Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review: The [expanded] Bible-New Testament

Nowadays, there are many different versions of Bibles; Teen Bible, Woman’s Bible, Golfer’s Bible, Green Bible, Apologetics Bible, etc.

The [expanded] Bible: New Testament published by Thomas Nelson is not some tired specialty Bible. Rather, it is an indispensable tool for studying Sacred Scripture while you read. With The [expanded] Bible, there is no need to look in the margins for notes or scripture references; they are all contained within the text. The main feature of the Bible is that rather than being at the mercy of a particular translation, the reader has a choice to see the various options for translating a word or phrase and judging which is most suitable. It’s like having a KJV, NIV, RSV all in one. It is the perfect tool for a priest or pastor who wants to compare translations without having to lay out several different Bibles in order to do so.

The [expanded] Bible is also ideal for the everyday Christian who wants to get the most out of Scripture. As you read along it points out typology and Old Testament references that the average reader might not be familiar with. And while there is no substitute for reading Scripture in its original language, it is perfect for conveying the meanings of words for one who does not have knowledge of Greek.

My only criticism of The [expanded] Bible is that the way it is set up can make it laborious to read at first, but once you get familiar with the different translations side by side, it becomes more of a help than a hindrance. Also, it uses a modified version of the New Century Version translation as the base text. For my tastes, I would have preferred a more literal-formal equivalence translation as the base and then have the idiomatic-functional equivalence translation in the expansion.

Overall, I would definitely recommend it as a great way to increase biblical literacy and understanding.

For more on The [expanded] Bible, click here.

Obligatory Statement to conform to the FTC's ridiculous legal requirements:

As a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger, I received this book free in exchange for reviewing the book.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christ Is The Key

"Christ is the key to all things and only by joining the disciples on the road to Emmaus, only by walking with Christ, by reinterpreting all things in his light, with him, crucified and risen, do we enter into the riches and beauty of sacred Scripture."

-Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Lenten Meeting with the Clergy of Rome (Feb. 22, 2007)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Linus Knows The Truth

Have A Blessed Christmas!

“He was a baby and a child, so that you may be a perfect human. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, so that you may be freed from the snares of death. He was in a manger, so that you may be in the altar. He was on earth that you may be in the stars. He had no other place in the inn, so that you may have many mansions in the heavens. ‘He, being rich, became poor for your sakes, that through his poverty you might be rich.’ Therefore his poverty is our inheritance, and the Lord’s weakness is our virtue. He chose to lack for himself, that he may abound for all. The sobs of that appalling infancy cleanse me, those tears wash away my sins. Therefore, Lord Jesus, I owe more to your sufferings because I was redeemed than I do to works for which I was created.

You see that he is in swaddling clothes. You do not see that he is in heaven. You hear the cries of an infant, but you do not hear the lowing of an ox recognizing its Master, for the ox knows his Owner and the donkey his Master’s crib.”

-St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, 2.41-42.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Faith Is Necessary For Biblical Exegesis

“The chief gain among the Christian exegetes has been the general acknowledgement not merely of the legitimacy but of the necessity of faith in anyone who approaches the Bible with the hope of receiving what it has to offer. They recognize now that coldly scientific—in the sense of rationalistic—objectivity is quite incapable of even perceiving, let alone exploiting, the religious values of Scripture. There must be first the commitment, the recognition by faith the divine origin and authority of the book; then the believer can properly and profitably apply all the most conscientious techniques of the subordinate sciences, without in the least infringing their due autonomy or being disloyal to the scientific ideal…The chief problem that still remains unsolved for them—and I would say it is insoluble as long as they do not recognize the living authority of the Church—is that of authority: What guarantees the Bible’s claim on our acceptance, and, in the last analysis, what guarantees a given interpretation of it? What criterion is to be used for distinguishing the less perfect from the more perfect? What about ‘demythologizing’? It is perfectly true that eternal truths must be disengaged and drawn clear of their presentation in terms of a particular language, culture, psychology, and so forth. But it is no good immediately reinvolving them, as Bultmann does, in the pseudo-scientific mythology of the twentieth century. The criterion for their ‘pure’ statement must be the living spirit of faith, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and that means, ultimately, the authority of the Church.”

