January 15, 2016
THE Bible for Catholic Christians
My title for this review makes a rather bold statement, especially since I’ve reviewed some wonderful editions from various Catholic Bible publishers over the years. As I recall, I recommended each one in earlier posts, which you can read by scrolling through this blog and finding ones that interest you.
However, the title - The Didache Bible - surely did not sound interesting to me! Although the word “didache” labels something as instructive, it’s generally used in the negative sense of getting preachy. If, therefore, someone says, “Your writing is very didactic,” they’re probably not giving you a compliment and might even be saying, “B-o-r-i-n-g!”
So, why do I hold The Didache Bible in such high esteem that I purchased a hardback covered in leather as shown below?
Besides being published in the beloved RSV (Revised Standard Version) text with all of the deuterocanonical (aka apocryphal) books included, this Bible has footnote-commentaries from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), which brings you the full Bible and the teachings of the church in one priceless book.
Let’s take, for example, the footnote for Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth:”
“This simple statement that initiates the first book of the Old Testament reveals that God is eternal, i.e., his existence transcends time, and all time is eternally present for him. Second, God is omnipotent. Everything that exists originated with him. By his Word, he brought all of creation into existence without the use of pre-existing materials. Finally, God alone is the Creator, and he has authority over all creation. We affirm God as Father and omnipotent Creator when we pray the first lines of both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed. (CCC 268, 279-280, 290-295)”
To give you an example from the New Testament, I flipped open the book and saw the short but profound note for Matthew 7:3-5:
“Failure to see our own faults leads invariably to harsh and unfair judgment of others. (CCC 1861)”
Naturally, I had to look up that number in my copy of the CCC, where I read then read again with bold emphasis:
“Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of santifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offence, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.”
Deep! So it could take a lifetime to get the full value of this Bible and commentary. If that sounds overwhelming, take heart! The front matter has pages to ease our study and research, for example, by giving us a brief description of each book of the Bible followed by chronologies of the Old Testament and the New.
Other upfront pages list the parables and miracles of Jesus with back pages providing maps, a brief concordance, and a helpful glossary that’s like a mini-dictionary of Bible people, places, objects, and ideas – almost everything we need to know about our Judeo-Christian faith, Jesus Christ, and the Church. All that's left is putting what we read into practice and developing our relationship with our Lord God.
©2016, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a poet, writer, and highly ecumenical lover of Christ, the Bible, and the Church in all its parts and peoples.
The Didache Bible, hardback covered with leather
In case you want to explore further, this update of the CCC makes the perfect companion to The Didache Bible:
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paperback