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Author Interview: Dr. Mary Healy and Dr. Peter Williamson

Verbum interveiwed two authors of Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. See what they have to say about this stellar commentary, on sale this month.

1. What sparked your desire to produce this series?

Williamson, Peter 9579PSW: Both Mary and I have experienced great grace in our lives through reading and studying Scripture. The benefit we received was due in part to gifted teachers who opened up the word of God to us. We noticed that many Catholics needed the kind of help we ourselves were blessed to receive.

There seemed to be a gap in the Catholic biblical resources available. On the one hand, there were study Bibles and simple introductory books on Scripture. On the other hand, there were academic works that tended not to focus on Christian faith and life, but on scholarly questions. So we set out to write and edit commentaries of theological depth whose aim is to help Catholics deepen their faith, hope, and love.

2. What questions in modern Scripture scholarship are you hoping to answer through this series?

PSW: Actually, we’re not trying to answer scholars’ questions, but the questions of ordinary Catholics and of the clergy and lay leaders who teach and preach to them. Our goal is to gather the best insights of Scripture scholarship and make it accessible. We ensure that our authors write in ordinary language that does not require translation for preaching and teaching.

3. What aims/goals do you wish to obtain through these commentaries?

photo_29MH: We hope Catholics will fall in love with the word of God and learn to read it the way the Church has traditionally read it: as a diverse library and yet a single word that speaks of Christ. We also hope to help overcome the enormous gap that has divided theology from biblical studies in recent years, by interpreting each biblical book in light of the whole canon of Scripture and the tradition of the Church.

4. What benefits have you derived in your own scholarship from the feedback obtained from the series?

MH: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Part of the reason is that each of our volumes goes through an extremely rigorous editorial process in which it is reviewed and edited eight to ten times by different sets of eyes. I have benefited enormously by the insightful and sometimes critical comments of my fellow editors and other reviewers. They have caused me to read the text more carefully and to ensure that there are no gaps in my explanations.

5. How are these commentaries accentuated by the tools and functionality of Verbum?

PSW: Our commentaries include many biblical references to support or illustrate what is being said, as well as footnotes to church documents. They also include cross references to the Catechism and Lectionary of Sundays and Special Seasons. Verbum makes checking out cross references so easy!


Get the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture on sale today!


Steve Ray’s Summer Picks

Today’s guest post is by Steve Ray, popular speaker and author of St. John’s Gospel, Upon This Rock, Crossing the Tiber, and host of the popular TV series, The Footprints of God.

When Verbum asked me what books I would recommend for summer reading, it was easy to come up with some great titles.

I use Verbum every day, and there are certain books I use over and over again. The books are all interconnected, so while you could sit and read any of the books I picked (they’re all that good!), I use them more like reference works.

Home pageFor example, from the Verbum homepage, I like to start every day by simply clicking on today’s Gospel. Verbum springs into action. It opens an entire screen of windows—like having dozens of books all open to the exact right page. I have the Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide prioritized as a favorite, so it shows up automatically, and I can easily use parallel resources to switch to the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, and the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. With just these three commentaries, I’ve uncovered spectacular insights about the Gospel (and Verbum has plenty more).

parallel resources

At any point in this process, I can run a Verbum Topic Guide or Passage Guide, and I’m presented with default collections of links to the Catechism, Church Documents, and the writings of the Church Fathers. The last category is often primarily populated by the Early Church Fathers Collection available in most of the Verbum Libraries. However, I’ve found the addition of the CUA Fathers of the Church Series invaluable in my study of any passage. I couldn’t even capture all the results I got just from today’s Gospel reading! Such easy access to our rich Tradition!

passage Guide

anchor yaleFinally, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary is my go-to source for definitions. See more on why Bible dictionaries are awesome in this video. The Anchor Yale Dictionary has extensive definitions for over 6,000 entries. And it gets pulled right into the Bible Facts frame and opens on a double click of almost any word. With definitions this extensive, even clicking on words I already understand yields new discoveries.

The rest of my recommendations are just great titles that everyone should read or be familiar with.

For a marvelous Catholic Bible Study program that anyone can start in their parish or community, I’ve always recommended Catholic Scripture Study International. It is the best program you will find anywhere!! And it’s even better in Verbum. All the Bible links are connected directly to Scripture and the verse memorization works right in the software.

I used Verbum to write all my books, including Crossing the Tiber, Upon This Rock, and St. John’s Gospel. They take on a whole new dimension within the Verbum software.

See my complete list of recommendations here.



Addendum (by Alex Renn):

Steve asked me to address a question from a user on his blog: “What does your entire screen look like after you click on the daily reading?” Here’s the basic answer plus some additional considerations:

Steve’s layout will look something like this:

steve ray screenshot

1) The Lectionary layout does not actually change as far as panels are concerned. Setting priorities will change what appears in each panel. This post, though old, is a great tutorial on setting priorities. You will be able to customize the order of the Bibles that appear in the top middle pane, and the commentary that populates the bottom middle. This is where he mentioned the Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide appearing in his post above.

2) It looks like some of the screenshot panels were pulled out of context to reveal more information (that may be why they look different from what you’re seeing.)

3) The topic guide was accessed by right clicking the Gospel in the Lectionary, making sure “Bible” is selected on the right, and Clicking “Passage Guide” on the left. Scroll down to see the Church Fathers section (pictured above).

open passage guide

4) Lastly, the dictionary was also prioritized as shown in number 1, so that double-clicking will open the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary if possible. If you double click a word that isn’t an entry, it will open a different dictionary instead.

Hope that helps!

Never-Before-Translated Aquinas Titles Coming To Verbum!

