Few Protestants raise an eyebrow over the fact that there is a 2,000-year lacuna between the Scripture’s inspiration and their personal copy of sacred Scripture. For them, what transpired in…
Few Protestants raise an eyebrow over the fact that there is a 2,000-year lacuna between the Scripture’s inspiration and their personal copy of sacred Scripture.
For them, what transpired in those intervening years really isn’t very important. What really matters is that they have a Bible and that they can use it to confirm doctrine. As long as we end up with a Bible, what harm is done? But it still begs the larger question: Where did the Bible come from?
The Bible is the product of those missing 2,000 years, and when it is divorced from the Catholic Church from which it came, Scripture’s authority is undermined. The fact is that the Bible is a Catholic book. It was written, authenticated and passed on to us today through the Church. In many ways, the Church is the Bible’s custodian and interpreter. Without the Church, we really have no rational basis to believe with certainty that the Bible we possess is the Bible and that it is capable of confirming doctrine.
“Not Done in a Corner”
Let’s consider this last statement from the perspective of the first Christians. The words and deeds of Christ and His inspired apostles were not done in secret, or, as Paul told King Agrippa, they were “not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26); they were done publicly. The writings of the New Testament were composed by members of the same community that heard, saw and were taught by Jesus and/or His apostles and disciples. Therefore, this first Christian community functioned as a guarantor of the truthfulness or veracity of the Gospels and the rest of Scripture. After all, who would risk their lives, fortunes and honor to promote spurious and inaccurate documents? If the Scriptures simply parachuted into existence, there would be no witness from the early Church. How then would we know whether the Gospels and other books were telling the truth, much less that they are capable of confirming doctrine?
Someone could argue that since the Scriptures are inspired by God, who cannot deceive nor be deceived, they must be trustworthy. But this response misses the point. It’s not a question of whether inspiration conveys truth. It is a question of what basis is there for knowing whether a given document is inspired and truthful. It is similar to the question, “How do you know Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew?” Most Bible Christians would point to the fact that Matthew’s name appears on the book’s cover page. The title, however, was not part of the inspired original. It was added later by Catholics who knew that the Gospel was traced back to Matthew. Without these Catholic witnesses, how would one know the Gospel’s authorship? We can’t. Without the Church, we really can’t establish the veracity of the Gospels or the rest of the contents of the New Testament.
Inspired, Not Spurious
How do we know that the writings of Scripture are from inspired sources and not spurious? The Church had to deal with this difficulty early on. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, we learn that the Thessalonians were upset by “a ‘spirit,’ or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us [the apostles] to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.” How did the Thessalonians determine whether or not this letter was spurious? Paul gives them the means to authenticate his letter in 2 Thessalonians 3:17: “This greeting is in my own hand, Paul’s. This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write.” Paul knew that the recipients of his letter would recognize his signature and handwriting based on their own personal knowledge of Paul. By using this knowledge, the Thessalonians were able to confirm the Second Epistle to be authentic. Without the Catholic community’s witness to its authenticity, how would we know whether or not Paul wrote this letter? The original inspired autograph no longer exists, and even if it did exist we no longer have access to the knowledge that the Thessalonians had concerning Paul’s handwriting. Scripture, when removed from the context of the Catholic Church, loses an objective basis for demonstrating the New Testament’s authenticity.
There is also the problem of the canon. The New Testament began as separate documents. Who gathered these documents together and placed them into a single volume? A generic answer like “the early Christians did” is simply inadequate. Early on there were several different groups who held to different “canons” of Scripture. For example, one group, called the Marcionites, only accepted the letters of Paul and an adulterated version of Luke as Scripture. On the other hand, the Ebionites rejected Paul’s letters and accepted an altered form of the Gospel According to Matthew. Even among the Jews there was disagreement over the Old Testament. The schools of Shammai and Hallel were split over Ecclesiastes’ sacred status. The Essenes seem to have rejected Esther, but accepted Tobit, Sirach and some of their own writings as sacred. Which one was right? Or, were any of them right? Without a single, authoritative, identifiable Church — that is, the Catholic Church — to show us what was the true canon, there is no adequate way to answer this question.
But couldn’t someone say that these groups do not pose a problem because they were heretical? For example, one could say that post-Christian Judaism can be eliminated because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah? Likewise, the Ebionites can be scratched off because they denied justification by grace. The Marcionites could be eliminated because they were Gnostics and believed in two gods, and so on.
After all these heresies are eliminated, the true Christians would be left and with them we would find the correct canon. Unfortunately, the objection above fails because it begs the question. The objector begins with a specific canon of Scripture in mind (which is presumed to be true) and then de-duces from his canon a set of doctrines (which is also assumed to be true) as the standard to judge other groups. Once all challengers are eliminated by the objector’s set of doctrine, his canon is “proved.” In other words, the objector uses a scriptural canon to form a set of doctrines, then uses the set of doctrines to prove his scriptural canon.
The true canon of Scripture is something more to be discovered than determined. The Church received its sacred writings from the apostles, and the Catholic Church manifests the true canon of Scripture by its continuous use of certain books as sacred Scripture in its liturgies. Without the Catholic Church, the canon cannot be made manifest, and if the canon is not made manifest then it is up to each individual Christian to determine which books should or should not be included in Scripture.
The Bible, therefore, is really a Catholic book in that it came from the very heart of the Catholic Church. Its authenticity, veracity, canon and proper interpretation all depend upon the witness of the Church. When the Bible is taken out of its Catholic context, the very foundation upon which we can know that the Scripture is inspired, true, authentic, complete and properly understood is undermined. Without the Church, the Scripture is no more defensible than if it had one day fallen out of the sky.
The Catholic Context
In regards to the proper understanding of the Bible, Scripture is most properly understood within the context of the Catholic faith. Apart from this faith, Scripture can be distorted and misunderstood, as 2 Peter 3:16 tells us when he warns that “the ignorant and the unstable distort [the Scriptures] to their own destruction.” The words translated “ignorant” (Greek oi amatheis) and “unstable” (Greek astriktos) do not convey their full meaning in English. These words really mean “the undiscipled” and “those who do not remain in the apostolic teaching.” In other words, the people who distort the meaning of Scripture are those who are not discipled by the Church and do not remain in the Church’s teaching. Notice how Peter’s words presumes that there exists a master/disciple succession that comes from the apostles and a rule of faith (regula fidei) that must be continuously held. Without these two factors, the proper meaning of the Scriptures is in peril.
The Task of Interpretation
“The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 85
Gary G. Michuta is an author, speaker and teacher on Catholic apologetics and evangelism.
Any Catholic who spends time reading popular atheist literature will soon encounter the claim that the Gospels are works of myth and legend, devoid of much or any historical fact….
Any Catholic who spends time reading popular atheist literature will soon encounter the claim that the Gospels are works of myth and legend, devoid of much or any historical fact.
One of my favorite examples of this popular — that is, both non-scholarly and widespread — atheist ignorance comes from a filmmaker, Brian Flemming, who recently produced a documentary titled “The God Who Wasn’t There.” The documentary, he explained, is to show that the “biblical Jesus” is a myth, created whole cloth by superstitious, unlearned early Christians. Asked to summarize the evidence for his stance, Flemming said: “It’s more a matter of demonstrating a positive than a negative, and the positive is that early Christians appeared not to have believed in a historical Jesus. If the very first Christians appear to believe in a mythical Christ, and only later did ‘historical’ details get added bit by bit, that is not consistent with the real man actually existing. … I would say that he is a myth in the same way that many other characters people believed actually existed. Like William Tell is most likely a myth…. Of course, [Jesus] is a very important myth.”
“All I’m saying,” Flemming added, “is that [Jesus] doesn’t exist, and it would be a healthy thing for Christians to look at the Bible as a work of fiction from which they can take inspiration rather than, you know, the authoritative word of God.”
Actually, it would be helpful and healthy if skeptics like Flemming would put in the time and effort demanded by the evidence. As examples of such efforts, I’ll mention just three recent, impressive works: “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony,” by Richard Bauckham (Eerdmans, 2006); “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach,” by Michael R. Licona (InterVarsity, 2010); and “The Historical Jesus of the Gospels,” by Craig S. Keener (Eerdmans, 2012). These detailed, lengthy works highlight three basic facts.
