How many times, asks the back cover of The Quick Reference Guide to the Catholic Bible, have you wanted some context and background about a book of the Bible but didn’t have the time to wade through a long commentary?
Well, I answer, plenty. Isn’t that why we have the internet?
Oh lo, the internet and the imperfections of searching for scriptural help online. It’s a crapshoot at best and a dangerous game of roulette at worst.
I didn’t have time to give this book a complete and thorough reading; instead, I did a little dipping into it with a few of my favorite books of the Bible, starting with Ruth.
Just as the back cover promised, there’s a summary of the book, including a little bit about why in the world Ruth is even important in the context of scripture. There’s also an At a Glance section that answers Who, What, When, Where, and Why in a sentence or two. Then comes a section on the structure of the book, a listing of the major themes found within it, authorship, and the literary form. There’s also a part about key passages and the chapter on Ruth wraps up with food for thought.This is all well and good, and if you’re like me, you’ve already thought of three people who need this as a gift. However, let me say this, and say it loudly: this book is written for the rest of us: the rest of us who are reluctant catechists, the rest of us who are parents seeking answers to hard questions, the rest of us who like the idea but not so much the practice of studying the bible.
I’m glad I didn’t try to read this book cover to cover, because I suspect I would have done it a disservice. This isn’t a cover-to-cover read: it’s a reference that will, I hope, encourage more than just me to snuggle up with my big ole bible and crack that cover. It’s just enough reference to get me interested in reading the source material. I call that a success.