When it comes to purchasing a Bible, there are many options on the market for today’s Catholic to choose from. Each have their own niche and The Fathers of the Church Bible: Nabre published by Our Sunday Visitor is no different. I find the way they wove the writings of the Church Fathers with the Bible itself to be a good tool for study.
This Bible utilizes the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) text. This is the text used by the USCCB and the text you hear during the daily Mass readings. This is an important key for any Bible as you want to be sure you are reading an approved Catholic version of the bible. That is exactly what you will have with this one.
Our Sunday Visitor called in patristic expert Mike Aquilina to provide 92 inserts on the Church Fathers for this volume. These inserts are a page each in length and cover a wide range of topics. Mike opens each with some commentary of his own then steps aside to let the Church Fathers speak for themselves through their own writings. Some of the topics covered are:
– How to Approach the Bible with St. Augustine
– Melchizedek the Priest with St. Cyprian of Carthage
– Martyrs : Heroes of the Faith with Tertullian
– The Wisdom of Giving Alms with St. Ambrose
– Christmas Every Day with St. Leo the Great
– The New Covenant with St. Justin Martyr
These are only a sampling of the many great texts included in these inserts. Other Fathers of the Church you will encounter are St. John Chrysostom, St. Irenaeus, St. Gregory the Great, St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen and many more. For further research Mike has included the specific documents used for each of the inserts.
When it comes to the study of scripture it is my belief that there are no better experts to turn to than the Church Fathers themselves. I take the following quote directly from Mike’s introduction. “No one reads the Bible all alone. We read it in a community that helps us understand the words. We read it through the lens of tradition. Not everyone will admit this, but it’s true of everyone nonetheless. The Bible is not self-interpreting, and the meaning of its words is not self-evident. Words we consider simple – words like holy, angel, priest, prophet – these are products of a certain culture and assume a whole world of religious assumptions…..The Fathers of the Church are among the most important people in our interpretive community – the most compelling voices in the great Bible-study group we call the Church….We are the beneficiaries of their study, their prayer, and their fidelity to all they inherited from the apostles.”
The Fathers of the Church Bible is a solid Bible using the translation approved by the USCCB. Taking that foundation Our Sunday Visitor and Mike Aquilina have added a wide range of topics that will surely enhance your Bible study. Using the wisdom of the Fathers of the Church to enrich your personal reflections on scripture is a great way to better understand the context in which the books of the Bible were written. The Church Fathers were the first to carry the Tradition on from the apostles themselves. They spoke to the people of their own times and they still have much to say to us today.