IN MY adolescence I used to think that the bible was on the Index. A bible in the hand of a young person was considered no less dangerous than a gun or a bomb.
"Look at the Protestants. They took to reading the bible, and a lot of them went barmy". A grain of truth somewhere there. With Catholics it was a question of striking the right balance between the authority of the bible and the teaching of the Church,
We accept the bible because the Church tells us that the writers of the various books of the bible were inspired by God. Again, we rely on the Church for the right interpretation of the bible.
The first prerequisite, however, is a copy of the bible itself. We may then acknowledge the authenticity, inspiration and authority of the bible. Even at this stage, the bible can be inert like so many other books. It would become an influencing force in our life and community only through the preaching, teaching and guidance of the Church. Hence the second prerequisite would be biblical commentaries and studies.
The Jerusalem Bible is still the favourite among Catholics. This text as distinct from that of the New Jerusalem Bible is preferred by those who have no pretensions to style and scholarship. Their sensible argument is that they would rather read by themselves what they are certain to hear crucified and mangled by the reader in
The publishers and editors of the the Jerusalem Bible must have felt, among other things, the pressure from the feminists to free the bible from its male orientation. So in the New Jerusalem Bible we have inclusive language, which excludes androcentric or maledominated talk. But, alas for the feminists, the New Jerusalem Bible at £25, £30 or £40 is financially and physically beyond the pocket of most people.
Without wishing to depress the feminists even further, I must point out that there is a substantial number of readers who are quite happy with the Revised Standard Version, Mgr Ronald Knox and the Douai. Woe unto them, for they have
not heard the good news about the Net: Jerusalem Bible. It is also most unlikely that they will ever stoop to pick up the Good News Bible or anything else new like the New International Version or the New American Bible.
However, my ardent hope is that they and everybody else will want to make the bible come alive in their lives by buying one or more of the biblical commentaries and studies advertised by the Westminster Cathedral Bookshop elsewhere in this paper.
Thomas Kale is the Manager of the Westminster Cathedra/ Bookshop