As described in the Editors' Preface, "The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture aims to serve the ministry of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church." For the Church in America, this series of commentary is both relevant and timely. As lay persons take on more active roles within the life of the Church, the need for accessible sources of catechesis is great. It has been my experience that the commentaries available are either simplistic or highly scholarly. What is needed are documents that help us understand what the original authors meant, what the Church has taught regarding these scriptures, and what it means in the living Church today.
The Catholic Commentary is deigned to do just this. For me, it is in the design of the commentaries that most effectively communicates. First, the biblical text is grouped based on subject. For example, Mark 10:13-16 is grouped and labeled as "The Blessing of the Children." Immediately following the text, the authors present a List of References which includes Catechism paragraphs, and other Scriptural cross references relative to the grouped subject. This is very helpful since both scripture and Tradition are referenced in one convenient location grouped around a biblical theme. This alone is worth the price of the book for those of us who want to understand the teachings of the Catholic Church in light of Holy Scripture.
To further illuminate the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, the authors have designed their manuscript to include "sidebars". These sidebars insert brief articles relative to topics in their commentary section. These articles are titled either Biblical Background or Living Tradition.
The Biblical Background sidebar provides historical evidence regarding persons, places, things, etc. For example, a brief narrative regarding the Sea of Galilee is inserted in the commentary on The Calming of the Storm (Mark 4:35-41). The Living Tradition inserts will provide reflections on the biblical text from early Church Fathers, Catechism, etc. Again, the authors' ability to effectively communicate to the lay person is successful due in part to the design of this manuscript layout. All of the Living Tradition and Biblical Background sidebars are indexed by subject so they can be easily located.
Following the List of References is the commentary itself. Thankfully, the commentary is not written for the authors' peers, but rather for the common person. The authors claim that the commentary is designed to "focus on the meaning of the text for faith and life." For me, they have accomplished their goal.
Following the Commentary section of the passage is a section titles "Reflection and Application." This narrative attempts to crack open the word and shed light on life and meaning today. I would think that this section will provide a wealth of ideas for small group discussions.
The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture should enjoy wide popularity. It is written for the person who wants to understand scripture in light of the teachings of the Church with reflections relevant to Parish life. I have the complete Navarre Bible, but it has just been superseded by the superior Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture.