Tuesday, November 28, 2017

So What Are You Reading This Advent?

Although my wife and I wrote ACTA's Advent devotional Expectantly Waiting in Wonder, it would be a little weird for me to use that as a daily devotional during this upcoming season.  (I don't know, maybe it wouldn't.)  I decided, however, to go with a recently released Advent devotional by NT Wright entitled Advent for Everyone.  It has been a few years since I read Wright, so I thought this might be a nice companion during this upcoming (and very short) Advent. 

What are you reading?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Our Advent/Lent Devotionals

A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

One of the things I am most thankful for this past year was the opportunity to have an Advent (and Lenten) devotional published by the fine people at ACTA Publications.  The best part of the process was being able to compose these daily reflections along side my beloved wife, Rakhi.  Having been married a little over eight year now with three wonderful children, the entire process of selecting a portion of the daily lectionary reading, reflecting and praying about each passage, and composing daily insights together as a couple was something I will cherish.  To be honest, at first I was a bit worried that we might not be able to find the time to do this project.  Yet, God did provide the time and energy (and hopefully insight) to complete both devotionals.  (A special thanks to my mom for watching for the kids at various points for a few hours during the day which allowed us to go off somewhere quiet to write.)

Two things struck me as we working on both of these devotionals.  First, I was really amazed by my wife's insights and creativity.  Now, I have known this for the many years that we have been together, but most often she likes to work quietly on her own, like most artists do.  Yet, during this project, I was able to accompany her more directly as we reflected on the day's lectionary passage as well as watching her do the illustrations for the cover and text.  It was truly a blessing to see her work, one that I will treasure.  Secondly, I came to appreciate The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition even more than I had originally.  Of all the translations out there, and yes it is a paraphrase, it remains the only one that consistently elicits emotions from me when I read.  Now this is not to say that I will be using The Message for serious bible study (whatever that may be) but I have now found a place for The Message in my daily prayer time.  This was not something that I would have expected almost ten years ago when I started this blog.  But to each their own.

The Advent and Lenten devotionals were designed to give you short reflections and action steps for each day of the season, accompanied by illustrations designed by my wife.   It was important to me that these devotionals would be small (in order to be easily carried around with or placed in a Bible case), contain room for personal notes, and inexpensive (the Advent one is .99 cents and the Lenten is $1.25).  In the end, I think we achieved these three goals.  So, if you are looking for a devotional during this upcoming Advent and Lenten seasons that is a little different than most, utilizing a translation of the bible that might cause you to reflect, rethink, laugh, or simply just pause for a few more moments than usual, ACTA might have the one you are looking for.

The Advent devotional: Expectantly Waiting in Wonder

The Lenten devotional: Walking Together in Freedom

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guest Post: NABRE vs. NRSV vs Neither (Part II)

We now move on to part II of this series initated by guest blogger Dominic.  He wants to open it up to those of you who have a different favorite translation, while also referencing the NABRE and NRSV.  This is part II in a multe-part series.

Part 2 allows for dissent of one or both of the aforementioned transitions. Also, you now have an opportunity to speak more on your favorite translation if it’s neither. Please follow the guidelines.

Ground Rules:
1) State your favorite translation

2) Even if you do not like either, please give pros and cons to both in a charitable and respectful way. You can express dislike without being “ugly.”

3) Why is your choice of translation preferable? Please be detailed. 

4) If you chose “neither” then which translation do you still think is better between the two (NRSV vs. Nabre) even if you don’t like either and why. 

5) If you are critical, please do it in a respectful and understanding way. It’s easy to get “ugly” behind a keyboard but don’t lose track of the decor you would show if you were face to face with those you disagree.

Once again, your comments will only be posted if you fill out all five parts.  You are encouraged to cite any references if possible.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Guest Post: NABRE vs. NRSV (Part I)

This is meant to be more of a participatory guest post by Dominic, who wants to know your thoughts comparing the NABRE and NRSV bibles.  He has listed some ground rules for this, which I encourage you to read before commenting.  Dominic has been going over both translations for years now, and is interested in hearing what you all think.  This is the first in a multi-part series.

Here are the ground rules:

1) Must have an appreciation for both translations and you must state that. 

2) State your favorite Bible Translation (doesn’t have to be the NRSV or NABRE)

3) Pros and cons of each translation

4) No other translation may be introduced other than only naming your favorite translation. 

5) Which Translation do you prefer between the two, and why?

