This week I interviewed Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press about the new Didache Bible. Below is the transcript of the show along with links to everything we talked about.
Welcome to the Behind the Catholic Counter podcast. I’m Ian Rutherford president of Aquinasandmore.com. I interview catholic authors, publishers and manufacturers to give you the latest news about great new catholic book and gifts. You can listen to this and past episodes at http://www.aquinasandmore.com/podcast.
Ian: Today, I am joined by Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press and we’re going to talk about the brand new Didache Bible that Ignatius Press has just released. Thank you for joining me on the show today Mark.
Mark: I am happy to be here.
Ian: Before we start on the Didache Bible, I know Ignatius Press has a lot of different Bible study options, can you tell us, kind of an overview of what Ignatius Press has to offer?
Mark: Well of course we have lots of books on the Bible that kind of thing, but for the purposes of Bible study, getting into the text in detail rather than an overview of that, we have the Ignatius Study Bible which right now we have all of the New Testament part of the done, we have it in a single volume for the New Testament and then we have individual books for the Old Testament. We also have the Ignatius Lighthouse Bible App which has the biblical text and then you can order the study Bible notes as an accompaniment on that, so kind of wide-ranged of resources there along with Steve Ray’s Footprints of God Series which is really for the most part, a kind of intense Bible study, where’s he takes you to the Bible lands and it goes to the biblical text and looks it’s some of the biblical figures.
Ian: With this wide range of Bible studies, how did the Didache project originate as a new Bible project for Ignatius?
Mark: Well it’s something we partnered with Midwest Theological Forum on. They are Catholic Publishers as well and we’ve been in conversation with Father James Socias who has been the executive director of Midwest for a number of years, he really likes the Ignatius Bible translation which is a form of the RSV, the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, we call ours the RSV second catholic edition because we’ve gone through and made some modifications of the standard catholic RSV text that conform it more closely with the liturgy and things of that sort. Well Father Socias really loves that translation and he has for a number of years had a desire to have a Bible or biblical text accompanied by notes based upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Then Cardinal Ratzinger,
Ian: It’s been a while.
Mark: Pope Benedict, had said many years ago that he thought the Catechism of the Catholic Church was a choice commentary on the Bible. Now he has a particular sense in which he says that and we’ll probably want to come back to that but, then Cardinal Ratzinger thought that the catechism was an excellent way of, kind of understanding the biblical text to bring a unity between the Faith that is expressed in the biblical text and the Faith as it has come to be understood, come to be lived and celebrated in the liturgy, lived in the moral life and prayed, in our life of prayer expressed in the catechism. So, what the Didache Bible does, is it brings together the biblical text and elements drawn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to enriched the reader’s experience of reading the Bible in light of the teaching of the catechism.
Ian: How does the catechism get laid out as part of this, worked into this Bible format?
Mark: There were two or three ways, I guess you could say in which the Catechism is reflected here, one is just straight annotations, so if you look at the footnotes in the Didache Bible, you see that the biblical text is footnoted drawing on themes or ideas from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now don’t get the impression that, you know these are huge blocks of the catechism, that are just quoted that’s not the case, the ideas and particular paragraphs of the Catechism are distilled and put in the form of commentary that relate to commentary that would be made on the biblical text. So most people ask me – is this a study Bible? And I say, well, it’s kind of study Bible in the sense that you’re reading the Bible and you’re studying the Bible. For the most part, the annotations are sort of light on the historical context or the exegetical context – just a fancy word for saying interpreting the text. The emphasis is really on relating the text to the Catechism, so that’s one way in which the Catechism is evident in the Didache Bible. It’s there in the footnotes but there are also these essays, sort of apologetical essays, commentary essays that are peppered throughout the Didache Bible.
Ian: These are great. I’d happened on them by accident and thought that’s really neat! So I’m going through the Wisdom of Solomon and in the middle of it there’s an apologetic explanation of the symbols of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
Mark: So in addition to the annotations and this little apologetical essays, there were also just straight forward essays on how to read the Bible and things of that sort, again which integrates the content of the Catechism, so it permeates this particular edition of Bible, not just in terms of the footnotes but also just in terms of themes or ideas, an overview to understand the place of the Bible or the place Catholic doctrine in understanding the Bible.
