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Scripture Study Resources for Catholics

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OTHER RESOURCES FOR
ADVANCING IN BIBLE STUDY1

Once you have a basic understanding of a biblical book, or a part of the Bible, you may be ready for resources that answer more questions, lead you more deeply into the text, or address a particular issue related to the study of the Bible.
On this page, you'll find more in-depth introductions to:
  • The Bible itself.
  • How to read the Bible.
  • The Old Testament.
  • The New Testament.
  • Women in the Bible.

(See Other Study Resources 2 for more resources for the gospels and Paul, as well as for Bible commentaries and special resources.)


RESOURCES: Introductions

Introductions to the Bible and How to Read the Bible

The Catholic Bible Study Handbook:

Second Revised Edition

By Jerome Kodell, O.S.B. St. Anthony Messenger Press (2001)

What I would call an advanced beginner introduction to the Bible by the co-founder of the Little Rock Scripture Study program. In addition to basic information about the Bible, this book offers six chapters that set the books of the Bible within their historical contexts. Topics include a historical view of how the Bible came about, the historical context of the books themselves, and overviews of writings NOT in the Bible that help us understand the biblical books, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the gospels of Peter and Thomas, and the writings of early rabbis.

Part III of the book offers an excellent introduction to ways of praying the Bible, examples of how to study Bible passages, and a great chapter on how to organize and do group Bible study.

A rich and useful introduction to the Bible for people especially interested in questions of historical context and prayer with Scripture.

Introduction to the Bible

By Gregory W. Dawes Liturgical Press (2007) (Vol. 1 of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary: Old Testament Series)

This book, as an introduction to the New Collegeville Bible Commentary Series, introduces the Bible as a whole, but with a particular approach. It addresses the questions of the origins of the Bible and its texts, and the interpretation of the Bible within a historical point of view. It offers more detail on how the Old Testament and New Testament canons came to be and how the Bible's texts were transmitted. The real strength of this short (80 pages) introduction, however, is its survey of biblical interpretation: what biblical interpretation is and why we need to do it, and the principles and methods by which Christians have interpreted the Bible from 200 A.D. to the present.

An excellent yet not overwhelming historical overview of the origins of the Bible and Christian approaches to biblical interpretation. Recommended for anyone who wants perspective on how Catholics read the Bible today compared to how Christians understood the Bible in earlier centuries. Especially useful for intermediate-level readers.

Introductions to the Old Testament

Most Catholics know little about this section of the Bible. Perhaps even more than with the New Testament, it really helps to understand the "big picture" of the Old Testament books before you study an individual book. Many readers also find they have quite different questions about the Old Testament than they do about the New Testament. The resources I describe here help with both situations.

Israel's Story: Part One

and

Israel's Story: Part Two

By Dianne Bergant, C.S.A.

Liturgical Press (Part One: 2006 and Part Two: 2007)

Together, these two short (each is about 100 pages) books guide a reader through every book of the Old Testament, providing, as one reviewer put it, "a strong scaffolding upon which to hang later information and insights." That scaffolding is constructed of historical information, background on biblical terms to help you better understand the texts, explanations of literary aspects of the books and theological ideas, and above all an easy-to-follow overview of each book. Along the way, the author corrects and explains misunderstandings Christians often have about these books shared by both Jews and Christians.

An excellent advanced beginner introduction to the Old Testament by book and as a whole. Can be used as a reference for individual or group Bible study of particular books, such as Genesis, or of sections of the Old Testament, such as the prophets. Highly recommended.

NOTE: These books do NOT include discussion questions; however, Little Rock Scripture Study has developed a 7-week in-depth-level study program for each book. See Bible Study Programs.

Priests, Prophets, and Sages: Catholic Perspectives

on the Old Testament

By Leslie Hoppe, O.F.M.

St. Anthony Messenger Press (2006)

This book takes a different approach to helping Cathlics understand the Old Testament. The author, a professor of Old Testament who has written several books on this part of the Bible helpful for average Catholics, asks and answers common questions readers typically have:

  • What do we call these books?
  • Why these books in our Bible?
  • What does the Old Testament say about God?
  • What about Israel as the chosen people?
  • How does God speak?
  • Did all this really happen?
  • How do we find meaning in the Old Testament?

