Showing posts with label Catholic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic. Show all posts

April 1, 2019

The Catholic Youth Bible


Known for the spiritual depth, insight, and accuracy of their books, Saint Mary’s Press has revised and published a quality paperback of The Catholic Youth Bible and kindly sent me a copy to review.

The visually appealing cover not only encourages us to “Pray It! Study It! Live It!®” the contents and unique features help Christians of all ages to do just that.

Almost immediately, the front matter assures us, “This Bible can change your life!” And how could it not? As the very next page declares:

“God loves you and wants to be in a lifelong friendship with you. The Bible tells the story of God’s love, revealed most perfectly in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Through Christ, God offers you forgiveness, freedom, companionship, and new life. It is a wonderful gift!”

The page goes on to add:

“This Bible is like no other because it belongs to you! So personalize it… make it a reflection of who you are. You will discover countless places to   . Write     .Color     .Draw     . Highlight     . Journal”

The attractive color-washed illustrations and relevant sidebars on the inside pages and colored-on “tabs” to mark various sections of the Bible on the outer edges generate interest and make it easier to find what you want. In addition, a colorful “bookcase” shows “How the Bible is organized,” while introductory pages provide a “Quick Summary” and “Headline Highlights” for each book of God’s Word.

To young readers or novices of any age, all of this might seem like mere academics were it not for the inclusion of such introductory features as “How Is This Relevant to My Life Today?” In Genesis, for example, the text responds to that question with these words:

  • ·       “God has the power to bring order out of chaos.
  • ·         When we fail, God still cares for us.
  • ·         Remaining faithful even when things seem impossible can lead to unexpected blessings.”


Or, if we feel the distance between ourselves and, say, The Book of Numbers, these responses to the relevancy of God’s Word will help to close the gap between the distant past and today:

  • ·         “Patience and trust in God go hand in hand.
  • ·         When things feel overwhelming, we must not give up on God.
  • ·         God’s timing may be different from our timing.”


And, looking into the future with the relevancy of Revelation, we find these encouraging words:

  • ·         “Do not lose hope; evil will ultimately lose.
  • ·         The magnificence of heaven that awaits us is unbelievable.
  • ·         Through all the trials now and at the end of times, Jesus is and will always be there for us.”


In the back matter of the book, other relevant helps include “Core Beliefs,” a glossary, an “Overview of Salvation History,” a “Biblical History Time Line,” and illustrations you can color. In addition, the feature “When I’m Feeling” addresses typically encountered emotions with Bible responses to “Let the word of God guide and support you as you face life’s joys and challenges.”

May God help us to seek and find this guidance throughout our lives!

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-writer, reviewer


Order a copy for yourself and the youth in your life, by clicking here: The Catholic Youth Bible.






January 4, 2018

a unique Book of Bible Stories

The Book of Bible Stories by Amy Welborn is one of the most unusual and helpful presentation I’ve seen among the many editions for children. Published by Loyola Press, who kindly sent me a copy to review, this collection opens with stories relevant to Advent – the beginning of the liturgical church year – and ends with stories of Christ’s resurrection, Saul’s conversion, and “The Life of the Early Christians” while including Old Testament stories that foreshadow Easter in the redemptive tales of Noah, Moses and the Exodus, and “Ezekiel and the Dry Bones.”

Not only does this unique presentation of Bible stories give readers a clearer living portrait of God’s people – from Genesis through now, the author skillfully weaves in “various aspects of Catholic life that are informed by (the) Scripture passage: prayers, devotions, sacraments, teachings, and the lives of the saints.”

The opening section “Advent,” for example, begins with good news as “Prophets Say That A Messiah Is Coming.” Reading their Old Testament stories, “we join them on their journey. When God’s people of the old days are sad, we are sad. When they hope, we hope too.” And, “we pray about our journey right now,” then “we prepare for the future. The time of peace and harmony that God shows us in Isaiah’s vision is not here yet, but it will be. Listening to Isaiah, we hear of God’s power to bring all people together. We learn to see the world not with despair, but with hope!”

With Christmas, we’re reminded of “Isaiah’s Prophecies about the Messiah”:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:5)”


As the church enters “Ordinary Time,” stories of Old Testament Patriarchs and Kings abound as do the “Parables of Seeds and Other Growing Thing.”

“Jesus knew that stories are the best way to teach. Jesus used a kind of story called a parable. A parable is a story that helps us understand one thing by comparing it to another….”

“When Jesus preached and taught, he was talking to ordinary people who lived in a certain time and place: first-century Israel. So his stories were about things those people would understand. The characters are farmers, travelers, judges and widows, brothers and businessmen, rich and poor. In Jesus’ parables, people are planting, cleaning, building, feasting, spending money, going to court, building houses, and managing businesses.