Ian: So just to be clear, the footnotes in this version of the Bible are not the standard, Revised Standard Bible footnotes. They’re a completely new set of footnotes and comments about the text that bring in the Catechism.
Mark: Absolutely, and they’re not the study notes, they’re not footnotes for the Ignatius Study Bible either they’re different from that.
Ian: it’s completely new.
Ian: I was really happy to see these different apologetic essays throughout the Bible. It’s nice to see one about where the Bible came from. There’s one in here about gifts of the Holy Spirit, another one about Mary, just peppered throughout the whole Bible and I think that’s a great addition to give people a little bit of deeper understanding about some Catholic teaching and where to find it in the Bible.
Mark: Absolutely, for example I’m looking in an essay here called an apologetical explanation of the liturgy of the church.
Ian: Oh, Okay.
Mark: And this is just – you know it’s why you have liturgy and what’s the biblical basis for it. There are some biblical texts that are cited but more than anything else it draws upon the Catechism of the Catholic church to explain the nature of liturgy and what we do in the liturgy and so on.
Ian: I noticed that above a lot of the footnotes in the Bible there is this little strip that has extra verse numbers in it. What are these for?
Mark: Those are cross reference texts so that you can find parallel entries. Looking the Gospels, there are four gospels, they each approached the life our Lord from a little different perspective but there’s a lot that’s held in common in those biblical texts, so you see for example as you’re reading John’s gospel, something happens or something has been said by the Lord, you’ll see reference to that. It may, for example, cross reference something going on in one of the other gospels or if you were reading something in, you know epistle Paul in a particular theme is addressed in a given biblical text you’ll see that, that maybe cross reference to another passage or scripture.
Ian: Earlier you’d mentioned Pope Benedict and his interest in tying the catechism and the Bible together. Would you like to expound on that?
Mark: There are probably two extremes that are good to avoid when it comes to the Bible and catholic doctrine, one is to sort of treat the Bible as, just a doctrinal sort of treasure trove. That is, if the Bible where primarily a catechism or catechetical source. It isn’t that. The Bible’s lots of things. It’s a sacred history. It’s letters written by Paul to another community. It’s a book of law. It’s a book of a lot of different kinds of writings and we shouldn’t expect to find doctrine laid out in a very very systematic way, so that would be a mistake to approach the Bible as if it were primarily a doctrinal book which is not to say that there isn’t doctrine in it, but it’s not a catechism. The other extreme would be to say with the Bible is so unique that because it’s not a catechism or a doctrinal statement, really much to say on the subject of doctrine and then we look to another source. Let’s say that in this case the Catechism or dogmatic formulations of the Church, we really want to know what the Church believes so those are the places we go. Well those are just kind of two extremes, as the second Vatican council said, really the heart of theology is just simply the careful and systematic reflection on what God has said to us about Himself and about ourselves in relation to Him. The heart of theology is sacred scriptures so these things shouldn’t be radically separated nor should they just simply be reduced to one or the other but they should be related so that what is expressed and inspired, divinely inspired from, not subject to change, in the Bible, gets reflected upon re-expressed, contextualized, organized, celebrated in the liturgy and lived out in the moral choices that we make in terms that the Catechism summarizes, so these things really should go together.
I teach scripture in a lot of contexts, especially for Didache students in catechesis, and I say it’s one thing to read the Bible, it’s another thing to read the Catechism. Those are two distinct activities but they should never be put at odds with one another and so what the Didache Bible does is it brings those things together so people can see the biblical text, they can see how the Church understands the subject through the context of the biblical text, develops and is expressed by the Catechism.
Ian: At the beginning of the Didache Bible, there is a nice introduction about how to read the Bible, why we should, why Jesus is important, spiritual benefits, and a short reading plan for the Bible. I’m really impressed by all of the other resources that are already included with this text, apart from just the wonderful commentary and footnotes, can you tell us some of the other resources that are included in this?
