The American Bible Society just released a new Bible called the “Poverty and Justice Bible“. Many Catholics might be unfamiliar with the concept of “themed” Bibles, but basically these Bibles are regular (Protestant) Bibles with notes and commentary geared to a certain niche. In the case of the “Poverty and Justice Bible,” Biblical verses which speak of poverty or justice (in the eyes of the editors) are highlighted.
“Themed” Bible such as this have been popular in the Evangelical world for some time now. Other “themed” Bibles include:
- Boys Bible ( “Finally – a bible just for boys!” It is marketed as where you can find “gross and gory facts” about the Bible)
- Faithgirlz! Bible (I think the title says enough)
- Green Bible ( “Verses and passages that speak to God’s care for creation highlighted in green”)
- The Conservative Bible (which actually goes so far as to change the translation to fit their political beliefs)
What are we as Catholics to think about such Bibles? Isn’t it good to make the Bible attractive to as many people as possible?What is the harm in such Bibles?
In a nutshell, the problem with these Bibles is that they place the Bible on our level instead of allowing the Scriptures to raise us up to God’s level. They are trying to change the Bible instead of letting it change us.
The Bible is not “conservative” or “green” or only about poverty and justice, it is above all such categories. It would be like saying that Jesus is a Dominican or a Jesuit. The message of the Bible is not just for boys or girls or conservatives or environmentalists or justice advocates. It is for everyone at every time. Culminating in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the Bible shows how God has reached out to all people and invited them to His heavenly banquet. Reducing the Scriptures to a specific ideology or even state of life demeans this message and makes it specific to only a few.
I do think that it can be appropriate to create Bible studies with a particular focus, at least when dealing with different states of life such as for a teenager, mother or elderly person. Such studies can help apply the Bible to one’s life in a meaningful way. But even then we must realize that the Bible is much greater than ourselves and applies to all peoples at all times.
Let us always try to read the Bible in a submissive fashion, waiting on the Lord to speak to us – and change us – through the divine words of Scripture.