After a very long and busy break, I will be back reviewing Catholic products. I have a few I
will review and those will slowly roll out.
I received a parcel from Oxford containing two of its published books, the Oxford Catholic Study Bible (softcover) and the Oxford Bible Atlas. After months of using these two books, I finally have enough information to review them. I think these two books go well hand in hand for Catholics who want to dig deeper into scripture. However, today I want to look at the Catholic Study Bible first and the next post will be of the Oxford Bible Atlas.
This is one of the thickest bibles I have on my shelf right now but perhaps a very useful one. Lately, I have been trying my best to write reflections on a part of the gospels before I go to sleep every night. I often use my NRSV Catholic Edition Bible by CBS. However, sometimes there are some verses that I need a little more understanding of the context. The NRSV by CBS do provide very short footnotes but they are sometimes not what I need. Since the time I got a hold of a copy of The Catholic Study Bible, I have often used it to grasp a better understanding of certain Bible texts. The footnotes are great and most of the time, its language is easy to understand. There are also cross references to other parts of Bible texts. The reader can gain an even better understanding in the 574-paged Reading Guide. There are page references to the Reading Guide throughout the Bible itself. On the back of the Bible, it mentions the newly expanded Reading Guide in this third edition featuring the new guides for The Pentateuch, Chronicles, Maccabees, Lamentations, Baruch, Tobit and Judith, The Gospel of Mark and Acts. The footnotes and Reading Guide aren’t the only great “Bible luxuries”. Short essays charts and drawings are scattered throughout the Bible and help explain certain Bible texts and bring them to life.
The Bible text itself is from the NABRE which I do own a copy by a different publisher. I wish they could make a Catholic Study Bible for the NRSV version too. However, I do understand how much work must be put in to create just one version of a Study Bible.
One of the things that I look at when reviewing a Bible is certainly the Appendix. This Bible contains many of the standard parts that appear in most Bibles including a glossary, table of measures and weights and an index. However, the standard features listed seem to be more expanded. The glossary itself seems to go more in depth than most that I’ve looked through. The table of measures and weights contains seem to be expanded. It contains conversions from Greek, the NABRE term, Equivalence, U.S. units and metric units (for Canadians!). One feature that I believe is found in most NABRE Bibles is the Lectionary table. I find this feature quite useful. I do not purchase the Sunday Missal in English every year. I often use an app on my phone or use my Vietnamese Missal to get the readings to prepare for Mass. However, there are some days when I find the Lectionary Readings get confusing on which readings to use. For example, the Palm Sunday procession of Year B contains two choices of either Mark of John (yes, its in the Roman Missal). Yet, hand Missals may omit the choice of John. Therefore, before, when I did not have a copy of the Roman Missal, Study Edition (to be reviewed later), I would often turn to the Lectionary Table. Or, the Christmas Readings (for Dec. 24 alone) for example, contain three: Christmas Vigil, Christmas at Midnight, Christmas at Dawn. Again, many hand missals may omit a set which becomes confusing. The Lectionary table would come to the rescue again!
An index of the reading guide is also provided which makes it very useful in finding a certain topic. It limits the time flipping through 574 to find a topic.
I was also amazed at the Concordance of the New American Bible. I expected it to be short the one of the NRSV Catholic Edition by CBS. But I was wrong! The concordance is almost 100-pages. This may be a feature I may use often when writing Spiritual reflections.
Another feature which I love about his Bible are the last 32-pages of coloured maps. Why did I emphasize coloured you might ask. Well, I have noticed that when a Bible is printed in black and white, they contain either no maps or black and white maps. Oxford’s maps are very detailed and the colour brings it to life. The maps clearly depict the changes of the Holy Land throughout Biblical times. A five-paged index is provided with the maps in the last pages.
Reversing to the beginning… I looked for the Imprimatur, a feature that I always look at in Catholic Books I review on this blog. It took me some time to scroll through the tiny text but all the Imprimatur and permission to print by the Catholic Church was on the fourth page. There are three separate approvals in this Bible. First is one for the New Testament of the NABRE which contains a Nihil Obstat and an Imprimatur. The Old Testament contains a short paragraph indicating the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approval with the approval of Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I who was the president of the USCCB at the time (2010). The general and introductory articles, reading guides, charts, maps, timelines, measures and weights, glossary and index received a separate approval in 2015 by the Very Reverend Ronald Hicks, then Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Product: The Catholic Study Bible, Third Edition, NABRE
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Format: Print, paperback (also available in a hardcover version and a leather binding version)
Dimensions (approximate): 9 inches x 6.25 inches x 2 inches
Imprimatur: Yes (for both the NABRE bible and the notes itself)
- Reading Guide available in the front
- Includes 32 pages of coloured maps
- Glossary in the back
- Tables of measures and weights
- Index to reading guide
- Concordance to the New American Bible included
- Lectionary Reading reference pages
- Reading Guide (RG) references available throughout the Bible text itself
- Detailed footnotes helps reader to understand the Bible texts better
- Sidebar essays, charts and drawings are provided throughout the Bible texts
- The Bible bears the appropriate Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur and even assures approval by the USCCB
- Large in size
- Heavy, not the best Bible for travellers
- The softcover version is best to have a book wrap cover to add protection. Frequent use may wear down the softcover Bible quickly
On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale
I absolutely love Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible Third Edition. This Bible contains so many features that I have not mentioned all of them in this review. The Bible is good for those who want to dig deeper in the Word of God taking into consideration its spiritual and historical context. It is not the best Bible to travel but one of the best to buy for your Catholic Library.
Thank you Oxford for allowing me to review this Bible!