Would you recommend the Collegville Bible Commentary?


Full Question

I have the Collegeville Bible Commentary for the New American Bible, but it seems really technical. Is this a good commentary?

Answer

We are unable to recommend the Collegeville Bible Commentary. It is characterized by one-sided, liberal Bible scholarship and lack of fidelity to the Church's teachings.

A good example of this is the commentary on Romans 1:18-32. In that passage of the Bible Paul states that because pagans worshiped creatures rather than the Creator, "God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Rom 1:26-27).

The Collegeville Bible Commentary states "'natural' and 'unnatural' should be more accurately translated 'culturally approved' and 'culturally disapproved.'" This is linguistic nonsense. The Greek word here for "natural" is the adjectival form of phusis, from which we get "physics." The term means "according to [a thing's] nature." It has nothing to do with society's approval or disapproval. In fact the phrase for "unnatural" (para phusin) was found in the Stoic philosophers before Paul's time and clearly indicated something that was out of accord with nature. Sickness, for instance, was said to be para phusin (cf. Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 9:265).

The fact that the Collegeville Bible Commentary would go so far as to say that the terms "should be more accurately translated" as "culturally approved" and "culturally disapproved" shows the lengths to which the authors of the commentary are willing to go to push their social agenda. (In the case cited the commentary gives what may be termed a pro-homosexualist interpretation.) This is not scholarship, but the antithesis of it, where a scholar's personal social or political views are allowed to dominate the data.

We have given only one example of this commentary's deficiencies, but we have found enough similar problems that we cannot recommend this as a trustworthy work.


Catholic Answers Staff