Review: Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible


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 n411vqcshi2l-_sx344_bo1204203200_ewly 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.

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In Summary

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)

ISBN: 9780190267230



  • 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

★★★★★ 5/5

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!





Review: Manual of Prayers by Midwest Theological Forum

Manual of Prayers.jpg

On a Friday in August 2015, I was took a stroll through Runnymede Neighbourhood, Toronto and went into a Goodwill thrift store (now closed) on a “50% off everything in-store”. I went to the book department and looked through the shelves of the religious books section. Looking through, the shelves, I found a black book with a slipcase. I picked it up and took out the book  and the title read, “Manual of Prayers“. I opened it and it seemed like the book has not been opened at all. The pages still looked new! The original price sold at the store was $5.05. However, as mentioned before, it was a 50% discount day and therefore, I only had to pay $2.50 for the prayer book (we no longer have pennies in Canada so it was rounded down to 50 cents).

The book itself seems to be of high quality. It has gilded edges and the pages are thick (not bible paper). Two ribbons are embedded into the spine of the book. I have taken a look at several books such as A Shorter Roman Ritual and Handbook of Prayers published by Midwest Theological Forum (MTF) while at Pauline Books and Media, Toronto and they all seem to be of high quality. I love how the Manual of Prayer  has a genuine leather cover. It adds texture and quality to the book. In the information page of the book with the publisher and Imprimatur, the book is of the Third Edition, 1998. I assume they have a newer edition now as my cover only depicts the coat-of-arms of the Pontifical North American College, Rome (You may question why the College’s coat-of-arms is depicted on the cover. I’ll explain that soon!). The current edition (as depicted on the website) depicts both the coat-of-arms and the title Manual of Prayers. 

The MTF states that the prayer book is “used by the students and faculty of the North American College in Rome”. That answers why there is the coat-of-arms on the cover of the prayer book.

The prayer book, “must-have for priests and seminarians” includes valuable prayers in English, Italian, Spanish and even Latin, the official language of the universal Church. However, it is great for use for the lay faithful too. There are prayers for the Liturgical Year, prayers for before, during and after Mass, a useful examination of conscience, meditations, morning and evening prayer, prayers to the saints, litanies and even some chant lyrics. There are three appendixes. The first appendix is called “Various Patron Saints”. This is one of my favourite features of the prayer book. It contains 7-pages of la list of patron saints of many occupations and organizations. The second appendix is of the Lenten Station Churches of Rome. The website of the Pontifical North American College has a page with a history of the practice of The Roman Station Liturgy during Lent. (Click here for more details). The final appendix is the yearly calendar of the College.

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Title: Manual of Prayers

Publisher: Midwest Theological Forum & Pontifical North American College, Rome

Format: Print, genuine leather softcover book with gilded edges

Dimensions (approximate): 17 cm x 11 cm x 3 cm

Imprimatur: Yes

ISBN: 1-890177-03-2


  • High quality book binding
  • Genuine leather cover
  • Two ribbons
  • Convenient size
  • Black and red type (red ink for titles, rubrics and illustrations and black ink for the text that should be said, similar to the Roman Missal)
  • Very convenient size to slip into a briefcase or backpack
  • Wide selection of prayers for all occasions
  • Contains a list of patron saints in Appendix I
  • Very simple Catholic line art that does not cause distraction
  • Prayers in English, Spanish, Italian and even Latin
  • Contains selected chants with English translation
  • Clear readable font


  • Book is difficult to lay flat (in the pictures, I hold the book flat)
  • I would prefer more ribbons
  • Retail price on MTF site is $40.00 USD, a bit expensive for Catholics who do not want to spend a lot on a prayer book
  • The Order of Mass would be great to have in Manual of Prayers 

On “The Catholic Man’s” Scale

★★★★☆ 4/5

The Manual of Prayers is one of the best English prayer books that I currently own. Even though I do not use it everyday like my Shorter Christian Prayer, it is such a great prayer book to turn to when I need a prayer for any occasion such as study or death of family member. The slipcase is great especially when I bring the prayer book for travel or Catholic Conferences. I only wish it contained the Order of Mass which would be quite convenient to follow along. I would recommend this prayer book to all Catholics who desires to build a stronger relationship with our Lord through the recitation of prayers and meditation (and also willing to invest $40 on this prayer book)!

If you would like to purchase Manual of Prayers, visit the MTF page to purchase it online. Or, you may check your local Catholic bookstore for a copy. The prayer book is available in black and burgundy leather covers.

*I really like books from the MTF due to their valuable content and great quality. I hope to review more of their books, especially their Daily Roman Missal. I hope to get a hold of one these to review on this site!