November 29, 2014
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
May 27, 2014
When several job transfers necessitated a number of moves around the country, my family and I had the opportunity to become active members of many church denominations. In each, a sweet spirit, strong faith, and love for Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior quickly became apparent, and we also discovered excellent Bible study resources throughout the Body of Christ.
For instance, in a Southern Baptist Church, our pastor led a Bible study class with materials from the forerunner of the Explore the Bible Series now published by Lifeway Christian Resources.
In the Roman Catholic Church, we discovered the Little Rock Scripture Study series published in partnership with Liturgical Press that allowed round table discussions with video accompaniment.
When I began to lead Bible studies, I wanted to encourage lots of group discussion, so I found materials on all sorts of Bible topics in the LifeGuide ® Bible Studies produced by Intervarsity Press and various Bible Study Guides published by Abington.
I highly recommend all of those materials and now want to add to the list a new series of five books by Nancy Guthrie: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, published by Crossway.
Lord willing, this summer I’ll be studying in depth two of the topics I need to absorb slowly: the wisdom books of the Bible and the biblical books of prophecy. But, for now, I’ll give you an idea of the first three books in this series, which cover the Pentateuch aka first five books of the Torah.
Looking through each of the books in this series, Nancy Guthrie consistently uses an engaging style, fresh insight, and a flexible format that can be adapted to your specific needs. For instance, if you want to study the Bible in-depth by yourself, this series makes an excellent choice. Or, if you want to do a Bible lecture class with material provided for you, this works very well for that too, with or without supplemental DVDs you can purchase from the publisher or Amazon. If you want a family study at home or a Bible study discussion group, the series will also accommodate those needs.
As you’ve surely surmised from the title, the purpose of this study is to help you see Jesus in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation and beyond. For example, when you think of the story of Noah and the ark, you’ll begin to see the ark as foreshadowing the grace and refuge found in Jesus Christ. You’ll also see how the reference to Noah in Matthew 24:39 shows that the next coming of Christ won’t necessarily cause believers to suddenly disappear as often thought but that unbelievers may be swept away, as they were in the days of Noah. Also, in book one, The Promised One, you’ll hear how God promised Abraham a great nation and a great name, but “he was not told to do something to earn this. God’s promise of blessing was a sheer gift of grace.”
In book 2, The Lamb of God: Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy, the author’s relevant examples and personal style encourage study and clearly show what Jesus meant in John 5, when He said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” The Exodus from Egypt, the Passover, the sacrificial lamb, and even the Ten Commandments take on even more depth and meaning when seen in Christ.
For example, the commandment to have no graven images reflects new light when we see Jesus as the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15.) And, keeping the Sabbath holy “points us to Christ in whom we find ultimate and eternal rest.”
Similarly, book 3, The Son of David: Seeing Jesus in the Historical Books, shows that “The kingdom established in the Promised Land of Canaan has much to reveal to us in shadow form about the larger kingdom that God is bringing and the greater king who sits on its throne.” For example, “In Joshua, as we witness Moses’s successor lead the people of God into rest in the land that God gave to them, we’ll see how the greater Joshua, Jesus, leads his people into rest.”
How? “Jesus came telling us exactly how we should respond to his kingdom at hand.” And, as the historical books of the Bible remind us, “There is only one kingdom that proves true, one kingdom that will last forever, one kingdom with a King on the throne worthy of worship and able to reign over this world and to reign in our hearts in true righteousness.” That King, of course, is Jesus Christ to Whom the entire Bible points as this series beautifully shows.
© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer
The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis, paperback
The Lamb of God: Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy, paperback
The Son of David: Seeing Jesus in the Historical Books, paperback