169 of 183 people found the following review helpful
Charles S. Houser
- Published on Amazon.com
If Oxford University Press had done nothing but reset the first edition (1970) in a more readable typeface, the second edition would have been well worth its purchase price. They did this, and more.
The Reading Guide (RG) in the first edition was set with the text running the full width of the page, making it difficult to read; the RG in the second edition is set in double columns like the Biblical text itself and is a pleasure to read. The first edition numbers the RG, Old Testament, and New Testament separately, making it hard for the reader to use the supplementary aids. The pagination of the second edition only distinguishes between the RG and the Biblical text and always prefaces a page number with the abbreviation "RG" if the reader is being directed to the Reading Guide. The second edition, like the first, is really two books in one. The biblical text and extensive footnotes are those of the standard New American Bible (NAB; OT 1970; revised NT 1986; revised Psalms 1991), so the translation and notes, with the exception of the Psalms, are identical to those in the first edition with the exception of the Psalms. The NAB is an erudite and largely literal translation of the biblical texts based on the best original language texts and was prepared by eminent biblical scholars (most of whom were Roman Catholic). The 525-page RG, which includes a number of well-researched and carefully presented background articles and thoughtful introductions and detailed overviews for each book of the Bible, were prepared by a different team of Catholic scholars. At times, the RG authors take issue with the translators of the NAB. These are not contentious contradictions, but refreshing alternate views on various biblical matters, and testimony to a "new openness" on the part of the Roman Catholic Church that began in 1943 with Pope Pius XII's encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu," and reaffirmed by Vatican II. To bridge the gap between these "two books," the editors have inserted easy-to-locate references to specific pages in the RG throughout the biblical text, another welcome innovation of the second edition. (It is perhaps worth noting here that Hoppe's introduction in the RG to the Deuteronomistic History, i.e., Joshua through 2 Kings, makes up for the lack of a comparable introduction in the NAB proper, which presents Joshua and Judges as though they are part of the Pentateuch rather than belonging among the historical books that follow them.)
The publisher boasts on the back cover that "the study notes have been completely rewritten, and there are new and expanded essays and sidebars on special topics." Many of the book introductions/overviews remain quite close to those of the first edition. One wonders whether this is because they were so good to begin with they did not warrant revision or whether it is merely evidence of "editorial laziness." Is it possible that in 30 years, consensus scholarship has not evolved or that nothing new has been learned about each and every book of the Bible? (To be fair, Osiek's introduction to Philemon does reflect the ongoing discussions about how to interpret this short, but difficult letter of Paul.) The new essays are, "Biblical History and Archaeology" by R. A. Simkins, "Catholic Interpretation of the Bible" by K. Madigan, and "The Challenges of Biblical Translation" by R. D. Witherup. These are excellent and welcome additions. Simikins's and Madigan's contributions, however, lack short bibliographies which all of the other background essays have. This is a shame because their topics seem to call out for "further reading." While reading Madigan's article, in which he cites numerous early Christian and medieval landmark works, I found myself wondering if they were available in good, well-annotated modern English translations. (His essay, by the way, should be required reading for all Protestants seminary students.) As for "sidebars on special topics," there are only 18 of these, some of which are more charts than discussions of a topic. The one on the Shema, "Hear, O Israel" is disappointingly short (3 lines!); the one on "Hebrew Poetry," however, is better than most I've read on the same topic in other study Bibles. But surely, 18 such sidebars are too few. (The Contemporary English Version Learning Bible has over 100; The New Interpreter's Study Bible has 97 "excurses"; and the recently published New International Version Archaeological Study Bible has more than I can count.) The Glossary at the back of The Catholic Study Bible, while good, does not seem to have been updated in 30 years. (The definition of "fundamentalism" is pretty much confined to its American Protestant expression; surely this could have been expanded to reflect current world-wide religio-political phenomenon.)
Other improvements in the second edition include a 25-page index to the Reading Guide, a 94-page concordance, and 52 text-specific maps. The latter are so well-conceived and thoughtfully executed that I doubt most readers will ever bother to refer to the 14 beautiful color maps at the back of the volume that Oxford owns and reproduces in all their Bibles.
