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Scripture Study Resources for Catholics

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BIBLE STUDY PROGRAMS FOR CATHOLICS

If you or your group want to study Scripture in a more directed way, you'll find many options:

  • Several Catholic publishers produce good parish-level Bible study programs that can be used by individuals and by groups, for sharing and reflection or for study.
    • Programs vary by level, topic, approach, amount and type of supporting material (such as student workbooks and audio/video lectures), and length. There really is a lot of variation. Before you choose a program for yourself or your parish, take the time to review it to see if it's what you want. If your parish has been using one program for a long time, see what the others are like.
    • These programs teach you about the Bible to a greater or lesser degree. Their major emphasis is helping you connect Scripture with your life, from a foundation of knowing what the biblical text actually says
  • Your diocese may sponsor a ministry formation program or a diocesan biblical school.
    • These programs typically provide an instructor, take a more academic and systematic approach, involve a longer commitment, and are held at a central location (or perhaps online).
    • Since they're meant to educate people for parish-based activities, these programs also emphasize Scripture as a resource for faith and ministry.
    • Graduates of these programs are well prepared for coordinating and leading parish Bible studies, and serving as the resource person for facilitators of Bible study groups.
  • Catholic universities and course publishers offer a variety of courses taught by biblical scholars, aimed at different levels of students and in different teaching venues.
    • These programs include audio and video courses designed for self-study, online courses taken for continuing education or credit, summer seminars, and degree or non-degree academic programs at universities or schools of ministry.
    • These types of programs to varying degrees are the most academic and systematic and may or may not have a faith and ministry orientation.
    • If you want a more intense learning opportunity, some of these programs are a good choice. If you can't commit to going to a class each week, you'll like the convenience of the audio/video and online courses.

Always check your parish first! You might find the perfect program right there. Plus, the adult education resource person in your parish will be able to give you ideas, advice, and information about Bible study opportunities in your diocese.

Read a basic Catholic introduction to the Bible before you begin any study program! You'll get perspective, information, and answers to common questions that aren't usually addressed in the Bible study program materials.


Here are some resources for several types of Bible study (NOT intended to be a complete list!)

PARISH-LEVEL STUDY


Bible Study in Plain English

[18-part study]

A simple, inexpensive study of the entire Bible that you can buy online, download, and begin using the same day. Written by Bill Huebsch, a specialist in educating Catholic adults, this study offers a quick tour of the Bible that really does cover all the books. Each part offers a few printable pages with easy guidance, texts to read, and questions to think about, write about, and discuss. Participants meet the key stories and people of the Bible and connect what they read with their lives. Includes information charts on the books of the Old Testament and the New Testaments. Prayers for study groups available on-line.

Probably the easiest way to begin Bible study, for groups or individuals. Works great for small Christian communities and informal groups. Simple yet solid information, easy and non-intimidating style.

(English & Spanish)

(Twenty-Third Publications)


Bible Stories Revisited: Discover Your Story in the Old Testament

and

Bible Stories Revisited: Discover Your Story in Luke and Acts of the Apostles

These two books offer simple Bible studies that help Catholics focus on the theme of aging by considering selected stories in Scripture. The books provide reflections and professional guidance for each story by Macrina Scott, O.F.M., a pioneer in Catholic Bible study. Includes reflection questions and prayers.

Excellent and simple Bible studies for older Catholics, who often bring different questions to Scripture than younger Catholics. The beautiful reflections by Sr. Macrina and the thoughtful reflection questions support both group and individual study.

(St. Anthony Messenger Press)


Six Weeks with the Bible[series]

Short (6 weeks!), excellent, simple courses on many books of the Bible, as well as several key themes of the Bible (such as Jesus the Healer, Living for a Just Society), edited by biblical educator Kevin Perotta. Each course (provided in one short book) includes a brief introduction, reading guides, advice for the group, biblical texts, prayers and good reflection questions. Series includes 18 New Testament courses, 12 Old Testament courses, and 11 theme courses. Online leader's guide and support for parish marketing.

A great series for parish Bible sharing groups, informal groups, and individuals, and a simple, inviting way to get started with the Bible. With the six-week format, it's easy to do a few studies each year. Good on-line resources provide parish marketing support.

(English & Spanish)

(Loyola Press)


Threshold Bible Study

[series]

A program that focuses on personal transformation in our encounter with Scripture, written by biblical scholar and educator Stephen Binz. Rather than studying a particular book, participants explore the Bible by themes essential to the Catholic faith (such as The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts, Jerusalem the Holy City). Each course (provided in one short book, with 15 themes/courses in the series) consists of 30 lessons to be covered over a six-week class. Includes well written reading guides, suggestions for both group and individual study, biblical texts, prayers, and good reflection questions.