Thomas Aquinas stands as the preeminent scholastic doctor and teacher in the Catholic Church. His writings have been revered by Christians for centuries to contain profound wisdom and insight, leading Church leaders like Pope Leo XIII to state that Aquinas’s theology was a definitive exposition of Catholic doctrine.

thomas-aquinas-in-translationThose who are familiar with Aquinas are most likely familiar with his Summa Theologicaan exhaustive theological masterpiece outlining the tenets of the Christian faith. But the Summa is not Aquinas’ only literary contribution to the theological annals of the Church.

Though St. Thomas lived just under 50 years, he composed more than 60 works. And while he is widely recognized for his scholarship, some of his works have never been translated into English. 

Here’s the exciting part:

We are on track to complete the first-ever translations of some of Aquinas’ most crucial works and make them available on Verbum. This means that you can be among the very first to read, study, and glean wisdom from these fully-translated works in the English language.

First, we have Aquinas’ commentaries on the Old Testament books of Jeremiah and Isaiah in addition to his commentary on the book of Matthew:

Aquinas’ Commentary on the Prophet Jeremiah: English and Latin (2 vols.)
Aquinas’ Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah: English and Latin (2 vols.)
Commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew

All of these works offer Aquinas’ critical exegesis on the Old and New Testament text, focusing on the multifaceted meaning of scripture.

Next, a collection of some of Aquinas’ most significant works, the 8 vol. Thomas Aquinas in Translation collection. Herein lies St. Thomas’ commentary on the Gospel of John and some of his commentaries on influential philosophers and theologians ranging from Aristotle to Boethius.

Finally, the most ambitious project of all, a full translation of Aquinas’ commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences:

Aquinas’ Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard: English and Latin (8 vols.) 

Pre-order these works today and help these translations get done even faster.

As with any large and important translation project, our translators will need time and funding for this project. That means that the more interest that is shown in these translations, the faster we can get them shipped. If you’re as excited as we are about any of these projects, pre-order them today and help get the ball rolling.

This is truly a novel and exciting opportunity, both for Verbum users and for top scholars around the world. Getting more of Aquinas’ thought into the English language helps the Church at large, and you have the opportunity to be a part of this historically significant project. 

Pre-order these important translations today and be among the very first to start reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ never-before-translated works in English.

Berit Olam: Studies In Hebrew Narrative And Poetry 28% Off

Get the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry commentary now.

“Berit Olam” translates from Hebrew into English as “everlasting covenant.” Such a covenant is depicted in God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:7 and through God’s prophet in Jeremiah 32:40. The concept of “covenant” is at the very center of the Jewish religion, and it is carried over and fulfilled in the Christian tradition through the person of Jesus Christ. The rich narrative history of the Jewish people helps us better understand the theological foundation for all of Christian thought.

berit-olam-studies-in-hebrew-narrative-and-poetryThe Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry commentary is composed within this framework of historical narrative: By looking at the Hebrew texts as complete works of narrative prose and poetry, these commentaries seek to draw the readers’ attention to meanings within the Scriptures that would otherwise be glossed over in approaches that only analyze how each sentence correlates to others in a structural way.

The concept of an “everlasting covenant” as a central theological theme throughout the Hebrew Bible is only made obvious when looking at the texts as a related narrative whole. The Berit Olam commentary approaches the scriptures in just this way; by looking at each book in the Hebrew Bible holistically this commentary helps you find meaning through history, context, structure and tradition.

What stands out about this collection is the fact that one hermeneutical method is not pitted against others. Instead, a synthesis is achieved by incorporating both the commentary of Christian thought throughout the ages and a keen attention to historical detail.

David W. Cotter, the author of the Berit Olam commentary on the book of Genesis writes,

            “This [commentator’s] task is not so much to say what the text means in some final and definitive way, but to loosen up what we think we know about a text.”

Cotter notes that there is a tendency within the ranks of modern exegetical commentators to ignore the Christian tradition of the past, to hyper-focus on the early era of Christendom over the rest:

            “…the works of the Fathers of the Church, the early monastic writers, commentators, and homilists up to the dawn of the critical era in the last century, is frankly terra incognita for most commentators today. Augustine? Origen? The Sayings of the Desert Fathers? Gregory the Great? Bede? Bonaventure? Aquinas? None of these would be likely to appear in a contemporary Christian commentary. And we are the poorer for it. It is as if the first eighteen hundred years of Christian tradition has simply disappeared.”

The Berit Olam commentary looks not only at the historical context in which the scriptures were written, but how Christians through the ages have interpreted them—how the Holy Spirit has moved Christians in both matters of doctrine and praxis in relation to the Holy Scriptures. Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry (13 vols.) strikes a balance between historical criticism and the lived Christian tradition passed down from first Apostles to the great magisterial writers of the Church, making this one of the best and most powerful Catholic Old Testament commentaries available in Verbum.

Sacra Pagina: The Sacred Page

Get 21% off the Sacra Pagina New Testament Commentary Series on Pre-Pub today!

sacra-pagina-new-testament-commentary-seriesThe Sacra Pagina New Testament Commentary Series brings together top scholarship and research in the realm of New Testament studies. Authored by an international team of New Testament scholars, this comprehensive commentary is written for both teacher and student. The Sacra Pagina New Testament Commentary Series seamlessly weaves together a multitude of approaches to understanding the Scriptures, helping you better comprehend both the meaning of the New Testament and also how it has been appropriated in the Christian tradition through the millennia.

This collection doesn’t elevate one interpretive method against others. Instead, it achieves a synthesis of interpretation by incorporating both relevant commentary on Christian thought throughout the ages and a  keen attention to historical detail and context.

You can get this landmark commentary today for 21% off, saving you hundreds of dollars over the print edition (priced at over $600). Pre-Order today and start studying the New Testament in a whole new way.

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