Kitchen Catechism: Featured Articles
My Bible, My Recipe Files and My Cookbooks (Part 1)
by Lois Donahue
Not long ago I was shuffling papers trying to find the top of my desk and ran across a copy of the thoughts I shared with you about women in the Bible. Do you know what popped out at me?
-- Names of some of the lesser known books of the Bible, listings of actual chapters as well as verses and even some word-for-word quotes. It just didn't seem possible I could have written it. Me, who has absolutely no 'off the top of my head' familiarity with such Biblical specifics. I shrugged my shoulders in disbelief, grinned and weck to my 'shuffling'. Then it hit me. What if any one of you out there read that piece and, unfortunately, got the very, very false impression that I might be, or even considered myself to be, some kind of Bible 'expert'?
WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! Let me tell you what follows after I originally get an Idea about what I want to share with you.
First I realize how much more meaningful anything I might say would be if I could at least show I made an effort to defend it Scripturally. Then I face the problem that when it comes to Scripture I tend to think in broad, somewhat vague, generalities rather than precise details. Consequently, I begin with little more than this -- "somewhere in the Bible I wonder if it says, I think it says, or I'm pretty sure it says -- something about--".
Only after that comes the time, the searching, the staring into space, the frustration and the essential sugar-snacks all of which, for better or worse, contribute to my 'words on paper'. Although I may be telling you this with a few additional 'snack pounds', you can be sure I am saying it without even as little as an ounce of regret because every journey into the Bible world is so interesting -- takes me to places I've never been -- and introduces me to people I might otherwise never have met. BUT- and this is the point I want to make - I would never be able to take these journeys without a great deal of help.
Just about now, thinking back to the title of this whole thing, you might be wondering what in the world my recipe files and my cookbooks have to do with the Bible? In speaking simply about a book, I guess I would have to say - nothing. I Just thought they might serve as examples of the kind of help I need while Bible searching. Here's what I mean -
A friend once asked a group of us if we had any suggestions for easy, eat-with-your-fingers dessert. I had one to offer and she immediately asked what it was and how to make it. Of course, I couldn't tell her on the spur of the moment but said I'd let her know. Went home to my 'recipe files', checked "desserts", pulled the card, copied the info and sent it to her.
Bringing my examples into the 'now' - there are still times I come home late and need a 'quickie' evening meal. No way can I possibly wing it so down off the shelf comes my Microwave "cookbook". What I'm trying to say is -- all of us in our everyday lives need to know where to go for helpful information - examples of which are as simple as recipe files and cookbooks. But, more importantly, although perhaps not always as easily available, are a great many informative and reliable resources relating to the Bible.
Believing there may be some of you who, like me need help in order to find some exact thing in the Bible, to fill in memory blanks, to, authenticate what might seem unsure, to help explain something in more detail, to double check the accuracy of a quote or who simply enjoy learning -- and -- knowing how grateful I am that over the years people have made known to me sources which provided that help, I wanted to do the same by sharing with you those I use most often.
A Bible concordance - This book contains an alphabetical listing of practically every word in the Bible along with a brief word-context in which it is used and, so very important to me, where it can be found in the Bible. I was well past being a 'young woman' before I ever heard of such a book. In my case it could well be titled BIBLE SEARCH FOR DUMMIES because, as I told you above, my bible knowledge is sadly lacking in specifics. With a concordance, if I can remember a single word which is part of and thereby somewhat identifies what I am looking for, my concordance will show the book, chapter and verse where it can be found. Terrific book! By the way, if (and believe me, this happens to all of us) you are unsure of what book in the Bible the abbreviation given refers to or whether that book is in the Old or New Testament and that information does not appear in your concordance, just check your Bible. There you'll find listings of what you need. Oh yes, something else, you may not always find what you are looking for with the first word that comes to mind. Just keep trying.
A Bible Dictionary - reality I think the title-word "Dictionary" could be misleading. To me it is more like a 'Dictopedia' or an 'Encyclonary' in that it defines most all things Biblical with more words than a dictionary and with less details than an encyclopedia. You'll love such a book I'm sure.
"THE JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY" - I mention this book by title because I have not heard of a commentary which seems its equal. Offering a brief description, let me say this book does just what the title states. It comments at length about passages in the Bible - interprets - gives background - etc. It is wonderful and although I still have some trouble finding my way amid its pages (my fault not the book's) I love the search and the discovery.
Often in my Biblical travels, I find it necessary to take short detours away from resources which are strictly Biblical. Let me tell you what I use at times like that and why:
A Catholic Dictionary - Beyond simply 'defining', such a book also offers brief explanations of words and terms of interest to Catholics. At times it has satisfied my curiosity regarding something Biblical. For example, once when I thought about Jesus saying, "Do this in remembrance of me.", I wondered how the Church came up with the words 'Mass' and 'Liturgy'. My Catholic Dictionary told me.
A basic question and answer Catechism. - These books retain the same down to the nitty-gritty, simple facts presentation as earlier catechisms. Where necessary, minor changes have been made either to update or to clarify. Here you'll find a quick and easy way to keep on course, to bring a Catholic truth to mind or even help you recall the familiar word you need in order to visit your concordance. Look for them in your local Catholic Book Store.
A book about daily life in Bible times. By now you know how important I think it is to emphasize the fact that our Biblical "kinfolk" were real, living-breathing people. Consequently you can see why I consider a book like this as an invaluable Bible resource.