Navarre bible commentary- any thoughts?

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Posts 35
augustine9989 | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Feb 18 2016 4:08 PM

I received a free copy of the Navarre volume for Luke's Gospel and really like the way it is presented. The commentary is excellent and very spiritual in nature. I'm considering going for the entire New Testament commentary but I've noticed that there are two versions of this product. This one is on sale and is made of up individual volumes. This one is contained in one large volume and is less than half the price of the 12 volume set. I assume that the self-contained, one volume commentary is abridged, however it's difficult to tell from the description. I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Navarre commentary and can recommend one version of it over another. Is there anything glaring that the cheaper version is missing but is included in the 12 volume set?


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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2016 4:28 PM

I'm not at home to take screenshots but the abridged version does have a preview that you can compare to the volume you have. Unfortunately I remember the differences only in the paper version.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 124
Antonius | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 6:08 AM

I purchased the Navarre Bible - NT(one volume) two years ago on sale for $55.
I really like it, and I have used it a lot. I also picked up the Navarre St. Luke in December. I read most of it over the Christmas Holidays, specifically the introduction/overview section. Also, I recently purchased the Navarre Romans and Galatians. I have read through the entire part on Galatians.

(I am studying and preparing for an upcoming class on Galatians I will be leading in April-May.)

So comparing Galatians from the NT/one volume and from the individual book: They are almost two different books, for both the introduction/overview section and the commentary section.

I like the two individual volumes I have so much that I am going to purchase the set while it is on sale.

Volumes: 12 Pages: 2,404 cost $185 / $140 sale
Volumes: 1 pages: 1,200 cost $75 / $55 sale

My recommendation, buy the one that is on sale.


Here is a comparison of commentary on the same verses of Galatians 2:1-10.


2:1–10 The main body of the letter is made up of five sections, all of which centre on a single, key theme—St Paul’s mission as an apostle of Christ. The Apostle has been called to preach God’s saving mystery, his plan to draw together all mankind to form one, Jew and Gentile alike. This people is a Body whose Head is Christ. The central section (3:1–21) deals with this theme; in the preceding and subsequent sections, Paul deals with various aspects of the unity of the Church (2:11–22 and 4:1–16). At the beginning and the end of the letter, he focuses on those Gentiles who have become members of Christ, to help them appreciate their undeserved gift (vv. 1–10) and to draw practical consequences for their new lives as members of Christ and the Church (4:17–6:20).

The Navarre Bible: New Testament (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2008), 716.

Visit to Jerusalem
2:1–10. St Paul had ended his first apostolic journey by returning to Antioch in Syria, from where he had set out. We know that the Christian community in that city, which was an important crossroads of race and culture, had developed as a providential result of the dispersal of Jerusalem’s Christians following on Stephen’s martyrdom (cf. Acts 11:19–26). Some of those refugees had brought the new faith to Antioch but had confined themselves to preaching and converting Jews. Later, through the activity of other Christians, Jews of the diaspora, that is, domiciled outside Palestine, and pagans also began to adopt the new religion. Barnabas had been commissioned by the Jerusalem church to organize the young Christian community in Antioch (cf. Acts 11:19–24). He later chose Paul, who had been living quietly in Tarsus, to act as his assistant (cf. Acts 11:25–26).
The disciples in Antioch, where the name “Christians” was first used to describe them, belonged to the whole gamut of social and ethnic backgrounds, as we can see from the short list of “prophets and teachers” of the church there (cf. Acts 13:1–3): some were of African origin, like Symeon “who was called Niger”; others came from the western Mediterranean, like Lucius of Cyrene; Manaen was from the household of Herod the tetrarch; and there were Jews from communities outside Palestine—for example, Barnabas and Saul themselves.
Among those different types, we find some Christians of Jewish background who felt that pagan converts to Christianity should observe the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law (including the detailed precepts which Jewish tradition kept adding to that Law); these guardians of the gate of entry into the chosen people were requiring that pagan converts be circumcised, as all Jews were.
When these “Judaizers” from Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1) asserted that circumcision was necessary for salvation, they were raising an issue which went much deeper than simply conforming to the Law of Moses: was the Redemption wrought by Christ enough, of itself, for attaining salvation, or did people still need to become part of the people of Israel, conforming to all its ritual requirements?
Clearly, this question was a source of considerable division. Acts 15:2 refers to its causing “no small dissension”. The present passage of Galatians shows that Paul, receiving a revelation from God, decided to grasp the nettle by stating unequivocally that Christ’s redemption—on its own, and alone—brought salvation. In other words, circumcision was not necessary, nor did the elaborate ritual regulations of Judaism apply to Christians. In Jerusalem Paul expounded “the Gospel” he had been proclaiming to the Gentiles. He was accompanied by Barnabas, and by a young disciple, Titus, the son of pagan parents, quite possibly baptized by Paul himself (cf. Tit 1:4, where he calls him his “true child”), who would later became one of his most faithful co-workers.