First, the Gospels were written by men who knew the difference between myth and historical fact. The author of the Second Letter of Peter makes this abundantly clear: “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty” (1:16). The opening verses of Luke’s Gospel shows that Luke sought “to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us,” so that “you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received” (Lk 1:1-4). Thus the Gospels and other New Testament texts include numerous references to secular rulers (Caesar Augustus, Pontius Pilate, Herod, et al.), as well as Jewish leaders (Caiaphas, Ananias) — names unlikely to be used inaccurately or even show up in a “myth.” As such, the historical content of these works should be judged not against mythologies, but against other first-century works of history.
Second, the Gospels are a combination of biography and history following the structure and approach taken by Greek and Roman authors to the same literary genres. The German historian Martin Hengel wrote that Luke was “a historian and theologian who needs to be taken seriously. His account always remains within the limits of what was considered reliable by the standards of antiquity.” As Keener shows, ancient historians — including the Gospel writers — had high standards for accuracy, even if they didn’t always employ the same techniques as modern historians. For example, ancient historians sometimes changed chronologies, or presented their works in a topical, not chronological, manner.
Third, the uniqueness of the Gospels has less to do with the literary form and much more to do with the radical identity of Jesus Christ. And this, really, is the ultimate point of conflict. Atheists begin with the philosophical assumption that there can be no divine intervention in history. Thus the Gospels must be myth. Christian historians, however, while acknowledging their belief in God, are willing to begin by examining the Gospels as historical texts, and then follow the evidence where it leads. In doing so, they are being truly open-minded.
Carl E. Olson is the editor of Ignatius Insight. He and his family live in Eugene, Ore.
Johannes Munck, editor of the Anchor Bible volume on Acts, writes, “It has been considered reasonable to assume that Acts was written by a fellow worker of Paul, a Gentile…
Johannes Munck, editor of the Anchor Bible volume on Acts, writes, “It has been considered reasonable to assume that Acts was written by a fellow worker of Paul, a Gentile Christian, and a physician” (p. xxix). This assumption is based on internal evidence in the Acts of the Apostles, although it is not universally embraced.
That the author was Paul’s companion is strongly supported by the author’s use of “we” throughout the text, and his familiarity with Paul’s ministry to Gentiles suggests he was a Gentile himself. The use of medical terms may reflect professional training, but this is inconclusive. What is probably most compelling in determining the identity of the author of Acts is the argument from tradition. From A.D. 150 the Church has accepted St. Luke as the author of both the Gospel attributed to him and the Acts of the Apostles.
The similarities between the two texts (they comprise one-quarter of the New Testament) are unmistakable: They are the most self-consciously literary of all the New Testament writings, and the Acts of the Apostles is a precious heritage, providing a history of the Church’s earliest activity.
Drawing from exotic speculations based on heretical texts that were written long after the Gospels, many have falsely claimed throughout the ages that Mary Magdalene was a “goddess,” was married…
Drawing from exotic speculations based on heretical texts that were written long after the Gospels, many have falsely claimed throughout the ages that Mary Magdalene was a “goddess,” was married to Jesus, and was intended by Him to be the leader of the Church. But that is not the real Mary Magdalene depicted in the Gospels and celebrated by the Church.
For a true portrait of this famous but misunderstood woman, let’s start with the biblical accounts.
Seeking the Real Mary Magdalene
The four Gospels contain at least a dozen references to Mary from Magdala, a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. She is described as a woman who had suffered from demonic possession and from whom Jesus had expelled seven demons (see Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2).
She is also prominently mentioned as one of the women who accompanied Jesus in His ministry (Lk 8:2). She was a witness of the Crucifixion (Mt 27:56; Jn 19:25), of Jesus’ burial (Mt 27:61; Mk 15:47), and of the empty tomb (Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:10). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to her alone at the tomb (Mk 16:9; Jn 20:1-18).
