I have a friend who was raised in a nominally Catholic family, but had little involvement with his faith growing up. Over the past few months, we’ve begun reading through the Gospels together and I’m trying to help him build a solid foundation. I’d really like to help my friend out by giving him a good, simple Catholic Bible commentary. He has almost no faith background to help understand the Bible, and isn’t very academically-minded, so the best commentary would be one that is easy to understand and focuses on the basics, without being condescending. Does anyone have a recommendation that fits these criteria?
Catholic books are incredible for converting:
Rediscover catholicism.by Matthew kelly
The pillars of Catholicism.by Matthew kelly
40 dreams of Saint John Bosco
Get us out of here, by nicky Eltz and Maria Simma
The Dolourous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich
The Miracle Ship by Brian O’ Hare,
Two free ebooks online at
Lives of the Saints
Saint Padre Pio
Saint Francis of Assissi
I am not sure those books you have listed are Catholic Bible Commentaries. They probably are about the Catholic faith, but the OP is looking for suggestions for a commentary on scripture and the books of the Bible from the Catholic perspective.
I joined the Catholic church in 2008 and I will be seeing what others recommend as well.
the books you listed might be good reading for him too to learn more about the faith. another good book by Matthew Kelly is Rediscovering Jesus. I read it during Lent. Very easy to read and short chapters.
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testament is excellent and affordable. The downside is that it’s just the New Testament. The OT is in the works but not currently complete and available in one volume.
The Didache Bible is also good. The commentary is available on both the RSV-2CE and NABRE translations, so you get a choice. It includes introductions to each book, commentary based on the CCC, and short apologetical explanations of various Catholic beliefs are inserted. I would prefer something more in depth myself (like the Ignatous one mentioned above) but it would make an excellent introduction study Bible for someome unfamilar with the faith, and has the advantage of being both the full Bible and affordable.
There is also the Navarre Bible. It has a lot more commentary, but we’re also looking at multiple volumes and a much steeper cost. There is also a single “expanded NT” volume in this series, newer than the original.
Those are three excellent study Bibles that stick with good Catholic commentary. There is also the Haydock Bible, a nineteenth century commentary, but it’s not very available in hardcopy, is higher cost (though it is free online), and not everyone may appreciate its more archaic style. I’m also aware of the New Jerusalem Bible which has commentary, but I’ve heard tell it can be unorthodox in some interpretations and historical analysis, so may not make the best study Bible for someone being introduced to the faith.
Here is a nice free introduction…
Also A Catholic Guide to the Bible by Fr. Lukefahr. There used to be a website where you could get this (and other studies for Catholics) for free or a donation but I can’t seem to find it. I think I did read that Fr. Lukefahr passed away? But you can get it cheap along with the workbook on Amazon.
“The Great Bible Adventure” by Jeff Cavins is a bible study for groups but can be bought for individual use also. It is very easy to understand and takes you from Genesis to Acts. It pulls the bible together into an understandable whole. It had me wanting more. It’s a 8 or so part DVD series with a workbook. I highly recommend it for starters.
I think the other posters have basically covered all of the available commentaries. Unfortunately, there’s just not a ton out there.
Also, and this is just my opinion, most modern commentaries are going to approach Holy Scripture in what I believe is a very academic manner. They’re going to explain aspects of the historical-critical method, they’re going to explain translation choices, they’re going to address what scholars think of the Bible.
But you know, I find that so unfulfilling. I personally am far, far, far, FAR more interested in reading Scripture to derive spiritual meditation from it. I hate to be so frank, but I think most scholars are just way off in a different world to that sot of thing. Also, I think a lot of their theories, which can be highly speculative, can undermine one’s faith more than build it up.
I think it’s perfectly fine to just read Scripture, especially all the way through just to get a feel for everything. As time goes on, one can expand into commentaries and so forth.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents about that.
But also, I think The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible - New Testmant is probably going to meet your friend’s needs the most.
It may not be a bad idea, also, to focus a bit on books rather than commentaries as such. This book might be a good idea: amazon.com/Bible-Basics-Catholics-Picture-Salvation/dp/1594712913
Also Scott Hahn’s work, especially this: amazon.com/Father-Who-Keeps-His-Promises/dp/0892838299/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462113962&sr=1-6&keywords=scott+hahn
You can get Genesis is the Ignatius Study Bible editions. About 10 bucks on Amazon.
One of the listed above. If he likes thees thys and thous there’s the Haydock Commentary.
There is extensive, easy-to-read commentary in the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition
The op was looking for something for someone who was just beginning to read the Bible so my suggestions to him/her were based on that criteria. But there is a very good set of commentaries being published that is a little more in depth that you may be interested in.
They are called Catholic Commentary On Sacred Scripture…
So far only some of the New Testament books are available and no Old Testament yet.
They also have a one year Bible reading plan…
I know this is not the answer to the OP, but some great sources of understanding also come from some of the great apologists. John Matignoni at the Bible Christian Society has a great list of Catholic apologetic talks that break down scripture into Catholic components. Anything by Scott Hahn and many others will help put perspective on Catholic beliefs based on the scriptures.