Mark: One of the things I like is the section which is called the brief summary of sacred scripture. I liked it because when I’m teaching scripture to people who may not have a very deep grasp of the Bible, it’s a great sort of resource to have to turn to, a kind of summary- you know, so if you want to know, well, what’s the book of Tobit about? Or who is Judith? or who is Jeremiah?, when did he live?, that kind of thing. It’s great to have a place you can go and people can get a thumbnail sketch, so that you don’t have become biblical scholars, just right of the bat, but they can kind of get a little bit of context for, so that’s one of the features I think is very valuable in this Bible. And of course we have maps. I am a big map guy. I love looking at where these events occurred and trying to correlate them, you know, historically.
Ian: Right! I’m map guy, too, and I really liked these maps that not only just show where things happen but show the places and routes that people took to get there, so you have Abraham coming to the Holy Land and where Lot went, and Jacob and Rachel went, and a whole bunch of maps in here that I’ve never seen before actually drawn out this way.
Mark: Yeah! I think they’re very personal, they’re very attractive, they’re full color and all of that but also put together a lot of information so the Bible reader can just go through and see well, this is where this happened, this is where that happened and so on. And then there’s a glossary which I think is extremely handy of, mainly persons, there are some key terms, like the Jerusalem council, the city of Jerusalem is mentioned and that kind of thing, mainly through its key for identifying persons, who they are, where they from in the Bible and so on, so I just loved that and then there’s a list of all of the apologetical topics found in the Didache Bible, in alphabetical order so, lots of lots of things like that, that I think the reader who wants to get most out of reading through the Bible is going to find very exciting and very helpful.
Ian: Apart from this Bible and a Catechism, or there any of the resources that you recommend having on hand as you explore this text?
Mark: It’s always good to have a Bible Dictionary, so if you really want to look at something in detail you can do that. We don’t right now at Ignatius Press publish that dictionary, that may be coming down the road – we’ll see, but there is a Bible Dictionary that Scott Hahn put out, I think it’s called Bible Dictionary.
Ian: It is. That’s pretty huge.
Mark: Yeah it’s a big thick Bible dictionary but I think it’s very helpful because it has some of the same materials, similar material that you find in a study Bible but is there in an alphabetical form and you just look it up and read the background on it, so I would recommend having the Didache Bible, and certainly the Catechism handy but also a Bible Dictionary on hand to help reader look up terms quickly and kind of contextualize with the reading.
Ian: Well this Bible looks like it would be wonderful for teens on up, as far as the content for and getting to know the church and the Bible at the same time. Is there any recommended group that you have it aimed at or is it really just as broad, anybody who is interested in the Bible; this is a Bible for them?
Mark: I’d say high-schoolers and up. I mean one of the uses that we hope to see made of this Didache Bible is that it would be a companion to the Didache High School Religion series, so, that’s one thing and of course it’s designed in such a way that it can be used by high-schoolers, but also just personal study. I think it’s a great place for groups and parishes to get together and read the Bible. Probably if you want to do a more in depth historical study, you are going to want something like the Ignatius study Bible but the Didache Bible is good place to start to move towards the in depth historical study.
Ian: I’m looking forward to recommending this and getting deeper into this Bible, I really do appreciate to taking the time today Mark, to come on the show and talk about it.
Mark: Happy to be with you.
Ian: Thanks Mark.
Mark: God bless you.
Thank you for joining me today, to celebrate the release of this wonderful new Didache Bible we are giving away two copies and having a 25% off sale through February 13th, for links to the giveaway, books and websites we discussed today, see this show notes at www.aquinasandmore.com/blog/20. Please subscribe to our podcast at itunes and comment on this and past episodes at aquinasandmore.com/podcast, at aquinasandmore.com we’re in the business of strengthening near faith to the products we sell, I look forward to having you shop with us where good faith is guaranteed. God bless.
- The Didache Bible
- Ignatius Study Bible
- Ignatius Lighthouse Bible App
- Steve Ray’s Footprints of God Series
- Catholic Bible Dictionary
- Didache High School Curriculum
He lives with his lovely wife and eleven kids in northern Colorado.