At minimum, you must follow the five points or your comments will not be posted.  If at all possible,  post links to articles or essays about said translations and translation philosophies that may be read for further reflection for both series.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: The Spiritual Warfare Bible (RSV-CE)

It was about seven years ago that Saint Benedict Press/TAN released the Catholic Scripture Study International Bible (RSV-CE).  When I reviewed it, I remember appreciating a lot of what went into its production, even though I thought there were some key components, like cross-references, missing.  I still have that bible today, and when I need an RSV-CE I will often refer to it.  It has held up pretty well over the years, which is a good thing since I was concerned about the glued binding.  I wasn’t then, nor do I remain today, a fan of glossy inserts, but they were placed well and the paper was fairly thin, thus not causing any issues when flipping through the bible or when laying in flat on a table. 

Now back in 2014, SBP/TAN released Manual for Spiritual Warfare, which was a handbook of prayers and reflections on engaging in spiritual warfare.  The book, authored by Paul Thigpen, sold quite well.  Now enter the brand new Spiritual Warfare Bible (RSV-CE) from Saint Benedict Press, which utilizes much from the Manual for Spiritual Warfare, integrating into the RSV-CE text.  While the description of this bible says that it contains “nine special Spiritual Warfare inserts” written by Dr. Thigpen, in truth, that is a bit misleading, but in a good way.  Each of these nine topics take up, on average, at least ten pages of print.  The topics range from “Scripture for the Battle” to a “Spiritual Warfare Topic Index”.  In particular, the section titled “Prayers for the Battle” contain a number of very beautiful prayers, including one entitled ‘Prayer to Our Lady, vanquisher of the Enemy’.  Compared to the CSSI Bible, this bible contains considerably more content than the CSSI Bible.  The inserts in the CSSI Bible were typically one page in length, on a variety of apologetic topics.  The glossy inserts in the Spiritual Warfare Bible also contain some well-placed and beautifully rendered classical art, which is nicely placed at appropriate locations within Thigpen’s text.  Many of them, like the one of Our Lady (pictured below), are great to pray with.  While there are no maps or cross-references in this bible, it does contain an appendix which has all the Mass readings, both for weekdays and Sundays. Also, the words of Christ are in red.

In regards to construction and overall look, the Spiritual Warfare Bible is very similar to its older brother, the CSSI Bible.  The RSV-CE is presented in a fairly large script, with the words of Christ in red.  I have always found this to be one of the best visual representations of the RSV-CE on the market today.  The text is quite easy to read from, even though it is not line matched.  It contains three handy black ribbons, which should certainly be mandatory for a bible like this.  The binding is glued but the cover is a smooth premium ultrasoft synthetic leather cover.  The cover has a much nicer than the CSSI Bible cover, which was a more stiff bonded leather.  The cover has a blind imprinting, which is also a step up from the early CSSI Bible.  The size of the The Spiritual Warfare Bible is 6.75 x 9.5 x 1.5, which is roughly the same size as the CSSI Bible.

I could see this new volume to be popular in certain prayer groups, as well as in charismatic Catholic circles.  The content would certainly fit into those who are associated with apostolates dedicated to doing spiritual warfare or intercession.  The Spiritual Warfare Bible has a very nice overall feel to it and is a true joy to read from.  The question will be whether or not the reader is willing to pay $69.95 for this bible.  While it does have some wonderfully composed and organized content on spiritual warfare, it suffers from having a glued binding.  In the end, I can see that some might purchase this, while others may take a pass on it. 

Thank you to Saint Benedict Press for providing me a review copy for this post.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Show Me the Money: NAB(RE)

If you have been a regular to Catholic online forums (or even this blog at times) and the topic comes up about the NAB, someone will eventually bring up the issue of the royalities that are collected for licensing the NAB.  Usually the person who brings up this issue does so with an axe to grind against the NAB, CCD, or USCCB. 

Well, I was happy that our friend, Mary Sperry, passed along a recent USCCB Press Release that shows were some of this money goes.  (There are others not listed here.)  I thought I would share it with you so you could see for yourself:

WASHINGTON—This Fall 2017, for the first time, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded grants in the amount of $85,900 for four projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.
Funding for these grants comes from the royalties received from the publication of the New American Bible and its derivative works which the CCD develops, publishes, promotes, and distributes.
The four projects sponsored by the CCD are as follows:
  • $11,750 to Dr. Todd Hibbard (Associate Professor, University of Detroit Mercy) for field research in Jerusalem related to his project on the rhetoric of urban destruction in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. This research will inform the forthcoming monograph, Prophets and Prophecy in Ancient Israel and Judah: A Phenomenological Approach.
  • $11,800 to Father Robert Lapko (Moderator for the Centre for Biblical and Near Eastern Studies of the Archdiocese of KoŇ°ice, Slovakia) to provide partial financial support for continuing biblical education and formation of Slovak clergy through seminars, and intensive summer school for biblical languages, and a study trip to the Holy Land.
  • $17,350 to Dr. Patrick Russell (Chief Academic Officer and Professor of Scripture Studies, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, Hales Corners, WI) for a project to ascertain the most effective preaching strategies employed by priests that lead parishioners to more profound encounters, focusing on the Gospel parables in the Sunday Lectionary for Mass.
  • $45,000 to Dr. Nathan Eubank and Dr. Markus Bockmuehl (Keble College, University of Oxford) for 12-month research project designed to contribute to renewed understanding of the relationship between Scripture and the early Christian creeds, particularly, the Apostles' Creed.
The CCD works with the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) to offer these grants accepting applications only from the CBA, including the organization itself, its designees, and its active and associate members. In fidelity to Dei Verbum, the CBA's purpose is to promote scholarly study in Scripture and related fields by meetings of the association, publications, and support to those engaged in such studies.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

New Official NAB(RE) Site!

Press Release:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Acquires Catholic.Bible
November 6, 2017
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has acquired Catholic.Bible. 
The domain serves as the home base for resources for National Bible Week. This year’s National Bible Week celebration takes place November 12-18. In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the theme for this year is The Bible: A Book of Faith/ La Biblia: Un Libro de la Fe.
In addition, Catholic.Bible is the place to also find Lectio Divina resources (English and Spanish) for every Sunday of the year, an expansion of past years’ resources which were limited to Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter.
Other resources available on Catholic.Bible include:
  • A survey on Bible use among Catholics sponsored by American Bible Society
  • An RSS feed of the daily readings in English and Spanish
  • A link to the New American Bible, revised edition (NABRE)
More resources will be added in the months ahead. Catholic.Bible went live, October 31.
The .Bible top-level domain is a trusted online source for all things Bible. The mission of .Bible is to encourage Bible engagement, translation, innovation, and global partnerships so that all people may experience the life-changing message that the Bible gives us.
The American Bible Society, a Christian ministry that has equipped people to engage with the life-changing message of God's Word for over 200 years, operates the .BIBLE registry.
Please visit Catholic.Bible at https://catholic.bible/.

Monday, November 6, 2017

NOAB 5th Edition- Spring 2018

The listing is up for the 5th edition of the venerable New Oxford Annotated Bible.  As usual, it will come in editions with or without the apocrypha/deuterocanonical books.  I have only seen the hardcover and paperback listings so far.  If they do a genuine leather edition, I hope it maintains the high quality of the 4th edition.  The biblical text will, once again, be the NRSV. 

For over 50 years students, professors, clergy, and general readers have relied on The New Oxford Annotated Bible as an unparalleled authority in Study Bibles. This fifth edition of the Annotated remains the best way to study and understand the Bible at home or in the classroom. This thoroughly revised and substantially updated edition contains the best scholarship informed by recent discoveries and anchored in the solid Study Bible tradition.

· Introductions and extensive annotations for each book by acknowledged experts in the field provide context and guidance. 
· Introductory essays on major groups of biblical writings - Pentateuch, Prophets, Gospels, and other sections - give readers an overview that guides more intensive study.
· General essays on history, translation matters, different canons in use today, and issues of daily life in biblical times inform the reader of important aspects of biblical study.
· Maps and diagrams within the text contextualize where events took place and how to understand them.
· Color maps give readers the geographical orientation they need for understanding historical accounts throughout the Bible.
· Timelines, parallel texts, weights and measures, calendars, and other helpful tables help navigate the biblical world.
· An extensive glossary of technical terms demystifies the language of biblical scholarship.
An index to the study materials eases the way to the quick location of information.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, with twenty new essays and introductions and others-as well as annotations-fully revised, offers the reader flexibility for any learning style. Beginning with a specific passage or a significant concept, finding information for meditation, sermon preparation, or academic study is straightforward and intuitive.

A volume that users will want to keep for continued reference, The New Oxford Annotated Bible continues the Oxford University Press tradition of providing excellence in scholarship for the general reader. Generations of users attest to its status as the best one-volume Bible reference tool for any home, library, or classroom.