Bible Study

Torture2.jpgOne of the talks I gave while we were just in Rome today is about the Apostolic Fathers and Suffering for the Faith. It is dear to my heart since we just traveled all over following the footprints of St. Paul and the Apostolic Fathers. I will be speaking on the suffering and martyrdom of early Christians.

We visited the Church of Santo Stefano Rotundo (picture to right). Many people think the church is morbid, disgusting and even gross. As you can see in the picture it is a round church with all the walls covered with paintings of the tortures and martyrdoms of the early Christians. They are graphic and detailed.

The two pictures below are from the walls of the church (man with molten lead being poured down his throat and woman with her hands cut off and hung around her neck). These are only two pictures of hundreds. You will see them in our next DVD. (Thanks for the correction below in Comments.)

Torture1jpg.jpgBut back to my question: Are you prepared to Witness for Christ?” Be careful before you say YES! In Acts 1:8 Jesus said to the Apostles, “You will be my witnesses.” By virtue of our baptism, we are ALL called to be witnesses for Christ. But when Jesus used the word “witness” he may have implied more than we think. We tend to think he meant to give testimony for Christ with words alone. But the early Christians gave witness to Christ with much more than their words.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek and the Greek word used for “witness” is martur. Sound familiar. Say it to yourself out loud a few times and see if it sounds like an English word we use. I bet you guessed it. The English word “martyr” derives from the Greek word martur meaning witness.

Torture3.jpgThe Catechism states, “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death . . . ” (CCC 2473). When we traveled to the sites of the Apostolic Fathers and the place where they and many others spilled their blood on areana floors, it was a sobering trip.

Are you and I really prepared to be witnesses for Christ in the full sense of the word? The early Christians suffered horrendously to pass the faith on to us. Would we have the faith and fortitude to follow in their steps? For myself, I like to think I would. But I also know I don’t like pain–I avoid it like the plague.

But I commit myself to this, and ask you to join me — if martyrdom is required of me, I will trust God to give me the grace and strength to go down heroically with these words on my lips:

“I am a Christian! Lord Jesus, receive your servant!”

“And they have conquered [the Devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (martur), for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11, RSVCE)

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How do YOU Read the Bible?

by Steve Ray on June 24, 2016

A Little Poem about Reading/Studing
the Bible in Context

I supposed I knew my Bible,
Reading piecemeal, hit or miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
Now a snatch of Genesis,

Certain chapters of Isaiah,
Certain Psalms (the twenty-third),
Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs —
Yes, I thought I knew the Word!

But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read the Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible,
Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, a-weary,
And yawn through a hurried prayer;

You who treat the Crown of Writings
As you treat no other book,
Just a paragraph, disjointed,
Just a crude, impatient look.

Try a worthier procedure,
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
When you read the Bible through.

Amos Wells, Leading the Way by Paul Borthwick, Navpress, 1989, p.  139. Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press. Copied from Logos Bible Software.

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What Translation of the Bible Should You Use?

by Steve Ray on May 25, 2016

No translation is perfect. Translating ancient and foreign languages into English is not as easy as it would seem. There are ambiguities and linguistic hurtles. 

Picture a sliding scale from left to right. Every translation fits somewhere along that scale. At one end of the scale literal  translations and on the other extreme are dynamic translations. 

Literal translations relay the actual words used in the original language without being overly concerned with ease of reading or conveying the authors’ meaning. Emphasis: what did the original author say word-for-word verbatim. 

Dynamic translations try to relay the authors’ meaning without being overly literal—they express what the author means, not what he said. Emphasis: what does the author mean without concern for using their actual words.

Here is a good example. A man speaking English says, “I shot myself in the foot.” What did he mean? For those sho understand English “figures of speech” will know he was saying he made fool of himself or did something stupid. For a non-English speaker, they will look down at your foot and ask, “Is your foot OK?”

If you are translated the English into Russian literally you will render it “I shot myself in the foot.” But if you do, the Russian gets the completely wrong message They think we are talking about a medical condition. 

But if you want the Russian to understand the meaning of the author’s text you will not use the literal words but translate it to something like, “I did something stupid and made a fool of myself.” 

With our example, the first is literal and the second is dynamic. The first emphasizes what the author says, the second what the author means. All translations fit somewhere in between.

So what Translations should we use? For Catholics I recommend reading the Revised Standard Bible – Catholic Edition (RSV) for the literal and the New American Bible (NAB) for the dynamic translation. it is best to read several translations side-by-side to get a much broader spectrum of the biblical passage. 