As with all editions of the NAB, I find two things extremely frustrating. First, the footnote cross-references are marked by superscript alphabetical letters. While it is easy when reading the text to find the appropriate cross-reference at the bottom of the page, it is nearly impossible to do the reverse operation because the footnote cross-reference is not preceded by the chapter and verse number of the verse being referred to. The other thing is that the NAB (presumably continuing a tradition begun with the Douay-Rheims Bible) uses a very idiosyncratic method for punctuating citations; where standard (Protestant-influenced?) bibliographic systems use colons or periods to separate chapter and verse, the NAB uses commas; periods are used to separate non-contiguous verses within the same chapter--thus "Gn 13, 2.5-8" means Genesis chapter 13, verse 2 and verses 5 through 8, or Gen 13:2,5-8, as the Society of Biblical Literature would have it.
As Madigan rightly says in his essay on "Catholic Interpretation of the Bible," "since [Vatican II], Protestant and Catholic interpretations of the Scriptures have been methodologically indistinguishable." This being so, Protestants should feel comfortable adding The Catholic Study Bible to their library and consulting it often.
230 of 269 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Believe it or not, this is the bible I use in my everyday life. My copy is underlined, crossed over, and written in. I have lived with the NAB Catholic Study Bible for a long time.
However, I would never recommend that a fellow Catholic do the same. The NAB is great in that it has excellent cross references that really help with comparative scripture study. It is a good and scholarly translation. This edition has a handy mini-concordance in the back as well, which is a huge help.
However, the "scholarship" in this bible's "Readers Guides" is abysmal, biased, and downright schismatic.
First, allow me to address what strengths the various study guides have.
1) Modern historical/critical scholarship in the Roman Catholic "tradition" (I use this word VERY loosely) is presented.
2) The bible is well organized and easily used. The "readers guides" are at the beginning and share the modern historical/critical perspective on the texts.
3) The "readers guides" cover the entire bible, including the apocrypha.
These are the only three strengths I can think of however, and that even garnering these was a stretch. This Study Bible's weaknesses are myriad and fatal. A few of the most egregious problems follow:
1) The essays focuses solely on the insights of the historical critical method, and are egregiously liberal and politically correct to the point of being distracting. The scholarship is definitely a notch or two below the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, which is also very modern and biased. I should point out that the historical critical method can and does provide valuable insights. However, it can be problematic in that it takes skepticism as its starting point. Its conclusions therefore can be biased against faith. One example is the dating of texts that include prophesy. The historical critical scholar will postdate the text to after the prophesy had been fulfilled. The assumption is against the idea that a prophet from God could have warned about the future BEFORE the event occurred.
These sorts of biased statements against faith happen ALL OVER this Bible.
2) Historical critical method, by definition, can only address the literal sense of scripture. (Who wrote the text, when was it written, what is the author's agenda, what does he or she want tell us etc. etc.) In Catholic teaching however there are four senses of Sacred Scripture, the texts of which are Holy, inerrant, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. These four senses are: a) the Literal b) the Allegorical c) the Anagogical and d) the Moral. The study helps in this bible, by their very nature, ignore most of the Catholic view of the scriptures because they can really only address one sense of scripture effectively. This bible addresses none of these truths.
Read the totality of the "study helps" in this bible and you will find no reasons for Catholic belief. None at all. The sin of Onan for instance has nothing to do with contraception. When Paul wrote about examining oneself before receiving the Eucharist for example there is no mention of confession. In fact, the Catholic view of the scriptures is contradicted more often than supported by this bible's "study helps."
3) The best current scholarship seems to have left the Catholic camp (sadly). NT Wright (an Anglican) is one example. His works on Paul and the historicity of the Resurrection for instance have totally eclipsed Ray Brown, Fitzmeyer, et all. This scholarship would be considered "conservative" by the compilers of this study bible and insights from evangelical and conservative protestant scholars are routinely dismissed by them as biased or unscientific. The opinions of more orthodox scholars don't even warrant a mention by the authors of these "Reader's Guides." This makes the study helps in this bible decidedly myopic in favor of a more liberal and modern view of the dating and authorship of the various NT texts. What is disgusting is that these liberal scholars are trying to pass themselves off as purveyors of Catholic truth. This is repugnant. At least present the Church's viewpoint before contradicting it!
