Below is the handout I gave at the first official session of St. Elsewhere's bible study group. The group is good, lively and curious, which I will discuss at length later. Understand that, with two exceptions, my fellow congregants are decent Catholics who are the products of 40 years of bad-echesis: glitter, paste, construction paper, self-esteem and The Force Is Love. Every last one of them is a cradle Catholic.
They told me this at the organizational meeting. I structured the list below accordingly, using works I own/am familiar with (I own 75% of the books on the list). Yes, it's heavy on the apologetics basics, and related websites. Blank pages, remember? I am also advising them that I am a lending library for the OOP (and other) material.
Moreover: yes, I am deliberately steering them away from the historical-critical bafflegab. They want bread, so I won't had them a scorpion, at least not without saying "incoming!" I'd like to build faith, not destroy it.
If you have extra input, I'd like to hear it. If you have constructive criticism, step right up. If you have inane criticism, keep it to yourself.
Catholic Biblical Bibliography
and Recommended Websites
A. The $8 Solution: The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The most subversive book ever published by the Church.
B. Scott Hahn. A former Presbyterian pastor, now a Catholic university professor. Any of his books/tapes are worthwhile. Start with Rome Sweet Home, the conversion story of himself and his wife, Kimberly.
C. Mark Shea. Engaging Seattle-based author and speaker. Two books are immediately useful:
1. By What Authority: An Evangelical Looks at Catholic Tradition. Shows the interrelationship of the Bible and the big-T Tradition of the Church.
2. Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible As the First Christians Did. Not a typo. Explores the four “senses” (or meanings) of Scriptural interpretation developed by the early Christians.
C. David Armstrong. A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. A good general overview of the various biblical explanations of Catholic beliefs by an evangelical convert and resident of Melvindale.
D. Steven Ray. Crossing the Tiber. The conversion story of a Michigan businessman (turned author and speaker) and his family, it also explores the Catholic teaching for Baptism and the Eucharist, biblical and historical.
E. Lee Strobel. Award-winning former crime reporter for the Chicago Tribune, now an evangelical minister at Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago.
1. The Case for Christ. Examines the evidence behind the life of Christ and the reliability of the Gospels, including atheist/skeptical objections. Very readable and engaging.
2. The Case for Faith. Strobel does the same thing for the objections people raise to faith in God.
F. Conversion Stories. These often involve thorny biblical issues and questions, and can be quite helpful in a general sense.
1. Surprised by Truth I-III. Very interesting stories by converts from such diverse backgrounds as Judaism, Wicca and Mormonism, as well as “regular” Christians.
F. The Faith of the Early Fathers, by William Jurgens (3 Volumes). Contains selections from the writings of orthodox (and some heretical) Christian writers from 60 A.D. to 743 A.D. Very well indexed, it allows the reader to research any topic from Baptism to the Second Coming to see what the early Christians believed.
G. On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard. A philosophical but readable meditation on Catholicism by a renowned evangelical who became Catholic later in life. Pretty much anything by Howard is worth a read. My wife is especially fond of Hallowed Be This House.
H. Lives of Christ.
1. The Lord by Romano Guardini.
2. Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
3. To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed.
4. The Life of Christ by Giuseppe Ricciotti (OOP—Out of Print). The 700 page edition is more thorough than the 400 page version. However, the shorter one is still in print.
5. Jesus Christ by Ferdinand Prat (2 vols.)(OOP).
I. Bible Commentaries.
1. A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (1953, OOP). Superb, balanced and doggedly Catholic. My personal favorite.
2. The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic & Ecumenical Commentary for the 21st Century (1998). Very expensive, but very worthwhile commentary that draws upon Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical and mainline Protestant scholars from around the world.
3. Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968)(OOP). We have a copy in the parish library. A little technical, and prone to skeptical approaches, but still valuable.
4. A Companion to Scripture Studies by John Steinmueller (3 vols.)(1941-1968)(OOP). Good, non-technical guide to issues in biblical interpretation and overviews of every book in the Bible.
5. Introduction to the Bible by John Laux (1931). Despite its age, it is still in print and available via TAN Books. A user-friendly one-volume edition that examines every book of the Bible.
6. New Testament Introduction by Alfred Wikenhauser (1958-68)(OOP). A good semi-technical overview of every New Testament book, focusing on dating, authorship, organization and similar questions.
7. IVP’s New Testament Dictionary Series. Consists of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, and Dictionary of New Testament Background. Pricey, but worthwhile reference work (dictionary is a little misleading, it’s more a mini-encyclopedia). Written by evangelical scholars without an axe to grind, it’s fully in keeping with Catholic teaching in almost (but not quite) all places.
[Reminder re: Catholic commentaries before 1965 and Bibles before 1966—They are keyed to the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible, the original Catholic translation in English. This means some of the books have different titles, especially in the OT, which can be confusing unless you have a chart. The only NT book with a different name is Revelation, which is called “Apocalypse” in the D-R (“apocalypse” is Greek for “revelation”). Also, some of the verse numbering can be different. However, the D-R contains all of the verses.]
II. Helpful Websites for Biblical Issues.
1. www.vatican.va. The official website for the Vatican, it has official encyclicals and pronouncements from Rome on many issues.
2. www.usccb.org. The official website for the Catholic bishops of the U.S. Contains a searchable version of the New American Bible, and weekly mass readings.
3. www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible/. Contains a search engine for 15 Protestant bibles. Very handy when you need a verse in a hurry.
4. www.kofc.org. The Knights of Columbus website, it contains a searchable Catechism of the Catholic Church.
5. www.salvationhistory.com. Scott Hahn’s website, it contains a host of articles on the Bible, including a bibliography of recommended books.
6. www.catholicexchange.org. A good source for Catholic information, including biblical studies and questions. Be sure to donate, as the site is under some financial pressure at the moment.
7. www.mark-shea.com. Mark Shea’s website. Contains several dozen articles on a wide array of topics, including the Bible.
8. www.biblicalcatholic.com. David Armstrong’s website. A good source for general articles on challenges to the Catholic faith. Sometimes comes on a little strong, though.
9. www.catholic.com. Catholic Answers’ website. Helpful for answering basic challenges to the Catholic faith by using the Bible.
10. www.jamesakin.com. The website for the head “apologist” for CA, it has articles on a wide range of biblical topics, as well as several searchable catechisms.
11. www.newadvent.org. This website contains the entire text of the still-valuable 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. Volunteers agreed to transcribe every article from the multi-volume work, which took 5 years to complete. New Advent also has the works of several of the early church fathers in complete form.
12. www.ewtn.com. The website for Mother Angelica’s media network, it contains an unparalleled document library, including transcripts for Scott Hahn’s “Catholic Adult Education Series” videotapes, which cover a wide range of biblical topics, especially biblical explanations for the sacraments.
13. www.petersnet.net. Another website with an excellent document library.
14. www.catholicconvert.com. Steve Ray’s webpage, with helpful articles and links to his video series. Also comes on a little strong at times.