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A Biblical Feast

by Sonja Corbitt, the Bible Study Evangelista

Studying the Bible, for me, is a lot like cooking a fine dinner for family and friends. You consider the occasion, nutrition, preferences of those you’re serving, amount of labor involved, and ingredients; you balance one proportion of meat to two or more vegetables; and as my mother maintained, “You must always serve something green with every meal.” But the ultimate advantage of being the cook is choosing and preparing what one likes to eat, oneself!

Inherently nourishing myself and those I serve is my usual approach to Bible study. It is altogether a hobby, spiritual gift, and second vocation. I don’t just read and study the Bible for pleasure—I read and study the Bible because it is as necessary as eating. I must. After all, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Indeed, the Catechism tells us that the “one table” of the Lord is both the Eucharist and the Scriptures (CCC 103).

Continental Breakfast

From the Magnificat magazine, Laudate app, or Universalis, I lectio (LOVE the Word®–Listen, Observe, Verbalize, Entrust) with the daily readings every morning for daily guidance, readings set out conveniently by the Holy Spirit through and for the whole Church like a continental breakfast. It sets my spiritual metabolism in motion and is the most important meal of the day.

But my approach to later meals is serious in a different way, extraordinarily flavorful, adventurous, and substantial. And this is why I use Verbum almost exclusively for study.

Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, Supper

I study because I am researching content for my weekly radio show, podcast, and RCIA classes; preparing talks for a conference, event, or episodes of my CatholicTV show; or writing a book. But I have these outlets to share the nourishment with which I myself have been nourished because I need to study God’s Word as the “solid food” to which St. Paul refers (1 Corinthians 3:2).

Our own need to eat comes first, as it does for everyone, whether or not we ever offer a similar meal to others. Without eating ourselves, we lack the spiritual nourishment required to feed our neighbors. But what we receive from God is so plentiful, it automatically provides for them as well, and it is our duty to provide such hospitality to others. At any given time, I am often studying for all of these reasons at once, so it is important to combine themes and subjects wherever they potentially overlap.

I keep a running list of topics, questions, and areas of interest for future study and frequently schedule series a year ahead to give myself plenty of time to lose myself in the furious disarray of study because just as cooking a fine meal throws one’s kitchen into a wild mess—with spills and splatters, piles of dirty dishes and utensils, and discarded bits and ends of ingredients—preparing a Bible series begins carefully but descends into something of a chaotic jumble before emerging into something measured and consumable. And that’s the fun for me; I often discover fascinating new avenues of possible study while mucking around in the mess for days and days.

Currently, I am offering a Bible study series on the O Antiphons for Advent. For each episode, or meal, I select a word or phrase from the antiphon to study in more depth that carries the whole theme; these are the main course of each meal. Then I click open the Verbum pantry to begin assembling ingredients. I type in a passage reference or key word, and oh! The variety of color, texture, packaging, and aroma that explodes from the shelves of this larder is enough to make me swoon with excitement!

I take a little of everything that captures my attention. For the side dishes, the translation and reference staples. I use eight or so translations the most for comparing passages; three favorite dictionaries; two encyclopedias; and the Catechism. Then the wine and oil of Church Fathers’ Nicene and Ante-Nicene commentaries and Aquinas’ Golden Chain. Perhaps a dash of Lapide if he looks good.

Then the real fun begins with selecting herbs and spices. Verbum contains a stunning array of encyclicals, Church documents, and a plethora of other writings that are all searchable and referenced using keywords or chapter and verse numbers. You can right-click for word studies and pull up a passage and explore the hover-over pop-up notes. There is so much to choose from and so many exotic possibilities with which to season your dishes that you should keep an eye on the timer so the pots don’t boil over and the bread doesn’t burn.

Baking the Bread

Speaking of bread, a favorite study method of mine that most people don’t realize has produced what they consider my warmest, flakiest melt-in-your-mouth loaves: to research every use of a single word in the entire Bible.

Using the concordance, I look up every verse, write a note or two of context, then group the verses into similar batches to rise, like dough. Verbum makes this convenient with its highlight, copy, and paste capabilities in the handout and document builder and managers. Then I knead and punch down the themes with the Holy Spirit and listen for his wisdom and order, place them in pans, and pop them into the word-processing oven for a delectable complement to the meal.

In using Verbum, you’ll always run across a sweet tidbit, something surprising and tasty that you simply have to include as dessert. Malcolm Gladwell calls this part of the work the “candy.” Perhaps it’s the archaeological information you stumbled over or the fascinating pie chart of the frequency of different translations of the same word or the sweet explosion of a piece of history trivia you never knew before. I like to add that as a surprise in every Scripture meal I offer.