“Jesus’ parables remind us to look for signs of God in every part of life….”


To further aid readers of all ages in doing this, the author includes a “Think Quietly” challenge and an opportunity to “Pray Together” at the conclusion of each story. For example, in the Easter story where “The Risen Jesus Appears To His Friends,” the author reminds us that Jesus comes to us in communion, reconciliation, and service, then concludes the story with this call:

Think Quietly: How did the Apostles experience Jesus after he rose from the dead? How is this similar to how we experience Jesus in the Church today?

Pray Together: Risen Jesus, we believe in you and rejoice in the life you share with us.”


Obviously, I recommend this book highly for children growing up in the Catholic Church, but also people of all ages who want to know more about Catholicism and its strong biblical connections with God’s people and God’s Word. The more we listen to the Bible and each other, the more loving and receptive we are to each vital part of the Body of Christ.

Reviewed by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018

Book of Bible Stories: 60 Scripture Stories Every Catholic Child Should Know



June 2, 2015

NASB Study Bible


When the Bible Reviewer blog started, I initially reviewed Bibles I’d bought over the years. Then Bible publishers kindly began to send review copies of new translations, study editions, children’s Bibles, and storybooks for Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Liturgical, Charismatic, and other Christian readers of all ages.

Occasionally, though, I welcomed a review copy with such enthusiasm that I would order the same edition, covered in leather to stand up to heavy use. Or, my husband would buy me a new Bible, such as the exceptionally helpful NIV Study Bible, which I previously reviewed.

Sadly that compact edition eventually proved too difficult to read after eye surgery. So, instead of getting a large-print version, I opted for the NASB Study Bible, which Zondervan publishes with the footnotes adapted to fit the New American Standard Bible (NASB) text.

As you probably know, The Lockman Foundation brought us the NASB in 1960 with periodic updates as the English language changes and new archeological discoveries are made. With the last copyright date shown as 1995, the text continues to be one of the most accurate translations into English.

The lay-flat edition I ordered in top grain leather and standard type includes a hefty concordance, 23 pages of color maps, and articles on such biblical categories as wisdom books, prophets, Gospels, letters, and the era between the two testaments. In the front matter, timeline charts present the chronological sequence of important events, helping us to get grounded in each biblical setting relevant to the text.

What I most welcome, however, is access to 20,000 footnotes! Not only are those notes intuitive in their responses to the text they accompany, they have a way of bringing together the information and insights I might have to search through a half-dozen or more other study Bibles to find.


©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.


NASB Study Bible, leather




December 15, 2014

Christmas gifts for all sorts of Bible readers


This post comes later than intended and, very likely, I accidentally omitted some of my favorites or yours. Nevertheless, this will give you a quick list of highly recommended editions of the Bible to check for your Christmas giving and your own Christmas list.

Catholic readers
Catholic Study Bible
Catholic Women’s Bible
Little Rock Catholic Study Bible
Jerusalem Bible
New Catholic Answer Bible
New Jerusalem Bible
Saint Mary’s Press College Study Bible
The Saints Devotional Bible

Children
Adventure Bible for Early Readers,
Adventure Bible,
Bible storybooks for children
Bibles for children
Catholic Children’s Bible
Catholic Teen Bible
Catholic Youth Bible
ESV Children’s Bible
NIV Teen Study Bible

Evangelical readers
ESV Study Bible
Gospel Transformation Bible,
Holman Study Bible
Life Application Study Bible
MacArthur Study Bible,
New American Standard Bible, wide-margin, goatskin

General readers
African Heritage Study Bible
Amplified Bible
Anselm Academic Study Bible
Complete Parallel Bible
Common English Study Bible
The Lutheran Study Bible,
New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha
The Message with deuterocanonical aka apocryphal books
NIV Study Bible
Oxford Study Bible, Revised English Bible with Apocrypha
Thompson Chain Reference


©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.


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November 29, 2014

Catholic Bible Dictionary for every Bible lover and Christian reader


If you want a Bible dictionary with entries on the names, places, and topics in the deuterocanonical aka apocryphal books, the Catholic Bible Dictionary, edited by Scott Hahn and published by Doubleday, provides that and more.

When I first saw and ordered the review copy offered for free on the Blogging for Books site, I thought this dictionary might define the rites, rituals, and liturgy of the Catholic Church. Come to find out, others have made this mistake, too, but, as the title clearly states, this is a dictionary on the Catholic Bible. Therefore, the text includes information on Judith, Tobit, the Angel Raphael, and others mentioned in the deuterocanonical / apocryphal books but generally omitted from most Bible dictionaries.