In the Western tradition, Mary Magdalene eventually became identified with the sinful woman of Luke 7:37-50 as well as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (see Lk 10:38-42; Jn 11). However, in the Eastern tradition, the three women were identified separately, with feast days on March 21 (the unnamed sinner), March 18 (Mary of Bethany) and July 22 (Mary Magdalene).
Many feminists and critics claim that the Catholic Church, alarmed by Mary’s supposed position as Jesus’ chief apostle, slandered and “defamed” her by labeling her a prostitute. They say this was due to “the Vatican’s” desire to silence the “truth” about Mary Magdalene, including her marriage to Jesus and her position of authority in the early Church. Such a tale of conspiracy and misogyny is attractive to those questioning the role of women in the Catholic Church and the Church’s teachings about sexual mores. But is it accurate?
The Church, the Pope and the Magdalene
If the early Christians were intent upon destroying the memory of Mary Magdalene, they did a poor job of it. In Christian Scripture and Tradition she is given a prominent role as witness to the Resurrection, a remarkable fact considering that the testimony of women had little value in first-century Jewish society.
Even so, these references aren’t enough for those who are convinced that the Magdalene was deliberately denied her rightful place at the right hand of Jesus as His head apostle. And although she is mentioned more times than some of the apostles, some feminist writers speak of her being “marginalized” by a piece of “propaganda” known as the New Testament, written by “the anti-Magdalene party.”
Feminist critics often portray the early Church Fathers as villains in this matter. The prime suspect in the alleged crime against women is Pope St. Gregory the Great (c. 540-604). The Pope once said in a homily: “She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark.”
Why did St. Gregory make this identification?
First, the passage about the “sinful woman” in Luke 7:37-50 immediately precedes the description of “Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” in Luke 8:2. He apparently harmonized the two descriptions, perhaps because the woman who anointed Jesus (see Lk 7:38) is described as a “sinner,” and Mary Magdalene had been possessed by seven demons — an indication to some that she was that sinner.
A second reason for Pope Gregory’s identification of the two women is the Magdalene’s birthplace. By the sixth century, the biblical city of Magdala had acquired a reputation of depravity and godlessness.
Third, John 11:1-2 identifies the woman who anointed Christ and dried His feet with her hair as Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. St. Gregory may have assumed that the two accounts of a woman anointing Our Lord referred to the same event and the same woman.
Probably the most important reason, however, that Pope Gregory identified Magdalene with the “sinful woman” is that his preferred way of interpreting the biblical text was to focus on its moral implications. He believed that the seven demons that had once possessed Mary Magdalene, though literal demons, also represented the seven deadly sins.
At the time of this homily, Rome was undergoing famine and the turmoil of war. So the Pope was taking this opportunity to encourage Christians to repent of their sins.
Vicious Slander or Papal Candor?
St. Gregory’s creation of a single Mary out of three different women is arguably not supported by the text. Most Catholic Scripture scholars agree with the Eastern tradition that the three women are separate individuals. The revised 1969 Roman calendar no longer classifies Mary Magdalene as a penitent, indicating that Rome no longer considers her a reformed harlot. Never-theless, even if St. Gregory’s act was factually flawed, it wasn’t outrageous and it certainly wasn’t malicious. As a pastor and a man of holiness, the great Pope held up Mary Magdalene as an exemplar of repentance, humility and devotion. She was a symbol of hope for sinners.
Though his facts may not have been accurate, he was not attempting to destroy Mary Magdalene, but to praise her. In the meantime, we should note that however great the authority of Pope Gregory, his teaching about Mary Magdalene was not infallible, nor was it issued in an encyclical or a papal bull. It was never defined as Catholic dogma nor upheld as sacred doctrine by an ecumenical council.
Contrary to feminist criticisms and the unfounded assertions to the contrary, Mary Magdalene has been openly celebrated by Catholics for many centuries. Described by some Church Fathers as the “apostle to the apostles,” she was a brave disciple of Jesus who stood at His cross; she was also a witness to the resurrected Christ.
Far from being pilloried or slandered, Mary of Magdala is rightly recognized by the Church as a model of faithfulness, devotion and loyalty to the truth of the Gospel of her Master and Lord.
