The Book of Daniel

With today’s post, I’m concluding the overview of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. If you’ve read this far through the series, thank you and I hope that you’ve found something to mull over. If you’ve stumbled upon this post, you can find a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series here.

Where Am I?

The book of Daniel comes after the book of Ezekiel, and before the book of Hosea.

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Initial Impressions

If you ever went to Sunday School, then you probably know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. This is the same Daniel. What stands out as immediately different in this book from any of the Protestant translations that I grew up with, is the Appendix, adding an additional two chapters to the initial twelve, the story of “Susanna’s Virtue” and the story of “Bel and the Dragon”.

Beginning with the second of those stories, “Bel and the Dragon” is the story of why Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Bel is an idol that looked like a dragon that the people of Babylon worshipped, and which regularly consumed “six barrels of fine flour, forty sheep, and six measures of wine”(Daniel 14:3). After Daniel disproves that the idol is a living being, with some chicannery of his own I might add, the people of Babylon threaten the king’s life and the king places Daniel in the lion’s den. Curiously, this makes Daniel a sort of forerunner of Christ and King Cyrus a type of Pilate figure, turning Daniel over to the mob demanding his death. Daniel spends seven days in the lair of the lions, whereas Jesus spent part of three days in the tomb. But God provides! (See more under my ‘Favorite Passages’ section).

In “Susanna’s Virtue”, we have an early story of Daniel showing wisdom in discerning the false testimony of two elders against a pious woman, Susanna, who they tried to seduce, blackmail, and failing that, put to death to preserve their own reputations. Susanna is a beautiful example of a virtuous woman who would rather face death at the hands of evil men than sin against her Lord.

Favorite Passages

My favorite passage of the appendix is probably Habakkuk’s involvement of Daniel’s story, in which God (via an angel) ordered Habukkuk to deliver his lunch some (roughly guesstimating) 500 miles away to Daniel, who is starving in the lion’s den. The whole episode has a fairy tale-like quality that is charming and humorous all at once. For those who don’t remember the story, the king releases Daniel when he discovers he’s been unharmed.

While both of these stories have happy(ish) endings, there is a lot of death, torture, and sorrow throughout the deuteronomical books that I’ve been reviewing over the past several weeks, a stern reminder that although God can and does occasionally do the supernatural, we who follow Him are not exempt from suffering or the trials that may even end in death. We are only called to be faithful, even if it means the salvation of our souls, and not our bodies, from the inferno, or the sword, or the lair of those who would wish to devour us.

As this present storm engulfs us, may we find our ‘deep roots are not reached by the frost’**. Amen.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).
** A reference from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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The Book of Baruch

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

The book of Baruch is found following the book of Lamentations and before the book of Ezekiel.

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Initial Impressions

Baruch is basically a continuation of the book of Jeremiah the Prophet, Baruch being his secretary and familiar with the warnings of Jeremiah, has in these six chapters, a series of poetry and prose, both of prayer and of warnings to those who are exiled in Babylon.

It’s a very short book, shorter than some of the New Testament books, can easily be read in a sitting or two (depending on your patience level and time available). I think it’s worth noting in this post (which falls during the liturgical season of Lent) that the exiles in Babylon are depicted as being penitential in nature.

“And Baruch read the words of this scroll for Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to hear it, as well as all the people who came to the reading: the nobles, the kings’ sons, the elders, and the whole people, small and great alike — all who lived in Babylon by the river Sud. They wept and fasted and prayed before the Lord, and collected such funds as each could furnish. These they sent to Jerusalem” (Baruch 1:3-7a).

They asked the high priest to prepare sacrifices and prayers that God might prolong the life of their leader, and that they might experience peace, and recognizing their own sins, that God might deliver them from their bondage. They also charged the high priest to remind God of all of His past mercy.

The poetry that follows this portion reads as the people of Jerusalem’s response, like a mother grieving for the child torn from her nursing breast. It’s no wonder that this book follows the book of Lamentations, for it is a book of suffering and repentance.