Saint Paul’s Letters to the Romans & Galatians, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 147–148.

Posts 57
William | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 7:46 AM

I have the one volume and it's definitely a great one volume commentary.  This isn't even the same price range but if you like Navarre, you want to look at Sacra Pagina if you haven't:

I'm not Catholic but one of my professors in Seminary had us use Sacra Pagina and it has become my most used Commentary set.  The cool thing is that Logos often has good deals on individual books of the series.  Just a thought!


Posts 274
Average Joe | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 8:54 AM

I have the complete Navarre set (AKA the "Standard Edition") in Verbum and the one volume New Testament (AKA the "Compact Edition") in print.

The Preface of the Compact Edition spells out the difference between editions (there is also a "Reader's Edition" that Logos does not sell). Of the Compact Edition, it says:

"This Compact Edition contains the entire New Testament (RSVCE); quite short introductions to each of the four Gospels, to the Acts, to the letters, and to the book of Revelation; and new commentaries/notes—much less extensive than those in the Standard and Reader's Editions, and often drawn from different sources."

So the Compact Edition is not a mere abridgement, but actually contains some different (though less extensive) material. Not that it is all new material. I haven't done a full side-by-side comparison, but there are portions of it that read pretty closely.

It's definitely much more compact. For example, the intro to Luke that you have has a 12 page introduction. The intro in the Compact Edition is a page and a half. Plus, the Compact Edition tends to "batch" the commentary. For example, at the beginning of Luke, there is commentary on Luke 1:1–4; 1:5–2:52; 1:5–25; 1:26–38; 1:39–56; and 1:57–80. There isn't as much in the way of individual verses.

If you look at the page count on the product pages, you see that the 7 volume is 2,400 pages and the 1 volume is 1,200 pages—which might be a mistake as my print copy of the 1 volume is only 700 pages. So it is definitely much smaller.

Posts 202
Stephen Terlizzi | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 10:32 AM

I have the complete Navarre set and it is one of my most used commentaries. Well worth the purchase. 

When combined with Sacra Pagina, Berit Olam, and Ignatius Study Bible, you have an excellent set of Catholic resources that can be supplemented with other Academic and Protestant commentaries as required.

I recommend the complete Navarre set.



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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 2:05 PM

from volume on Mark:

The Gerasene demoniac
5:1–20. The inhabitants of Gerasa were mostly pagans, as one can gather from the fact that there was such a huge herd of swine there (which must have belonged to a number of different people). Jews were forbidden to raise pigs or eat pork (Lev 11:7).
This miracle emphasizes, once more, the existence of the devil and his influence over men’s lives: if God permits it, the devil can harm not only humans but also animals. When Christ allows the demons to enter the swine, the malice of the demons becomes obvious: they are tormented at not being able to do men harm and therefore they ask Christ to let them, at least, inflict themselves on animals. This he does, in order to show that they would have the same effect on men as they have on these swine, if God did not prevent them.
Clearly it was not Jesus’ intention to punish the owners of the swine by the loss of the herd: since they were pagans they were not subject to the precepts of the Jewish law. Rather, the death of the swine is visible proof that the demon has gone out of the possessed man.
Jesus permitted the loss of some material goods because these were of infinitely less value than the spiritual good involved in the cure of the possessed man. Cf. the note on Mt 8:28–34.

5:15–20. Notice the different attitudes to Jesus Christ: the Gerasenes beg him to go away; the man freed from the devil wants to stay with him and follow him. The inhabitants of Gerasa have had our Lord near them, they have seen his divine powers, but they are very self-centred: all they can think about is the material damage they have suffered through the loss of the herd; they do not realize the marvel Jesus has worked. Christ has invited them and offered them his grace but they do not respond: they reject him. The man who has been cured wants to follow Jesus with the rest of his disciples but our Lord refuses; instead he gives him a task which shows Christ’s unlimited compassion for all men, even for those who reject him: the man is to stay in Gerasa and proclaim to the whole neighbourhood what the Lord has done for him. Perhaps they will think again and realize who he is who has visited them, and escape from the sins their greed has led them to commit. These two attitudes are to be found whenever Christ passes by—as are Jesus’ mercy and continuous offer of grace: our Lord does not want the death of the sinner but rather that he should turn from his way and live (cf. Ezek 18:23).

5:20. The “Decapolis” or “country of the ten cities”, among the more famous of which are Damascus, Philadelphia, Scythopolis, Gadara, Pella and Gerasa. The region was located to the east of the lake of Gennesaret and was inhabited mainly by pagans of Greek and Syrian origin. This territory came under the Roman governor of Syria.