The theme approach of this unique program guides students in exploring the entire Bible and getting a sense of the unity among the books. An excellent choice for parishes, groups, or individuals who want to combine Bible study and sharing with learning about and deepening their Catholic faith. Also has good online resources for groups and individuals.

(Twenty-Third Publications)


Little Rock Scripture Study

[series]

This well known study series offers a broad range of topics as well as several different levels of study, in courses that vary in length from four sessions to sixteen sessions. Study materials for each course include a study guide, a basic commentary, and an audio or DVD lecture. Participants are guided through short daily study periods, then come together weekly for prayer, discussion, and lecture. The program is designed to be used by parishes and provides marketing support and opportunities for training group facilitators.

The ten beginner-level courses include an introduction to the Bible (7 weeks); studies of each of the four gospels, Acts of the Apostles, three of Paul's letters, and Exodus (10 weeks each); and studies of the infancy stories of Jesus and the passion and resurrection stories.

Seventeen intermediate-level studies include theme studies (Pilgrim People; Praying the Scriptures), as well as several studies of biblical books.

Seven in-depth programs give participants focused studies of the parables (two 6-week courses); the history of ancient Israel (two 7-week courses); the gospel's movement from the Jewish world to the Gentile world (9 weeks); and two courses on women in the Bible (10 weeks and 8 weeks).

Two video-based courses (no commentaries needed) give an overview of the New Testament and an overview of the lands of the Bible.

The most complete parish Bible study program available today in terms of topics and aspects of the biblical world. The three levels build on each other and easily lead participants to an advanced beginner level of knowledge about the Bible. The program effectively combines teaching (through high quality yet easy-to-read books and commentaries, and audio or video lectures) with building a daily habit of Bible reading and prayer and growing in faith with a Scripture-based community. Excellent support resources are available for parishes. Gives you everything thing you need to establish long-term Bible study and sharing in your parish. Requires trained small group facilitators; graduates of diocesan biblical schools or ministry formation programs would be good coordinators for the program as a whole.

(English & Spanish)

(Little Rock Scripture Study)


Paulist Bible Study Program

[series]

A program that brings serious yet accessible Bible study to the parish level. Each 8-week course uses audio/video lectures written by Old Testament scholar Fr. Lawrence Boadt, an exceptionally useful leader's guide, and student workbook. Opening and closing prayers, reflection questions, review questions and suggestions for further study give the leader all that's needed. When used in order, four courses in the series (Israel Becomes a People, Prophets and Kings, Jesus and the Gospels, and Paul, Missionary to the Gentiles) introduce students to the entire Bible and give a good foundation for the other courses in the series focused on specific biblical books (Isaiah, John, Galatians and Romans). Meant to be used with a popular companion text, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction by Fr. Boadt.

An older but still excellent Bible study series. Combines true introductory Bible study (including video lecture) with Bible reflection. A great choice for parish study groups that want a solid Catholic overview of the Bible. Requires a good leader, preferable with some Bible background. Graduates of diocesan biblical schools or ministry formation programs are ideal leaders for these courses. Don't be put off by the plain design of the workbooks or the lectures recorded on videocassette rather than DVD. This is an excellent series!

(Paulist Press)


The Great Adventure

Bible Timeline:

The Story of Salvation

[24-part study]

A program designed to tell a particular version of the overall story of the Bible, using fourteen books selected by the study's author, biblical educator Jeff Cavins. (The other 59 books of the Catholic Bible are presented as supplemental to the story told in the selected books.) The author's goal is to enable participants to read the Bible like a novel, that is, as you would a story. The author has divided his story into twelve color-coded time periods, beginning with creation and ending with the time of the Church. Students receive a Bible timeline chart and memory bead wristband keyed to these color codes to help them remember the time periods designated by the author. The student kit also includes study questions and responses. The parish kit includes 24 50-55-minute audio or DVD lectures by Mr. Cavins. Leader materials and online support are also available. The first part of The Great Adventure Adult Bible Study series, which includes foundational studies and ongoing studies (not reviewed here.)

While this program introduces Catholics to some books they may never have opened, such as Ezra, and legitimately teaches that Christians do view the Christian Bible as having an overall story, beginning students learn little of the modern Catholic approach to Scripture and hear a chronology and aspects of biblical theology that are unique to this program and presenter. Mr. Cavins reads Scripture as a biblical fundamentalist. He draws his teaching mainly from early Church interpretation and the Catholic Catechism—two valuable resources to be sure, but not well suited to helping modern Catholics begin with the Bible, either in terms of addressing modern questions or in terms of presenting the books of the Old Testament as having value beyond their foreshadowing of Christ. Parishes and individuals will be better served with other Catholic Bible study programs.

(Ascension Press)


A Quick Journey

through the Bible

[8-part study]

A shorter version of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline: Story of Salvation (above). Student kit includes student workbook, Bible timeline chart, and memory bead wristband. Parish kit includes eight 30-minute talks by biblical educator Jeff Cavins.

