The New Catholic Answer Bible

Book cover: 'The New Catholic Answer Bible'
Paul Thigpen
Dave Armstrong
Kevin Davidson
1 592 761 402
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Number of pages: 
88 pages

The New Catholic Answer Bible is a pretty standard revised New American Bible (RNAB) plus inserts about various aspects of Catholic teaching. It is not (as I had at first thought) a "study Bible" with lots of notes about the Scriptural content, relating it to doctrine, liturgy, history, etc. The inserts are basically short apologetic tracts written by a pair of well-known Catholic apologists. A reference to the book of the Bible into which they are inserted often, though not always, provides a connection.

The inserts take the form of a question about the Faith and its corresponding answer. A box at the bottom of the page provides a quick reference to the texts cited as well as additional Scripture and Catechism references. Each insert is limited to a single page, so they are necessarily brief in their treatment of the topic. Nevertheless, they do provide a good basic understanding of the answer and a starting point for further inquiry using the information in the box at the end.

A sampling of the topics addressed:

  • What is Apologetics?
  • Does the Church Teach Evolution?
  • Why is Catholic Worship Full of Rituals?
  • What is the Holy Trinity?
  • Aren't Statues a Form of Idolatry?
  • Why Won't the Church Ordain Women?
  • Why Are Abortion and Embryonic Stem Cell Research Wrong?

I did find it a little annoying that some of the references given did not explicitly say what the context implied. For example, insert I-1 says in part:

At the same time, no matter how terrible the evil caused by sin, God is great enough, and wise enough, to bring about through that evil an even greater good (see Gn 50:20, Rom 8:28).

The first reference is what Joseph says to his brothers when they come to Egypt to get grain, while the second is the famous "All things work out for good for those who love God." Although these references do speak of God bringing good out of evil, it was not obvious to me that it was an "even greater good" than the one God would have brought about had the evil not taken place.

In another place, insert K-3 (about divorce) refers to Mt. 19:9, which contains the (in)famous "exceptive clause." Unfortunately, the RNAB has a unique rendering of this exception as "unless the marriage is unlawful," which is an interpretation or commentary; the actual text literally reads "except for unchastity." I am uncomfortable with the tract treating this gloss as though it were really what the Bible says. It may work with someone who only uses this Bible version, but what happens when he encounters a different version, or a Protestant calls him on it?

I consider these quibbles and overall, Thigpen and Armstrong have done an excellent job of explaining the Church's teaching on a variety of topics simply and accurately.

Although I very much liked the inserts, the actual Bible translation, unfortunately, has significant problems -- as explained here.

Additional notes: 

This book includes RNAB Bible text and reference aids, plus 88 pages of inserts for a total of 2008 pages.

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