Monday, April 18, 2016

Opinionated Catholic Bible Rundown

Recently, the Bear joined a Facebook Group called something like "Douay-Rheims Bible." His first contribution was to note that St. Jerome started by correcting the "old Latin" Bible, which took people like 200 years to get over. What he got back was this:

THE BIBLE DOES NOT NEED TO BE "CORRECTED!!!" IT IS PERFECT FROM GOD IN THE ORIGINUL LATIN!!! SELL YOUR MODERNIST HEARESIES SOMEWHERE ELSE. AND HOW DARE TO CALL YORSELF A "SAINT." YOR' PROBLY NOT EVEN A REEL BARE!!!

The Bear still doesn't know what to make of this. Except that he inadvertently turned over a rock. But it illustrates the fact that Catholics do not get Bible. Granted, they have the correct number of books, but we're not spoiled for choice compared to our separated brethren.

  • Vulgate -- Bear forgot most his Latin
  • Douay-Rheims -- archaic language, but Challoner's version is useful, especially with Haydock's semi-useful commentary. (You want to talk BIG; must be registered as a deadly weapon in Washington state and Maine.) Published back when Catholics were confident. Not a bad choice at all, although some words will leave you scratching your head. Currently available on sale for $95 from Catholic Treasures. You owe it to yourself to own this beautiful, illustrated edition. Of course, more portable versions are available, too, but without Haydock's notes, from St. Benedict Press and Lepanto Press, which has an economical, illustrated hardcover. Note that just as Protestants have their KJV-Onlyists, Catholics have their Douay-Rheims Onlyists. Both harmless if you pass on the Kool-Aid.
  • Revised Standard Version (either Catholic edition) -- people get upset that Isaiah 7:14 is accurately translated in the 1st Ed. 2nd Ed. panders a bit by trying to make Catholics happier, which fails, because everybody (even Protestants) just knows "it's a liberal translation." Even so, the RSV is one of the best all-around choices for Catholics, in the Bear's opinion. 1st Ed. uses "thees and thous" when addressing the Deity, if you like that sort of thing. Not impressed with translation to "repent" in relation to Judas, though, which recently confused our dear old holy Father.
  • Navarre Bible -- very nice, extensive, conservative Catholic commentary (even if St. Jose Maria Escrivá is overrepresented in some volumes). RSV translation with current official Latin on every page. While there is a lovely one-volume, oversized "expanded" New Testament, it otherwise comes in a multi-volume set, e.g. "Pentateuch," "Minor Prophets," etc. You won't be taking this to Sunday School with you. Catholics just don't do one-volume study Bibles. Otherwise best in show.
  • Ignatius Study Bible -- another multi-volume publication done by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. Nice; the NT volume is hardcover; others are paperback and the Bear has not read them. Probably the Catholic study Bible most like a Protestant study Bible in format and style, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Catholic Scripture Study International -- a whole program designed for group study, with an RSV-CE 1st Ed. Bible. Apologetics material on glossy pages scattered throughout. The program drivers are obviously well-meaning, but the Bear was just not impressed. You might be.
  • Jerome or Collegeville commentaries -- Bear calls Modernism, but officially state-of-the-art, Catholic-style, i.e. recycling century-old liberal Protestant theories that the Bible is a forgery written in 1829 by Wilbur T. Birkenback, of Augusta, Maine. (Collegeville? Really?)
  • New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) -- the official Bible of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, one of two "officially approved" for private reading by Catholics in the U.S. The Bear doesn't know about you, but he can't think of a single body better qualified to publish an annotated translation of the Bible! Translation itself isn't bad, but you can't get it without the notes, in which you will learn things like: because St. Matthew had never heard of Hebrew parallelism, he had Jesus enter Jerusalem riding both an ass and a colt like a circus performer. "The ass and the colt are the same animal in the prophecy [we sure about that, smart guy?] mentioned twice in different ways, the common Hebrew literary device of poetic parallelism. That Matthew takes them as two is one of the reasons why some scholars think that he was a Gentile rather than a Jewish Christian who would presumably not make that mistake" [when he was making up his Gospel]. That's right, St. Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, completely blew the whole Palm Sunday scene because he was an ignorant Gentile. Recommended for Catholics who aspire to become atheists. Plus the usual recycling of Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis (Darwin's Origin of Species of Biblical scholarship) and other "assured results of higher criticism," e.g. all books of the Bible were forged by people other than whose names they bear, and any prophecies had to have been made after the fact. (Sorry, Cyrus.)
  • New Revised Standard Version -- the other Bible approved for private reading by Catholics in the U.S. (What happens if we read an unapproved Bible?) Despite the use of "inclusive language," it reads well and is a good translation in the RSV tradition. Honestly, the Bear hardly even notices the "inclusive language," which is usually expressed in things like "brothers and sisters," instead of "brothers," and "people" instead of "men." You will have met the non-supernatural Harper-Collins NRSV Study Bible if you've ever taken a college course on the Bible. There are various other Catholic editions that include the "Apocrypha." For some reason, Harper likes non-standard formats, so you might have to look around for one that's not a square or octagon or something. The study Bible is not recommended.
Did the Bear miss any major Catholic Bibles? Disagree with any of his opinions? Got your own favorite? Or one you love to hate?