Want the best? Check out the Didache Bible published by Ignatius Press. I have purchased many of them to give to friends and priests. You can learn about it here. It is on the literal side of the sliding scale but becomes a dynamic translation as well by providing a plethora of footnotes and Catechism quotes.

Many suggested I include the Douay-Rheims translation. I don’t use this much myself because it a translation of a translation and using old manuscripts and language. It is like translating Russian into Spanish and then Spanish into English — a hundred years ago. I use it sometimes for its strong Catholic emphasis in certain passages.

Again, as I said, it is best to read many translations side-by-side and for a strong Catholic emphasis, the Douay-Rheims is a good version to have in your stack. Another might be the English translation of the Greek Septuagint which was the Bible of the early Church.

The chart shows many translations, most of which are Protestant translations – but gives you the idea. The RSV is on the left end of the chart whereas the NAB is under the “thought-for-thought category. A  paraphrase is not really a translation but the far extreme of the dynamic where the translator puts things in his own words often with biases and personal opinions.

If you want the best-of-the-best check out the Verbum Catholic Bible Software that allows you to compare many translations side-by-side and to instantly access the original languages with English explanations. Nothing else like it.

Visit www.Verbum.com/steveray. Use Promo Code STEVERAY10  and get 10% off.

Another helpful article on the science of translation and which are preferred.

 

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Top Ten Catholic Searches on Verbum

May 6, 2016

Verbum Software is the premier program for Catholic and Bible study. It is powerful beyond belief. Here are their Top Ten searches over the last year.  I have personally used the search well over a thousand times in the last year. This program is open on my computer, front and center, 24 hours a day […]

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Sympathy for Cradle Catholics Who Can’t Explain or Defend the Faith

April 7, 2016

I thought of a helpful illustration to explain why “cradle Catholics” are often unable to explain and defend the Catholic faith. The example has its weaknesses, but it does help get the point across. As an American I asked myself this question: if some one trained to attack America intellectually approached me on the street […]

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How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

March 31, 2016

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it […]

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The Cross & the Crucifix: Letter to a Fundamentalist

March 14, 2016

The Cross & the Crucifix (From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the […]

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Can Peter Walk on Water? Can Sinful Men be Infallible?

January 9, 2016

Is it possible for a sinful, fallible man to give an infallible interpretation of Scripture or an infallible definition of doctrine? If he is fallible and sinful, doesn’t that preclude his ability to be infallible when it comes to things of God? No. In fact while many Protestants would say the Pope cannot be infallible […]

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Ready to Start Studying the Bible in 2016? It’s Time to Prepare Now!

November 27, 2015

Since I was 17 years old, studying the Bible has been my passion. Now as a Catholic it has increased 100%. Back in my youth, I could never have anticipated the wealth of materials for study that I now have at my fingertips. I recommend two great Catholic resources: FIRST, Catholic Scripture Study International. I […]

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The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

November 19, 2015

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and […]

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Should Catholics Attend Non-denominational or Ecumenical Bible Studies?

November 8, 2015

Every day, Catholics are invited by coworkers, neighbors, and even family members to “ecumenical” Bible studies. Should they go? Certainly all of us would benefit from more study of Scripture, but as someone who has been a part of a number of Protestant Bible studies—I’ve even taught them—I discourage Catholics from attending them because of […]

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Catholic Bible Study: Difference between Catholics and Protestants

September 9, 2015

Protestant “Bible Christians” (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises: 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone; 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their […]

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Test Drive It! A Catholic Library Synced on my Laptop, iPad and iPhone

August 11, 2015

I’ve waited 20 years for this. I have the fantastic Verbum Catholic and Bible Software. They are doing it right! It is thoroughly Catholic — to my great joy. It continues to grow in resources and power. It is on my computer 24 hours a day! But now the icing is on the cake! They […]

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Differences Between Catholic and Protestant Approaches to the Bible

July 23, 2015

“Bible Christians” (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises: 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone; 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own […]

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Steve and Liz in Roman Forum Discussing Ancient Rome and the First Christians – and Biblical Literacy

May 31, 2015

I have provided two short 6 minute video clips of me (Steve Ray) and Liz Lev as we talked to my group in the Ancient Rome Forum today.  First, Liz spoke about the clash of empires: the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God. The key line is this: Rome had just claimed that the […]

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Reading the Bible

May 28, 2015

A Little Poem about Bible Context I supposed I knew my Bible, Reading piecemeal, hit or miss, Now a bit of John or Matthew, Now a snatch of Genesis, Certain chapters of Isaiah, Certain Psalms (the twenty-third), Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs — Yes, I thought I knew the Word! But I found that […]

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