MAY 1, 2013
India’s controversial New Community Bible is a delight says a Camaldoli Benedictine oblate
By Geoffrey Miller, April 27, 2013
The New Community Bible is a delight to peruse, and it is quite probably the most readable contemporary English Bible yet produced by the Church. Apart from an unfortunate and rather grammatically awkward introduction by Dr. Augustine Mulloor (editors are your friends, let them help you), the language used in the translation and in the notes is fluent, poetic, and most importantly, simple. Catholics will also be glad to know that the rich, traditional renderings of passages such as Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:28 have been preserved. This Bible excels stylistically as well–the artwork, occasional use of calligraphy, and overall format accentuate the literary beauty of the scriptural text.
However, other reviewers, such as (blank), have complained about the editors’ decision to not use the pictures in the previous Christian Community Bible. In my opinion though, the editors were wise. The art in The New Community Bible actually matches the text, unlike the other stuff which, quite frankly, was sometimes a chaotic jumble of modern “slice of life” scenes with faux relevance and little meaning (introduction to Luke, I’m looking at you).
And as long as we’re talking about other reviewers’ complaints, I might as well mention Ephesians-511.net’s “Hindu Bible” accusation. After reading the commentaries in depth, I believe the claim is absolutely baseless. In fact, I regret that the editors removed quotes from the Upanishads and such in the face of criticism—they should have stood their ground. One should be careful about placing too much confidence in lay apologists (me included), even when they cite the support of particular bishops (it is not hard to cherry-pick bishops who agree with you, no matter what your opinions may be). The credibility of an author, I’ve noticed, is inversely proportional to the number of font colors he uses.
The fact of the matter is, unlike most Catholic Bibles, The New Community Bible, by making connections to other religious groups in its notes, fulfills the directives of Dei Verbum:
It devolves on sacred bishops “who have the apostolic teaching” to give the faithful entrusted to them suitable instruction in the right use of the divine books, especially the New Testament and above all the Gospels. This can be done through translations of the sacred texts, which are to be provided with the necessary and really adequate explanations so that the children of the Church may safely and profitably become conversant with the Sacred Scriptures and be penetrated with their spirit.
Furthermore, editions of the Sacred Scriptures, provided with suitable footnotes, should be prepared also for the use of non-Christians and adapted to their situation. Both pastors of souls and Christians generally should see to the wise distribution of these in one way or another.
I should further add that there isn’t the slightest hint of religious syncretism or indifference in this Bible; in fact, quite the opposite (for example, I think the commentary is much too harsh on Judaism, going so far as to state that at the Wedding of Cana, “The old wine, symbolizing the Old Law and Judaism, had all run out, and left the jars empty”). And if anyone should want to contend that there is nothing of worth in other world religions, I would politely refer them to Nostra Aetate.
Of course, The New Community Bible is not without its shortcomings. Linguistically speaking, its notes represent a vast improvement over the Christian Community Bible; however, the content is much less pastoral, much more focused on the historical-critical method, and somewhat defensive. What do I mean by this? In a few places, such as the question of the historicity of Ruth, The New Community Bible uncritically accepts the opinions of secular scholars without discussing the merits or drawbacks of their views. Often, the notes just assume that the reader will take offense at certain Biblical passages. Take, for instance, the first half of the note on Proverbs 31:
Just as in the Prologue to the Book we had the figure of Lady Wisdom sending out her invitations and giving her discourses, now in the conclusion we have another female figure – that female practitioner of Wisdom – the busy, practical, God-fearing housewife. This poem has been much used in liturgical texts and other religious literature as a description of the “ideal woman” as an ideal housewife. Women today would rightfully rile at such chauvinism which was concocted in a male-dominated society. And Israel was a male-dominated society. However, we must keep in mind what was said about the limitations of a text (see the previous note). Nevertheless, it is remarkable that even in a male-dominated society, when the editor of Proverbs sought for a real-life model of Wisdom, he picked a woman and not a man.
Now, compare the above to the more positive, balanced, and insightful commentary contained in the Christian Community Bible:
Mother’s Day was established recently to celebrate the women who spend their lives in the hidden tasks of the home, and who, through their sacrifices and love, build the best of our world. This poem concluding the book of Proverbs expresses a similar viewpoint.