4)Eastern Christian bible scholarship has a long and beautiful history in drawing out the spiritual meaning of biblical texts. This "Catholic" study Bible ignores the East altogether. This is not a joke. Not a single Eastern mystic, saint, or scholar is included in the study helps. It breathes with one lung only (the western one), and the VERY modern and liberal wing of western one at that. The Church offers a HUGE treasury of biblical theology that this "Study Bible" simply dismisses. This is outrageous, and again provides a very narrow view of the scriptures.
5) There are FAR better study Bibles available for the Christian. For instance, the Navarre Catholic Bible (while more expensive than this volume as it also contains lengthy commentaries and footnotes to the biblical texts and is published in many volumes) includes not only the insights of historical critical scholarship, but also the insights of the saints, mystics, and biblical theology. Furthermore, historical scholarship from more than the liberal wing of the academy is included. The Navarre Bible Commentary is far richer than the NAB Catholic Study Bible as result.
If the Navarre bible is too expensive for your blood, Ignatius is putting together a Catholic Study Bible that is solid. So far several inexpensive single books have been published, including The Ignatius Study Bible: The Letters of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians, Timothy and Titus (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)
In short, I would avoid this "Catholic" bible until one has a deep and solid grounding in Scripture. The study helps are very liberal and skeptical. They ignore the riches of what the Church has to offer. This Bible is marketed as a Catholic commentary to the laity and this is a misnomer.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Scott A. Kirkpatrick
- Published on Amazon.com
I recently purchased this second edition of The Catholic Study Bible and I am glad I did. There are new essays and the features already mentioned in the first review gives an accurate description of what is inside this edition using the New American Bible translation. The layout is much improved over the first edition. The best improvements lie in the larger and darker print of notes, essays and Scripture all of which is thumb tabbed for quicker reference. The text of Scripture is comparable to the print quality and font size of the 3rd edition New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV). The concordance, though not exhaustive, should be helpful as are the maps and cycle of readings. If you are serious about Scripture study this Bible is well worth the $29.00 price offered through Amazon. For Christians this is a well made and reader friendly Catholic Study Bible.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I recently purchased this Bible and have found it helpful. I use this edition of the NAB because it has a much easier font to read than the NAB Gift & Study published by Nelson. It has all of the cross-references and notes of ealier versions. Although I don't believe that it is an approved version by the Church, the way that the notes are set up is far superior and easier to find because of the use of Stars next to a passage to indicate a note at the bottom of the page. Letters are used to indicate cross references. I find this easier than crosses and stars of the Gift & Study Bible by Nelson.
The overall spacing and font choice for this Bible is great for those who usually have to squint to see the text. The text flows much more as if you were reading textbook, in appearance.
As for all of the Letters and the Study Guide in the front before you get to the actual text of the bible... well I only use it if I want a General framework for a certain book in the bible or some further Historical knowledge of the time of Jesus or the Old Testament. I would say very good helps if you just would like a little more info, but they don't (at least to me) refect anything overly Catholic in teaching. If you want to know more about the Background of each book in the Bible, I recommend taking a class or looking for further literature that will expand your knowledge of all things biblical. I would also say to not bother with the Glossary or Concordance in the back, In my own bible studies I find these things to be of little value and hardly ever use them. It does define and locate Scripture Passages on certain topics, but it is not very exhaustive. I would recommend just using the cross references and notes in the text.
But other things that make this Bible good are not the color maps at the back of the Bible, but the maps throughout the Text of temples and certain areas where people traveled. There is also a list of all the parallel stories of Jesus' miracles and teachings for all four Gospels. I find this an easy way to locate the stories and study each one, and be able to quickly find the Our Father from Matthew to Luke to Mark.
I also recommend writing in this bible. Usually Catholic Bibles are known for not having much room for notes, but I find it easier to locate places where I can write my notes in this bible. It unfortunately does not have a few pages with lines in the back for some study notes of your own.
Anyone who wants to throughly study the bible, this is a good one to start with. It also (I think) would be acceptable to use along with many of the Scott Hahn scripture studies.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm just adding my vote to the several reviews that list all of the reasons the Second Edition is better than the first. It is SO much more readable and better organized. My first edition stayed on the shelf. This one stays out where I can pick it up and read it at any time.