frequently asked questions
What Catholic Bible studies currently are available?
In the Beginning: The Book of Genesis
Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God Through the Prayers of the Church
The Gospel According to John: An Encounter with Grace and Truth
The Letter to the Hebrews: An Explanation of the Mechanism of Our Salvation
The Revelation of Jesus Christ: The Faithful Witness
Scripture and the Rosary: New Testament Mysteries, Old Testament Parallels
Will Turning to God’s Word be introducing a new Bible study in 2017?
Yes. Our authors are at work on The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King. This Catholic Bible study will cover the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, with special emphasis on David as a type of Jesus. The biblical text is taken from the First and Second Books of Samuel and the First Book of the Kings. Once the study is written, it will be submitted to the Bishop of Des Moines for an imprimatur. Turning to God’s Word will accept advance orders beginning in June for delivery in late August. The United Kingdom of Israel: Foreshadowing the Reign of Christ the King will be followed in by a two related studies—one focusing on the Divided Kingdom, Exile, and Return, and another examining the prophets who spoke for God during Israel’s history.
Can I preview your studies?
Yes, you can read sample lessons. Just click on the title of any of the studies above. For additional information, click on more about our Bible studies to see study directories. Every directory contains links to online study pages for each individual lesson.
Do all Turning to God’s Word parish Bible studies have imprimaturs?
All current Turning to God’s Word Bible studies have been granted an imprimatur from the Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, bishop of Des Moines (shown left). Scripture and the Rosary: New Testament Mysteries, Old Testament Parallels includes as well a foreword written by Bishop Pates, and Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God Through the Prayers of the Church features a foreword by Gregory Polan, O.S.B., abbot primate of the worldwide Benedictine Confederation (shown right). As new studies are created, they’ll be submitted for imprimatur and nihil obstat approval by the Church.
Is there a discount for large-group orders?
Ask about an early-bird discount of 10 percent that may apply to prepaid orders of 20 or more copies of current single studies placed before June 15 for delivery in late August. No returns are accepted on early-bird orders.
Is there a clergy discount?
Yes. Seminarians, priests, or deacons who contact us when purchasing single copies of any of our Bible studies for their own personal use are eligible for a 10 percent discount.
Where can I purchase Turning to God’s Word parish Bible studies?
All of our studies can be purchased from our website shop. We also will offer our products at the Christ Our Life regional Catholic conference held every two years at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. The next Christ Our Life conference will be in the fall of 2018.
Can I buy video lectures to accompany the studies?
At Turning to God’s Word our primary interest is in making high-quality Bible study materials available to the widest possible audience at the lowest possible price. Videos to accompany some of our Bible studies feature our authors discussing highlights of each lesson. You can view any of these videos free online. You can access videos and other resources pertaining to specific lessons by visiting any of the study directories under TtGW studies.
Where can I find answers to the study questions?
Turning to God’s Word study questions direct readers to passages in the biblical text or elsewhere in the Scriptures where answers to factual questions can be found. The ultimate goal of Turning to God’s Word Bible studies is to aid individuals in their personal reflections about their relationship with Jesus Christ, and there are no right or wrong answers to some of the questions that lead to this type of reflection. On our website you can learn more about how Turning to God’s Word study questions incorporate principles of lectio divina in order to provide a gateway to this centuries-old method of reading and praying with the Scriptures.
What if I’m confused by something in one of the studies and would like to ask a question?
Turning to God’s Word provides supplemental commentary featuring in-depth discussions about individual lessons by our authors. Anyone can read this material, which can be accessed through the study directories under TtGW studies. Our authors are eager to respond to questions and welcome dialogue with participants in our Bible studies. Turning to God’s Word authors can be contacted through a link on every online lesson page or at contact us.
Most of the parishioners in my parish aren’t familiar with lectio divina.
Will this pose a problem if we decide to do a Turning to God’s Word study?