What would, I wonder, a nation under the bondage of sin look like if, when hearing the living Word of God, we responded in this Lenten season with sacrificial gifts, both to pray for our leaders, to pray that we might live in safety and peace, to recognize and renounce our sins, and ask for God’s compassion and mercy?

Favorite Passages

Jeremiah’s letter against idolatry (chapter 6) is probably my favorite passage. I like the level of detail and care the passage goes through, describing the household idols that families have set up, made of wood or silver or gold, and wearing away. They cannot even wipe the dust that accumulates in their eyes, or replace the clothing they wear that tears and fades in color. They are mute, lifeless, symbols. What are the idols in our lives that we need to renounce this Lenten season?

I am afraid that if I cannot recognize them in my own life, how much less my neighbor in theirs? (And it may be, a subject deserving of its own post someday, as God wills it).

If there were ever a good time to petition our high priest, Jesus Christ, it is during Lent. If there were ever a time to be penitent, it is during Lent. Now is the hour of our salvation.

Next week, I’ll be concluding this series on the deuterocanonical books, finishing up with the bonus chapter in the book of Daniel.

Until then.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).

The Books of Maccabees

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

The books of the Maccabees are preceeded by the book of Esther, and are followed by the book of Job.

Initial Impressions

It’s the story of God’s salvation of the Israelite people through the rebellion of one family, the family of Mattathias and their skill in war. It should be noted here that the word ‘maccabees’ is believed to mean ‘hammer’ and is applied to Judas, the firstmost of the family to fight, think of the moniker, ‘Judas the Hammer’ and you’ve got a fair idea.

After Mattathias dies, Judas takes leadership of the family (chapters 3-9:22).  After Judas dies, his brother, Jonathan takes over (chapters 9:23-12:53). Jonathan, who is captured by enemy forces and eventually killed, is replaced by his brother, Simon (chapters 13-16), and the first book of Maccabees ends with Simon, and all of his sons being killed.

If the first book focused on the war campaign of the Maccabees dynasty, then the second book focuses on putting the events of the first book in a theological context. The second book of Maccabees covers the desecration of the Temple, the anguish and martyrdom of its people, the blasphemy and ultimate punishment of those who profane the name and holy place of God.

Favorite Verses

Unfortunately, there weren’t any verses that I especially liked or took anything of value out of in either of these books. I’m sure there are people out there who love these books (sorry!) but other than perhaps utilizing some of the strategies and war tactics for a future novel or tabletop campaign, I failed to take away anything that I could really sink my teeth into.

If you’ve been following this series — please don’t give up now!  I’ve got two more deuterocanonical books to cover yet, and I’m hopeful this post is the one-off in the series. Up next, you can look forward to my thoughts on the book of Baruch, and on the additional chapters in the book of Daniel.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with.

The Book of Esther

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

The book of Esther follows the story of another courageous woman of the OT, Judith, and precedes the first and second books of the Maccabees.

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Initial Impressions

I’ve read the book of Esther, many, many times. I’ve also lost track of how many times I’ve seen the films. I’m a bit of a Bible nerd. I think I own at least two different versions and can recall at least three versions that I’ve seen in recent years. If you haven’t already and enjoy historical fiction, I strongly recommend Tommy Tenney’s Hadassah, and the film based off the book, One Night With the King.

What I didn’t know about the book of Esther, is that in the deuterocanonical books, there are selections that are included that were left out of my non-Catholic, Christian Bible. I’ll explain.

One of the signature elements of the book of Esther is the complete lack of any reference of God. As far as I know, it’s the only book of the Bible that never mentions God. Not once. It’s implied, rather than stated, that the dramatic deliverance of the Jews living in the Persian empire is due to intervention beyond that of mortal mankind.

Curiously, when you look at the Catholic Bible’s version of this same book, which includes the Greek additions (107 additional verses), God is reinserted back into the drama, through the prayers of Queen Esther and Mordecai. In my Bible version*, these additional verses are indicated by Chapters lettering A-F, which again, include the aforementioned prayers, and also the royal decrees sent out regarding the destruction of the Jewish people.

