The Big Picture Bible Course – Sessions 7 – The Cross and 8 – New life

The Big Picture Bible Course

Discussion of  Session 7 – the Cross and Introduction to Session 8 New Life

Opening Prayer

  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.

Let us Pray

Oh Christ Jesus, Our Lord Our God, Our Holy Redeemer, Our Saviour.
I thank you for this day, For your infinite Love,
Your forgiveness of sin, Your Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Our Redemption and Salvation.
For our Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary,
For Your saving Grace,
And all your gifts of Love

Prayer of thanks to Jesus (Anonymous)


As the DVD session on the cross puts it all so well, let’s have another look at it before entering into our discussions.

Discussion and Sharing

Hymn books and visual aids are available


DVD – New Life

Read the overview and then we’ll watch the DVD.

Good Digging


When I was catching up on the Incarnation, after being on holiday, I came across this little snippet.

Verbum Domini – Benedict XVI

  1. The patristic and medieval tradition, in contemplating this “Christology of the word” employed an evocative expression: the word was “abbreviated”… The Son himself is the word, the Logos: the eternal word became small – small enough to fit in a manger. He became a child, so that the word could be grasped by us.  Now the word is not simply audible:  not only does it have a voice, now the word has a face, one which we can see: that of Jesus of Nazareth.


All that God has for us, wants to show us, wants to do for us, is there in Christ – abbreviated.


The Cross

When we contemplate the crucifixion we can see the suffering of Jesus on the cross and the magnitude of what he has done for us.  We must not forget that it is also a triumph and that Jesus is raised up.

 There are many scriptures about this:

Isaiah 52: 13  See my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise up to great heights.  All of chapter 53 is worth a read as well.

John 3:13-14  No one has gone up to heaven, except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven, and the Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.   (Numbers 21: 4-9 & Wisdom 16: 5-7)

Acts 2: 23-24 & 32-33

Psalm 22, which Jesus quotes from on the cross, also ends on a note of triumph.






The Big Picture Bible Course – Session 6

The Big Picture Bible Course – Session 6 “Incarnation”

Opening Prayer

  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.


Let us pray

   A prayer of Julian of Norwich  (1342 to c1416)

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.

In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.

You are our mother, brother, and Saviour. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace.

You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.

You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.

Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,

and all manner of things shall be well. Amen


Sharing of the previous weeks studies “People”

Extract from Eucharistic Prayer III –

You are indeed Holy, O lord and all you have created rightly gives you praise,  for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.


They shall be my people and I will be their God.  Jeremiah 32: 38


The Big Read for last week was Hebrews ch 11

This contains a number of   “by faith”  statements centred on particular people who then did something.   At a later date you might want to revisit this chapter and then find out more about these people.  This table might help.

“by faith” Bible reference Action
Abel Gen 4:4
Enoch Gen 5:24
Noah Gen 6:8-22
Abraham Gen 12:1 to Gen 25:11 leaves his home
Sarah Gen 17:19 & 18:9-15 & 21:1-7
Isaac Gen 27:27-40
Jacob Gen 48:1-20
Joseph Gen 50:24-25
Moses Ex 2:2 to 14:31
Rahab Joshua 2:1-24 & 6:17-25 hides the spies
Gideon Judges 6:1 to 8:32
Barak Judges 4:4-16
Samson Judges 13:1 to 16:31
Jephthah Judges 11:1 to 12:7
Samuel 1 Sam 3:1 to 4:1
David 1 Sam 16:1-23 & 2 Sam 7:8-16


Catechism of the Catholic Church – 64

Through the prophets God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.  The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.  Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith, and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation.  The purest figure among them is Mary.



Person Bible Reference What they did
Sarah Gen 12:5 & 17:19 & 18:9-15 & 21:1-7 & 23:1-2
Rebecca Gen ch 24-27
Rachel Gen ch 29-30:24 & 35:16-20
Miriam Ex 15:19-21
Deborah Judges ch 4 to 5:22
Hannah 1 Sam ch 1 to 2:11
Judith Judith ch 10 to 13:26
Esther Esther ch 4 to 7:10
Mary Luke 1:26-56 & 2:1-52


Recurrent theme

When the people follow the Lord and serve him faithfully things go well for them.  When they fall away things go badly for them.  The Israelites go through a cycle of coming to the Lord and falling away again.  Through all this the Lord doesn’t give up on them.


