The Catholic Study Bible
How to Use this Study Bible
This one‐volume Study Bible offers a full range of aids to help the reader discover the meaning of the Bible. The following description of its contents, and suggestions for using the book, might help you take full advantage of its unique resources.
The Resources of the Study Bible
There are seven major sections in this volume:
The New American Bible
Beginning on page 5 of the Old Testament section, you will find the full text and notes of the NAB. Each major section of the Bible and each biblical book has a brief introduction. Extensive notes explaining words or individual verses are found at the bottom of the page. An asterisk (*) alongside a particular word or verse signals to you that an explanatory note is provided for that biblical text. These notes are the official notes that were prepared by the editors of the NAB, and they provide a wealth of information for the studious reader.
The NAB also provides cross‐references to other related biblical passages. These cross‐references are signaled by a small italic letter printed within specific verses. The cross‐reference is found at the bottom of the page.
Finally, along the side margins there is another set of cross‐references, directing you to the Reading Guides and Articles found in other sections of the Catholic Study Bible. These cross‐references are indicated by page numbers enclosed within a shaded box. Page numbers referring to the Reading Guides and Articles are preceded by the letters RG.
The Reading Guides
One of the special features of this Study Bible is the Reading Guides found in the front section beginning on page RG 85 . There are Guides for each book of the Bible, and their purpose is precisely to lead the reader through the structure and basic message of each biblical book.
The notes found at the bottom of the page with the NAB translation provide information on specific details of a given verse. The Reading Guides add a new perspective by taking a broader look at each biblical book, tracing its major sections and themes, and making suggestions about its meaning for today. Each of them also provides references to other books and articles for readers who want to continue their study of specific issues.
Another helpful feature of the Catholic Study Bible is that it provides extensive and detailed studies of key issues for understanding and using the Bible. These essays will prove especially valuable for those who want to probe deeper into a particular question. In addition to this introduction, the reader will find the following Articles:
• “The Bible in Catholic Life” explains the Roman Catholic view of Scripture and the meaning of biblical inspiration.
• “Biblical History and Archaeology” offers a succinct overview of the major periods of biblical history along with a helpful explanation of the methods and major discoveries of biblical archaeology.
• “Catholic Interpretation of the Bible” traces the history of the Church's approach to the meaning of Scripture.
• “The Challenges of Biblical Translation” shows how taking a text from one language to another is both an art and a science.
• “The Bible in the Lectionary” explains the role of the Bible in liturgy and, in particular, shows the rationale for the selection of bibli‐ cal passages in the Lectionary. This will be useful for preachers or those who prepare liturgies.
Sunday and Weekday Lectionaries
The lectionaries give up‐to‐date cycles of readings for public services.
The glossary provides clear explanations of the less familiar or more technical terms used in the Bible or in the Reading Guide.
The concordance, or word index, provides key citations for important biblical names and terms.
New Oxford Bible Maps
These extensive maps provide the reader with the entire geographical canvas on which the biblical drama is portrayed.
Suggestions for Use
The resources of the Catholic Study Bible enable the reader to use it in a variety of ways and settings.
For Individual Reading or Study
If your goal is to read and reflect on a single biblical book or major passage of the Bible, the two key sections of the Study Bible to use are the biblical text itself and the Reading Guides. Both should be used in tandem.
You may wish to read through the introductions to the biblical book first, both the one found in the Reading Guide and in the NAB text. In turning to the Gospel of Luke, for example, one would read the introduction in the Reading Guide on RG 397–412 and then turn to the Bible section on pp. 1349–50 . After that the reader can pick his or her way through the Gospel, noting the major characteristics of the biblical passage and its major motifs by attentive reading of the biblical text and its accompanying notes, and by referring to the information provided in the Reading Guide.
For the more ambitious reader, the “Suggested Readings” at the end of the Reading Guides and in the Articles offer leads to further study.
For Group Study
The Catholic Study Bible lends itself well to group use. If each member of the group has a copy, then the leader could suggest the reading of a specific biblical text and the accompanying section from the Reading Guide as a good means of preparing for the group session. Preparation always enhances group Bible study. Often the Reading Guide will provide some points of reflection that a group might find helpful as a starting point for discussion about the meaning of a passage.
Some of the articles, such as the ones on “The Bible in Catholic Life” and “The Bible in the Lectionary,” could also be fruitful sources for group study and discussion. Where the group itself does not have access to individual copies, the Catholic Study Bible can serve as a resource for the leader or can be on hand for reference when the group discussion generates a question that needs further information.
The Catholic Study Bible is particularly useful for the college or religious education classroom. It provides virtually a one‐volume textbook and reference library on the Bible. Experienced and imaginative teachers will find their own way to best utilize a book like this. A few suggestions might help.
The Study Bible can certainly serve as a textbook for a course on the Bible as a whole or for introductions to the Old or New Testaments. Here again interplay between pertinent sections of the Reading Guides and the biblical text and notes is very important.
Teachers in a Catholic setting may want to give special attention to the article on “The Bible in Catholic Life” as an important summary of Catholic teaching on the role of the Bible in the Church's life and thought. “The Bible in the Lectionary” will help Catholics (and Christians from other mainline denominations) understand how the liturgy is a major source of biblical inspiration for Roman Catholic tradition.
The volume will also support a course on the history and geography of the Bible. The article on the history and archaeology of the Bible provides clear and useful information. The accompanying maps enable the teacher to discuss the geography of the Bible in detail. The maps can especially be a useful illustration when studying such narratives as Exodus, the historical books, the Gospels, Acts, and Paul's letters.
Sermon and Liturgy Preparation
The thematic approach of the Reading Guides and the attempt they make to relate the biblical message to spirituality and Church teaching should prove useful for sermon and liturgy preparation.
The article on “The Bible in the Lectionary” provides important and often neglected information on the rationale for the selection and arrangement of biblical passages in the Lectionary, and offers good suggestions about relating the Bible to the liturgical year.