Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Guest Review: Ignatius New Testament and Psalms RSV-2CE

Thank you to Chris for this guest review.

Because I travel a lot for work, I often rely on the Catholic Study Bible app from Ignatius Press and the Augustine Institute. Phone batteries, however, drain fast. So when the Holy Father recommended in March that Catholics should put down their phones, talk to each other more, and carry a pocket New Testament to read, I began looking for one of my own.

The Ignatius New Testament and Psalms (RSV-2CE) has a lot going for it, not the least of which is its size. Here you can see it alongside the standard Ignatius Bible and Ignatius Study Bible New Testament for comparison. It’s much smaller, and thus perfectly suited for a travel edition.

At basically 4” x 6” it’s extremely easy to stuff in the front pouch of my work satchel, along with the small moleskine journal I use to keep notes and draft poetry.

It’s also a match in size for Christian Prayer and the Liturgy of the Hours, so if you travel with that, it’s a good companion.

Obviously, reducing the size requires a different typesetting than the standard edition. The 9/10 font size used in this little volume is still easy to read, while maximizing space even in a dual-column layout. Subsection titles stand out from the text of scripture in an easy-to-read sans serif font.

It has some additional features that I like, including two ribbon markers (at least in the leather edition), a preface from Albert Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, and introductions to both the New Testament and the Psalms. It even reprints the original 1965 letter from Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston to the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain who produced the original RSV Catholic Edition.

I can understand not including a copy of Dei Verbum in the interest of keeping the volume compact, but I really would have appreciated a lectionary calendar of daily mass readings. Sadly, in order to maximize the amount of scripture on each page, the explanatory notes are printed in an appendix rather than inline with the text, similar to the way Oxford handles them in its RSV-CE compact volume.

The most distinguishing feature of Ignatius’ RSV Second Catholic Edition is the way it addresses the criticisms of the Catholic NRSV by simply removing archaic verbs and pronouns from the original Catholic RSV and adjusting some vocabulary for liturgical considerations. It’s in a volume like this where those characteristics stand out the most: it’s in the Psalms where the original RSV maintained the archaic addresses to God, and the New Testament is where a lot of the changes required by Liturgiam authenticam occur. Even more than a full Bible, this New Testament and Psalms has the feel of a Catholic ESV.

For lack of a better description, it’s actually a rugged, “manly” little volume, rather like the one used on the Catholic Gentleman blog to model their rugged rosaries. It’s the Catholic answer to those little NT and Psalms the Gideons used to pass out in front of my high school. I recommend it highly.

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 StoryWiseGuy.com. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review and comments, Christopher. This is a wonderful version of the RSV-2CE NT and Psalms. My hope is for a single column edition. Of course, size would be a consideration (Look at the Confraternity NT of the 1940s-1950s. Their size is closer to the one volume Christian Prayer, noted in this review).

In looking at the Catholic Gentlemen reference (linked in the review)...The rosary "advertisement" uses a physical backdrop of an NT, yet the NT version is the American Standard Version, which had been used by the Jehovah's Witnesses prior to the mid 1990s).


rolf said...

The one thing that Christopher didn't mention in the review, are that the Psalms are in single column format, very nice for prayerful reading! This is a very nice NT to throw in the cargo pockets of your shorts or pants when walking to the coffee shop or traveling!

JDH said...

This is a great edition, but I have to say I like the Scepter RSV-CE NT even more. I wish it had the Psalms, but being just an NT allows it to be so small it can actually easily fit in your pocket. The binding is sewn, so it should last a long time. But mostly, despite being so small, it is printed in a very clear, single-column format. And it also has a ribbon marker. So, as I believe Timothy said in his review, it really is the best answer to Pope Francis' call to read the Gospels daily. I can keep it in my pocket like I would a cell phone, and take it out, open exactly to where I left off, and read a passage or two whenever I have a few minutes during the day.

The Ignatius NT and Psalms is better for taking to adoration, though, because it has the Psalms, or if you are carrying a briefcase or backpack the need for a very small size isn't so great.

Thomas said...

I was wondering why can'take we buy a copy of just the old testament, why is it always packaged with the new. You can buy a new testament alone but not the old? Is there some reason for this?

Jonny said...

I sometimes carry my copy with "Divine Mercy in My Soul." The leather edition is a little bigger than the Ignatius NT, but the gold stamped leather cover has almost exactly the same color and feel. Here is an excellent Bible cover from Christianbook that I use to carry small books:


I use this to swap out books as I please, and it is great for taking two small books at once: LOTH, Catechism, devotional, NT, or Missal, depending on your need for the day. Also has a pocket for prayer cards, examination of conscience, rosary, and so on.

