When, recently, the Liturgy and Life Study Bible arrived belatedly (the first order was lost in transit!), I declared it (on the liturgy social media platforms with the photo above) a Christmas present to myself (it arrived within the 12 days of Christmas!). It was mumble-mumble expensive! Online, I said it was rather niche – only to find a number of people replying they had it (a religious sister saw it as a go-to resource for her; someone else said they had been given one by a rabbi; another said they found a more affordable copy, from memory on e-bay;…). I promised I would review it.
The scriptures shape our worship; our worship reads from, quotes, and alludes to the scriptures. This study bible explores this relationship between the scriptures and our worship.
I have already made my first point: on first opening it, I thought this was a very niche study bible. But, from those immediate online reactions (on different platforms), I now think this (price aside) is actually a study bible for a wider community. The biblical text has subheadings, explanatory footnotes, every place that texts on that page appear in Roman Catholic liturgies (and, hence, in liturgies of other denominations in this cross-pollinating, ecumenical world), and biblical cross-references. Regularly, there is a highlighted box making a spiritual or prayer connection from the text. There are over twenty scholarly articles that begin the Bible, essentially reflecting on the connection between scripture and worship. They cover topics like Scripture and the Liturgical Year, Psalms: Composed For and Used in Prayer, Early Christian Worship, Liturgy and Social Justice from a Biblical Perspective,… These articles are thoughtful, and accessible to the general, intelligent, non-specialist reader. Each is not lengthy (about 3 or 4 pages), encouraging reading.
Every book in the Bible has two short introductions – the first connects the biblical book to liturgy and life, the second is a more general introduction. Again, the brevity and accessibility means one is encouraged to actually read these pieces rather than skip them (as I am, full disclosure, wont to do in other study bibles).
A comment about the translation: the New American Bible, Revised Edition is not my usual translation (which is NRSV) – but it is clearly scholarly, and although it is less gender-inclusive than NRSV, and although it doesn’t claim to stand in the King James family tree, it has quite a similar flavour to NRSV – I suspect many/most people would be unable to tell which is which for a lot of the texts if, say, read aloud.
This Bible has a very attractive look and feel with a font that encourages reading.
The Bible concludes with a table of Sunday’s 3Yr Eucharistic Readings, then an index of various subjects encountered in the Bible, two and a half pages of collaborators to the NABRE, and eight fairly standard maps (including one of Solomon’s Temple).
A couple of challenges to conclude: might this be even more useful if it was available digitally online (sidestepping the cost which for many is prohibitive); might an Anglican/Episcopal supplement (even online) be produced (I was immediately asked about what this Bible makes of the Prayer of Humble Access), and for other denominations that follow a biblical liturgical worship life?
Francis L. Agnoli, OFS
Juan Miguel Betancourt, SEMV
Barry M. Craig
Andrew R. Davis
John Endres, SJ +
Kristine Henriksen Garroway
Clare V. Johnson
Layla A. Karst
John W. Martens
Gerald O’Collins, SJ
Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ
Gregory J. Polan, OSB
Jordan J. Ryan
George M. Smiga
Cover art by Jan Richardson