Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Word of the Lord - A Guide to Catholic Scripture Study @CatholicCompany

The Word of The Lord

The Word of the Lord: 7 Essential Principles for Catholic Scripture Study

  • Written by Steven C. Smith, Ph.D.
  • Foreword by Scott Hahn
  • 250 Pages - English Language
  • Published by Our Sunday Visitor
  • Released August 23, 2012
  • Paperback Volume
  • Suggested Retail Price $16.95
  • Buy Your Copy From The Catholic Company
I am a cradle Catholic.  Born, baptized and raised a Catholic, I went to CCD, learned a lot about and took part in the Sacraments, and faithfully attended Mass.  I have always loved my faith, but for years I felt as though my knowledge of the sacred Scripture was a bit lacking.  

Oh, sure - I knew the selected readings that are in our missals and I would gladly proclaim "Thanks be to God!" or "Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!" after I heard them.  I read the Bible on my own, and had a decent working knowledge of the books and their authors - but I didn't know it.

In the book The Word of the Lord the author (Steven Smith) sets forth the seven principles that he feels are essential to Catholic Scripture study.  He does this through an introduction, thirteen chapters, and three appendices.  He also includes helpful tables and figures as well as an indexed bibliography for those interested in further study.  The foreword is written by Scott Hahn, the author and speaker who has touched so many lives with his honest and open discussion of his conversion from Presbyterian minister to Catholic.

The Thirteen Chapters are:
  1. Principle #1: God's Word: Divine Words in Human Language
  2. Inspiration and the Truth of Scripture: Questions and Answers
  3. Principle #2: God's Word is Revealed in History
  4. Principle #3: God's Word: Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture
  5. The Cannon of Sacred Scripture
  6. Principle #4:  God's Word: Revealed in the Unity of the Old and New Testaments
  7. Scriptures Unitive Pattern: The Theme of the Covenant
  8. The Threefold Pattern of the Covenant
  9. Biblical Typology and Recapitulation
  10. Principle #5: God's Word Has Meaning(s)
  11. Modern Biblical Interpretation
  12. Principle #6:  God's Word Requires Sound, Balanced, Methodological Analysis
  13. Principle #7:  God's Word is Life-Giving and Active!
I have bolded and underlined the chapter titles that set forth the seven principles that Mr. Smith uses to help readers become Bible proficient.  

If you don't quite grasp what he means, here is my translation:
  1. The words of the Bible were written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  They are indeed the words of God but because man's mind has limitations, the finished product is a shared work.
  2. Look closer at history and see both God and His Word.
  3. Learn our sacred traditions.  They are not simply nostalgic, they have deep meanings and are meant to help us understand.  The same is true of our Scripture.    There is a Church Magesterium for a reason.  (Not all Bibles are created equal, :) ) 
  4. One of the most fascinating things I found with more Bible study was how often the Good News was proclaimed in the Old Testament.  It is there over and over again.  Conversely, so many things in the Old Testament become very clear and make so much more sense to anyone familiar with the New Testament.  They are inextricable from each other.
  5. Read the words in context.  Learn Bible history.  The language used in Scripture is not accidental, and each chapter is included for a purpose.
  6. For the best results with Bible study, it is suggested that we: a) pay attention to the content and unity of the entire Bible;  b) read Scripture within the living Tradition of the Church; and c) adhere to the 'rule of faith'. 
  7. Once we understand the Word, we are to live it.  
Especially after reading #7 I'm sure you would agree this is a great choice for anyone who would like to become closer to the Lord during this Year of Faith.  One surefire way to get closer to Him is to read the Bible where His Words are.  This in turn helps bring a greater appreciation of our amazing Sacraments.

The book is a solidly Catholic resource and there are some ringing endorsements on the first few pages.  I recommend if for anyone seeking a better understanding of Scripture, or a way to make their Bible study more meaningful.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Word of the Lord: 7 Principles Catholic Scripture Study. The Catholic Company is the best resource for gifts for every Sacrament celebration, such as First Communion gifts and Baptism gifts, as well as a great selection of limited-time Year of Faith gifts and resources.