Many will ask whether or not the Bible is historical. Since it is a rather complex set of books itself that can be easily misinterpreted and misrepresented, the question that…
Many will ask whether or not the Bible is historical. Since it is a rather complex set of books itself that can be easily misinterpreted and misrepresented, the question that must be asked is: which part?
Bishop Robert Barron is always quick to point out that the best approach to understanding the Bible and how to read it is the same one we take at the library. There are different sections in the library containing different types of books. The same is true in the Bible. There are different sections within the Bible, each section with its own books. There are also diverse literary genres in the various biblical books and sometimes within the same book itself; these are all placed side by side within the one binding of the Bible. Instead of one book, there are 73 for Catholics. Each of those books has its own historical formation and its own story to tell. The important thing to remember is that one does not read every book nor every literary genre in the same way.
For example, the poetry of the Song of Songs is very different from the liturgical and sacrificial instructions of Leviticus. If I tried to read Leviticus as allegorical love poetry, I would not get very far. Likewise, the creation stories and the archetypal imagery and stories of the first chapters of Genesis are not the same as the history of David and Saul and the rise of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They have to be read with different literary lenses, so to speak. Otherwise, I can easily misunderstand the purpose and message of the book.
Again, a common question that comes up in this regard is about the historicity of the Bible, and especially Old Testament. If we apply the contemporary standards of historical writing to the Bible, then it is clear that the Old Testament is not history. However, if we can accept that the biblical authors wrote history in a different way than we do, we can begin to accept the stories as historical, even though they are not written in according to present-day standards. The birth of Samuel, for example, need not be a part of the story of the foundations of the monarchy for the sake of the strict history of Israel. Without it, though, it is hard to explain the deference showed to him by all the people, including Saul and David. The figure of Samuel looms large in the story of the rise of Israel’s monarchy and from a literary point of view, he is hugely important. Perhaps a secular historian would see Samuel as inconsequential to the formation of the monarchy, but in the biblical understanding of history his story is essential
There are other passages in the Old and New Testaments that have a stronger historical flavor, such as the cursory lists of the regnal years of the kings of Israel and Judah with the brief descriptions attached to each king. There are also passages in the Acts of the Apostles where the author gives a detailed account of the places traveled by Paul and himself. He names ancient ports and cities, along with descriptions of their naval adventures. Paul, in his letters, also gives accounts of his experiences as a Pharisee and then as a Christian apostle.
The Gospels, which tell about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, have sometimes been devalued as historical documents. The fact that they were written around 60-90 A.D., so close to the time Jesus lived, and that they give detailed information about the life, ministry, and death of Jesus should caution us against such a hasty dismissal of their historical value. In fact, reading the opening verses of the Gospel according to Luke can shed some light on what he, for one, was trying to do as he assembled his material and composed his gospel account:
“Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.”
Luke tells us that many people were writing about Jesus’ life, ministry and death. The information about Jesus came from eyewitnesses to the events surrounding his life. Luke decided, after researching and speaking with various people, to write his own “orderly account” so that the reader of his gospel would know the truth about what Jesus really did and taught. That, perhaps, is not history as we normally think of it, but it certainly does not preclude the contents of the Gospel from being historically accurate.
Developing a sensitivity to the diverse literary genres of the Bible can help clear up some of the confusion about the history it records and the stories it contains. It will allow for a fruitful reading of this document that is so critically important to understanding the history of Western civilization.
Sister Anna Marie McGuan, RSM is Director of Christian Formation in the Diocese of Knoxville.
Looking to purchase a Bible? The search for a good translation can be daunting. There are dozens of different translations available on the market, but which one should a Catholic…
Looking to purchase a Bible? The search for a good translation can be daunting. There are dozens of different translations available on the market, but which one should a Catholic choose? Are all Bibles the same? Here are a few important points to keep in mind when you are looking for a good translation of Sacred Scripture.