The most important thing is to find a Bible you can live with and read it. If the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist can win Jeff Foxworthy's American Bible Challenge, there's hope for all of us. So... how did you do?





50 comments:

  1. I've only read bits and pieces, but the Knox is an interesting translation. Not necessarily extremely accurate, but it's supposed to be very poetic. Many people like it. Ronald Knox was a genius and deserves to be better known.

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    1. The Knox translation is my "reading Bible," these days. Sometimes the language is a big strange—I want to call it conversational, but that's not really correct; maybe bourgeois?—but it is solid and readable. Fr. Knox's notes are mostly about explaining his translation choices, or why he thinks certain passages may have been moved by a copyist or simply lost in the distant past. There's nothing apologetics-oriented in the notes, unlike the Challoner D-R (thank goodness).

      For a study Bible, I would go first with Thomas Aquinas's "Catena Aurea," a collection of patristic quotations on the Gospels. Cornelius a Lapide's commentaries are available in English for the Gospels, Corinthians (I & II), Galatians, and the Johannine epistles. Otherwise, I'll usually end up referencing the Haydock, which is hit and miss.

      Delete
  2. And I highly recommend the Navarre. You'll need a sturdy bookshelf but the commentary is excellent.

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    1. I agree. It does take a while to get through the 7 volumes of the Old Testament and 12 of the New. But worth the effort and a great reference to have around.

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  3. In the final round the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, came in second. That's what my daughter, who has been in this community for fourteen years, told me.

    See where vocations come from? Sometimes from families whose fathers are right-wing, traditionalist whackos and happy because of it, who read fine blogs such as this one...and others even more traditionalist whacko.

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    Replies
    1. But with the Catholic Bible Handicap, Bear thinks they really came in first.

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  4. The Confraternity version.

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/confraternity.html

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    Replies
    1. I like that one too, for an easier-to-read version of the Douay-Rheims.

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  5. For reading -- NOT for study, mind you, but for reading -- I'm partial to the Jerusalem Bible in the Catholic Truth Society's "New Catholic Bible" edition. Here are my thoughts on it: http://randomramblings-absentmindedprofessor.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-cts-new-catholic-bible-2013.html

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  6. Having a Bible with no commentary is better than having a Bible with bad commentary. Good Catholic commentaries tend to be expensive but they are worth it. The Navarre series is fantastic and more focused on the spiritual aspect of things. FUN FACT: The commentary varies between the three English variants. Latin + Engligh. English Only. Multi Book.

    One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to picking a bible is getting hung-up on looking for a text that is as close to the original as possible. That does not exist. All Bibles are compiled and drawn from multiple sources, unified, and then brought together in a translation that is done according to this or that school of thought. Thus, as the Bear suggested, pick a Bible that you are going to read.

