A new project is afoot in the world of Catholic biblical scholarship. It is a new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. The editors are Peter Williamson, Mary Healy and Kevin Perotta. They’ve put together a great team of writers including themselves and Edward (Ted) Sri, Curtis Mitch, Tim Gray, Fr. George Montague, Fr. Francis Martin, Bill Wright, Fr. Bill Kurz, Scott Hahn, Fr. Thomas Stegman, Fr. Ronald Witherup, Fr. Dennis Hamm and Dan Keating. Williamson, Healy and Keating are professors at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Perotta is a Catholic writer who has authored and edited many books including a recent series of Bible studies from Loyala University Press. The editorial board includes Scott Hahn, Daniel Harrington, Frank Matera, Bill Kurz, Francis Martin, George Montague and A.Bp. Terrence Pendergast.
The editors lay out their principles for the commentary as follows:
- Written in an engaging style that can be read for personal study and spiritual nourishment as well as referenced for exegetical information
- Distinguished by a theological and pastoral hermeneutic rather than a focus on technical questions that legitimately interest scholars but have less relevance for Christian life
- Interprets the canonical form of the text in light of the whole of Scripture and the Church’s faith
- Aims to serve readers across a spectrum of Catholic opinion while remaining faithful to Church teaching
- Employs ordinary modern English that does not require “translation” for preaching and catechesis
- Packed with features useful to preachers and teachers of the word, lay and ordained, and other Catholics interested in deepening their faith
- Fills a gap between substantial scholarly resources and brief popular commentaries
If the commentary fulfills all these goals, it will be well worth reading. I hope that they put out the volumes as fast as is reasonably possible. The first ones will be available in November 2008: Mary Healy’s commentary on Mark and Fr. George Montague’s work on 1 Tim, 2 Tim and Titus.
This commentary is a different animal in the world of commentaries. It reminds me a lot of the Interpretation series, which was a Protestant commentary designed for pastors and lay persons with a high level of biblical knowledge, but little familiarity with the biblical languages and the technical stuff Bible scholars get into. So, hopefully, this new commentary will provide many American Catholic priests with great homily material that is sound in terms of scholarship and yet relevant and applicable for people of faith.
Oh yeah, and they’ve cleaned up extremely positive endorsements from the likes of Cardinal Schonborn, Cardinal Vanhoye, Archbishop Chaput, Gary Anderson, Romanus Cessario, Aidan Nichols, Robert Louis Wilken, Benedict Groeschel, Ralph Martin (who can be found in my sidebar), and a host of other people.
Right now, the project is New Testament only, but if it is a success I wouldn’t be surprised to see an OT commentary too. And with little competition out there, it may happen. If you pick up a copy and read it, let me know what you think.