Like any dictionary, religious or otherwise, this one has no need for an index as each topic is already alphabetized for an easy A to Z search. A clear font and spacious leading make the conversational entries easy to read, while clear maps in the back of the book make the movements through biblical places easier to envision. Also, in the back matter the chronologies of kings and historical movements help us to get grounded in what happened, with whom, and when, whereas the entries themselves offer insight into why.

For those insights and other information, we have the extensive research of former Protestant pastor, Scott Hahn, who has become well-known as an author, Christian apologist, and Catholic theologian. To further ensure accuracy in the material, the book has the official Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur of the Church to show freedom from doctrinal or moral errors.

To give you an example of the entries, I turned to a word rarely found in a religious dictionary “purgatory.” The closest entry in most Bible dictionaries might be “purge,” which eliminates or eradicates some type of impurity. To definite “purgatory,” however, the Catholic Bible Dictionary says:

“PURGATORY (Latin, ‘cleansing’ or ‘purifying’) Defined by theologians as the condition of those who died in the state of grace but with lingering attachment to sin. In purgatory these souls are purified for a time before being admitted to the glory and happiness of heaven. In this period of passive suffering, they are purged of unrepented venial sins, satisfy the demands of divine justice for temporal punishment due for sins, and are made ready for the beatific vision."

As the entry goes on to say: "The doctrine of purgatory is found in Scripture but is not fully developed. The two passages most clearly related to it are 2 Macc 12:45 and 1 Cor 3:12-15.”

For another example, let’s look at the entry for Tobit, a book unfamiliar to many Christians:

“TOBIT, BOOK OF The story of two Israelite families whose lives were touched by God in the Assyrian Exile. They were brought together by marriage and the intervention of the angel Raphael. Tobit is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament that is deemed scriptural by Catholics but not by modern Jews or Protestants” – the key word being “modern” as both Jewish and Christian readers originally accepted these books from the Greek Bible or Septuagint.

And, as the entry for “Septuagint” explains:

SEPTUAGINT (Latin septuaginta, ‘seventy’) The most ancient and important translation of the Old Testament into Greek. It was produced between the third and first centuries B.C.,” so Jesus and the Apostles would undoubtedly have been familiar with these books, which came about because “King Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt requested a copy of the Jewish Bible to be placed in his famous library at Alexandria 9ca. 250 B.C.) Unable to read Hebrew, the king brought seventy-two scholars from Palestine to Alexandria to make a translation of the Hebrew Torah….”

That desire – to present the Bible in the language of the reader – has led to many translations of Holy Scriptures into English with excellent resources such as this to clarify our understanding and electrify our interest in embracing the Bible as an everyday part of our worship, our faith, and our lives.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.


Catholic Bible Dictionary, hardback

July 10, 2012

The Catholic Study Bible


You don’t have to be Roman Catholic to appreciate The Catholic Study Bible published by Oxford University Press, but if you are, you’ll be happy to know the Church has given an official stamp of approval as shown in the front matter by “Nihil Obstat” and “Imprimatur.” Therefore, if you want to know more about Catholicism or hope to write for Catholic readers or need to study the Bible thoroughly from an ecumenical and/ or Catholic Christian perspective, this is The Book to have.

NABRE: The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) debuted in March 2011 as a “formal equivalent” translation into English, making the NABRE as close to the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts as 100 Bible scholars, editors, theologians, and Bishops can make it.

Size and Binding: The hardcover edition by Oxford (shown below) has 2560 pages 9.2 x 6.5 x 2 inches in size and weighs about 3 pounds. Since I’m not a fan of bonded leather, my next choice might be a paperback edition, except that a Bible of this heft and immensity usually needs a sturdy cover, especially since it will probably be used often.

Footnotes: Key information provided in footnotes and sidebars guide readers into understanding verses within the intended context and gaining insight into cultural traditions practiced in biblical times. Word plays and poetic forms are also duly noted, which is a big deal for those of us who love, love, love to write Bible-based devotionals and poetry.

Additional study helps: Besides the authoritative study notes, book outlines, and biblical references throughout this edition, you’ll find Sunday readings and a Weekday Lectionary to keep up with the liturgical reading cycle that covers the Bible in three years. In addition, in-depth articles and essays, easy-to-use maps, and a Glossary help readers to see the bigger picture of a truly “Catholic” – meaning “universal” – view.




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© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler. Thank you for telling your church, Bible study, or other group where you found this Bible Review. Also, I’m glad for publishers to send me review copies of new English translations, study editions, and Bibles with new footnotes, articles, and even unusual formats or covers to review.


For more articles on a variety of Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary.

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