    I would suggest a Bible that is more archaic in language, as that will make you stop and think. It is also good to point out that the Bible can be dicey to read -- it is often not high literature. This was one of St. Augustine complaints before his conversion. The point of the Bible to direct us towards Christ, who can in this present age be found within His Church, which is His Bride, and Mystical Body. If we get too hungup on needing to have a perfect Bible, we might start considering that the Word became paper rather than flesh.

    When one read the Bible, one needs to read it within the same spirit with which it was written. Let me give three resources that will help individuals read in that same spirit.

    From Shadows to Reality by Jean Danielou

    Medieval Exegesis by Henri de Lubac

    http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerus/index_eng.html

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    1. It might have been St. Augustine who came up with the clever analogy of the Scripture as Honeycomb: hard and rough on the outside, but full of sweetness within. The language and structure of Scripture is clunky and confusing, but the deeper meaning is beautiful beyond the greatest poetry of the pagans.

      And yes, no commentary is better than bad commentary. The notes in the NAB were so bad I had to dispose of that Bible for the good of my soul.

      Delete
  7. Translation is so hard...I've the benefit of a classics degree and was reading the beatitudes in Latin and Greek the other day for the first time (my conversion is recent and the motivation for learning the above languages was more just from curiosity and for reading poetry (Ovid!!! heart heart heart)) and I don't know if I was just thick in reading the English before but I never realized "Blessed are the poor in spirit" was more like "blessed are the poor with respect to spirit", which obliterated what I'd always heard as "blessed are those who are lacking in spirit", which is what it sounds like in English, at least to me. So it's either "blessed are those who are as the poor in their spirit", like with the attitude or perception of the poor, or "blessed in spirit are the poor", both of which make a lot of sense (and are the two possibilities which occurred to me, but there are probably more). Anyway, my agitated self was led to looking through English translations to find one that approximated what I thought I was reading in the original, and the only one I found was "blessed in spirit are the poor", which seems closest. The New Living one made me wanna vomit as well as some of the others.

    I don't know though, that's my answer. I hope the half inebriated rambling has contributed something!

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    1. is that really the reply you got? I'm in awe. That'd be amazing, even from like a southern baptist.

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    2. Maybe the spelling was better, but it was otherwise the same. All caps. Bible doesn't need to be corrected. (The Bear has no idea what the person thought he was saying about St. Jerome and the Old Latin; that's a fact of Church history.) How dare the Bear call himself a saint. (Bear never does that. Far from it. He's just a Bear. Father Corbinian is the saint.)

      The Bear left graciously, however, saying something to the effect of, "Okay, I see I have accidentally wandered into Crazy Town, so I'll just be moving along."

      Takes all kinds, as they say. People forget they are translations of different manuscripts. We don't even know for sure what some words mean. Even then, translators must make choices, and massage the manuscripts into English that isn't jibberish, like a straight translation would be.

      The Bear thinks the "Onlyists," both Protestant and Catholic are naive. They want to freeze the Bible in a particular ideal time and place. But language and scholarship move on. The Bear will be dealing with Protestant Bibles soon.

      If you want a copy of the original autograph, become a Mormon.

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    3. Haha, exactly, buried golden tablets and so forth.

      I remember the first classics course I took involved reading the Iliad and Odyssey in translation, and there's a word in Greek that no one knows whether it means vultures or eagles, so the professor's favorite translation used "vulture or eagles", which he thought was hilarious. Nothing like hedging your bets!

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    4. How could the Bear forget The Cotton Patch Gospel?

      “Nobody ever uses new, unshrunk material to patch a dress that’s been washed. For in shrinking, it will pull the old material and make a tear. Nor do people put new tubes in old, bald tires. If they do, the tires will blow out, and the tubes will be ruined and the tires will be torn up. But they put new tubes in new tires and both give good mileage.”

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    5. Mwahaha, at least there's no grape juice!

