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3 Bibles that are the next best thing to having a theologian on your shelf


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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 08/31/20

These editions are filled with commentary to bring you deep insights as you read Sacred Scripture.

Every Christian knows that it’s vital to read and study the Bible, to become intimately familiar with the words of Sacred Scripture. After all, St. Jerome once wrote, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

But reading the Bible on your own can be quite intimidating! Each story or passage comes with a lengthy history, cultural context, and theological significance that aren’t mentioned in the verses themselves.

That’s why it helps so much to have a good translation and edition of the Bible in your home. Well-written footnotes and commentaries can fill in the gaps so you have a much deeper, richer, more complete understanding of what you’re reading.A good Bible study is also an invaluable aid.

The three editions below bring a wealth of wisdom to your Scripture reading, helping you penetrate into the profound mysteries of God’s Word. Like having a Bible study, theologian, or knowledgeable missionary on your shelf, they will deepen your friendship of Christ, helping you truly to “know, love and serve” God even more fully.

1Ignatius Catholic Study Bible

Scripture scholars Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch wrote the insights and commentary in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible to deepen readers’ personal study of God’s Word. The volumes also contain topical essays, word studies, charts, and study questions.


Read more:
What is the best edition of the Bible for Catholics?

2The Navarre Bible

The faculty of the University of Navarre compiled the extensive commentary in the The Navarre Bible to help readers gain a better understanding of Scripture. They drew on a huge variety of sources: Church documents, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the work of prominent spiritual writers. What results is a work that is “scholarly yet readable,” and offers “a comprehensive intellectual, historical, and spiritual survey of the riches of Scripture.”

3The Word on Fire Bible

This edition of the Bible was designed with a distinctive missionary purpose. As its website explains,

“This is not a study Bible. Its goal is not merely to transmit historical knowledge or textual insight. It is also not a devotional Bible, offering self-improvement tips. The mission of this Bible is evangelical. It is meant to introduce not mere facts but a person: Jesus Christ. It aims to do that by unveiling Christ throughout each chapter and verse of the Scriptures, leading readers to a life-changing encounter with him.”

To that end, this edition is written to be highly accessible, not presuming that the reader has any experience with the Bible. It also has roughly a 1:1 ratio of commentary to biblical text, with insights from Bishop Robert Barron and many saints, mystics, artists, and scholars from the Church’s theological and spiritual tradition. Finally, the edition is so beautifully illustrated, with splendid fine-art images, that it’s been called “a cathedral in print.” 

Read more:
The Word on Fire Bible: an evangelization strategy animated by beauty

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