Barclay commentaries..legit?

I want to learn more aboutt he Bible. I got some barclay commentaries. Are they good or not? If not can anyone reccomend insightful commentaries from Catholic authors?

[quote=Anonymous_1]I want to learn more about he Bible. I got some Barclay commentaries. Are they good or not? If not can anyone reccomend insightful commentaries from Catholic authors?
[/quote]

I never recommend the use of Protestant commentaries unless one is solidly grounded in their knowledge of the Catholic Faith and is able to make the distinction betwen orthodox Catholic teaching and error.

I suggest you seek out either the Navarre Bible Commentary series, or the Ignatius Study Bible series. For more info, please visit my web-page linked below.

Yeah, there are better Catholic ones available.

Ignatius Press

Practical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Pax tecum,

Many conservative Protestants think Barclay is a bit on the liberal side. He tends to explain away many of Jesus’ miracles as not being literal (such as the Feeding of the Five Thousand or Wedding at Cana). On the other hand, lots of Protestant pastors use him in preparing their sermons.

The standard contemporary one-volume Catholic commentary is the New Jerome Biblical Commentary (1990). Many of the folks on this board will tell you that it’s too liberal. But I’d recommend it as a basic resource (don’t take everything it says for granted, of course–compare it with the more conservative sources people here are recommending). The New Jerome is a revision of the older Jerome Biblical Comentary (1968). You may find the older one better–or you may not. I really don’t know.

There are also many series of scholarly commentaries with a volume on each book (or in some cases part of a book) of hte Bible. The Sacra Pagina series is totally Catholic. The Anchor series is interdenominational (it bills itself as “interfaith” which may mean it has some Jewish participation) but with many Catholic authors, such as Joseph Fitzmyer and Raymond Brown (both editors of the New Jerome commentary). Again, people on this board will tell you that commentators like Fr. Brown are liberal heretics. However, apparently no one managed to tell the Vatican this, since several Popes honored Brown highly and made him a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Again, that doesn’t mean that everything he says is correct. But that brand of Catholic scholarship is well worth reading. (For those of us in the broader academic world, these guys whom conservative Catholics denounce as “liberals” are refreshing precisely because they show respect to the Church’s teachings and aren’t slavish adherents to the cliches of historical criticism!)

Edwin

[quote=Anonymous_1]I want to learn more aboutt he Bible. I got some barclay commentaries. Are they good or not? If not can anyone reccomend insightful commentaries from Catholic authors?
[/quote]

Of Protestant sources, I prefer the New Interpreter’s Bible to Barclay. If you want to study the Torah, Jewish sources can be very helpful. I recommend the author Jacob Milgrom in that case. He is outstanding with minutiae about sacrifices, etc. He may seem liberal (J, P, E stuff).

The Navarre is useful, but be aware that it has a condensed form and a full form.

The 1859 edition of the old Haydock Catholic commentary on the Douay-Rheims New Testment is available online, here.

I don’t think they’re totally a loss, but they aren’t very good…The problem with them, even speaking as a protestant, is as has been stated, that Barclay seems to delight in “debunking” the miracles, etc.
Now, he does do a fair job of giving background & the like, but I have seen a lot of confused people become more confused when they begin to think of Barclay as THE authority…I have heard folks say that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, it means what Barclay says it says…
There has been a lot of doubt sown by these books. I had once thought I might like to get them…Now, I wouldn’t use them for anything. I’ve seen too much, I guess…

[quote=Anonymous_1]I want to learn more aboutt he Bible. I got some barclay commentaries. Are they good or not? If not can anyone reccomend insightful commentaries from Catholic authors?
[/quote]

Very good, for a basic sense of the meaning of the texts. For detailed study, something more is needed. I use the New International Commentary series, which is Evangelical and typically devotes one volume to each book; and the Fortress Press Continental commentaries, which take one deep into the detail of the texts. The great virtue of the NIC OT commentaries is that the Hebrew is transliterated - the Fortress volumes presuppose a working knowledge of Hebrew, including the ability to read it at sight.

The Anchor series is also very good - it’s inter-confessinal & inter-religious: Catholics, Protestants, & Jews have all contributed. Which IMHO is preferably to a confessional approach, because learning in Scripture is not confined to Jews, any more than to Lutherans or Catholics.

Catholics in the US are living amidst enormous Biblical riches - not like us in the UK. But so many can’t see it :frowning: ##

[quote=Zooey]I don’t think they’re totally a loss, but they aren’t very good…The problem with them, even speaking as a protestant, is as has been stated, that Barclay seems to delight in “debunking” the miracles, etc.
Now, he does do a fair job of giving background & the like, but I have seen a lot of confused people become more confused when they begin to think of Barclay as THE authority…I have heard folks say that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, it means what Barclay says it says…
There has been a lot of doubt sown by these books. I had once thought I might like to get them…Now, I wouldn’t use them for anything. I’ve seen too much, I guess…
[/quote]

Isn’t much of the trouble people have with authors due, in part at least, to the readers’ own limitations ? If an author’s every judgement is treated as the only possible judgement on every issue, then of course people are going to be confused and distressed - but that is not always the authors’ fault. The sun is the sun, even when it shines on a puddle; it’s no fault of the sunbeams that the puddle is dirty. If a reader is a poor reader, there is no book, however good, from which poison can’t be drawn instead of honey.