I also use digital resources, but for devotion and penance, at Mass or at the chapel, the hard copy is my preference. Having NT and Psalms in a compact format serves that purpose well.

Erap10 said...

Is I just me or does the NT + Psalms seem to have the same dimensions as "Shorter Christian Prayer"?

Steve Molitor said...

A little off topic, but since Chris talked about the features of the RSV-2CE:

What do you guys think of substituting "merciful love" or similar, for "steadfast love"? It's used all over the place in the OT, especially the psalms, but just to pick one example, the opening of Psalm 51 (the Miserere):

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love" (RSV)


"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love" (RSV-2CE)

The Hebrew word is "chesed", which is difficult to translate into English. It means something like "covenant love", and can be an antidote to a narrow legalism.

"Mercy" or "merciful love" is more evocative to me, as mercy has both a plain English meaning, and is a well developed theological concept. It's also a more traditionally Catholic rendering, as that's what the Vulgate used. The NABRE also uses "merciful love" here. Coverdale and the KJ used "lovingkindness".

On the other hand, "steadfast love" is not wrong, and does make one pause and think about it. But I think I prefer "merciful love." What do you guys think?

Erap10 said...

I think I prefer the original "steadfast love" because this formula was meant, as you pointed out, to point to specifically God's faithfulness to his covenant promises. I feel that this is an important formula to have in order to retain the original context of the verses, especially in the psalms. As, Christians, the promises of the Father was the whole subject of Paul's letter to the Romans and is the answer to what has happened in Salvation history after the ascension of Christ.

I don't think "merciful love" refers to the God's promises, unless it is meant to in the Vulgate. Can someone please clarify for me what this term is specifically supposed to refer to in the Vulgate? Thanks.

Unknown said...

I prefer "merciful love" myself, but that's just me. Especially in the Miserere.

rolf said...

'Merciful love' for me also!

Peter T. said...

@Thomas said...

“I was wondering why can'take we buy a copy of just the old testament, why is it always packaged with the new. You can buy a new testament alone but not the old? Is there some reason for this?”

That's because Christians are children of the New Covenant (i.e. the New Testament). So the New Testament is the most essential part of the Bible for Christians.

If you're looking for only the "Old Testament" of the Catholic Bible then look for an English translation of the Septuagint like this one sold on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/New-English-Translation-Septuagint/dp/0195289757/

Erap10 said...

Or, if you are still looking for just the OT, go ahead and get yourself a Catholic Journaling Bible: Old Testament from Amazon or even a Jewish Bible or the first volume of the paperback of the Douay Rheims.

CWBuckley said...

I've always been confused about how chesed ends up translated the way it does.
Though not literate in Hebrew, my grad school understanding was that the word combines two main layers of meaning:
-constancy / permanence
-affection / devotion

So, no it's not enough to say it's just "mercy." It has to be a set of two words that capture both layers of meaning.

"Merciful love" is a good thing, but it's missing one of those layers. It's just two flavors of "affection." (Sadly it's in both the NABRE and the RSV-2CE.)

"Steadfast love" gets both layers, but is cold and clinical.

I'd love to see a major translation try something like:
-"Constant" or "Never-ending mercy"
-"Undying devotion"
-"Committed love" - would underscore the marital theme in prophetic passages speaking about Israel as God's spouse

Steve Molitor said...

I think you hit the nail on the head Christopher. 'Clinical' is the perfect description of 'steadfast love': accurate, but cold. On the other hand, 'merciful love' doesn't capture the constant nature of God's love for us, exactly as you said - at least not the plain English meaning of 'mercy'.

When Christian and Catholic writers throughout history speak of God's mercy however, the concept is enlarged. Since it is God's, constancy or permanence is implied. When I hear the word 'mercy', it evokes memories of an extraordinary experiency I have had reciting the divine mercy chaplet, the writings of Sr. Faustina, JPII, and others. God's divine mercy is a great mystery. That's what I meant when I said 'merciful love' is more evocative to me. In the Christian and Catholic traditions, 'mercy' has taken on a larger meaning than the everyday English sense. So I do like translations that use some variant of 'mercy', and I think 'merciful love', properly understood in its full Catholic sense, although not perfect, can work.

This also points of the benefit of a formal equivalence translation. There will inevitably be words or phrases that can not be translated perfectly, but a good footnote combined with translating say 'hesed' consistently as 'merciful love' / 'steadfast love' / whatever, to the extend practical, helps the reader understand what is being referred too.

With all that in mind, I really like your suggestion of 'contant' or 'never-ending mercy'. That's wonderful!