Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The New Catholic Answer Bible (Part two)
11/15/2007 - James SwanI have the New Catholic Answer Bible sitting under a pile of books on my desk. A while back, I posted my initial review, The New Catholic Answer Bible (Part One). After documenting this "Answer Bible" did not contain the answers about the particular aspects of Roman Catholicism that I've been looking for, it easily made its way to the bottom of the book pile.
Not hearing back from the publisher when I wrote them also was a factor in rotating this book to the bottom. I simply wanted to find out who wrote the verse-by-verse commentary . The verse-by-verse commentary is not representative of current trends in popular Catholic apologetics, so I am curious to know who authored these notes. On the other hand, the plentiful inserts (with drawings reminiscent of Watchtower literature), do represent the typical argumentation prevalent in Catholic apologetic materials.
There are 88 pages of insert apologetic material placed throughout this Bible. These are to equip Roman Catholics to "better respond when challenged about the Catholic Church and its teachings." I would guess that in a Protestant /Catholic dialog, a Protestant bringing up a verse may get the response, "Let me turn to one of the inserts in my New Catholic Answer Bible for your answer." In other words, this Answer Bible doesn't provide a Catholic with what is needed: a concise verse-by-verse commentary presenting a coherent modern Catholic apologetic.
As evidence the inserts and verse commentary is mismatched, I often noticed the verse commentary seems to steer away from typical Catholic apologetics, while the inserts present the typical current trend of Catholic pop-apologetics. For instance, the verse commentary on Luke 1:28 says nothing about Mary being immaculately conceived, while the insert uses it as its prime proof-text. The text of the Bible used (NAB) translates kecharitomene "Hail, favored one!" and the verse commentary explains it simply as an announcement paralleling that given to Zechariah about the birth of John. The insert though translates kecharitomene as "highly graced" or "full of grace," and is an "...indication of an unparalleled grace given by God to our Lady: She was conceived without the defect of original sin" (Insert R-1).
Commenting on Matthew 1:25, the verse commentary states, "The Greek word translated 'until' does not imply normal marital conduct after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it," while insert Q-1 defending the perpetual virginity of Mary, says, "[W]hen St. Matthew in his gospel says that Joseph 'had no relations with [Mary] until she bore a son' (1:25), he does not necessarily imply that such relations followed afterward." Notice what's different between the two answers? The insert leaves out anything that would suggest "nor does it exclude it." The insert goes on to argue that "until" should be understood to give credence to perpetual virginity.
Insert H-2 asks "Is Purgatory in the Bible?" It immediately cites 2 Maccabees 12:38-42 as scriptural proof. The verse commentary though points out only that what is being mentioned is similar to the Catholic teaching of Purgatory, "...but not quite the same." Well, is the verse teaching about Purgatory or not?
Such is the schizophrenic nature of this "Answer Bible." A number of examples similar to this could be be provided. It's no wonder the publisher never wrote me back. I would be interested in actually contacting those who wrote the verse commentary to get their reviews of the apologetic inserts. Recall, in my previous entry I mentioned the authors names of the inserts weren't provided either. The inserts appear to be some sort of collaboration between Dr. Paul Thigpen, editor of The Catholic Answer magazine and My Daily Catholic Bible (Our Sunday Visitor) and Dave Armstrong (a self-proclaimed Catholic apologist).