Sometimes good things come in twos. I am happy to announce my other new book – Suffering: What Every Catholic Should Know. This book is part of the series from Augustine Institute and Ignatius Press that seeks to educate Catholics with laser focus on particular topics. “What Every Catholic Should Know” means that the book is designed for regular Catholics, not for some group of specialists. It is my hope that this book helps a lot of people think about, pray about and work through their own experiences of suffering.
Why Write a Book about Suffering?
Everybody suffers. There’s no way around it. Life is wonderful, but it can also be terrible. The more you love, the more it hurts. It would be nice if everything were always perfect and comfortable, but we get sick, have problems, struggle with relationships and careers. Cancer, war, debt, depression–I mean, you don’t have to look too far to find examples of suffering. It’s everywhere. There are a lot of books out there about suffering, but it’s a hard topic to write about, so many of the books are too long or too philosophical or tell too many personal stories without getting to the point. I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read out there, so I decided to write it.
If you are familiar with the New Testament volumes of the CCSS series, you’ll know the approach. It is highly focused on the text–presenting the text of each passage with cross-references, Lectionary references and Catechism references. Then each verse or passage is discussed in paragraph form, with many quotations of Wisdom and other biblical passages. We have included Biblical Background sidebars that explain certain topics not directly treated in body text–topics like “The Devil’s Envy,” “Aristobulus,” and “Immortality in the Old Testament.” Also, we have included Living Tradition sidebars that offer quotations from major Christian writers on certain special topics such as “St. Irenaeus on Adam’s Salvation,” St. Augustine on Sevenfold Gifts and Sevenfold Evils.” The commentary includes a glossary of key terms. The hope is to explain the meaning of each passage in the Wisdom of Solomon with clarity, aware of the historical background, the literary techniques the writer is using and the tradition of the Catholic Church. The commentary is addressed to the educated general reader and will be accessible to priests, catechists, theology students, Bible study leaders and avid Bible readers. I hope that readers of the commentary will come to love the Wisdom of Solomon as I have!
My hope was to tell the backstory of the ESV-CE so that people would know where it came from, who translated it and why it was so suitable for adoption by English-speaking Catholic countries. What I found as I researched and read surprised me. It seemed like discussions and controversies that Protestants (specifically, evangelical Protestants) were having about Bible translation mapped on to the debates about translation taking place in Catholic bishops’ conferences around the world. Indeed, it seems the bishops are always talking about how to translate the Bible, the liturgy and even the Catechism.
In the book, I deal with a lot of the passages that give Bible readers grief: the killing of the Canaanites, child sacrifice, innocent suffering, the problem of Hell. I sort through these problems in a detailed, yet accessible way and try to get the bottom of how it is the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament could be the same. I hope you enjoy the book!