First thing, make sure that you purchase a complete Bible, especially if it will be the only copy of Scripture that you own. Many Catholics are surprised to learn that most Protestant Bibles are incomplete; they omit seven Old Testament books called the Deuterocanon. The Dueterocanon is comprised of the books of Wisdom, Sirach (sometimes called Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and First and Second Maccabees. In addition to these missing books, Protestant Bibles also omit the last two chapters of the Book of Daniel (called Bel and the Dragon and Susanna) and several sections from the book of Esther.
Protestants began to disparage the Deuterocanon because it affirms doctrines that are at odds with Protestant theology. As time went on, the desire to remove it altogether grew, and Protestant printers began to produce Bibles without the books they did not like. It wasn’t until the 19th century, however, that these incomplete Bibles became the norm within Protestantism. Today, outside of a few specialty Bibles, nearly all modern Protestant Bibles omit the Deuterocanon. Catholic Bibles, on the other hand, continued the practice of including all the books of the Old Testament just as it had done for centuries prior to the Reformation. Therefore, if you would like to own a complete Bible, you need to purchase a Catholic edition.
Catholic Bibles also provide the added benefit of being less susceptible to theological bias than their non-Catholic counterparts. History is packed with examples of where the word of God has been used to promote the translator’s theology. Perhaps the most famous example of theological bias can be found in Martin Luther’s German translation where he added the word “alone” to St. Paul’s statement in Romans 3:28: “For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Luther believed that Scripture taught we are justified by faith alone, apart from anything that we do. He therefore felt obliged to amend Paul’s words to bring this teaching out, even though the word “alone” is nowhere found in the Greek original.
One of the most popular modern Protestant translations, the New International Version (NIV), like Luther, adds a theologically packed word to Scripture. The translator’s belief that righteousness is a legal status comes out in the rendering of Romans 2:13 and 3:20, where they translate “righteous” as “declared righteous.”
Catholic Bibles can also exhibit theological bias. However, Catholic translators hold an important advantage over their non-Catholic counterparts in that they have access to Sacred Tradition, which better aligns their theology to that of inspired Scripture. The reason for this alignment comes from the close relationship between Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) states: “There exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end” (No. 9). As long as a Catholic translator is faithful to Sacred Tradition, the theological bias of the translator will be more complimentary to the theological perspective of the inspired text than a translator who either ignores or opposes Sacred Tradition. Catholic editions of Scripture will also have an imprimatur officially included on the back of the title page. An imprimatur is an indication that the book in question has been examined by proper Church authorities and has been judged to be free of errors in Catholic doctrine.
Formal or Dynamic Equivalence?
In the attempt to minimize theological bias, some translations stick very closely to the original text, which is sometimes called a “formal equivalent,” or a “word-for-word,” translation. While the word-for-word approach may avoid a certain amount of bias, it doesn’t always produce a clear and intelligible translation.
Take, for example, Our Lord’s words at the wedding of Cana (see Jn 2:1-11). Mary informed Jesus that the wedding feast was without wine. Jesus answered, in Greek, “Ti emoi kai soi, gunai,” which a literal word-for-word translation would render, “What to me and to you, woman?” (v. 4). Words need to be added to make this into a proper English sentence. However, even when this is done, “What [is this] to me and to you, woman?” the passage is only marginally more intelligible. What does Jesus mean by saying this? The reason for the lack of clarity is that Jesus was using a common idiom (see Jgs 11:12; 2 Sm 19:23, for example) that John expects his readers to know and understand. But we do not use this idiom today! Therefore, the translator needs to fill out the meaning or give what is called a dynamic equivalent to what Jesus said and explain that Jesus and Mary are essentially in agreement except for a potential obstacle.
Most translations fall between the two extremes of word-for-word literalism and dynamic equiva-lency. How you intend to use your Bible will determine what type of translation is best for you.
There is a wide variety of Bibles from which to choose. With these suggestions in mind, take the time to read a few short passages from a variety of Catholic Bibles to see which translation best suits your needs. Check to see if the annotation or lack of annotation is right for you. Read a couple of footnotes and/or inserts as well. Take your time, and by applying these suggestions you are sure to find the right Catholic translation for you and your loved ones.
Regardless of which version is best for you, the important thing is for you to own the Sacred Scriptures — and read them!