Review: Bibles offer note-taking spaces, essays or maps

These two excellent volumes are in many ways very similar. Both contain the entire text of the Bible, both testaments, with about half of each page blank, with lines on which the readers can make notes.

This is the cover of the “The Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible,” published by Ave Maria Press. The book is reviewed by Eugene J. Fisher. (CNS photo/courtesy Ave Maria Press)

Each has footnotes to the passages of the Bible. The Ave Maria volume has references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Both have references to other biblical passages related to those on the page, whether from the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament.

The Ave Maria volume has short essays: an overview of the Bible by John Bergsma, an introduction to the Old Testament by Anthony Pagliarini and an introduction to the New Testament by Sarah Christmyer. At the end are helpful articles on “Eight Steps to Becoming a Bible Reader,” “How to Love the Word” and reading plans for Advent, Lent and throughout the year.

My one caveat to this otherwise very good volume comes in the introduction to the New Testament. In it, the author speaks of “the old broken covenant” between God and the Jewish people. Neither Jesus, the New Testament nor official Catholic teaching proclaim this falsehood.

This is the cover of the “Ignatius Notetaking and Journaling Bible,” published by Ignatius Press. The book is reviewed by Eugene J. Fisher. (CNS photo/courtesy Ignatius Press)

God’s covenant with the Jews was and is irrevocable — as St. Paul affirmed in his Letter to the Romans and the Catholic Church has officially proclaimed in the Second Vatican Council’s declaration “Nostra Aetate” and subsequent official statements.

The Ignatius volume does not have such helpful essays, but does include color maps of the Middle East in the time of Abraham and Sarah; route(s) of the Exodus; Israel in the times of Joshua, Saul and the kingdom, both united and divided between Israel and Judah; the Near East under the Assyrians and Babylonians; the Holy Land in the times of the Maccabees and the Greco-Roman period; Palestine and Jerusalem in the time of Jesus; the journeys of Paul; the early churches throughout the Mediterranean Sea; and the Holy Land today.

A final note is that the Ave Maria volume is larger and heavier, which provides more room for taking notes, but this makes it harder to hold.