A reader recently sent me the following analysis of the progress on the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (ICSB):
I was thinking about the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible and how long it’s taking, and I decided to run some basic statistics. The (rather depressing) results are below.
Most of my analysis is based on the percentage of chapters and verses of the Old Testament covered by the ICSB so far. All of the below is based on the assumption that the volume on Tobit, Judith, and Esther will come out in mid-2019 as it is scheduled to; in effect, this analysis is looking forward from the release of that volume. I used statistics from the 1986/1991 New American Bible for the number of chapters and verses in each Old Testament book, which isn’t ideal (as the ICSB does not use the New American Bible), but those were the numbers I had at hand.
- So far, the ICSB has covered 15 of the 46 books in the Old Testament. It has covered 32.3%-33.9% of the OT over the last 9 years.
- There are currently 9 OT volumes; I project that there will be 18 or 19 more volumes, for a total of 27 or 28 volumes.
- At the current rate of production, based on a projection starting with the release of Exodus in 2012, the final ICSB volume will be released in either 2038 or 2039. Thus, we will likely not see a complete Ignatius Catholic Study Bible within the next two decades.
The 9 current volumes have 778 pages in total. If we project that number out to the whole OT, we get 2,296-2,408 pages. Now, the ICSB New Testament is only around 550 pages if you cut the concordance. If you cut the study questions and other unnecessary pages from all OT volumes (duplicate endpages and copyright pages, etc.), then it should be possible to squeeze the complete Ignatius Catholic Study Bible under 2,600 pages. The New Oxford Annotated Bible has 2,416 pages, so 2,600 pages is really pushing it for a single volume. Of course, if Ignatius is willing to revise the layout of the individual commentaries rather than just using the pages as-is, they could probably reduce the page count a little more. I really hope Ignatius tries to get all those pages into one volume, because the utility of the whole project will be drastically reduced if it is not published as a complete one-volume study Bible.
So there you have it. The original projected release of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible Old Testament was 2014-2015, so things are looking quite dire by comparison, and the uncertainty concerning whether Ignatius still plans to fit all this material into one volume doesn’t help matters. It would be great to hear from Ignatius about any plans to speed things along and release a complete study Bible before my toddler graduates from college, but if Mark Brumley, Scott Hahn, and Curtis Mitch are disinclined to break their silence about the future of this project, then all we can do is wait, and hope, and pray, and wait.