Years ago, when my girls were in early elementary school, my parish had an adult faith formation opportunity. We took a year to go through The Great Adventure Bible Study, created by Jeff Cavins. Every other week, we would meet after Mass and watch DVD presentations, then meet in small groups in people’s homes to discuss what we’d learned. The course took us through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, tracing the story of our salvation through Scripture.
One of the things about this course that helped me to understand the Bible better was that we didn’t need to read every single book to see the story of human salvation; instead, Cavins focused on fourteen narrative books that would guide us through salvation history. After all, he said, if you tried to read everything in order without skipping, you’d get lost and give up when you got to Numbers. And if you didn’t give up there, Leviticus would do the trick.
I had just finished listening to a podcast of Understanding the Scriptures (which my husband took an actual class for), and I loved how the two dovetailed to give me a really good grasp of the Bible and how the readings at Mass related between the Old and New Testaments.
Recently, I’ve been thinking that I wished our parish would offer the course again, and how much I’d love to work my way through the Bible that way now that I’m older and I’ve been teaching religion in a homeschool setting for more than 15 years.
Then came the announcement from Ascension Press that they were releasing a new Bible related to their course! I knew I wanted a copy of The Great Adventure Study Bible, and that it would be a wonderful tool for me to use on my own, as well as in conjunction with the class (should my parish offer it again). When Ascension Press offered me a review copy, I jumped at the opportunity to take a good look at the Bible and delve into it.
The day it arrive in the mail, I literally danced around the house holding it over my head and singing. (My kids don’t think I’ve lost my mind. They know it after years of these kinds of shenanigans.) I opened it up and immediately fell in love with it.
From the beautiful, soft, blue cover to the introduction that explains the entire purpose of the Bible (which is the same as that of the study I went through) to the color-coding to the font … there’s nothing I don’t like about this Bible so far.
I started reading through the study program, which gives daily readings in the fourteen narrative books. Following this program would get you through those books in a three-month period, but you obviously can take your time to delve deeper into the other books of Scripture that relate to the story but don’t necessarily contain the main threads of salvation history.
I love that the sections of Scripture are color-coded, by the way. It’s not coded book by book, but by the narrative. Cavins developed a color code for The Great Adventure that corresponds with historical periods rather than with books of the Bible. There’s a handy chart that has not only a key to these periods of history, but also contains what he calls the “supplemental books,” as well. For example, our first historical period is the Early World, which is pale blue (“The color of the earth viewed from space”). Genesis begins here, but Genesis also covers the period of the Patriarchs, which is maroon, symbolizing God’s blood covenant with Abraham.
Some books have their own colors, but then some colors cover multiple books. For example, green, symbolizing the green hills of Canaan, covers Joshua, Judges, and part of 1 Samuel. Purple symbolizes the Royal Kingdom and covers the rest of 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and the beginning of 1 Kings. And the supplemental books that fit into each historical period carry the same color coding as the narrative books. The chart in the introduction has all of this information, and I find it so useful that I added a post-it tab to the page for quick reference. (One thing I’d like to get is a set of tabs for faster reference; Ascension Press makes some that correspond with the color-coding.)
Throughout the Bible, there are Key Event notes, helping to explain the narrative further, as well as wonderful introductions to each book of the Bible to prepare you to read that book. All of these are helpful, but also not so intrusive that you feel interrupted by them. As each historical period begins, there is an introduction to that period, even if it’s between chapters of the same book.
The Bible also has two ribbons, which you could use for Old and New Testaments, or for holding your place where you’re studying and for what you might be reading supplementally. There are a few pages at the back for notes (in case you run out of room in your margins, which I probably will!), as well as a great collection of maps of the Holy Lands and the journeys of St. Paul.
As I said, I’ve been hoping to go through The Great Adventure Bible Study again, but if my parish never hosts it again, this Bible has enough resources within it that I feel confident I could almost recreate it on my own using this Bible. I think it would be a wonderful resource for a group study, as well. It’s the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, which means it’s what is considered one of the best modern translations you can get. (I’ve slowly been collecting RSV Bibles for everyone in our family over the last 6 years or so, and I believe this gets us to four copies overall!)
I can’t recommend this Bible enough. I just can’t. I think it should be the Bible you give someone for Confirmation, for Graduation, for whatever. Give it to your doubting college kids, get it for group studies, get it for individual study. It. Is. FABULOUS.
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Copyright 2018 Christine Johnson