Favorite Passages

I guess one of my favorite bits that I discovered was Chapter D, the passage that describes Esther’s confrontation with King Xerses. This is one of the most dramatic moments in the story and in any film version you’re likely to see but left out of the Christian Bibles that I grew up with, the details seemed to be the figment of the imagination of the screenwriters. Not so in the Catholic version, which follows Queen Esther during the entire interaction.

Having the opportunity to read this in person enriched my understanding of the story of Esther, but it’s completely omitted from the Hebrew form in non-Catholic bibles, and it’s such a shame that this has been lost as it adds more color to the narrative. So if the story of Esther is one of your favorites, I’d strongly encourage you to consider giving the Greek version a try, if only to see the bits of the story that (while in the films) are left out of the print versions. Glad to see that Hollywood got something right this time.

Next time, on Journey Through The Word, I’ll be moving on to the Books of the Maccabees. It’s all warfare (oh joy). Looks like it’ll be one for the boys so check back in soon.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).

The Book of Judith

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where am I?

Judith follows the book of Tobit and precedes the book of Esther in the OT.

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Initial Impressions

It’s a story that will sound familiar to many Christians: a Jewish people threatened by their enemies, and then saved by the courage of one woman willing to be used by God. If your first thought was ‘Esther’, you may have been raised with a Christian background, or at least familiar with one of the films. If your answer was ‘Judith’, you are probably an art fan or have a Catholic background.

I’d never heard of Judith until my first art history class where Artemisia Gentileschi’s portrayal of Judith is recognized as a symbol of the sex and violence the artist experienced in her own tragic rape at the hands of someone she knew. But that doesn’t really do the book of Judith justice.

The Story

The book of Judith opens with King Nebuchadnezzar waging a war campaign against the Medes. After sending his messengers to the neighboring countries with a summons (it’s unclear to me what the summons was meant to do, but in the context, I assume it was to rouse troops), his messengers are ignored and spurned. Driven into a rage, King Nebuchadnezzar vows to lay waste to them all and exile the survivors. He sends his best Assyrian general, Holofernes, to do his will and with a very large force, they carry out Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath.

When Israel hears of it, the whole country is greatly afraid, but they, as a nation, repent and pray and mourn, and are led to take some defensive measures to stop the advancing armies to enter into Jerusalem and destroy the temple. Holofernes hears of their impudence to resist and summons Achior, a general of the Ammonites, to get intel on Israel.

I love Achior’s speech (5:5-24). Even as a non-Israelite, he has grown up with the knowledge of how the Jewish people have been saved, time and time again, by their God, and punished, time and time again, when they’ve turned their backs on their God. I think it must have taken a great deal of courage to give the response to Holofernes that he does, and for that, he’s imprisoned to await his death, AFTER Holofernes conquers Israel.

Holofernes lays seige to the town of Bethulia, which he must take in order to march his troops through the mountain passes to Jerusalem, and affter many days, the elders of the town are ready to surrender, until Judith arrives to speak with them.

The book of Judith is separated into two parts: the first part (chapters 1-7) talk about all of the backstory that I’ve already mentioned, and the second part (chapters 8-16) details Judith’s part to play in the narrative.

I love Judith, I mean, she is awesome! A widow, she’s strikingly beautiful, intelligent, financially independent, faithful to God, and she honors the memory of her husband all the days of her life. This is a good, God-fearing woman right here.

Judith convinces the elders to hold off the surrender of the town for just a little bit longer for she knows, like Achior, that the Israelites have not disobeyed God in recent generations (by worshiping idols) and she believes that God will deliver them from their enemies.

And if you’d like to read and see how it ends, you can jump right into reading chapter eight here.

