The Didache Bible (RSV, Second Catholic Edition): Ignatius Bible Editionrecently published by the Midwest Theological Forum with Ignatius Press, is a 1960-page Study Bible containing extensive commentary, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Churchfor each book of the Bible. The Didache Bible also includes more than 100 apologetic inserts, more than two dozen full-color Bible maps, a 43-page glossary, and a subject index.
Reverend James Socias, Vice President of the Midwest Theological Forum, recently spoke about what inspired the creation and publication of The Didache Bible and how it can be used by Catholics for group and individual study.
Why did the Midwest Theological Forum decide to publish the Didache Bible?
Prof. Social: The primary inspiration of Didache Bible was the speech delivered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2002 on the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In this address, Cardinal Ratzinger strongly advocated the use of Scripture in the Catechism as a means of explaining the faith and underlined the importance of reading scripture in the living tradition of the Church.
While the Catechism benefited greatly from its many references to Holy Scripture, we found it surprising that there was nothing that allowed the reader to do the reverse; that is, a Bible with commentaries referring to Catechism. Such a Bible would facilitate a better understanding of how a particular verse or verses relate directly to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Reflecting on this, we have come to see that a Bible with commentaries based on the Catechism would be a good companion to the Didache series manuals, which are also based on the scriptures and Catechism. This, indeed, was our inspiration to publish the Didache Bible.
What is the importance of consulting the Catechism when reading the Bible?
Prof. Social: As Cardinal Francis George says in the preface, the Second Vatican Council “affirmed the importance of Sacred Scripture in the life of faith”. The Deposit of Faith, which is contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, is safeguarded and transmitted by the Magisterium of the Church, and the Catechism is the basic summary of this great wealth of Catholic teaching. Catholics who desire to understand the faith more fully will naturally want to study the Catechism and read the Bible regularly.
Based on comments on Catechism and referencing the relevant parts Catechismthe Didache Bible provides the reader with a way to better understand how the teachings of the Church are based on Scripture and how the living tradition of the Church interprets these verses of Scripture.
How the Didache Bible respond to the call of the Second Vatican Council to renew the Catholic faith in the modern world?
Prof. Social: In Dei Verbum (no. 10), the Second Vatican Council taught that the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God was entrusted to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Based on the comments of Didache Bible on the Catechismwe show both how the Church interpreted the different parts of Scripture and how this Scripture became part of its magisterial teaching.
In addition, Guadium and spes (no. 58) explains how the Gospel of Christ renews the modern world and advances culture, perfecting it in Christ. By promoting the Word of God and its authentic interpretation, we hope to help the Church in its mission to renew the faith in the modern world.
How did you determine which paragraphs of the Catechism to include in the various comments?
Prof. Social: First, we looked at which verses of Scripture were quoted or referenced in the various paragraphs of the Catechism and worked backwards. We then looked at how these verses were explained in the Catechism and incorporated these lessons into the comments, where appropriate.
Subsequently, these draft commentaries were carefully reviewed by a team of scripture scholars, such as Fr. Paul Mankowski of the University of Chicago and Fr. Andreas Hoeck of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver. As part of their work, the team not only corrected the comments, but also drafted new material where necessary and made suggestions regarding other relevant paragraphs of the Catechism which should be included.
What are some of the elements that make up the Didache Bible?
Prof. Social: In addition to comments based on Catechism of the Catholic Churchthe Didache Bible provides references to additional paragraphs of the Catechism. This allows the reader to go back to the original source and see what other information on a particular topic the Catechism offers.
Another important element of the Didache Bible are the apologetic explanations. These 105 one-page explanations cover topics that help the reader better understand faith and explain faith to others.
When speaking with non-Catholics, it is not enough to say the Catechism tells us these things. Therefore, apologetic explanations are based not only on the Catechism but also rely heavily on Holy Scripture, which is helpful when speaking with non-Catholic Christians. Where possible, they are also based on natural reason, which is helpful when speaking with non-Christians. Examples of topics include Catholic beliefs and practices such as honoring or venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary, confession, and belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
The Didache Bible also offers a comprehensive glossary of biblical terms, a subject index, many maps of the various places mentioned in the bible, introductions to the books of the bible, timelines of biblical events and other useful information, such as reading the Bible.
How the Didache Bible be useful to teachers and students?
Prof. Social: For teachers and students, whether in Catholic high schools, parishes, home schools, or in family settings, the Didache Bible can be a useful instrument to help understand how the Word of God is interpreted by the Magisterium and how Scripture, together with Sacred Tradition, is the foundation of Catholic teaching.
Although it was developed to accompany our Didache series manuals, the Didache Bible is truly accessible to everyone. For example, it is ideal for parents, who are the main educators of their children. It is also ideal for Bible study programs and for anyone wishing to learn more about their faith and the Holy Scriptures.
How the Didache Bible be useful to someone who is trying to study the Bible in depth?
Prof. Social: The Didache Bible is a great tool for Bible study. For those who want a deeper understanding of Holy Scripture, the commentaries will help them understand what the Bible says in light of the teachings of the Church and how this Scripture helps form faith. The other elements of the Didache Bible will help to better understand the historical context of the different parts of the Bible, the meaning of biblical terms and concepts and the relationship between the different books of the Bible. The commentaries also help the reader see how the Bible is a unified whole and how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.
The Didache Bible not only helps the reader to have a better understanding of Scripture, but also of the Catechism, which is the surest interpretation of faith. In short, the Didache Bible highlights how the Catechism and Sacred Scripture complement each other.
What is some advice on reading the Bible for someone trying to grow in their spiritual life?
Prof. Social: The Church strongly recommends that Catholics read the Bible regularly. The practice of lectio divina or the prayerful reading of Scripture is a good starting point. In this traditional practice, you Lily a selection of Bible verses, re-reading them if necessary, then meditate on what’s been read, meditating on what the Word of God is trying to tell you. Then you pray that God will speak by his Word and, finally, place yourself in the presence of God and contemplate about what God says.
Understanding what God is trying to tell us through Sacred Scripture is much easier and more fruitful when we have the Church as our guide. For example, in the Didache Bible comments you can read what the Catechism has to say about a particular verse or a selection of verses.
Of course, in addition to lectio divina, there are many different methods of reading the Bible. Sometimes, as in a Bible study group, a book or books of the Bible can be studied methodically from beginning to end. Other times a person may want to know what the Bible says about a particular topic. In this case, he or she can look up the term in the subject index and read relevant Bible passages on that topic. In both cases, the Didache Bible will help the person better understand what the Church has to say about these verses or selections of Scripture.
It is always a good idea for Catholics to resolve to read the Bible every day, at least for a few minutes. It helps us grow in our relationship with God and helps us better understand our faith. Of course, it is important for Catholics who want to grow in their understanding of the faith to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Didache Bible helps in both respects.
Learn about the Bible and the Catechism gives us the tools to be an effective witness to the faith and to defend the faith when needed.
• View sample pages of The Didache Bible (PDF Format)
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