“by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”

DVD  The Incarnation

Marking out next weeks scriptures


Some of my own musings on the fall


Your tube hymn

There is a Fountain filled with Blood –William Cowper (1731-1800)


The Fall – Genesis 3

There are times when we can read the bible with imagination; we may even try to put ourselves there as we strive to understand what happened.  If we go beyond the scripture we would have to own up to that and say:

But that is more than the Scripture says.


That is going way beyond the scripture.


But that is just speculation.


When we consider Adam and Eve and the fall we have to remember that it is not a story for children, it is a story for adults.  A child would say, “That’s a rubbish story because my dad wouldn’t throw me out of the garden for taking an apple!” as an RE teacher once told me.

Even if we speak of it as being in “figurative language” it is still important to examine the details in the way they are presented to extract as much as we can from it.

So here goes

Satan comes to Eve, in the form of a serpent.  Gen 3:1   This would seem to be an example of divide and conquer.

Eve doesn’t seem to find a talking serpent odd and finds herself answering its questions, even though she has authority, along with Adam, over all the animals.  Gen 1: 28

The question asked is actually a false one, “Did God say you were not to eat of any of the trees in the garden?”  Gen 3: 1

Eve answers with a statement which is also wrong, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden.  But of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death”.”  Gen 3: 2-3. Look at Gen 2: 16-17 for what God actually said.

So an incorrect detail has crept into Eve’s recollection of what God actually said.  How might this have come about?  Here’s where a bit of imagination comes in.

Scenario 1 – God told Adam but not Eve.  Adam told Eve and told her wrong, or got exasperated with “why?” questions and said, “Just don’t touch it, Ok!”

Scenario 2 – God told Adam and Eve, but somehow, maybe in their conversations with each other, this business of “Don’t even touch it” has crept in.

Whatever happened this gives Satan an opening, like a Radio 4 Today programme interviewer leading an interviewee down the garden path.  If he can get her to touch it, and plainly not die, this would cast doubt on the prohibition not to eat it.  Here comes the temptation, and a bigger lie, the devil says “No! You will not die!  God knows in fact that on that day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”  Gen 3: 4-5

Instead of rebuking the serpent, she does what it says, then gives some of the fruit to Adam, and the rest, as it were, is our sad history.

Do they actually acquire the knowledge of good and evil or just the ability to decide for themselves what is good and evil?  They seem to decide wrong and the way they look at themselves and each other is forever changed.  They try to make a rather inadequate cover for their nakedness.  Gen 3: 7

When they hear God walking in the garden they hide from him.  Why do they even think this is possible?  Could it be that the voice of God within then has been silenced as part of their spiritual death?  Gen 3: 8

When God questions them about what happened he comes to Adam first, as if to say – “I put you in charge, what happened?”  Then Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on.

I wonder, if Adam hadn’t eaten the fruit could he have interceded for Eve?  Still, that speculation is futile as that is not what happened.

They have to leave that close proximity with God in the garden of Eden and go out into a world changed by their sin.  Gen 3: 17-19.  Their relationship with each other is also changed.  Gen 3: 16.

-But they do have a world to live in.

-God promises them a Saviour, the offspring of the woman.  Gen 3: 15.

-He provides a more adequate covering for their nakedness, for their sin.  This is the first recorded sacrifice in the bible and prefigures all the old testament sacrifices and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Gen 3: 21

Hebrews 9: 22 – without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Mark 10: 45  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Hebrews 9: 26   But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once for all to remove sin by his sacrifice.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

When I survey the wondrous cross – Isaac Watts (1674-1748)


Notes on imagery – The Blood of Christ

Why have I chosen an extreme Protestant Hymn with some rather graphic imagery?

To remind us how much our free gift of salvation cost Jesus as we come into Easter time to commemorate His passion and celebrate his resurrection.

There are many hymns with this imagery;

Take our bread – “Your holy people standing washed in your                                                                                             blood”

To God be the Glory – “O perfect redemption the purchase of                                                                                        blood.”

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine – “Born of His Spirit, washed in                                                                           his blood”

Soul of my Saviour – “Wash me with water, flowing from thy side”

Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”

The Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”

Opening Prayer

 Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created

And you will renew the face of the earth.


Let us pray

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will.  All that I have and cherish you have given me.  I surrender it all to be guided by your will.  Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me.  Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.

Amen.   (Prayer of self-dedication to Jesus Christ ascribed to St                                                                                                Ignatius of Loyola)


Discussion from the previous week “Creation”

Some observations about the Garden of Eden


  1. A good creation – Genesis 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31
  2. A benign gentle creation watered by a mist – Genesis 2: 6.
  3. A vegetarian creation – Genesis 1: 26-31

(contrast with Genesis 9: 1-3)

  1. Man – male and female, have dominion over every living thing. Genesis 1: 26
  2. A job to do – to tend and care for the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2: 15. (Sometimes called the “Covenant of Works”.)
  3. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. Genesis 3: 8

Note – there are two other instances of people walking with God.  Enoch in Genesis 5: 24 and Noah in Genesis 6: 9.

  1. No thorns in the garden. Genesis 3: 18
  2. The garden yields its abundance with little effort on the part of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3: 17  (Adam and Eve potter in the garden.)
  3. They can eat of the Tree of Life but not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their proximity to God in the garden means they have Him as that source of reference.
  4. Even after it has all gone wrong they still have a world to live in and a Saviour is promised to them. Genesis 3: 15


Catechism of the Catholic Church

 288  Creation is the first and universal witness to God’s all-powerful love.

 289  Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place.  From a literary standpoint these texts have had diverse sources.  The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation – its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation.  Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.

375  The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice.”   This grace of original holiness was to “share in…divine life.”

378  The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.  There he lives “to till it and keep it.”  Work is not yet a burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.


Last weeks extra task

How long was the tent peg?

Thoughts on Paul’s use of “saints” in Ephesians.


Reading the Overview for “The Fall”

and watching the DVD.

 Marking next weeks scriptures.


 Extra Tasks

 It is often said that the Bible is not a science text book.  But can you find science in it?

Have a look at Genesis 30: 32-43

Jacob is looking after his father in law’s sheep and goats.  He notices that the black sheep and the speckled and spotted goats have vigour even if they don’t look very good as specimens.  He asks his father in law if he can have those animals as wages.  He breeds them and ends up with a thriving, sturdy herd and his father in law’s herd grows feeble.

Jacob has done what scientists do.   He has made an observation, made predictions from that and tested that in practice by experiment.  An exercise in genetics before the monk Gregor Mendel started experimenting with peas.

When his father in law, Laban, figures this out he is less than pleased – Genesis 31:5.  Jacob leaves and returns to the land of his father, Isaac.

The whole story of Jacob is one of trickery and deceit.  Jacob acquires his brother’s birth right – Gen 25: 29-34.

He tricks his father into giving him his brothers blessing – Gen 27.

He flees for his life because his brother Esau is very angry with him.

Jacob works for Laban and wants to marry his daughter Rachel – Gen 29.

Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah and he has to labour for many more years to marry Rachel.

Lastly we have the trickery of the sheep and goats.

This is not to condone deceit, after all Jacob suffers because of his actions even though God favours him over his brother.

Isaac also comes out as a rather long-suffering faithful individual.


The Great Evolution-Creation Debate

 Strangely enough the Church hasn’t come down on one side of the debate or the other, it acknowledges the status of evolution as a theory of  value in some areas of study.  It asks that if you have a measure of evolution in your understanding of creation you acknowledge the following truths[1]:

  1. God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo).
  2. God created an orderly universe (the universe is not a product of chance).
  3. God sustains everything in being (everything depends on God for existence).
  4. The human soul was created immediately by God.
  5. We are all descended from one family group, Adam and Eve.


I was greatly encouraged by this as it means that the Catholic creation umbrella is quite a broad one and covers those with a literal view of biblical creation, to those who believe in intelligent design over a longer period of time, to those who believe in theistic evolution.   Whatever our position we are asked to be gracious to one another and remember our calling; to believe in Jesus, surrender to him and be baptised.

The Church regards evolution as not an obstacle to faith and not incompatible with faith.

Here are a few references and websites which may be useful:

Catholicism and Evolution: A History from Darwin to Pope Francis by Michael Chaberek O.P.  – Angelico Press

Humani Generis – Encyclical of Pius XII

Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: on Evolution: Pope John Paul II  (ref 1 in the text)   British and Irish, Catholic Creation journal and website






The Big Picture Bible Course – session 3 “Creation”

The Big Picture Bible Course – session 3 “Creation”


Opening Prayer


  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.


Prayers from the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy as we reflect on coming to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, to pray for one another and our world.


Let us pray;


Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and the Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Your Dearly Beloved Son.  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.


For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.


Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.



St. Faustina  Pray for us.

St Joseph  Pray for us.



Time of Sharing

How did you get on with the week’s tasks?

Discuss with reference to the week’s scriptures.


  • Reflections on how we see God.
  • Receiving God’s revelation
  • Things that get in the way.
  • The many names of God.
  • Born to be loved
  • God’s big plan




Names of God

You may be wondering why the book is pointing us to all these Hebrew names of God.  After all, aren’t we having enough getting to grips with the bible in English?

Well, each of these names tells us something about God and how those people of the bible tried to understand Him.

The “El” names  are the simplest and are normally given with a descriptive term as in El Shaddai – God almighty or mountain God.

El Roi – the God who sees me.

There are many other names with “El” in them;

Michael – Who is like God?

Gabriel – God is mighty

Emmanuel – God with us

Elijah – my God is the Lord

Elisha – God is salvation

Raphael – God has healed


Then we come to God’s own revealed name as given to Moses.  “I Am who I Am”.  In other words I am not a God of adjectives who can be pinned down and controlled.  I am a God of surprises, always more than you can think or imagine – and yet I choose to reveal myself to you.

In Hebrew God’s revealed name is given as 4 letters.  In English letters this is YHVH.  Hebrew is all consonants and has no vowels, although vowel points are now added to make things easier.  However, as this name is regarded by the Jews as so Holy that it should not be said, it is uncertain exactly how it should be pronounced.  Attempts to pronounce this name have given us Yahweh or Jehovah.  But any Jew will tell you they don’t say either and never have.  Instead they substitute Adonai – Lord or Hashem – the Name.


The Jerusalem bible uses Yahweh in the Old Testament as well as some of the El names.  I find this useful in pointing me to the Hebrew but out of respect for the Jews, and early church tradition, the Catholic Church has said that we shouldn’t say this name but instead substitute Lord.  This was in the document Liturgium Authenticam in 2001 and the Letter to the Bishop’s conferences on “The Name of God” in 2008.

The CTS bible uses the Jerusalem translation but with Lord instead of Yahweh.

Though you may come across the name Yahweh in an academic setting, it is important to remember that we are asked not to say it or use it in Liturgy.

If you want to use a Hebrew name in you own reading use Adonai and you will have given your reading an authentic Jewish flavour.



Last Weeks Extras


Moses and the incident of the Golden Calf – Exodus 32: 1-30

-We could consider why an episode of law breaking coincides with law making?

-We could consider why Moses had to take such drastic action?

-But let’s look at Moses as intercessor;

-interceding for the people, Exodus 32: 30

-interceding for his own brother Aaron, Deuteronomy 9: 20


And Jesus interceding for us with the Father in heaven;

Romans 8: 34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.


Pauls Letter to the Ephesians

Have you figured out what our sword is?

Eph 6: 17  …and receive the word of God from the Spirit to use as a sword.

Answer – The Bible



This week’s extras


Old Testament – There are times when I just like to read the bible for enjoyment, so here is a bit from Judges just for fun.

Judges 4: 1 to 22,  A tale of two women – Deborah and Jael

You may want to reflect on the interplay between Deborah and Barak and his reluctance to do battle.  She certainly comes out better than he.

Then we come to Jael.  I’m not drawing any great lesson from this so all the men can rest easy in their beds, but one question does come to mind.  How long was this tent peg?


New Testament – Back to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians

In this letter in various places Paul uses the word saints with a small “s”.

This occurs in Eph 1:1, 15, 18;  2:19;  3:8, 18;  4:12;  5:3;  6:18


As Catholics we are accustomed to the word Saints with a capital “S” as applied to those recognised as such by the church following their deaths and a process of canonisation.  But just what does Paul mean when he uses this word saints with a small “s”.


As the epistles were originally written in Greek it is useful to look at what Greek word is being used here, bear with me because this is really good.

The Greek word used is ἅγιος, putting this into English letters gives us hagios from which we get the word hagiography which means writings (biographies) of the lives of the Saints.  The word can also be translated as holy and can be applied to people or things.  Therefore as applied to people we can see this as saints – holy people.


So how does this work in St Paul’s context of saints with a small “s”.

Paul is applying this to people in the church.

What might their characteristics be?

-They have believed in the Lord Jesus.

-They have repented.

-They have been baptised.

-They have received the Holy Spirit.

-They persevere, that is they are going on with the Lord even in the face of difficulties and sufferings, indeed this is why they need the armour of God as mentioned in Eph 6: 10-17.


Now if we have those same characteristics, then we can say we are saints with a small “s”.  This is absolutely incredible and fantastic especially as I don’t see myself as holy.

Consider a line from the song, “Take our bread”

  • Your holy people stand washed in your blood


You Tube – Take our bread we ask you



So there we have it, holy not of ourselves but because Jesus makes us so.  He takes our sins and gives us His righteousness.  What an exchange.


Are you ready to sing “When the saints go marching in.”



Marking out next weeks scriptures.






The Big Picture Bible Course – Session 2, GOD

Big Picture Bible Course – Session 2, GOD


Bible Overview


Key events and people Book
Creation Genesis
Fall Genesis
Flood Genesis
Abraham Genesis
Isaac Genesis
Jacob Genesis
12 sons-12 tribes Genesis
Egypt Exodus
Moses Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Deliverance Exodus
10 Commandments Exodus
Golden Calf Exodus
Wanderings Exodus, Deuteronomy
Joshua and Caleb Deuteronomy , Joshua
Settling the Promised Land Joshua
Time of the Judges Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel
Time of the Kings and Prophets 1&2 Sam, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel etc. to Malachi
Kingdom splits in two 1&2 K, 1&2 Chron
Israel overrun by Assyria – 10 tribes disappear 2 Kings
Disaster – Judah overrun by Babylon

Temple destroyed, people taken into exile

2 Kings
Exile in Babylon Daniel, Esther
Return from Babylon,

Temple rebuilt

Ezra, Nehemiah
Time of the Maccabees 1&2 Maccabees
Time of Herod the Great Matthew,
Jesus Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Revelation
The Apostles Letters of Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude

Opening Prayer


  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.


Charles de Foucald’s Prayer of Abandonment


Father I abandon myself into your hands;  Do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you; I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

For I love you, Lord and so need to give myself,

To surrender myself into your hands without reserve

And with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.


Time of Sharing

How did you get on with the week’s tasks?

  • The prayer
  • The verse from Proverbs, your hopes for the course.
  • The verse from Colossians, making room in your heart.
  • Luke 24: 44-45 & 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12, drawing
  • Ephesians 1: 15-23, Paul’s prayer
  • Psalm 119: 9-18
  • The Big Read Psalm 119: 89 to 152 – do any verses stand out, i.e. vs 105


Scriptures from Last Week


Proverbs 2: 1-5 – My son, if you take my words to heart, if you set store by my commandments, tuning your ear to wisdom, and applying your heart to truth; yes, if your plea is for clear perception, if you cry out for discernment, if you look for it as if it were silver, and search for it as for buried treasure, you will then understand what the fear of the Lord is, and discover the knowledge of discernment.


Colossians 3: 16 – Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.  Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom.  With gratitude in your hearts sing Psalms and Hymns and inspired songs to God.


Luke 24: 44-45 – Then He told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.’  He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures.


1 Corinthians 2: 11-12 – After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.  Now instead of the Spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts he has given us.


Ephesians 1: 17-18 – May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of Him.  May he enlighten the eyes so that you can see what hope His call holds for you, what rich glories He has promised the saints will inherit.


Psalm 119 vs 10 – I have sought you will all my heart, do not let me stray from Your commandments.

vs 18 – Open my eyes: I shall concentrate on the marvels of  Your law.

vs 105 – Now Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.


Do you notice any common themes in these verses of scripture?

Do they relate to the theme of the session? (God’s plan)


Incidentally the Psalms are to King David as the Proverbs are to King Solomon.  Look at the opening to Psalm 3 (Psalm of David) and Proverbs 1:1 (The Proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel).


We are in good company!




Read the overview for Session 2 – God (red edged pages)


And then we’ll watch the DVD, I found some of this quite moving.







Scriptures for marking for next weeks tasks.


Isaiah 40: 12-15,  1 Kings 19: 11-13,  Exodus 3: 13-15


Romans 1: 20,  Hebrews 1: 1-4


2 Corinthians 10: 4-5,  Romans 12:2


Zephaniah 3: 17,  1 John 3: 1-3,  Ephesians 3: 18-19


Exodus 15: 11,  Exodus 34: 5-6,  Isaiah 46: 9-10,  Revelation 1: 8


The tasks for next week look to have a Lenten feel to them and could easily lead into the Sacrament of Reconciliation.



Claude’s alternative tasks (or as well as)


Old Testament Reading  Exodus 32: 1-30

The Golden Calf


I often wondered why Aaron was let off of his part in this episode.

Have a look at Deuteronomy 9:20.  You might want to read from vs 7 to 21.


A verse that might make you smile is Exodus 34: 1 – God gives Moses a little reminder.



New Testament Reading


We’ve had a few references to Paul’s letter to Ephesians, so why not read the whole letter.

Note 1. Pauls opening  – Ch 1: vs 1-2

  1. How many blessings? Ch1: vs 3
  2. Paul, a prisoner – Ch 3:vs 1 (probably in Rome)
  3. Paul’s prayer Ch 3: vs 14-21
  4. The armour of God – Ch 6: vs 10-20.  I wonder if Paul wrote this with a soldier next to him,  What is our sword?  When you find out wave it in the air.


Hymn – What a faithful God have I


The Big Picture Bible Course – notes from Session 1, The Plan

The Big Picture Bible Course  (those doing the course will already have the Book and DVD)

At home watch the Trailer on the DVD and Session 1 – The Plan again.

God is the author of Sacred Scripture.  “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 105

Sacred scripture must be read in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.  CCC 111(abridged)

 And so we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us as we study the Scriptures.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created

And you will renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

Lord, by the light of your Holy Spirit

you have taught the hearts of your faithful.

In that same Spirit

Help us to relish what is right

And always rejoice in your consolation.

Enlighten the eyes of our understanding and warm our hearts as we study the Scriptures.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


DVD – The Big Picture Trailer

 Let’s put a few markers in our bibles to get an idea of its layout.  (Strips of paper marked Contents, OT, NT etc.)

Put one in at the contents page, one where the Old Testament starts at Genesis,  and one in where the New Testament begins at Matthews Gospel.

We can see already that the bible is mostly comprised of the Old Testament and the New Testament takes up the last quarter.

Put another marker in at probably the most famous verse in the bible John 3: 16.  This verse really summarises God’s plan.

DVD – Session 1 The Plan

Read the overview in the book and then we’ll watch the DVD.

Tasks for the week as given in your course book

Mark the Scriptures if it helps.

Day 1.  Compose a prayer expressing a desire to know God better.  You could use a set prayer or start with an opening such as “Heavenly Father…”

Day 2.  Bible Reference – Proverbs 2: 1-5.  Reflect on the words and what you would like to gain from the Big Picture Course and write down a few thoughts.

Day 3. Bible Reference – Colossians 3:16.   How can we make room in our hearts for the word of Christ.  Again write down a few thoughts.

Day 4. Bible References – Luke 24: 44-45 & 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12.  Have a go at doing a drawing of the Christian life (the book says Salvation History) and your place in it.  If drawing isn’t your thing just describe it.

Day 5. Bible Reference – Ephesians 1: 15-23.  Make Paul’s prayer your own and write down your feelings.

Day 6. Bible Reference – Psalm 119: 9-18.  The book says take a walk, if you can, (or just pray quietly) and talk to God, ask Him for a life changing encounter with Him.  What would you like to share with the group next time?

The Weekly Big Read – Psalm 119: 89-152  The book doesn’t ask you to write anything down, but if a verse jumps out at you, you might want to write that one down.


You Tube Hymn

Summary – Approaches to reading the bible

The Big Picture Bible Course Lectio Divina – Divine Reading Claude’s approach
Pray it – ask the Holy Spirit to help you Read Read it
Dig it – read and reflect on the Scripture Reflect What do you notice?
Declare it – read it (or part of it) aloud Pray What jumps out at you?
Share it Act Do any prayers, songs hymns come to mind?
Live it How would you apply the Scripture?


Choosing a Bible

Choosing a Bible

What is the difference between a Catholic Bible and a Protestant Bible?

The difference is in the number of books which make up the bible, the bible being a collection of Books, Gospels and Letters.  i.e.  The Book of Genesis, The Gospel of Matthew, The Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.

The Catholic Bible has a total of 73 books and the Protestant Bible has a total of 66 books. The 66 books are to be found in both bibles, the Catholic Bible has 7 more.  These 7 books are; Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch.  They are called the Deuterocanonical books (second canon) and Protestants sometimes refer to them as the Apocrypha. They are in the Old Testament.  At the reformation the Protestant reformers decided to leave out these books on the basis that they weren’t present in Hebrew manuscripts, only in Greek.  The New Testament books in both bibles are the same.  So the difference between the two bibles is actually quite small.

Protestant Bibles with Apocrypha are available and would then have the 7 books included.

In order for a Catholic to have a bible which follows the lectionary it is important to have a bible containing all 73 books.


What translation should I have?

The simple answer would be the one you are most comfortable with and is the easiest for you to read and understand.

You may have an old Douay-Rheims Catholic bible or a King James in your home.  These are both good translations but they date back to the 17th century and the language can be a bit awkward, even if it sounds beautiful.  A translation in Modern English is much more accessible.

Catholic Bibles in modern English include;

The Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem bible – these include the word Yahweh as God’s revealed name in the Old Testament.  As this name is regarded by the Jews as too holy to be spoken, the Catholic Church now asks us not to say it but to substitute Lord.  The CTS Bible uses the Jerusalem translation but with Lord substituted.

There are other translations such as the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version and the New American Bible available all in a Catholic edition.

Many of these translations are available in study bible form with footnotes and cross-references which are a great aid to personal study.  The Didache Bible is a Catholic bible using the Revised Standard Version with a commentary which refers to the Catechism.

To give an idea how the different translations read a comparison is included below.

Comparison of Matthew 6: 34 in different translations– arranged so the reading gets easier as you go down the list.

Word for word or thought for thought translations

Douay Rheims –  Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.

King James – Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Revised Standard Version – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

English Standard Version – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

New International Version – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

New Revised Standard Version – So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Jerusalem Bible (and New Jerusalem) – So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

New Living Translation – So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Paraphrase – Goes for the gist of the meaning in modern English

Good News Bible – So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own.  There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.

The Living Bible – So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.  God will take care of your tomorrow too.  Live one day at a time.

The Message – Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.


Word for word translations are better for study than a paraphrase, but the paraphrases can shed particular light on a passage as well as making you smile.


Summary – What bible should I get?  Options

  • A Basic Catholic Bible in Modern English (cheapest option).
  • A Catholic Study Bible in Modern English.
  • Have more than one translation; a Catholic Study Bible in Modern English, a Protestant Bible in a different translation, and a Paraphrase.

If you are looking for a bible on Amazon, check out the market place options for secondhand books.  You may strike it lucky and get a bible for as little as a penny plus the postage.

You can also get the Bible for Kindle or your phone.

eSWORD – Free bible study software is also very useful.

Bible Hub – is a good on-line resource for comparing different translations.

To finish a youtube song;

What’s in a name

Some years back I was given a lovely leather bound Jerusalem bible.  It was a study bible with footnotes and cross-references and has been very useful to me over the years.  The language is beautiful and really flows when you read it.  There are times though when I look something up and the wording can be very different from another translation, so for study it is useful to use it alongside another translation. One of its quirks is that in the Old Testament it often uses the Hebrew names of God such as El Shaddai and Yahweh.  This took some getting used to, particularly when it was read in Church, as it was new to the ear.  Then recently on a Catholic study course we were told that we weren’t to use Yahweh but to substitute Lord or God, out of respect for the Jews.  This was given in a document of 2001 called Liturgiam Authenticam and then in 2008 in a Letter to the Bishop’s conferences on the “Name of God”

I can recall a Rabbi telling a group of us that they did not call God Yahweh.  He related an incident when he was a schoolboy.  As a Jew he was excused from RE lessons in high school. One day he decided to sit in on one and see what it was like.  The teacher, during the lesson, said “The Jews call God, Yahweh.”  He put up his hand and said, “We don’t, sir!”  The teacher said, “Be quiet, you’re not in this lesson.”