It is not by chance that this poem concludes the book of Proverbs. Wisdom in Israel was not intellectual reflection far removed from real life with slight interest in discovering reasons for living. Wisdom, first of all was knowing how to organize one’s life, just as Solomon said. And, actually women often have a predominant role in all that makes for a happy home and allows persons who believe in life, to be formed and capable of serving the world.
The author lists the numerous activities of women: happiness on earth depends on very little: care is needed, and fidelity to tasks, also something not often insisted upon.
In Israel, men dominated. Women worked more than men. While the men would talk “at the gate” of their village, women looked after the house and the orchard and raised the children. This poem urges all husbands to praise their wives and be grateful to them.
There’s no question as to which commentary is better. The latter uplifts housewives and mothers and encourages a deep appreciation of all women, whereas the former tells us that we should be outraged that Proverbs is praising stay-at-home moms which, frankly, I find deeply offensive. I would like to think that modern feminism is mature enough to respect that there are many, valid, fulfilling life-choices for women, including the role of a housewife. To denigrate stay-at-home moms is tantamount to chauvinism—in its own way, The New Community Bible tells women what to do and where their self-value should come from, while the Christian Community Bible makes no such judgments of worth and only provides a beautiful meditation on marriage, family, and motherhood.
And, in fact, Sacred Scripture provides many diverse ideals for women, ranging from Deborah, to Judith, to Sarah, to Esther, to Ruth, to Mary. No one can claim that these illustrious women were all tame, domesticated housewives. True, some did keep to the private sphere of hearth and home, but with a caveat—all Jewish women had something of a shield-maiden in their blood, and they were as fierce as they were gentle, and not to be trifled with. Commentaries should mention this, rather than reinforcing the absurd myth that the Bible doesn’t promote a diverse and healthy image of femininity.
There are many other examples of commentaries that break common pastoral guidelines in this Bible, but there are also many examples of good commentaries. Overall, the notes are more understandable and edifying than those in the New American Bible: Revised Edition, but that’s not a hard standard to meet. The New Community Bible could have been so much better, if only it had used a “cleaned-up” (taken out the awkward English) version of the notes in the Christian Community Bible. As the adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There was no reason to start from scratch with the commentaries.
I give The New Community Bible four stars out of five. It’s a great Bible, but it’s not an excellent Bible. I still plan to use it frequently for my daily readings, despite the sometimes problematic notes. The translation itself is excellent; if only the study aids had followed suit! Maybe in the next revision?
Also, if the publisher or any bishops involved in The New Community Bible project are reading this review, please restore the beautiful texts you quoted from other world religions in the previous edition. Do not acquiesce to bullies. You did yourselves and your readers a grave disfavor by doing so. You weren’t compromising the integrity of Christianity by pointing out truths in other religions. You were following, faithfully, in the footsteps of St. Irenaeus, St. Justin, and many Church Fathers who like them saw the seeds of Jesus Christ’s saving truth planted in many fields, waiting for the Catholic Church to come and water them.
The New Community bible is a product of Hinduisation of Catholic Church in India. Ban this bible. –Francis Lobo
WHO IS GEOFFREY MILLER?
Geoffrey Miller, a converted Southern Baptist, is a catechist, cantor, and subdiaconate candidate at Our Lady’s Maronite Catholic Parish in Austin, TX. He is also a
Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate. [He is] a twenty-five-year-old graduate student at Texas State University-San Marcos [who] “enjoys learning about theology, especially as it pertains to living out an authentic Catholic spirituality in the modern world,” according to his blog.
Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate
is a member of the larger
family, and follows the Rule of the Camaldoli Benedictines. What is the spirituality of the Camaldolese Benedictines? It is New Age!
See my comments on the Camaldolese Benedictines at the end of this report, on page 4.
At just twenty-five years of age and apparently still learning the fundamentals of theology, Geoffrey Miller has presumed to give his seal of approval to the commentaries of the St. Pauls New Community Bible which several priests and theologian-professors have condemned as heretical, syncretistic and New Age!!
In one of his blogs, he has okayed the Protestant King James Version [KJV], grouping it with other popular Catholic Bible translations which he approved! In fact, it is right at the top of his list. See
Introducing Bible Blast, http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.in/2012/07/introducing-bible-blast.html.
His Bible preference is the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition. For what reason? Because “the RSV-CE text is an accurate update of the King James Version“, http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.in/2012/07/my-favorite-bible.html!
Read this extract from Geoffrey Miller‘s
Four Tips on Teaching a Bible Study
September 10, 2011
My final recommendation, which kind of encompasses all four of my tips, is not to get too rigid about how you conduct your Bible study. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what teaching materials you use. Try out contemporary aids as well as time-tested resources. Keep an open mind and don’t restrict yourself to drawing upon only your specific Christian tradition. I’m a Catholic and I use Protestant resources all the time. I’ve discovered many treasures by doing so, and my students have too. You’d be amazed what surprises and insights God has to offer through all his children in faith!
The following extract is from Geoffrey Miller‘s
The Truth of the Bible and World Religions
September 16, 2011
The Bible records God’s own personal and definitive revelation of his character and relationship with mankind through the Jewish perspective and experience of history and literature. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures” (CCC 107).
Doubtless other books and peoples have been inspired to some degree by this same Spirit, and many others will follow, but none quite like the Bible and the Jews. If it seems scandalous that God would choose above all others only one holy text and one holy people as his vehicle of salvation, we must remember that it is with the intent to bless, purify, and complete the others, not abolish or leave them behind (cf. Mt. 5:17). “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in [other] religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men” (Nostra Aetate, 2).
For the Christian inheritor of Jewish tradition, Truth is a person, Jesus Christ, and is made manifest in a way of life, namely, that of sacrificial giving of self through love. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). This does not mean Truth was completely inaccessible before Jesus came, or that it remains so to those who even today do not know him explicitly, only that Truth was and always will be veiled to all but a few individuals. He alone who courageously patterns his life after Christ will find God.
Traditional Christian theology, especially the eastern variety, views Jesus as the personal incarnation of God, where God is defined as the design of the universe and the laws which govern it. Ancient peoples were by no means ignorant of the concept of a cosmic creating and ordering principle. “For what can be known about God is plain…because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19-20). The Greeks referred to this principle as Logos, a word which St. John the Apostle borrows for the majestic prologue of his gospel. The Chinese called it Tao, and the Hindus, Dharma. It is what modern scientists mean by the term Nature. The existence of such a God need not be proven since it is already self-evident; even the ability to argue about such things receives validity only from a certain presumed logic which underlies all phenomena and bridges the gap between mind and world.
Knowing and living in peace and harmony with the God just defined is the real goal of all religious traditions. Thus, the Christian contribution to mankind’s quest for Truth is not that God exists or that he can be found or even that his character is like that of a loving father in common human experience, but rather that the deepest dreams and boldest hopes of our race can and have been realized in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. The best myths of the world’s many religions are, as it turns out, true in a plain, immanent sense. Through Jesus’ actions in concrete human history, he quite literally made the treasured stories of old from all around the globe come alive. Our Savior transformed mythology from something forever beyond our reach into something simple, certain, straightforward, and applicable to daily life.
We must approach the matter of reading the Bible in this light. Truth in Sacred Scripture is not conveyed in isolation. The word of God weaves itself into all our individual and communal stories, cultures, and situations. It is only when the holy text is incorporated into the dynamic interactions and struggles between the many facets of life that it becomes an infallible spiritual guide. It is only when we allow it to challenge, shape, and fulfill our cherished beliefs that we will experience its power.
You will not find a systematic theology within the pages of the Bible, nor will you find a set of hard and fast rules. But you will find a mirror for self-reflection, poetry to stir the soul, consolation to heal all wounds, and a necessary framework and support for interpreting and experiencing the living novel of your absolutely unique existence.
I have refuted statements such as those made above by Geoffrey Miller, and also showed that appeals such as his to Nostra Aetate [#2], etc. are in opposition to their true meaning. These refutals are available in my critiques of the New Community Bible as well as in those reports wherein I have documented the attacks of theologians on the Vatican Documents on the New Age and Dominus Iesus, etc. Further comments by me here will be superfluous. The two images above, copied by me from the blog of Geoffrey Miller, say it better than my words concerning his “theology” and spirituality.