Favorite Passages

I don’t think that there’s any one passage that particularly struck me as my favorite in this book. Certainly, I love Achior’s courage as an outsider, to stand up for the Israelites. It reminds me of Rahab, aiding the spies. Holofernes’ decision regarding Achior’s punishment is so OT, it feels like something out of a Cecil B. DeMille film. Or maybe, I have it backwards and DeMille was inspired by the book of Judith? Clearly, DeMille knows his Bible, even if he embellishes on it from time to time.

The whole scheme of Judith’s to save Israel is awesome, well-worth the read (or re-read) Offhand, I can’t think of any films that have ever been made on the life of Judith, which is weird. Beauty, war, sexual intrigue, guile, a seige…are you listening yet, Hollywood producers?

Coming up next in the Journey Through the Word, I’ll be tackling another courageous beauty in the OT, Esther. If you’re enjoying the series, please check back, or leave a comment to share your favorite things about Judith (no spoilers!)


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).

The Book of Tobit

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

Tobit is the first of the deuterocanonical books in the Catholic Bible, which falls between the books of Nehemiah and Judith in the OT.

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Initial Impressions

The book of Tobit is one of the literary books in the OT, so, it’s approachable for first-time readers (like I was) and is the same type of writing that you’d find in the book of Ruth, or Esther, or Judith, to name a few examples. The short book has some fantastical elements in it, like something out of the Arabian Nights, like a love curse, demons prowling the desert, and supernatural helpers in disguise. The book could rightly be called Near Eastern folklore (set partially in Media, modern-day Iran).

To summarize the story: Tobit was a righteous and wealthy Israelite who was exiled to Ninevah in 721 B.C., where he lived with his wife and son, Tobiah. Like Job, he suffered misfortune and asked God to let him die. When Tobit remembers a large sum of gold he’d deposited in the distant city of Media, he commissions Tobiah to fetch it as his inheritance, and what follows is a charming adventure.

Favorite Passages

Without spoiling the ending, one of the things that I appreciated about the book of Tobit was the re-affirmation that God uses bad things for good (a recurring theme in the Holy Scriptures) and that He works in mysterious ways. We can’t always make sense of His plan or His timing, but if you’re willing to trust God and to be a part of that plan, He may choose to use you in extraordinary ways and impact the lives of you and others.

If you’re interested in reading the book of Tobit and you don’t currently own or have access to a Catholic Bible, click here to begin reading chapter 1. Have any insights on the book of Tobit (psst, no spoilers!), leave a comment and begin a discussion.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).

The Book of Sirach

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

Following the book of Wisdom is the book of Sirach, and then we move into the prophets, with the book of Isaiah. In the Catholic Bible, there are a couple more book sin the OT that is mixed in with the prophets, the book of Baruch, and also a couple of chapters in the book of Daniel, which will be reviewed in a future post.

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Initial Impressions

The book of Sirach feels like a conversation between someone sitting down with their mentor for some thoughtful wisdom on how to live. It reminds me of an etiquette manual in part, breaking down different life situations by category and detailing the writer’s advice for those circumstances.  It’s potentially the closest book (so far) in my readings that reminds me of a NT letter from Paul, as Paul was fond of giving the early church instructions on how to live, just as a father to his beloved children.

My copy includes a foreward (not divinely inspired) which explaims that the author of the book is Jesus, son of Eleazar, the son of Sirach. I suppose that it’s far more alliterative and less confusing not having two Jesuses in the Bible (is that even a plural? Can you pluralize Jesus?!) Moving quickly on, to summarize, it’s fifty-one chapters of maxims, some reminiscent of the book of Ecclesiasties, some of Proverbs, and a few that may just surprise you.

Favorite Passages

There were so many passages I underlined in this book — so full of treasures — it’s hard to know what to focus on. To mention a handful of sections, here are some questions by subject that I’ve created (and related verses) from the book of Sirach that may be of interest*:

  • What makes a real friend? (6:5-17; 11:29-34)
  • Does the Bible say anything about helping the deceased? (7:33)
  • How can I avoid being proud, but still have a healthy self-esteem? (10:27-28)
  • Does God design us to make our own choices? (14:11-20)
  • Why does my mom cry over the greeting card and not the gift? (18:15-16)

Another section, that may not be relevant to all, but I found interesting, was the cautioning of the writer of Sirach against poor men associating with wealthy men (chapter 13), which further broadens into a general discussion on wealth (chapter 14). In my personal experience, this is generally true.

In conclusion, the book of Sirach is full of treasures as I’ve begun to discover and I look forward to rereading it in future years as the Holy Spirit reveals different things to us each time, and in each season, as we make the time to read God’s Word. That’s why it behooves you to read the Bible often. I hope that you’ll enjoy exploring Sirach just as much as I did. Have any favorite passages? Leave a comment below to share.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with. Links provided to Bible chapters are from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, which has an online edition of the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).

The Book of Wisdom

For a complete list of blog posts in the Journey Through The Word series, please click here.

Where Am I?

Wisdom is the next book after the Song of Songs, and is followed by the book of Sirach.

Wisdom. Solomon calls her more precious than rubies, more desirable than gold (Proverbs 3). The source of wisdom is the Lord and in the fear of God, we set ourselves on the path towards gaining God’s understanding to help us make good life decisions and avoid evil.

But what is the ‘fear of the Lord’? My Bible footnotes* define it as a “reverential fear and respect for God on account of His sovereignty, goodness and justice toward men. This is the foundation of religion.”   I’d like to think that this means that God is willing to impart of Himself divine guidance to anyone who wholeheartedly pursues Him.

Initial Impressions

In its nineteen chapters, the book of Wisdom speaks in the voice of Solomon but it was authored long after the Bablyonian exile, written a century or so before the birth of Christ. In that respect, the book feels like a continuation of the book of Proverbs, using some of the same literalistic styles (Wisdom personified and her virtues), and Hebrew verse, and in the latter half of the book (Chapter 11 onwards), a detailing of the providential acts of God that led to the freedom of the Israelites from the yoke of slavery under Egyptian rule.

At first, I didn’t see the point of including this in the Bible as the repetition of themes from other books made it feel unnecessary. As I went further along, there were a few passages that resonated with me and were completely novel to my experience. As I bought an inexpensive, secondhand Bible for this purpose, I began underlining passages.

“For fear is nought but the surrender of the helps that come from reason; and the more one’s expectation is of itself uncertain, the more one makes of not knowing the cause that brings on torment.” (Wisdom 17:12-13)

Wow. This is amazingly true and I probably need to inscribe this somewhere where I will see it daily. Anxiety is a constant battle for me and the source of it is that niggling fear of the unknown that is a constant source of grief, both in my life, and in those affected by my moody disposition. Less than a week after reading this passage for the first time, I encountered a situation that would have destroyed my entire day, poisoned with anxiety. Quoting that verse, I prayed instead and the Holy Spirit broke into my fearstruck reveries as the voice of Reason, calming my anxious heart. Time passed, and that Voice proved to be true and my fears, unfounded. God is merciful!

While this was the only passage that struck me as worth sharing from the entire nineteen chapters, I am a firm believer that each reading of the Bible, at different stages of your life, will bring something new and impactful. There are always new treasures to unearth.

Looking ahead to the rest of the readings, I am hopeful some of the other books will have more quotables to share. Meantime, do you have any favorite quotes from the book of Wisdom? How have they impacted your life. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


*The Bible version I am studying is the New American Bible, Fireside Personal Study Edition, (2006-2007 edition) by Fireside Catholic Publishing. Some of my paraphrases are based on the NIV and NASB versions which I grew up with.

Journey Through The Word: Exploring The Catholic Bible For The First Time

I’ve read the Bible before.  Honest. All sixty-six books of it. At least twice! When I was a kid, I even made a game of memorizing all of the book names and the order they fell in, the way some people memorize the order of the presidents of the United States. In my cognizance, I knew there was a Catholic Bible out there in the nebulousness of space and time, but I never owned a copy. Nobody in my family did. Let alone actually read it. That said, I’m not a complete heathen.

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