Not at all. Lectio divina comes naturally to people who use our Bible studies, though they often are unaware that they’re practicing it until someone describes it for them. Those who are interested can learn more by reading about lectio divina or by watching Matthew Phelps’ video discussion about The Bible as the Living Word of God from a talk given at our 2015 retreat at Conception Abbey.
Do you recommend doing your parish Bible studies in any particular order?
It’s always a good idea to start at the beginning, and In the Beginning: The Book of Genesis does just that. This 28-week Catholic Bible study examines the earliest events in biblical history to consider how they’ve shaped our Christian faith. The first seven lessons provide an in-depth look at the scriptural accounts of Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the story of Cain and Abel, and the great Flood. The remaining lessons focus on the lives of the patriarchs and the role each played in preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ
Generally, people do well starting with a book of the Bible that interests them. The Gospel According to John: An Encounter with Grace and Truth would be a good place to begin because it focuses on Jesus. Many passages from the biblical text for this 25-week Catholic Bible study regularly appear at Masses celebrating the most important solemnities of the liturgical year. The Fourth Gospel also contains a number of details from the life of Jesus that don’t appear in any of the synoptic Gospels. It focuses on the sacraments as a means of attaining holiness.
You could follow that with The Letter to the Hebrews: An Explanation of the Mechanism for Our Salvation, which sheds light on how Christianity works. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews uses Old Testament texts as the basis for explaining the mechanism of how Jesus’s death leads to our salvation. This 23-week Catholic Bible study concludes with five lessons that examine the biblical foundations of the priesthood—from Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in the Scriptures, to Jesus Christ, High Priest of the new covenant.
The complex images in the book of Revelation make it a rather demanding study, but this drawback usually is offset by intense curiosity about the final book of the New Testament. This 23-week Catholic Bible study features illustrations to help participants visualize and keep track of the many bizarre and unusual images. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: The Faithful Witness examines how our Christian view of heaven is built upon but differs from Old Testament prophetic visions of heaven, and it addresses issues concerned with Final Judgment.
Scripture and the Rosary: New Testament Mysteries, Old Testament Parallels is one of our most popular studies. It emphasizes Old Testament passages that are unfamiliar to many Catholics, but many like it as a beginning study precisely because it provides an overview of key Old Testament characters and events. This 26-week study includes photographs of stained glass windows depicting the original 15 mysteries of the Rosary, and three lessons on Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God Through the Prayers of the Church uses the Psalms as the basis for developing a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through personal prayer. The Revised Grail Psalms, the new English translation approved for Catholic liturgical use, is the biblical text. This 28-week study follows the same cursus as Conception Abbey, and it features illustrations by Tami Palladino. Volume I looks at the Psalms prayed at Lauds and Vespers. Volume II, which is scheduled to be released at a later date, will look at the Psalms prayed at Vigils, Day Prayer, and Compline,
Do you offer any shorter parish Bible studies?
Yes, we currently offer a five-lesson Catholic Bible study, Jesus’ Passion: The Story of Redemptive Suffering, free online each year during Lent, and we are developing other short Bible studies. Jesus’ Passion: The Story of Redemptive Suffering has been granted an imprimatur and can be purchased year-round from our website shop. The free online version of this study will reappear on February 14, 2018.
Are Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible studies suitable for teens?
We encourage individual teens who are interested to participate in one of our adult Bible study groups, but we don’t recommend our studies for teen groups. We currently are developing and testing specific Bible studies for teen audiences. We’re very excited about the prospect of offering Catholic Bible studies for teens, but we don’t yet have a target date when these studies will be available. If you’re an adult catechist doing teen ministry and are interested in the possibility of your group participating in an upcoming pilot Catholic Bible study for teens, please contact us.
What is Lost in Translation?
Lost in Translation is our weekly e-column about biblical translation issues, many of which aren’t always apparent from English translations of the Bible. Matthew Phelps posts new e-columns each Tuesday morning on our Lost in Translation page, which includes a searchable archive of past issues. You can sign up in the column on the right side of the archives if you’d like to receive Lost in Translation by email every Tuesday.