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  8. Does blessed are the poor in spirit mean blessed are the humble? Conversely, damned are the rich in spirit or the proud.

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  9. You missed the Didache Bible (RSV-CE2 with Catechism references). It's my favourite print Bible.

    My favourite non-print Bible is available from Verbum which I use on my tablet. It allows you to mix and match Bibles and commentaries, so I combine the RSV-CE2 Bible with Haydock commentary. IMO, it's the best combination for daily use and I'd buy it in an instant if I were sold.

    If you want to look East, you might also look into the Orthodox Study Bible. You'll have to skip over the intro which goes into a anti-Catholic justification of why the "Catholic's betrayed the Orthodox", but once you get passed that you get a modern translation (I believe New King James) plus a translation of the Deuterocanonicals from the Septuagint including a few books not in the Vulgate plus commentary from the Church Fathers from the Eastern Perspective. It's not a bad book and is a quite useful commentary supplement if you're doing a Bible Study.

    WRT the Douay-Rheims Bible, I actually find it quite readable and I would use it because of the Haydock notes. The main reason I don't use it is that I'm used to the Hebrew rather than not Greek name transliterations (e.g. Hannah vs Anna, Obadiah vs Abdias, Elijah vs Elias, Joshua vs Josue) and so I get lost when reading and can't relate what I'm reading to the greater context. It's a shame the King James and Douay-Rheims didn't use the same name transliterations.

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    1. Bear loves Verbum. Having the ability to see Greek and Hebrew interlinearly and do word studies is fantastic.

      Orthodox study Bible is nice and one volume, but is more suitable for Orthodox than Catholics. Also the New King James Version is an odd translation although not bad.

      Delete
  10. Has anybody read the Ignatius Study Bible? I went through a Bible study using the ISB for one of the Pauline epistles, and I was not terribly impressed. It wasn't bad, just not particularly insightful. I know they've published the entire New Testament, and are still working on the Old.

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    1. See main article. Not bad, but something doesn't click for me.

      Delete
    2. I have the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, one-volume NT. It's good, but I agree that it's kind of meh. It's inexpensive so it's definitely worth the price, but for some reason it seems a little more sola-scriptural than I find useful. I much prefer the theological insights of the Navarre to the historical references in the ICSB, but I realize the books have a different purpose. One is a STUDY Bible, and the other is a Commentary.

      Regarding commentary, I'd also recommend the ancient Lapide Commentary.

      Delete
  11. Okay, I see I have accidentally wandered into Crazy Town, so I'll just be moving along."

    Bwahahahaha!

    Admit it ... it was the "yor' probly not even a reel bare" that did it, wasn't it? :D

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  12. The Bible that I'm currently using is the RSV-CE from Saint Benedict Press. I believe that this is a first edition of the RSV.

    My first Bible was the New Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible from the Catholic Book Publishing Company. Most of the Old Testament was the Douay version while the New Testament was a revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version. I received it as a gift for my First Communion in 1957 and I still have it. The next Bible was the Douay version of the Holy Bible which I received in 1964 while still in high school. I think that the nuns saw what was coming and wanted to fortify us with the old standard. Skipping ahead, I obtained various Study Bibles. One of which was the Orthodox Study Bible (previously mentioned in the replies). I also have the individual booklets for the New Testament of the Ignatius Press Catholic Study Bible (RSV-CE 2nd Edition). Currently, you can get the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible for your Kindle app or reader. I also have the New Testament Navarre Bible with the Latin and commentaries. I use it as a reference but, as mentioned before, you can't take it with you. I also purchased the New American Bible. I don't like it and we'll leave it at that. I have a small 4" x 6" RSV-CE (Oxford University Press) that is easy to slip into a purse but the small type makes it difficult to read in low light conditions. I also went modern and have Verbum, Olive Tree, Laudate, EWTN, Ignatius Press Lighthouse and RSV-CE Bible apps for my iPad.