-Fr. Roderick Mckenzie, S.J., "The Concept of Biblical Theology" in Studies in Salvation History.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On Biblical Theology

“We speak then of the biblical theologian, and of biblical theology as that division of positive theology for which the materials are supplied by exegesis which is both scientific and guided by faith. But the very name of ‘biblical’ theology is somehow strange; it seems to be tautological. Any Christian of the Patristic period, of the Middle Ages, of the first millennium and a half of the Church’s history, would probably have inquired, ‘What other kind of theology is there?’ Certainly, St. Thomas would have been amazed at the suggestion that his Summa was somehow not biblical. As is plain the very first Questio, to him, sacra doctrina, sacra scriptura, and theologia were all—at least from his particular pedagogical point of view—one and the same thing. He aimed at systematizing and synthesizing, in easily intelligible form, the sum of revelation contained in the Word of God. And his magnificent accomplishment rests on a minute familiarity with the sacred text—in the Vulgate translation, naturally, and according to the exegetical science of his time.”

-Fr. Roderick Mckenzie, S.J., "The Concept of Biblical Theology" in Studies in Salvation History.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Crucified Rabbi

I've been meaning to do a post on this for a while, but I've been busy with grading a stack of essays. My friend and blogger, Taylor Marshall, has recently come out with what looks to be a fantastic new book called The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. It would make a great Christmas gift! Check out the video below:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pope Benedict On The De-Hellenization Of Christianity

“This process began in the Middle Ages and reached its full flower in the Reformation with Martin Luther’s efforts to remove the influences of Catholic philosophy and dogma and return to what he believed to be the original purity of Scripture alone. In different forms, the sola Scriptura principle became a key premise of the liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In seeking the unadulterated message and person of Jesus, liberal theology treated the biblical Word as a historical record to be read without reference to philosophical and theological formulations made using Greek language and Greek philosophical tools. This meant returning to a kind of literalism uninformed by such products of philosophical reasoning as the doctrines concerning the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.

This new theological outlook was greatly influenced by the rise of the natural sciences and the achievements of technology, as well as by Kant’s philosophical ‘self limitation of reason’ to only those things that can be perceived by the senses. These influences, in turn, gave rise to the modern understanding that truth and certainty are a function of what can be observed and either verified or falsified through experimentation in the laboratory.

Human reason in the modern period has since come to be seen as limited strictly to seeking understandings that conform to these ‘scientific’ canons of truth and certainty. Because they cannot be answered according to these modern canons, questions about such things as the existence of God or the meaning of human existence are discarded as ‘unscientific or prescientific.’ Hence, religious faith in the modern age is no longer viewed as a source of true knowledge about humans and the world; rather, it is regarded as a feeling or sentiment and a matter of individual or subjective preference.

According to Benedict [XVI], these developments—the separation of faith and reason and the radical diminution of both these faculties of the human spirit—are the root cause of grave problems in the world today. The entire project of de-Hellenization, as he sees it, rests on a false premise, namely, that the Christian faith can or should be separated from human reason as it was understood in the Hellenistic world. This premise is false because, as Benedict argues, ‘the encounter between the biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance.’ He cites St. Paul’s vision of a Greek man calling Paul to ‘come over to Macedonia and help us’ (Acts 16:6-10). Benedict interprets this vision as indicating ‘the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.’

He notes that the gospels themselves were written in the Greek language, using vocabulary and concepts drawn from the Hellenistic milieu. The same influences can be found in the Jewish people—who live for many decades under Hellenistic rule. Notwithstanding their oppression, they too ‘encountered the best of Greek though at a deep level.’ The fruits of that encounter can be seen within the Scriptures themselves in the so-called wisdom literature. An even more compelling testimony of Greek influence is the translation known as the Septuagint, which Benedict describes as ‘more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christainity.’

For Benedict, all this means that ‘the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.’ Moreover, he says, there is no need for us to think of human reason in such restricted terms as limited to seeking to understand only phenomena that can be seen or experienced. The self-limitation of reason has given rise to ‘the dictatorship of appearances.’ It has become ‘a kind of a dogma’ that we cannot know anything more than what is apparent.”

-Scott Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI.