Your Bible: Every Catholic's Essential Companion by Noel Donnelly

Your Bible: Every Catholic's Essential Companion

The author, Noel Donnelly, will be familiar to anyone who reads the Sunday Plus newsletter, as he is a regular contributor. Having read his articles, which clearly explain Biblical passages, I noticed he had written this book and ordered a copy.

The book is A4 format and full of colour photographs. It's a book that is what it says: an essential guide. It is easy to dip into, to read a couple of pages on an aspect of the Bible and then to reflect on it (as indeed the author encourages us to do).


There are six parts to the book: the Old Testament; the New Testament; a closer look at Jesus; Peter, Paul and the early church; the women; and the Holy Spirit. To take the first of these as an example. The Old Testament is perhaps less known to the general layman, but Noel Donnelly takes the reader through it, explaining it with time-lines, maps, and a brief history of the Jewish people, setting the books in context. Next, ways in which God gradually reveals himself to man is considered, then the Exodus, and David and the Psalms. In the latter, the life of David is summarised and the Psalms are explained; how they were recorded, why they are numbered as they are, how they work as Hebrew poetry, and how they are used today. Next, three of the books are discussed in more detail, followed by prayers to various women in the Old Testament. This was interesting because we do not generally pray to Old Testament figures. Finally in this section we return to Genesis and explore it from the view point of how it was created and why the stories and parables evolved as they did. Donnelly asks us to think about the priests then in exile in Babylon, and how they absorbed the native creation myths to fit their own beliefs.

The other five sections of the book are dealt with in a similar way, covering a variety of angles to examine the essence of the topic. With an understanding of the contexts in which the Bible evolved, we can see the meaning more clearly.

I found this book an interesting and thought-provoking introduction to understanding the Bible in context. It isn't intended for theological students and doesn't go into much depth. But for the layman who hasn't the time or inclination to study theology, and who wants an easy-to-read introduction to browse through a little at a time, then this is just the ticket.

Your Bible: every Catholic's essential companion by Noel Donnelly

(Redemptorist Publications, 2010)

ISBN 978-0-85231-376-3

124 pages, paperback, A4 format

Cost about £10, depending on website. I used and paid £9.16, including postage.