing and I mentioned to people I know on Facebook. Last Christmas, I ordered the Bible online. The first I noticed was the size of the book. It is small; it easily dwarfed the mailer it came in. I compared the Bible with a pocket New Testament published by the Gideons (this organization places Bibles in hotels and other places) and a mass-market paperback. The Bible was about equal in size to the Gideon New Testament and smaller than the paperback (see the attached pictures). The size of the book was made apparent to me on New Year's Eve. I went to a store to do some shopping; I took the book with me in a jacket as I wanted to read from it after I finished. It was so small I forgot it was there and had to feel for it! The cover is burgundy with a matte finish. The contents and a small cross appear in gold on the front; the publisher's name, a bar code and the ISBN appear on the back. The cover also has a faux grain pattern, which is a nice touch.

Turning to the paper, I'm pleased to say it is a nice white color. Ghosting is kept a minimum. The type size for the text is not the same as the Amazon sample; it is about 8.5px with the type size of the footnotes being smaller. My only real complaint about this Bible is that the type size for the footnotes is too small. I wish that OSV made the type size larger and placed the notes in a horizontal line across the bottom of the page rather than grouping them together in the corner. (See the scan of Psalms to see how the layout looks.) Canon Law requires that Bibles have "necessary and sufficient annotations" in them. The only notes this edition has are the standard translator footnotes, which aren't as detailed as the ones found in the NABRE or in other Bibles. A concern I have about this edition is that it does not have an Imprimatur. The only mentions of the Imprimatur are mentioned in the preface where it states that the NRSV has the "ecclesiastical approval of the Catholic Bishops of both the United States and Canada" and the "latter edition received the Imprimatur (official approbation) of the United States and Canadian Catholic Bishops". The preface is abridged from the one found in a regular NRSV-CE. It is also worth noting that Bruce Metzger's preface to the NRSV isn't printed. In any case, I would think that the Imprimatur and the Metzger preface is something that would be included.

Overall, this is a beautiful, portable edition of the gospels and Psalms; I recommend it. Not only does it help heed the Holy Father's advice to "carry [a pocket Bible] with you and read it every day", it is a way to share the wonderful news with a generation that knows more of Kim and Kanye than Mary and Joseph. I also think it is a very good way to test drive the NRSV before buying more elaborate editions. In a practical sense, it is also a good way to effectively use those idle moments we have such as waiting at the doctor's office. What's better? Reading the words of the Lord or texting and talking on our phones? In any case I believe The Pocket Gospels and Psalms will do much good no matter how it's used.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Cover and Amazon Listing for Catholic Study Bible (NABRE) Third Edition

The Amazon listing, for the paperback, is here.  It will be available also in hardback and bonded leather.  Why not genuine leather, like the NOAB 4th?  This is due to be released in March.

Below is the description:

This landmark resource, the first fully-based on the authoritative NABRE translation, contains the trustworthy study notes, expanded essays, and informational sidebars which have guided and informed students and general readers for 25 years. In this new edition, one-third of the Reading Guide materials are new, and all of the other Guides have been reviewed and revised by their original authors.

The extensive Reading Guide, the focal point of this volume, leads the reader through the Scriptures, book by book. References and background information are clearly laid out to guide the reader to a fuller understanding of the Bible. New to this edition is a more extensive treatment of the biblical background, including history and archeology.

Other outstanding features include: a 15-page glossary of special terms and complete Sunday and weekday lectionary readings for the liturgical years of the Church. Thirty-two beautiful pages of full-color Oxford Bible Maps come with a place-name index for easy reference.

Perfect for both higher education and clergy, Bible study and general readers, The Catholic Study Bible is an essential resource for both experienced students and first-time readers.

Table of Contents:
General Introduction - Donald Senior 
The Biblical Texts and Their Background - Donald Senior 
The Catholic Study Bible - Donald Senior 
The Bible in Catholic Life - Daniel J. Harrington 
Biblical History and Archeology: Old Testament - Ronald A. Simkins
Biblical History and Archeology: New Testament - Laurie Brink 
Catholic Interpretation of the Bible - Kevin Madigan 
The Challenges of Biblical Translation - Ronald D. Witherup 
The Bible in the Lectionary - Eileen Schuller

Reading Guides: Old Testament
The Pentateuch - Christopher Frechette 
The Deuteronomistic History - Leslie J. Hoppe 
The Chronicler's History - Richard Bautch 
The Later Histories - Kelley Coblentz Bautch 
The Wisdom Books - Dianne Bergant 
The Major Prophets, Baruch, and Lamentations - Katherine M. Hayes
Daniel and the Minor Prophets - John J. Collins

Reading Guides: New Testament
Matthew - Donald Senior
Mark - Susan Calef 
Luke - Pheme Perkins
John - Pheme Perkins 
Acts - Justin Taylor
Paul and His Writings - Mary Ann Getty and Carolyn Osiek
The General Letters and Revelation - Luke Timothy Johnson

Sunday, January 3, 2016


"Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. GOD ’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, But GOD rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness. Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you: Your sons coming from great distances, your daughters carried by their nannies. When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst! All those people returning by sea for the reunion, a rich harvest of exiles gathered in from the nations! And then streams of camel caravans as far as the eye can see, young camels of nomads in Midian and Ephah, Pouring in from the south from Sheba, loaded with gold and frankincense, preaching the praises of GOD. And yes, a great roundup of flocks from the nomads in Kedar and Nebaioth, Welcome gifts for worship at my altar as I bathe my glorious Temple in splendor.”
-Isaiah 60:1-7 MSG