Monday, April 15, 2013

Catholic Monday: Anselm Academic Study Bible

Today, on Catholic Monday I am reviewing the Anselm Academic Study Bible. It's pretty clear if you read my blog that I am a bibliophile (lover of books), but I am also a Bible-phile! When I was Southern Baptist, I tried to get as many different translations of the Bible as I could. That changed a bit when I became Catholic and developed a better understanding of the Bible. As it stands now, there are only two translations of the Bible that I currently read - the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE).

The "Anselm Academic Study Bible" is the NABRE. The NABRE is what you will hear every time you go to  Mass. Therefore, it is a very liturgical and pretty version. However, the NABRE is not the most literal translation. The RSV is translated more literally from the original text. Typically, if you have a Study Bible, it uses the most literal translation, so to have a Study Bible using the NABRE is a pretty big deal if you ask me. I won't go into a review of the actual translation of the Bible as I am not that scholarly. I trust our Church and that the translation is a great translation. I will instead review all the extra features in this Bible.

When you open the Bible, you immediately notice a plethora of essays, which detail different aspects of Sacred Scripture. The most interesting to me was entitled "Sacred Scripture in the Catholic Tradition." This article informs or reminds the reader that Scripture is not something which can be understood by private revelation. Instead, the way to understand Sacred Scripture is in the light of the Church, which has a 2000 year history. There are twelve other articles and some of the titles include "The Lectionary: A Canon within the Canon" and "The Christian Bible and the Jews." Each one is brilliantly written and opens new doors of understanding to the Bible that the reader might not have ever otherwise pondered.

Within the text of the Bible itself, one finds both the original New American Bible (NAB) introductions and new introductions by Biblical scholars. I found this very helpful as a reader. The NAB introductions presented a very basic viewpoint, but then the NABRE introduction gave a more detailed picture. Also within the Bible one finds copious footnotes at the bottom of every page. A lot of them help explain what the specific verse or passage means, but some of the footnotes provide cross-references to other Biblical passages.

This study Bible also provides plenty of charts and maps for reference. I think every Study Bible has to have the map of the Holy Land in Jesus' time and the maps of Paul's missionary journeys. However, this Bible provided some charts that were new to me. The chart which chronologically lined up prophets and kings of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms helped the Old Testament make more sense to me than just reading the books of the Bible. I also appreciated the chart, which showed all of Jesus' parables in the Synoptic Gospels. That's worth referencing frequently and would also make a good personal Bible study in and of itself.

What about the negatives? Since, I can't find anything in the content that bothered me, I am going to have to address some potential style problems. When you hear the words "Study Bible," most people want to be able to highlight massive amounts of text and take notes in the margin of their Bible. If you are one of those people, you will find the pages are a bit on the thin side, which means your highlighter will probably bleed through. As for the margins, they are almost non-existent. Unless you can write so small that only an ant could read it, don't expect to be able to do that either. Fortunately, I am not one who has the desire to highlight or write in my Bible (or any book for that matter), so this wasn't a deal-breaker for me.

This is a 5 star Bible and one you will want on your shelf. Pair it with the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible and you now have two translations (NABRE and RSV) to do some serious Bible Study...well, at least the New Testament. We're still waiting on the Old Testament to be finished with the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. I feel richer having this Bible in my possession and would recommend it to any Catholic, whether they are ready to do serious study or not. The translation is inviting and accessible and the study aids will be there waiting for you when you are ready to dive in.

Thanks again to Anselm Academic for sending me this to review. If you found this review helpful, please click this link and hit the Yes button.