Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Good Catholic Bible Studies

Q - I'm looking for a good Catholic bible study or Bible that has tools I can study with. Do you have any recommendations?

A –Thanks for your question! There are many people who are looking for a good Catholic Bible study and just don’t know where to start. I will give you several recommendations and hopefully they will assist you in finding what you need.

First off, let me tell you that there are many choices in Bible Studies right now. But, before I make recommendations, let me tell you what to look for in a good Bible study.
  1. You want a study that will break open The Word for you. It must help you to understand what the original author intended, the culture and history of the time, etc. To better understand the Bible, we need to do some work on discovering how to understand it.
  2. Look for one that also helps to apply it to our lives today. This can be done in many different ways, but reflection questions are always helpful.
  3. Look for orthodoxy. That is, look for a Bible study that will faithfully interpret according to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
  4. Take a chance. Try a Bible study out, use it regularly, and don’t give up on it. Let it challenge you. You can find most of these recommendations in St. Mary's library.
Now, let me get down to recommendations.

Books & Bibles:
***The first book I will recommend is put out by Ignatius Press and is titled The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. This was begun as a series in the New Testament and has been compiled into one volume for the New Testament only (they have already completed work on Genesis from the Old Testament). It is the best widely-accessible Catholic Bible study on the market. I highly recommend it. It includes word studies, thematic essays, maps, reflection questions, extensive notes (don’t skip these), and more.

***The second study I recommend is also put out in volumes. But, unlike the last recommendation, this one will not be put into one volume, unless you like to read books that weigh 50 lbs. It is titled The Navarre Bible. It is in many volumes and is excellent. The notes are 2-3 times the length of the Scripture it examines. This would be for those people who really want to spend a lot of time examining Scripture in detail. But, for the highly-motivated, it is highly recommended.

***For the third recommendation I will list several one-volume studies that give a good intro to scripture study.
***The Fourth recommendation focuses on the Bible from an apologetic view. That is, defending and explaining the Catholic faith.
***The Fifth group looks at the Bible as a whole and tries to help us see the BIG picture of Scripture. Very helpful for beginners studying the Bible.
I hope that this short synopsis helps.  Also, this isn’t all the Bible studies out there, so if anyone has any additions to this list, please post in the comments.

Another question I get frequently is “what is the best Bible translation”. For most people the best Bible is the one they use daily. The same principle applies here. The best Catholic Bible study (from this list) is the one you use.