Catholic Company / Magazine

A Guide to Catholic Bible Studies for You & Your Parish

Aug 06, 2012 by

Kids aren't the only ones headed back to school to start learning again after the long summer break.  Adults in Catholic parishes across the country are also gearing up for their Fall Catholic Bible studies.

I'm personally a big fan of Bible studies.  I never get tired of learning more about my faith. I love discovering all the little nuggets and gems tucked away that emerge as a reward for those who look for them.  For example, last year in my parish's group Bible study I learned an interesting fact supporting the primacy of Peter. We're all familiar with the Bible passage where Jesus hands the keys of the kingdom to Peter in Matthew 16:18: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church."

But what I didn't know is that this action on Jesus' part was recalling a much earlier event that occurred in Old Testament history.  In Isaiah 22:22 we find an account of a chief steward being given the keys of authority to rule the kingdom  in the the king's stead.   Jesus is actually calling to mind this specific passage in Isaiah when he speaks to Peter, an unmistakable sign that Jesus truly was giving authority over the Church to Peter.  I didn't know that!  And this is just one instance of those little gems.

There is a popular saying that "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed."  Catholic Bible study books make this connection clear and helps you to understand God's revelation more fully. I also get excited when I look back and see how much I've grown both in my knowledge of the faith as well as the spiritual benefits I've reaped as a result of having  greater Biblical understanding.

Recommended Catholic Bible Studies

Last year my parish completed two DVD & workbook Catholic Bible studies that I highly recommend.  Even if your parish isn't doing a Bible study this Fall, you can still gather a group of friends together or even just do a study with your

The first is A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Edward Sri.   At my parish over 200 people took part in this study, and everyone loved it.  We learned all about how the Mass is rooted in biblical history, with layers upon layers of rich significance that you would never know about the Mass unless you took the time to study it.   My appreciation of the Mass skyrocketed after completing this series, and my participation in Mass is now richer as a result.  Lots of those who participated had the same sentiments.

Due to the popularity of the Edward Sri study, my parish next offered  A Quick Journey through the Bible by Jeff Cavins.  This is an 8-part Catholic Bible study that highlights all the major events of Bible history, which gives you the framework necessary to have a sweeping overview of God's plan of salvation.  It also teaches you memory methods to help the information stick with your forever. This is the same series that EWTN has aired in the past. The study was so popular that this  Fall we're beginning the next step up called The Bible Timeline.  This is similar to the Quick Journey Bible Study but more in-depth and expanded out to 24 parts instead of 8.  I'm looking forward to it!

You can find all of the items listed here at

Recommended Catholic Bible Study Tools:

In addition to the above studies, there are some other Bible study tools I recommended that make things a little easier.

  • Indexing tabs:  Two tools that are very helpful in Bible studies are  1) Bible indexing tabs, and 2) Catechism indexing tabs.

When you're in a study, especially following along with a DVD or a live Bible study leader, you don't want to be caught stumbling to locate a passage only to find that when you finally get there, the leader has moved on to another point.  Bible indexing tabs are organized according to the books of the Bible.  There is a very popular version of these available that go along with the Jeff Cavins Bible studies mentioned above, where the tabs are color-coded to help you easily remember the major themes that link groups of books together.

Tabs for the Catechism of the Catholic Church work on any size or version of the Catechism and are organized according to topic.  I highly recommended indexing tabs for both your Catholic Bible and your Catholic Catechism to help you quickly and easily find what you're looking for.

  • Verse Finders:  Here is another fantastic Bible study tool that is a great assist in helping you quickly find passages in the Bible that support Catholic Church teaching. 1) The Apologetics Verse Finder, and 2) the 'Bible Thumper' set.

These are great because on one easy-access sheet you can find a list of Bible verses in support of Catholic teaching such as the priesthood, the primacy of Peter, the role of Mary in the Church, the intercession of the saints, and more. Verse finders pair perfectly with your Catholic Bible for easy reference.

  • Reference Books:   Bible study reference books are essential for digging deeper into your Catholic Bible.  If you want to look up the meaning of a word, get a background history of a particular character or place, or find other places the word or topic occurs in the Bible, then Bible reference books are for you.  I recommend 1) a Bible concordance, and 2) a Bible dictionary.

A Bible concordance is organized word by word to help you easily find all the places where that word occurs throughout the Bible. (Tip:  Be sure to get a concordance that matches the translation of your Catholic Bible).

Catholic Bible dictionaries are also organized by word, but instead of listing all the passages where they occur, it gives you a detailed description or summary of that word based on its uscatholic bible dictionaryage in the Bible.  So, if you're interested in a specific topic or word, then you can learn more about it with a Bible dictionary first, then move on to a Bible concordance to read all the places where it occurs in the Catholic Bible.

If you want to go even a step further with reference books, Catholic Study Bibles and Bible commentaries are great ways to dig deeper within each individual book of the Bible.  Ignatius and Navarre both have excellent options available for this. You can find Catholic study Bibles, concordances, and dictionaries in our wide selection of Catholic Bible study products.

I hope this list helps you get motivated to participate in a Catholic Bible study happening near you, or even motivate you to begin your own!  Is your parish offering any Bible studies this Fall?  Has participating in a Bible study been a benefit to you?