See MANTRAS, ‘OM’ OR ‘AUM’ AND THE GAYATRI MANTRA
A more thorough understanding of Miller‘s spirituality will be obtained by reading the following reports:
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS OCTOBER 2005
CATHOLIC ASHRAMS AND THE CAMALDOLI BENEDICTINES
JANUARY/NOVEMBER 2005/MAY 2012
The spirituality of the Catholic Ashrams movement is as heretical and New Age as New Age can get.
The lynch-pin of the Catholic Ashrams movement is Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, upon which my CATHOLIC ASHRAMS report is based after a week-long stay that I endured there in 2004. The one time acharya-guru of Shantivanam was Camaldoli Benedictine Fr. Bede Griffiths, OSB. Bede Griffiths was heavily into New Age and consorted with some of the world’s leading New Agers who stayed in his ashram and developed their writings there. The reports also document that, as a result of this, the Camaldoli Benedictine monasteries in the West were thoroughly infused with the same New Age ideologies and practices.
And Geoffrey Miller is a Camaldoli Benedictine Oblate.
Geoffrey Miller‘s spirituality is a syncretistic blend of “Eastern” [read as ‘esoteric’ or ‘occult’ or New Age] and Catholic … IF one can at all describe the New Age Camaldoli Benedictine spirituality as Catholic.
To me, that comes across as violating the First Commandment of the Decalogue.
It comes as no surprise to me therefore that he once experienced a visitation from a demonic entity:
July 31, 2012
He confesses that “Since the incident, I’ve filled my home with crosses and holy things“, without realising that his blog, his computer [and maybe his home?] have given equal weightage to pagan and occult symbols that deny and oppose the Cross.
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India
I saw your response to my post on ACNM. I think you’ve got the wrong impression about me. We’re both fighting on the same side, that of Jesus Christ and the truth of his Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and I am by no means part of the New Age Movement which is, quite frankly, a scheme of the Anti-Christ and condemned by the Church.
Anyway, I’m fine with you posting criticism of my views, but you do not have permission to copy and paste my work verbatim onto your Web site, as it violates the copyright of ACNM. Please just provide a link to my original posts. Also, I would kindly ask you to remove my personal details from your post. Your readers can find that stuff on my Web site for themselves, and it does a disservice to your critique by making it look like you’re invoking a witch hunt of sorts.
I would also like to clarify a few things. First, I am an avid collector of Bibles, and my tastes have shifted quite a few times. The RSV-CE is a very good Bible, but I find myself lately drawn to the Knox Bible and the Douay-Rheims Challoner Version. However, I think one does a disservice to themselves by not appreciating the King James Version. It is quite a beautiful translation, and English-speaking Eastern Orthodox are very partial to it, as are many Eastern Catholics. Is it Church approved? No, not for Catholics, and for devotional reading for most Catholics, I’d recommend the Knox Bible, Douay-Rheims, or RSV-CE. But you linked to a Bible contest on my blog, where I had Protestant participants. I was simply listing translations that could be used in the contest.
Moreover, I have no knowledge of the Catholic Ashram movement, nor do I endorse many of Fr. Bede Griffiths views–primarily because I don’t know what they are. You can’t just assume that I agree with every Camaldolese Benedictine in the world merely because I’m also a Camaldolese Benedictine. I joined as an admirer of St. Benedict and St. Romuald, and all the great saints who like them have lived St. Benedict’s famous rule and followed Jesus Christ.
P.S. Jesus Christ is God made man, come in the flesh to redeem our fallen world on the cross. He rose again to give new life to those who believe in him and follow his commandments and the teachings of the Catholic Church. There is no other name besides Jesus in heaven or earth by which anyone can be saved, and I am proud to say that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and that I am the slave of Jesus Christ, who in his love has called me to friendship in baptism.
If I were a part of the New Age movement, or anything heretical, I could not have told you all those things. I could not say that I love the Church and swear fealty to her to the last drop of my blood and the last light of my soul.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I appeal to you as a brother and ask that you cease your attack against me and use your energies more constructively for the glory of God the Father. May God bless you abundantly and prosper the work of your hands.