Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beautiful NEW Catholic Scripture Study International Bible

For all you fans out there of the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition--the translation employed in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church--there's a new edition of the RSVCE that's been recently published that is worthy of your attention (and your purchase!).

I'm speaking of the new Catholic Scripture Study International Bible, published by St. Benedict Press, out of Charlotte, North Carolina.  This new edition of the RSVCE (1966 translation) is a fantastic addition to the world of Catholic Bibles. Some of the following features of the CSS Bible make it stand out from among other modern English versions:

1. Beautiful Layout, Binding, and Artwork
The first striking feature of the new CSS RSV is that it is beautiful outside and in. Black leather binding on the outside, the interior is filled with beautiful religious art and iconography. For whatever reasons, this kind of beauty is something that has been lost in many editions of the Bible published in the last few decades. Anyone familiar with the beautiful cover art that often accompanies books from St Benedict press won't be surprised by the quality of this new Bible. Particularly nice are the icons of various biblical figures and scenes that occur throughout the main text.

2. Wonderful Type, Section Headings, and Paper
In my book (no pun intended), what matters above all for ease of reading is font, font, font! The CSS RSV contains a nice medium-large sized font (I don't know the exact numbering) that is not too big and not too small, but just right. Being a vociferous opponent of glossy paper, the classic white is easy to read and great on the eyes, and get's two thumbs up in my opinion. (However, it is worth noting that that the paper is also a little thin, which makes the Bible smaller and lighter than it would otherwise be, but you can see through it somewhat, which may be a down-side for some readers.)

For those of you who like section headings in the main text of Scripture, the main text of the CSS Bible is filled with bold-faced section headings that give you a clue to the contexts of what you're reading.

3. Both a Reader's Bible and a Study Bible (of Sorts)
One of the unique features of this Bible is the way it spans the gap between a study Bible with footnotes (like the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, of worthy renown), and a simple reader's Bible, without any helps. The CSS RSV is a little bit of both:

On the one hand, the CSS Bible is technically not a study Bible, insofar as the main text is unencumbered by footnotes (though the standard explanatory endnotes that accompany the RSV can be found at the end of both testament).On the other hand, the CSS Bible is filled with dozens and dozens of "Faith Fact" Inserts, which provide short reference essays for many of the most common topics Catholic readers of Scripture will want to know about, such as:

From Sabbath to Sunday
Biblical Origins of the Mass
Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist
Biblical Basis of Purgatory
The Church and Evolution
The Millennium and the Rapture
Sola Scriptura
Four Senses of Scripture
Canon of Scripture
Biblical Basis of Confession, etc. etc.

There's also a long list of "Catholic Apologetics Bible Verses" at the beginning that does a good job of covering all the major target topics and texts, as well as a "Topical Index" at the back that does a great job of answering the common question: "What does the Bible say about X?" from Abortion to Zeal...

In my experience, these kinds of topics, explained from the perspective of Sacred Scripture and tradition, are often where many Catholic readers of Scripture like to begin. These inserts and helps make this a particularly good Bible for beginners.  They can also be really helpful references to have right there in your Bible both for Bible study groups and for those occasions where you might want to have key passages in Scripture ready-at-hand for discussions about the biblical basis of certain Catholic teachings are controverted issues.

4. Calendar of Scripture Readings until the Year 2040
In my opinion, every Catholic Bible should have a calendar of Scripture readings so that you can read along with the Lectionary of Sunday and daily Masses. The CSS Bible has just such a calendar, going up to the year 2040. If you're my age, that should hold you till you die; if you're a bit younger, you might need to buy a new edition 30 yrs down the road. But in any case, if, for example, you enjoy doing lectio divina in your own Bible but along with the Lectionary, the CSS Bible is perfect.

5. Words of Christ in Red
Last, but not least, call me sentimental and old-fashioned, but the first real Bible I ever owned was an NAB with the words of Christ in red, and then, as now, I love it. (I realize that having a Ph.D. should have dispelled me of such affections, but I can't seem to shake 'em).  I don't know of any other RSV editions that have this quasi-liturgical feature (think of the red and black ink in Missals), but the new CSS Bible does, so if this something you like, it's another attractive feature that adds to the beauty of this edition.

A Great Christmas or Lenten Gift

In short, if you're looking for a great Christmas gift for family members and want to get a Bible that is so inviting someone might actually read it and learn from it, then the CSS RSV is a great idea. In particular, I'd recommend it for beginning readers of Scripture, older Catholics who might need a typeface that's big enough to be read easily, new Catholics going through RCIA or RCIC and who want to learn more about the biblical basics of their faith, or anyone who may be tired of the bad font and bad layouts that plague some editions of the Bible from the 1970s and 1980s. Readers enjoy!


Timothy said...

This is indeed a beautiful Bible. The Catholic Apologetics Bible Verses (with a few quotes from the Father thrown in) is very well done, so is the topical index in the appendix. The one thing, however, that this Bible is missing is cross-references. There inclusion would make it more useful for study, and not simply an apologetics Bible.

Sadies said...

Could you give the ISBN, please?

Dave Orsborn said...

Is this the same translation as the Ignatius version? Differencese?