Saint Mark’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 75–77.

from NT volume:

The Gerasene demoniac
5:1–20 Gerasa was in the Decapolis, an area inhabited by pagans of Greek and Syrian origin (cf. the note on Mt 8:28–34). That it was inhabited by pagans is clear from the fact that there was a herd of swine in the area; Jews did not raise pigs, since they were forbidden to eat pork (see Lev 11:7; Deut 14:8). But Jesus’ mission is not confined to the children of Israel; it extends to the whole world, knowing no boundaries, because Jesus cares for all souls.
Therefore, the words Jesus speaks at the end of the passage explain the main meaning of this episode: he asks the man he has cured to tell all who live in the pagan region that the “mercy” of God is available to them, too (vv. 19–20). “Those who have met Christ must not shut themselves in their own little world: what a sad limitation that would be! They must open out like a fan in order to reach all souls. Each has to create (and widen) a circle of friends, whom he can influence through his professional prestige, his behaviour and his friendship, so that Christ may exercise his influence by means of that prestige, that behaviour and that friendship” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Furrow, 193).
St Mark reports this episode very vividly. The possessed man is in a terrible state: he lives like an animal, away from all human settlements and among tombs, which render him unclean (vv. 2–4); the devil has drained him of humanity. But now the devil must face Jesus, who is much stronger than he is (cf. 3:27) and who has been frustrating him ever since his ministry began (1:21–28). This passage describes an exorcism in which Jesus’ exchanges with the devil reveal our Lord’s power: a devil capable of controlling two thousand swine is forced to tell Jesus his name (v. 9) and to plead with him, twice (vv. 10–11), to have himself and his cohorts allowed to stay in the swine. Jesus accedes to this, because what interests him is the man, not the devil. So, the man recovers his dignity and we find him “clothed and in his right mind” (v. 15), returning home to be with his people (v. 19). St Jerome explains the exorcism in this way: “It is as if he said: Leave my house. Why are you in my house? I want to go in. Come out of the man, this man, this rational animal. Come out of this man, this house prepared for me; the Lord wants to take possession of his home” (Commentarium in Marcum, 2).
At the end of the passage, we read of various reactions to the miracle: the man is delighted, but the local inhabitants demand that Jesus leave the area (v. 17), and the demons have begged not to be expelled from the region. Jesus had come among the herdsmen, but they preferred things the way they were; they were selfish. Christ had stood at their side, offering them his grace, but they rejected it. The man freed from the devil, however, wants to stay with Jesus and follow him. Our Lord does not let him do so, but he does give him a task: he is to stay in his own country and tell people “how much the Lord has done” for him (v. 19). The man begins to proclaim “how much Jesus had done for him” (v. 20). The divinity of Jesus is implied here; he himself is God’s mercy.

The Navarre Bible: New Testament (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2008), 179–180.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 35
augustine9989 | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 3:29 PM

Thanks very much everyone for the feedback. It certainly seems that the consensus is that the multi volume set is worth the added cost. I'm surprised at how much of the commentary seems to have been rewritten for the single volume but I still appreciate the more extensive commentary. The original narrative written by the authors is very good and really speaks to me.

My only other concern after spending more time with the sample text is that there seems to be a heavy reliance on the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI, and St. Josemaria for references. It's not that I have a problem with any of these sources but I had expected the references to be a bit more varied (more from the Church Fathers and other preconciliar saints and documents for example). I have been using Bernard Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture up to this point (along with Haydock) and while I prefer the more historical references of those works, I don't find them nearly as readable or spiritual as the Navarre. Besides that, the Navarre seems to be dotrinally faithful, and lacks the controversial theses that more modern commentaries are known for. That's probably the most important thing for me. In the end, I suppose that the best commentary is the one I'll actually read throughly. Thanks again for all your thoughts. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 3:33 PM

From my perspective, in the paper version where you have English, Vulgate and commentary there is more value than in the electronic version which tends to stand or fall based on your opinion of St. Josemaria and Navarre University.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 19 2016 8:44 PM

MJ. Smith:

From my perspective, in the paper version where you have English, Vulgate and commentary there is more value than in the electronic version which tends to stand or fall based on your opinion of St. Josemaria and Navarre University.

Whereas I prefer the electronic version (of, at least, the full edition), because I find the paper version formatted in a very user-unfriendly manner.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 20 2016 11:51 AM

MJ. Smith:

From my perspective, in the paper version where you have English, Vulgate and commentary there is more value than in the electronic version which tends to stand or fall based on your opinion of St. Josemaria and Navarre University.

I am certainly not a huge fan of St. Josemaria but I do find the Navarre Bible very useful. Josemaria for me can be useful but at times too dogmatic in his approach for me.


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