A Bible is like a special room where you can have a personal conversation with God, so you want a version that you can make your own. In this Aleteia exclusive, Bible scholar Sarah Christmyer talks about unique features of The Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible—the first in Ave Maria Press’ 155-year publishing history—and how you can “live in” the Bible and make it a scrapbook of your relationship with God.
Q: What are the advantages of a notetaking Bible?
A: At its simplest, a notetaking Bible provides space for writing in the margins, which makes it easy to make that Bible your own. Whether you’re recording observations, writing an intention, or adding notes from a homily or talk you want to remember, notetaking directly in your Bible helps you interact more deeply with Scripture. Notes can draw attention to things you find meaningful so you can find them again for yourself or to share with others. Even if you already have another Bible, it can be helpful to have one in which you keep your study notes or that highlights favorite verses and is devoted to insights you have during personal reading and prayer.
Q: What are the key features of The Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible?
A: The Ave Bible includes the translation used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by many Catholic Bible study programs, the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition (RSV-2CE). This Bible is visually appealing and easy-to-read, with an elegant, clear typeface set in one column per-page with extra-wide, lightly ruled margins. This Bible is made to last: The lay-flat, sewn binding and high-quality paper are conducive to writing with minimal bleeding, and two satin ribbons are provided. Additional features add value for the beginning reader and expert alike: Comprehensive cross-references show where Scripture is quoted or referred to in the Catechism. This is a feature unique to The Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible. Essays written specifically for this edition provide introductions to the major biblical themes, encourage personal reading, and offer how-tos to get started.
Q: What makes the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition translation good for Bible study?
A: English translations of the Bible generally fall into one of two camps: literal translations, which strive to be as faithful as possible to the original Greek or Hebrew text, and dynamic equivalent Bibles, which aim to preserve the original meaning within a more modern means of expression. While the latter can be easier to read and understand, the changes in wording and sentence structure can sometimes hide the sacred author’s intent. The RSV-2CE is widely regarded as both accurate and highly readable, and therefore is an excellent choice for studying the Bible.
Q: What is the advantage of having cross-references to the Catechism in the Bible?
A: As Catholics, we understand that the Bible doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We read it in the context of God’s overall plan of Salvation; in the context of the Church’s living tradition; and in the context of the truths of the faith. In The Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible, every reference to Scripture in the Catechism is noted with a paragraph number on the same page as that verse. This is a valuable aid to study and reading for anyone who desires to understand the Scripture and the biblical roots of Catholic teaching better.
Q: How do you recommend people use the notetaking and journaling feature in this Bible? Or what are different ways to communicate with God through this space?
A: The wide margins allow plenty of room to add notes gleaned in personal study and prayer or from homilies and talks. I recommend keeping lengthy observations in a separate place and reserving this space for things you want to return to. For example, when you hear God speak into a particular situation in your life through Scripture, you might write the date and an indication of what you heard. Memorialize times you see God act in your life. Highlight verses that teach you something about God or that strengthen or comfort or challenge you. Hand-copying favorite verses and illustrating them can help you remember them in the future. Some people use different colored pencils or symbols to highlight themes to keep in mind. Whatever helps you hear and remember God’s words and work in your life will make this Bible “yours” in a unique way as you seek to plant Scripture in your heart.
Sarah Christmyer contributed the introduction to the New Testament in The Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible. She is a Catholic speaker and adjunct faculty member at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the codeveloper and founding editor of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program and the author of Becoming Women of the Word.