Do you have opinions about specific translations of the Bible?
Under study the Bible we briefly discuss the translations we use and provide links to online Catholic Bibles. We also include a comparison of the same text from nine translations from the original Greek, explain the pros and cons of using a Greek/English Interlinear New Testament, and take a closer look at The Revised Grail Psalms, the Church’s official new English translation of the Book of the Psalms.
Does Turning to God’s Word offer a daily Scripture reflection?
Yes, at the top of our home page we feature a link to the day’s readings on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop (U.S.C.C.B.) website, and a short Bible reflection based on one or more of those readings. We also feature a new quote about Scripture on our website every day.
What other resources do you offer to aid with Bible study?
Under study the Bible we’ve collected information about the Bible, including how the differences between Catholic and Protestant Bibles came about, an explanation of traditional Catholic senses of Scripture, a discussion of sola scriptura.
How do you feel about using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a resource in your parish Bible studies?
We’re in favor of it, and we offer a history of the Catechism as well as some tips to make it easier to navigate through the book. In addition, some of the questions in Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible studies direct participants to paragraphs in the Catechism that help explain Church teaching related to the biblical text. All of our online lesson study pages include a link to a searchable version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
What about using study Bibles and outside commentaries with Turning to God’s Word parish Bible studies?
It’s impossible to learn too much about the Scriptures. You can discover how study Bibles and commentaries differ and what you can reasonably expect from each, and we offer very brief reviews of some popular commentaries and study Bibles with which we’re familiar. In general, Turning to God’s Word Bible studies are designed to help people read and pray with Scripture with the goal of enriching their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many Catholics have gotten in the habit of turning to books and commentary about Scripture rather than turning to Scripture itself. We’ve found that people who rely too heavily on commentary often end up learning a lot about the commentator’s religious experience instead of taking advantage of questions encountered in the Scriptures to deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ. The goal of Turning to God’s Word Bible studies is to help individual Catholics gain the confidence to read the Bible for themselves and in so doing develop a more intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the Word of God.
Are there any other resources that you recommend to supplement Turning to God’s Word parish Bible studies?
Ex libris is our collection of short book reviews that pertain to specific topics relevant to our Bible studies. In our online lesson study pages we also occasionally recommend a related book that we think might interest our readers.
Do you have any suggestions to reinforce praying with Scripture?
Yes, we discuss praying with Scripture and include information about lectio divina, Liturgy of the Hours, how to pray the Rosary (including a diagram, the Rosary prayers, and prayer videos), and some suggested prayers for Bible study groups, as well as a collection of traditional Marian prayers. We also offer a series of short Rosary prayer videos created by Tami Palladino and Anne Marie Palladino that can be used when praying the individual Mysteries or sets of Mysteries. Our full-length Catholic Bible study Sing a New Psalm: Communicating with God Through the Prayers of the Church strongly emphasizes praying with the Psalms as a way to strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Do you have any experience with alternate forms of praying with Scripture such as visual lectio divina?
Yes, last year Tami kept a prayer journal in which she captured themes from her meditation on the Letter to the Hebrews in words and drawings. “Right-Brain Reflections,” Tami’s visual meditation, is posted on our website in two parts. Tami’s journal follows the lessons in the Turning to God’s Word Catholic Bible study The Letter the the Hebrews: An Explanation of the Method of Our Salvation.
Are Turning to God’s Word authors available to talk to Catholic groups?
Yes. All of our Turning to God’s Word authors have experience speaking to groups and leading retreats. Please contact us if you would like to book a speaker.
Does Turning to God’s Word hold annual Bible study events?
Yes. Each summer we sponsor a Bible study retreat at Conception Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Conception, Missouri, and site of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Our 2017 summer retreat will be July 13 through 16. You can learn more about registering on our summer retreat page. Videos of Matthew Phelps’ past conference talks also are available: