Harper Catholic Bible, in partnership with Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division, has recently published a new Catholic edition of the Bible for youth: LIVE - NRSV Catholic Edition: Youth Bible, Catholic Edition
The aim of this edition is to offer an interactive space for teens so that they can not only read the Bible, but also respond to what they read in a personalized way. In addition to the text, each book features content (poems, art, photography) created by teens for teens, as well as space to doodle, interact with the scripture and study notes to understand better and dig deeper into the readings or to encourage teens to live out Catholic teachings.
The study notes are age sensitive and often contain bits of humor that teens will appreciate. The book is also interspersed with "Profiles of Faith" - short biographical notes on witnesses of the faith, sections called "Real Questions" with tough questions that teens face and straight answers in a language they would understand. Short, meaningful and pertinent quotations from saints or well known personalities abound. Brief features called "Reality Check" are found in each book of the Bible. These are meant to help teens see how the Bible is connected to their everyday life. There are also a number of short articles called "Jesus Sighting" showing how the Old Testament connects to the New Testament.
Each book of the Bible is introduced by brief answers to the questions who? What? Where? When? These are followed by a few paragraphs highlighting how this book invites us to discipleship.
In the appendices there are thematic Bible reading plans - readings are suggested to reflect on biblical prayer, social justice, journeying with Jesus, or as meditations for Advent, Lent or Easter.Also included in the appendices is a NRSV Concordance.
In thumbing through this Bible, I was impressed by the large number and the creativity and talent evidenced in the poems, art works and photos of the teens who contributed to the project.
There are, in my opinion, a few minor weaknesses in the presentation of this edition of the Bible. Some of the featured articles are highlighted with a light blue background. When the font color used is white, the text is a bit harder to read. The paper is quite thin and the illustrations or text are occasionally (rarely) slightly visible on the flip page. All of the photographs are in black and white. I could not help but wonder how much more appealing color photographs would have been. Most of these shortcomings were no doubt the result of wanting to keep the cost of the Bible down and to offer a book that was not overly bulky.
When considering all that this edition of the Bible has to offer to teens, these shortcomings are small indeed and I would not hesitate to recommend it wholeheartedly. I am in fact a bit jealous that there is not a comparable edition of the Bible for adults. I would certainly enjoy using such a well conceived tool!