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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Come and See Catholic Bible Study: Genesis, a review

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Looking for a small group Bible study for those warm summer evenings?  Begin at the beginning with the Come and See Catholic Bible Study of Genesis by Father Joseph L. Ponessa, SSD and Laurie Watson Manhardt, PhD.  The book contains a nihil obstat by Rev. Jay H. Peterson (Censor Librorum) and an imprimatur by the Most Rev. Anthony M. Milone D.D. (Bishop of Great Falls) dated May 1, 2003.  The nihil obstat and imprimatur are official declarations that a book is free of doctrinal or moral error.

The Book of Genesis is of special interest these days as Bible scholars line up on both sides of the evolution debate:  Is Genesis a literal telling of the beginning of time, to be taken as an accurate and scientific record of how life on Earth started, or is it a story whose true meaning is held within its literary depths?  Or is it something else entirely?  How do we interpret the beginning of our story?

This Come and See Catholic Bible Story is designed to be used with a small group, with each member of the group having their own copy of the book.  Suggestions are given for organizing the group, including making plans for where to meet, scheduling speakers (there is also a DVD available that is designed to enhance the study with additional background info, artwork, maps and more), arranging for child-care, and even planning socials outside of the actual meetings.  In short, there’s plenty of information here to help you make your group successful.

In addition to a copy of the study, each group member will also need an appropriate study Bible (suggestions are given for choosing one) and a Catechism of the Catholic Church

The 22 chapter study follows the Book of Genesis in short segments, with each chapter beginning with an explanation of the verses being covered, a discussion of the church’s teaching on the scripture, as well as a brief discussion of how this relates to our modern lives.  Each chapter ends with several questions meant to inspire deep thought and reflection on the reading.  It’s intended that each study member will read and reflect on their own, writing out their answers to the questions, and that when the group meets next time they will be able to share their answers. 

Could this be used as an individual Bible study?  Sure, but obviously you’ll get more out of it by sharing it with other people.  It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your own take on things.  Sharing your reflections with others and hearing what they have to say could open new avenues of understanding.

How about using it as a family Bible study?  Possibly.  Now, keep in mind this is an adult Bible study (there is a Come and See Kids series for young children as well), and there are some themes here that are adult specific and either inappropriate for children or else simply outside their realm of understanding.  It would be possible, though, to use this book for personal study in preparation to discussing Genesis with your children.  Older children could tackle some of the discussion questions and younger children might enjoy the Come and See Kids In the Beginning Catholic Bible Study for Children.

Overall, it’s a nicely put together study.  Now to find a study group to use it with.;0)

The Come and See Catholic Bible Study on Genesis is available from The Catholic Company for $19.95.

Disclosure:  I receive a free copy of this book from The Catholic Company to review as part of their reviewer program.  I received no compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  Please visit The Catholic Company for more information about Come and See Catholic Bible Studies.

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