    The interesting part of all this is, that with all the different Bibles that I have access to, I had never read the entire Bible! I had certainly read parts of the Bible but never all the books. Just before Lent of this year, I decided that I would read the entire Bible. I read about 32 pages per day in the St Benedict Press RSV and finished the entire 1,524 pages in 48 days during Lent. It was a bumpy ride in spots but I'm really glad that I did it. I now have a better, overall view of our salvation history. Currently, I study scripture using the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology website and the Institute for Catholic Culture website and app. I highly recommend both of these sites.

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  13. A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t

    Charles H. Spurgeon

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    1. The sentiment is one thing. The reality something else. Spurgeon's devotion to the Bible did not cure his separation from the Church who has the sole authority to properly interpret it. If separation from the Church is not the definitive "falling apart", I don't know what is.

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    2. Now, now, Spurgeon wasn't wrong about everything, and was a darned fine speaker. One of the Bear's favorite books is Pilgrim's Progress. Does that make him a bad Catholic?

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    3. Darned is just a polite way of saying Damned.

      If it were possible, his being such a "damned, fine speaker", would you invite him to speak to your Woodland knowing that he'd come to loosen those nailed paws and feet to free your friends from the Church?

      Delete
    4. The Bear just might to buff his ecumenical cred, but only on a safe topic like God's goodness, or the Divinity of Christ, with an opportunity for a knowledgable Catholic speaker to follow. The Bear would love to hear Spurgeon.

      The rule is "do what the Bear says, not what the Bear does." If a discerning Catholic finds Pilgrim's Progress' colorful personifications of universal experiences in Christianity, such as "Mr. Talkative," edifying, that's his business.

      Yeah, the pope is depicted as a feeble monster biting his fingernails in a cave muttering, "they won't learn until more of them are burnt" (which the finds kind of funny, actually, since it is probably not entirely without merit). So what? Not surprising from Bunyan (who, ironically, wrote Pilgrim's Progress from a jail where was imprisoned by other Protestants). but it might not ruin the book for everyone.

      And, anyway, the Bear does not advise anyone to read it. Certainly only mature Catholics who know the difference between what the Church teaches and some of the things they would find in Pilgrim's Progress should even consider it. But not on the Bear's recommendation. Nope.

      So, yes, the Bear sometimes uses non-Catholic Bible concordances, atlases, dictionaries and the like, because the Catholic Church simply does not take seriously the idea that any Catholic would like to dig deep in to scripture.

      That, and Protestant publishers have a huge market and many local retail outlets, while you would go broke publishing a Catholic version of the high-quality one-volume study Bibles like the NIVZSB or ESVSB, or all the other tools and commentaries available. Heck, Crossways publishes the ESV in 50 editions, at least. Including, just out, the Coloring Bible for grownups LOL

      Another thing, the Bear is entirely unimpressed with Catholic Bible scholarship. Even Navarre exhumes and props up poor old Wellhausen. Catholic Bible scholars are without exception infected with a bit of Modernism. (A bit of hyperbole perhaps, but not much, and I know what is taught today, having been subjected to feminist interpretations, etc.) So sometimes it comes down to which heresy to do you want to expose yourself to ;-)

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    5. The Bear just might to buff his ecumenical cred, but only on a safe topic like God's goodness, or the Divinity of Christ, with an opportunity for a knowledgable Catholic speaker to follow. The Bear would love to hear Spurgeon.

      The rule is "do what the Bear says, not what the Bear does." If a discerning Catholic finds Pilgrim's Progress' colorful personifications of universal experiences in Christianity, such as "Mr. Talkative," edifying, that's his business.

      Yeah, the pope is depicted as a feeble monster biting his fingernails in a cave muttering, "they won't learn until more of them are burnt" (which the finds kind of funny, actually, since it is probably not entirely without merit). So what? Not surprising from Bunyan (who, ironically, wrote Pilgrim's Progress from a jail where was imprisoned by other Protestants). but it might not ruin the book for everyone.