He explained that the name given to Moses when God gives His name as  “I am who I am” is regarded as so Holy that it is not said so as to run no risk of blasphemy even by accident, or to allow gentiles to know the Name and also blaspheme – perhaps not by accident.  This Name is given by four letters which in English are represented by YHVH.  As Hebrew has no vowels, vowel points were later added but because the Name was never said it was uncertain that the vowels chosen were correct.  Hence the attempt to pronounce the Name as Yahweh is probably incorrect and not done by the Jews anyway.  Instead the Jews substitute Adonai (Lord) or Hashem  (The Name).  This led to me substituting Lord when I read my Jerusalem bible out of respect for The Name and for the Jews.

There is a revamped Jerusalem bible now available with the word Yahweh replaced with an appropriate substitution (probably Lord, I haven’t had a chance to check yet).  This matches what is being read in churches in the Liturgy and is available through CTS (Catholic Truth Society) and you will find it in Amazon.

There is also a NRSV Catholic Bible available which is regarded as a very good and up to date translation.

I still, however, like to use my old Jerusalem Bible as when I come across the Hebrew names it reminds me of which name is being used in the text, whether it is God’s special revealed name or another name such as El Shaddai (Amighty God) or El Roi (The God Who sees me).  These, perhaps, give me a glimpse into the mindset of the people of those times and their relationship with the Lord and the reverence they had and still have for His name.   Also that the Lord is not a God of adjectives who can be pinned down or contained but is always more than we can think of or imagine, and yet he reveals Himself to us in His word, in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

Youtube clip to finish,

Appearances of God in Human Form in the Old Testament

In Genesis chapter 18 three men appear to Abraham.  I say appear because he doesn’t observe them approaching from afar, they are just suddenly there.   It is gradually revealed that one of them is the Lord (18: 13) and the other two are angels (19: 1).   The Lord tells Abraham that he will have a son by the time he visits him again next year.  They all walk together towards Sodom.  The Lord tells Abraham of the fate in store for Sodom and Gomorrah (fate not really being the right word, judgment would be better).  The two angels go on into Sodom while the Lord and Abraham have a discussion.  Abraham intercedes for Sodom, saying that if there were 50 just men in the city would the Lord spare it.  The Lord says he will be spare it for 50 just men.  Abraham haggles some more reducing the number of just men required to spare the town to 40,then 30, then 20,then 10 and leaves it there,  It makes you wonder if he kept haggling could he have got it down some more.  Sadly not even 10 just men are found and the city is destroyed, but Lot is spared with his daughters and his wife because of Abraham.  It says that because God kept Abraham in mind (19: 29), Lot is rescued.  He gets a free ride.  It makes you wonder if our loved ones get a free ride because of us.  Whether or not that would extend beyond this world is debateable.

By the way, this same promise of a free ride is given to Rahab by the two spies of Joshua (Joshua 2: 12-14 & 6: 22-23).  I know people who have found comfort in this for their loved ones who are not in Christ.

Anyway, my main point is the Lord appeared in human form to Abraham.

In Joshua 5: vs 13-15 the Lord appears to Joshua in human form before the battle of Jericho as the “captain of the Lord’s army”.  It says that Joshua worshiped him indicating that this is the Lord and not an angel, as an angel wouldn’t accept worship (Revelation 22: 8-9).

So we have two instances of God appearing to people in human form in the old testament

If we were to speculate about this, God has one human form that we know of and that is Jesus.  Is it possible that Jesus met with Abraham and Joshua?  I can’t say for definite, that is more than the scripture says.  It is just an “I wonder” sort of thing.

Further to this Moses was unable to see God in all his glory as it would have killed him, but he was allowed to see his back (Exodus 33: 18-23).  But in Deuteronomy 34: 10 it says that the Lord knew Moses “face to face” (also Numbers 12: 8 where it says Moses sees “the form of the Lord”).  We know that Moses met Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration in the new testament (Mark 9: 2-8).  Could Moses have also met Jesus in the cloud on the mountain of Sinai (Exodus 24: 16-18)?  Do we have two separate events or one event out of time and space?  I can’t say and the scripture doesn’t say.  It’s just another “I wonder” moment.  I like the idea that some people in the old testament met Jesus, though I’m going beyond what the scripture says.  All we can be sure of is that God met Abraham and Joshua in human form in the old testament, something wonderful in itself. PTL!