Within the chapters of this short book, you'll learn how Catholics read several kinds of Old Testament texts as well as important connections to New Testament texts and to Church tradition. Each chapter ends with several questions for reflection and suggestions for more reading.

Anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the Old Testament should read this book, including parish leaders who teach or preach the Old Testament. With the reflection questions, serves as an excellent basis for a group Bible study. Highly recommended.

Introduction to the New Testament

An Introduction to the New Testament for Catholics

By Joseph F. Kelly Liturgical Press (2006)

This book opens with two excellent, easy-to-read chapters on how Catholics approach the New Testament and the historical background to this part of the Bible. Then, for each book of the New Testament, the author presents an outline of the book, highlights, important background, and answers to typical questions. The inviting style and the author's knack for addressing questions and worries many Catholics have about the New Testament texts helps readers understand each text more deeply.

If you want an intermediate-level but not scholarly introduction to the New Testament based on current biblical scholarship that will teach you much about how Catholics read the Bible as well as deepen your faith, this book is an excellent choice. A well written and approachable reference text for higher-level Bible studies, for parish leaders who teach or preach the New Testament, or for anyone who wants a more advanced understanding of this part of the Bible.

Introductions to Women in the Bible

Why introductions to biblical women and not introductions to the men? Name the first five people of the Bible that come to your mind and chances are most or even all of them will be men!

As products of societies in which women had a lesser status than men and didn't normally play a role in public activities, it's no surprise that the biblical books give us many and extended stories about men, but fewer stories about often nameless women. We have to work harder to find the women in the Bible, but they're there—and their stories can be just as usefull and challenging for faith as the men's stories.

Here are two books that introduce you to the women in the Bible.

Women in the Old Testament

By Irene Nowell, O.S.B. Liturgical Press (1997)

and

Women in the New Testament

By Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan Liturgical Press (2001)

Both these books offer helpful background, comment, and reflection on the individual stories of the women of the Bible and both include the biblical text of each story. However, each author arranges the topic differently. The first book presents women of Israel's beginnings, Israel's Passover, Israel's early tribes, and Israel's monarchy, as well as woman, image of God and women of courage and strength. The second book presents women of expectant faith, women changed by Jesus, women of prominence, and women and discipleship.

Two excellent books for any individual or group who wants to study the women of the Bible. Can be used as reference books for Bible study groups.

NOTE: These books do NOT include discussion questions; however, Little Rock Scripture Study has developed a 10-week, in-depth-level study program for each book. See Bible Study Programs.

OTHER RESOURCES


1. Advanced beginner or intermediate students may want resources that answer more questions, or lead to a deeper understanding.

2. Look for in-depth introductions to the Bible and Bible-related topics, such as biblical interpretation and the women of the Bible.

3. A more in-depth introduction to the Old Testament can help you get the "big picture" of this less known part of the Bible, and answer questions specific to these books.


ACTIVITY

Think about what part of the Bible, or what Bible-related topic, you'd like to learn more about in the next few months.

Find a resource to help you. Invite a few people to join you as you learn together.


KEEP LEARNING

(how to read the Bible/biblical interpretation)

Easy:

"Reading the Good Book" by Carol Luebering (Scripture from Scratch N0798)

"What Scripture Says...And Doesn't Say: Reading the Bible in Context" by Margaret Nutting Ralph (Scripture from Scratch N0396)

"The Use and Abuse of the Bible" by Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. (Scripture from Scratch N0899)

"Interpreting the Bible: the Right and the Responsibility" by Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M. (Scripture from Scratch N0997)

"The Need for Biblical Criticism" by Alan C. Mitchell, Ph.D. (Scripture from Scratch, N0800)

"The Challenge of Fundamentalism" by Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S. (Scripture from Scratch N0705)

"Inspiration" by George Martin (Scripture from Scratch N0794)