People ought not to blame the authors all the time: maybe they could profitably ask whether they arefit judges of those they denounce; and whether their own shortcomings might not be partly to blame for their problems. Einstein remains Einstein, even if he had some readers who cannot understand him; that they cannot make sense of him because they know little physics, is no fault of his. The limitation is on their side; so it would be sheer impertinence to blame him for a deficiency which is theirs.

What, after would we think of a three-year old who complained that a ten year was not growing properly because ten-year olds don’t wear nappies or eat baby-food ? Ten-year old aren’t perverted babies - they are more mature than babies, so they seem unlike them; both are meant to grow beyond what they are, both are lacking; the difference is in their degree of growing up. Laymen in a discipline know less than the experts - though neither knows all. So the layman sometimes mistakes the fuller learning of the experts either for full knowledge - or for error and heresy; yet expert-worship and expert-junking are both of them mistakes.

Those who know less on a subject than others, can’t but trust to those others; and in most activities, seem to (only in religion, it seems, do we know as much as those wiser, better, or or more learned than ourselves): not because those others are all-wise, infallible, or omniscient, but because they are deeper into whatever it may be than those who know less than they. That’s why we hire plumbers and electricians - and why we read Biblical scholars. Not to judge them for failing to conform to our more limited and immature ideas, not to have our pet ideas confirmed, nor because they are inerrant oracles, but to gain their help and to learn from a greater store of skill and ability than we have. That way, we may eventually come to be able to do what they can.

Probably Barclay’s commentary is just right for some people, at their stage of their Christian growth. I know that I owe a lot to it. Just as Scott Hahn’s books are clearly a Godsend to others.

Those who haven’t acclimatised themselves to the HCM may find Barclay upsetting - they may equally find him very helpful. ##

[quote=Gottle of Geer]## Isn’t much of the trouble people have with authors due, in part at least, to the readers’ own limitations ? If an author’s every judgement is treated as the only possible judgement on every issue, then of course people are going to be confused and distressed - but that is not always the authors’ fault. The sun is the sun, even when it shines on a puddle; it’s no fault of the sunbeams that the puddle is dirty. If a reader is a poor reader, there is no book, however good, from which poison can’t be drawn instead of honey.
Probably Barclay’s commentary is just right for some people, at their stage of their Christian growth. I know that I owe a lot to it. Just as Scott Hahn’s books are clearly a Godsend to others.
Those who haven’t acclimatised themselves to the HCM may find Barclay upsetting - they may equally find him very helpful. ##
[/quote]

I respectfully disagree. My problem with Barclay is that he is very subtle about his “debunking”. He seems to be taking the Bible seriously, so when he pops up with an excuse for not believing in, say, the miracles of Christ (since they have all ready been mentioned), the reader is inclined to think more of his opinion than they ought.
When the “Jesus Seminar” says something, I know immediately that this is coming from a debunking source; it therefore receives less weight. When it comes from someone like Barclay, who appears to be orthodox, more weight is placed on his opinion by the unwary.
The people I speak of who have been confused by him are not poor readers; quite the contrary. They are well-educated & well read people who have been stalled in their scripture knowledge by too much dependence on one who seems to be giving them a serious look at the Bible.
Now I am a born skeptic, in re theologians. I never believe anybody, until I satisfy myself on their orthodoxy-- one reason that I, a Methodist, am more comfortable with many Catholic teachers: I know they have a “check” in Church authority. (I know the Jesus Seminar are Catholic, BUT, I also know that they are NOT teaching sound doctrine; it’s info that’s out there).
I don’t say that Barclay is not for anyone; but I do say that for most people, he is a less than sterling choice. He is not poison, but he is not wholesome, either. Why eat Mars bars, when there are fresh vegies & whole grain available? At the very least, order a cheese & pickle sandwich beforehand…
Barclay is, IMO, the equivalent of a Mars bar on an empty tummy.The Breakfast of Champions, he isn’t.
God bless.

as I recall Barclay had a problem with the virgin birth.

On the other hand, I happen to be listening to Relevant Radio, catholic radio station, and the Priest on the call-in just recommended Barclay’s “only because Bishop Fulton Sheen recommends them.” He goes on to state that Barclay does distinguish how a protestant interprets debatable verses and also dilineates what the Catholic interpretation is.

Matter of opinion, I guess, and the level of knowledge and understanding going into using the commentary. I also like the Navarre, and for the New Testament, Dr Hahn’s Ignatius studies.

I personally consult the Church Fathers commentaries first, but I also highly recommend the Navarre Bible, Ignatius Study Bible, and the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture which is now being done. I have lots of commentaries here litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Bible+Commentaries-Fathers+and+Doctors

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.