A Full Menu

Whether you study the Bible for yourself at home or more formally for others, are a home cook or a professional, hobbyist, or aficionado, Verbum provides training, tools, and recipes that equip you to enjoy and offer a biblical feast of extraordinary variety. No one looks up from the Verbum menu thinking he’s in the wrong restaurant or that he’s paid too much. Rather, his mouth waters with anticipation of all he will sample next, and he knows the food he’s about to eat and serve leads to eternal life.

10 Reasons to Use the ESV Catholic Edition in Verbum

by Mark Giszczak, S.S.L., Ph.D.  
Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture 

1. Text Comparison Tool

The Verbum Text Comparison Tool lets you quickly and easily compare the ESV Catholic Edition against any other translation. Since it is a daughter translation of the RSV, you can see every decision that the ESV translators made. If you add the ESV-CE to your library of Catholic Bibles, it gives you yet another translation to look at when evaluating any given verse. The Text Comparison Tool is also a great way to view the original language and the ESV-CE side by side.

2. Hover-over pop-up

If you set the ESV Catholic Edition as your Preferred Bible, then every time you hover over a Scripture reference in any tagged book in Verbum, it will display the ESV-CE translation of the passage. This very convenient feature makes reading texts heavy with references much more pleasant.

3. Translation philosophy

Since the ESV-CE is a word-for-word, “essentially literal” translation, it is well-suited to detailed study. You can dive deep in any passage and trust that you are looking at a translation that is trying to deliver as much meaning as possible from the original languages into English. The ESV-CE helps you get closer to the original meaning.

4. Hover-over textual notes

The ESV-CE includes textual notes. When you hover over the superscript letter that indicates a note, it pops up immediately for quick and easy reference. This tool is extra helpful in complex texts with multiple textual traditions like the book of Sirach. Note, for example, how the ESV-CE includes the heading “Discipline of the Tongue” at Sir 23:6 since it is included in the Greek. You can see the same heading in the Greek critical editions and in the NETS but not in most other translations.

5. Deuterocanon

While the deuterocanon of the ESV was released in print in 2009, this is the first time an electronic edition is available in the Verbum ecosystem. These important books, which are part of the Catholic canon, are now available.

6. Liturgy

The ESV-CE was approved in 2018 by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India and is now in use in the liturgy in that nation. Using the Catholic Daily Readings Tool in Verbum, you can easily follow along and read the Lectionary readings for each day in the ESV-CE translation.

7. Ecumenism

While the ESV has been available for evangelical Protestants since 2001, this is the first time Catholics have an edition of this translation. Reading the ESV Bible together is a great way for Catholics and Protestants to celebrate what we have in common.

8. Interlinear features

Like the other Bible translations available in Verbum, the ESV-CE soon will be tagged with interlinear features so you can look behind the curtain and see exactly how each word is translated from the original languages. Using the Inline Reverse Interlinear view, you can see the sentences as they flow, but the Reverse Interlinear Pane at the bottom of the window helps you zero in on specific definitions.

9. Clicking and copying

Verbum makes it so easy to study any word you find by right-clicking on the word. Then you can select Bible Word Study to go deeper into definitions, word frequency, and other topics. Copying text from Verbum for your Bible studies, notes, and presentations is made so simple by the speedy Copy Bible Verses Tool, which gives you plenty of options and a streamlined interface.

10. Highlight and take notes

Any good old paper Bible used for serious study has a bunch of notes, markings, highlights, and so forth. Verbum provides plenty of ways to mark up your digital ESV-CE Bible with colors, highlights, emphasis markups, and inductive style notations. You can also add a note to any word, passage, or paragraph by selecting, right-clicking, and choosing “Take a note.” That way, you’ll always be able to find your notes when you come back to that passage.

The ESV Catholic Edition offers Verbum users another great Catholic translation, approved by Church authorities and ready for detailed study. The fact that the word-for-word translation adheres to the translation principles of Liturgiam authenticam means that readers of the ESV-CE can trust the text they are reading. This new translation option, combined with all the great features of Verbum, will allow users to do exactly what the program is meant for: focus on the Bible, study it deeply, and offer well-researched, nuanced interpretations to their various audiences, classes, congregations, and Bible study groups. 

The ESV Catholic Edition is available in Verbum 9 Gold and above.

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