See comments for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline: Story of Salvation (above).

(Ascension Press)

DIOCESAN-LEVEL STUDY


Some diocesan

biblical schools:

Arkansas

Little Rock Scripture Study

California

Catholic Bible Institute

(Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

(English & Spanish)

Colorado

Catholic Biblical School

(Archdiocese of Denver)

Connecticut

Catholic Biblical School

(Archdiocese of Hartford)

Illinois

Biblical Institute of

the Diocese of Joliet

Chicago Catholic

Scripture School

(Archdiocese of Chicago)

(English & Spanish)

New York

Catholic Biblical

Studies Program

(Buffalo area)

New York Catholic Bible School

(Archdiocese of New York)

Texas

Catholic Biblical School

at the University of Dallas School of Ministry

(English & Spanish)

(On-line program available)

OTHER TYPES OF STUDY


Self-Study

(audio and video)


Now You Know Media

Offers over 30 Scripture courses on audio CDs taught by well known Catholic biblical scholars. Each course includes several 30-minute lectures (number depends on topic) and a written study guide with lecture outlines and review questions. Purchaser may make seven copies of the outline for group study. Also offers many courses about other topics in Catholicism.

Great courses by excellent Catholic teachers for those who want serious but not too advanced Bible study. Works for individuals or groups.


The Teaching Company

The "Religion" offerings of this company, whose focus is quality teaching, include several Bible-related courses taught by well known Catholic and Protestant biblical scholars. Each course includes several (number depends on topic) 30-minute lectures available as audio or video, and lecture outlines.

Excellent courses with some excellent teachers for those who want intermediate-level Bible study. Works for individuals or groups.


On-Line Study


University of Dayton:

Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation

Offers several short (5 weeks) and basic continuing education courses on Scripture. Each course includes lectures, assignments, readings, and interaction with classmates online. Also offers courses on many other aspects of Catholic faith and parish ministry. If your diocese is a VLCFF partner, you get a significant tuition discount.

Excellent way to learn at your convenience, but with the structure and interaction of a class. Short classes are easy to fit into a busy life. With the partner discount, an especially good value.


C21 Online

at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Online learning that offers a few short (4-5 week) Scripture courses, including two that are free (The Birth of Jesus and The Death of Jesus, in the four gospels). Also offers a variety of other non-credit courses for on-going adult faith formation.

Excellent way to learn at your convenience, but with the structure and interaction of a class. Short classes are easy to fit into a busy life. Bible study courses are limited, but classes vary each year.


STEP (Satellite Theological Education Program) at the University of Notre Dame Institute for Church Life

A wide variety of short (5-6 weeks) continuing education courses designed to help adult Catholics learn more about their faith and educate parish ministers. Students receive lecture texts online and discuss homework and reading in online discussions. If your diocese is a STEP partner, you'll get a discount.

Scripture courses in this program are more numerous and in-depth than in most online programs and include good introductory courses on the sections of the Old Testament. Excellent way to learn at your convenience, but with the structure and interaction of a class. Short classes are easy to fit into a busy life.


Online Learning at the

Loyola University of Chicago Institute of Pastoral Studies

In addition to offering two master of arts degree programs online (M.A. in Pastoral Studies and M.A. in Religious Education), the Institute for Pastoral studies permits non-credit students to take the master-level classes.

The program's selection of Scripture courses is limited. However, they're longer and taught at a higher level than continuing education classes.


Online Catholic

Biblical School

at the University of Dallas

School of Ministry

A diocesan-level Bible study program that requires work (4-5 hours per week) and commitment (30 weeks a year). Includes weekly lectures and handouts, reading and homework assignments, and interaction with classmates online.

Excellent way for committed students to do systematic study of the Bible at their convenience, but with the structure and interaction of a class. Especially valuable for Catholics who have no diocesan-level Bible study programs available locally.


Catholic Distance University

A school that focuses on online, or distance, learning. In addition to offering bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in theology, the school permits non-credit students to take courses. Also offers occasional short online seminars, some on Scripture topics. If your diocese is a CDU partner, you'll get a discount.

At present, only a few Bible courses are available, but more courses are planned. If you want to learn Biblical Greek online, this is the school for you!


Distance Education

at Catholic Theological Union

In addition to offering two certificate programs online (Pastoral Studies and Hispanic Theology and Ministry), this graduate-level school of ministry permits non-credit students to take courses.

This school, which has long been known for the quality of its Bible studies program, offers a larger selection of Scripture courses, taught more often. The courses will be longer and taught at a higher level than continuing education classes.


Web Courses

at St. John's University

School of Theology

A few graduate-level Scripture courses are offered each year online and may be taken by non-credit students.

Another Catholic graduate school that's well respected for its Bible studies program, offering a limited number of Scripture courses online each year. The courses will be longer and taught at a higher level than continuing education classes.