      And, anyway, the Bear does not advise anyone to read it. Certainly only mature Catholics who know the difference between what the Church teaches and some of the things they would find in Pilgrim's Progress should even consider it. But not on the Bear's recommendation. Nope.

      So, yes, the Bear sometimes uses non-Catholic Bible concordances, atlases, dictionaries and the like, because the Catholic Church simply does not take seriously the idea that any Catholic would like to dig deep in to scripture.

      That, and Protestant publishers have a huge market and many local retail outlets, while you would go broke publishing a Catholic version of the high-quality one-volume study Bibles like the NIVZSB or ESVSB, or all the other tools and commentaries available. Heck, Crossways publishes the ESV in 50 editions, at least. Including, just out, the Coloring Bible for grownups LOL

      Another thing, the Bear is entirely unimpressed with Catholic Bible scholarship. Even Navarre exhumes and props up poor old Wellhausen. Catholic Bible scholars are without exception infected with a bit of Modernism. (A bit of hyperbole perhaps, but not much, and I know what is taught today, having been subjected to feminist interpretations, etc.) So sometimes it comes down to which heresy to do you want to expose yourself to ;-)

      Delete
  14. I read the Bible to myself; I'll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is.

    Maya Angelou

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  15. If the Bible had said that Jonah swallowed the whale, I would believe it.

    William Jennings Bryan

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  16. The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

    Dwight L. Moody

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    1. Again, as with Spurgeon, devotion to Scripture apart from the True Church did not prevent Moody from the (objective) sin of schism and heresy.

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    2. Glad to see another busy little bee not afraid to gather pollen from the right Protestant flower.

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  17. Aloha Cf.: THE WAR Decodes Star Wars: The Force Awakens. God has revealed/exposed to light their occult [hidden] knowledge. Thanks be to God! I believe the symbolism of the Last Jedi is sufficient for American’s to take back their country and hold their leaders accountable.

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  18. When I became a believer but not yet Catholic, I started with the New King James. Once I had a further conversion to Catholicism, I went to the New Jerusalem for awhile. Then the NRSV for awhile. Tried the Knox version but didn't like some of the language and overall style.

    Years later, I developed a liking for the Confraternity version and still really like it. And the Douay-Rheims. And even the King James version w/Apocrypha. Depends on my mood.

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  19. I won't hire a man who says the Hail Mary with "you" and "your" rather than the proper "Thee" and "Thou" and "Thy." I just won't do it!

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    1. Hah. I'm completely with that sentiment.

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    2. Or thinks there are four sets of mysteries? No?

      Delete
  20. Oh my GOSH. I came to read what the Bear is up to and now Bear you used up my whole day. I ended up researching bibles and am not much closer now at 5:29 than I was at 9:00 a.m. or whatever time it was that I read this. I'm unhappy with my current bible, finding out it is a dud. I sound annoyed but I'm not, it matters greatly to me which version I read and I'm grateful for the knowledge and the discussions.
    I have had the goal of delving into scripture study more regularly and earnestly. Now I know I do not have the right tools.

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    1. And not to neglect devotional poetry as well....

      Brier


      Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm
Bends back the brier that edges life’s long way,
That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.


      Because I never knew your care to tire,
Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
Because you walk before and crush the brier,
It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.


      Because so often you have hearkened to
My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
That these harsh hands of mind add not unto
The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.

      E. Pauline Johnson

      Delete
    2. Wow, for the first time someone spent more time reading one of the Bear's articles than he spent writing it!

      Delete
  21. Bear I'm honing in. It seems the Haydock Douay-Rheims may suit me best. Thank you again for the discussion about bibles!

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    1. Its strength is that it isn't going to lead you astray. The Bear wishes Latin and Greek weren't used for a lot of the notes.

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  22. "Okay, I see I have accidentally wandered into Crazy Town, so I'll just be moving along."

    I would have gone along the lines of: "Yes, the Latin is fine, but you've never really experienced the Bible until you've read it in the original Klingon."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsCVuO1yeJc

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