There are so many different types of biblical commentary out there today. How do you chose which one to follow?
My recommendation for more scholarly commentary is to get the most up to date version of the New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture or the New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Alternatively, moving away from sometimes dry academic comments Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary is an excellent choice as well for an in depth yet more accessible guide to the bible.
One of the best (if not the best ever) Old Testament Guides is A Catholic Introduction to the Bible Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. I cannot compliment this book enough. It goes through all the OT, gives historical commentary, modern critiques and other contemporary issues. Yet, its real substance and reason to buy is its faithful and fruitful catholic perspective. For each book (or group of books), it gives a commentary on the book in the living tradition of the faith including beautiful theological typology, where the book is read in the liturgy, quotes from the church fathers and it mentions the sacraments (which some protestant books forget or pass over). Because this book was so rooted in the faith, it was not just an academic exercise to read but also something easily turned into prayer by typology or quotes from the living tradition of our faith.
I was gifted Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary and I highly recommend it. The other books in my scriptural library I have built up through book fairs. Scripture commentaries and guides can be very expensive (but often worth the price if you will use them). As a result of the price, I never pass up the opportunity to buy a bible atlas or guide/commentary at a book fair even if I just end up giving them away to friends.
Not every biblical guide will be from a Catholic perspective, that is why I have my main commentary from a Catholic perspective and compliment it with other series that can be less harmful if read from a different theological stance.
For example, I was able to pick up a book called Beautiful Plants of the Bible: From the Hyssop to the Mighty Cedar Trees by Dr. David Darom. I am not sure of Dr. Darom theological stances, but taking photos and citing scriptural passages of plants is a pretty safe theological bet, so I do not concern myself with the authors history. One thing I learnt from this book was that the mustard seed which birds come and build nest in the branches is not a tree but a herb and is a seasonal plant. (the whole branches idea from Mark 4:30-32 always made me think of a tree not a shrub)
Other great book fair finds have included photo guides of the Holy Land, bible atlases and other bible dictionaries to compliment Scott Hahn’s.
There are also lot’s of free church father homilies online which can serve as reflection guides as well. Check out CatholicCultures.org Church Father’s Collection as a place to start.
Honestly, the best catholic biblical guide is one you are actually going to read so choose what inspires you.