Catholics get a bad reputation for not reading the Bible, and while it isn’t entirely untrue, we Catholics could do a better job of reading, knowing, and studying the Bible. One of mine, and many other Catholics favorite Bibles has been the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. It is a great gift to the English speaking Church, but unfortunately, it is only the New Testament. Old Testament books are being churned out (slower than some of us would like), but until the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible’s completion, people like myself have been using editions like the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) for their Old Testament readings and study. That was until the release of The Didache Bible! For the same price as the hardcover Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, you can get The Didache Bible, which contains both Old and New Testament. But what else makes this Bible special? I’m glad you asked!
The Didache Bible begins with an introduction of what Sacred Scripture is and how to read the Bible. It then provides a brief summary of each of the books of the Bible. For example, Genesis is summarized as such: Creation and origin of mankind (1-11); Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (12-36); and Joseph in Egypt (37-50). There is then a chronology of both the Old Testament and New Testament. Here, the beginning student of the Bible learns that the Old Testament books are not arranged chronologically. Lastly, before we get to the text of Scripture, there are several lists Scripture passages for personal meditation. The lists are “The Birth and Hidden Life of Christ,” “The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ,” “The Parables of Christ,” “The Miracles of Christ,” and “Passages About the Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Each book of the Bible begins with an introductory page, which contains information on the author, date of composition, intended audience the book was written for, and main themes in the book of the Bible. Looking at the Gospel of Matthew in The Didache Bible and comparing it to the Gospel of Matthew in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, one can see that the Scriptural cross-references are consistent. For example Matthew 1:1-17 cross-references to Luke 3:23-38. The footnotes however are different, in a good way. Footnotes from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible focus a lot on word-meaning and the original Greek and Aramaic that Matthew wrote in, as well as more Scriptural cross-references. The Didache Bible’s footnotes, however, focus on what the text actually means, why it is important, and cross-references to the Catechism. This is the biggest difference between the two Bibles and is what makes The Didache Bible what it is. The commentaries at the bottom are all based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In fact, the Bible’s cover even looks like the Catechism. On some pages, like at the bottom of pages 92-93 (Exodus 23-25), there are bits of the Catechism discussed, like “the obligation to speak the truth.”
Other great features in The Didache Bible include full page apologetical explanations on topics such as Baptism, Mortal and Venial Sin, and Apostolic Succession, just to name a few. There is a brief glossary (if you consider 43 pages brief) and topical index at the end of the Bible, and there are also 27 full-color Biblical maps which include Old Testament maps (like The Journeys of Abraham) and New Testament maps (like Christ’s Journey to Jerusalem). The size of the Bible is 6″ x 9″, with a font of 9.5 points. Both of these are smaller than the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, but the font was not a strain on my eyes to read. It is approximately 2000 pages, and the margins are very tiny, so don’t expect to make many notes in this Bible. That’s not a deal-breaker for me, as I do not make notes in my Bible. Lastly, there are not one, but two ribbon markers. I assume for both testaments, but if not that is how I plan to use mine.
Overall, I am greatly impressed with this edition of the Bible. Normally, if a book is that impressive, I would say that it deserves a place on your bookshelf. The Didache Bible, however, deserves a spot on your desk, dining room table, coffee table, or wherever you read your Bible. It will not be replacing my Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, but I will be using the two in conjunction. This is the complete Catholic Study Bible that Catholics have been awaiting for at least a decade. The only thing I found odd about it was that 1st and 2nd Maccabees were at the end of the Old Testament, instead of between the books of Esther and Job. So either pick up a copy of the hardcover now, or if you insist on leather, wait a little bit longer for that one to be released.