If you have a friend who has a serious, academic interest in Catholic theology, then a very thoughtful gift would be to give them a book pertaining to the religion. However, you want something that is appropriate for those interested in academic study, not simply a basic book. If you are not religious yourself, or are not a Catholic, you might not know where to turn. So, this article will provide three good ideas for books that will please your friend.
New American Bible
If your friend is interested in Bible scholarship and criticism, as well as in Catholic theology and doctrine, then they need to have a Bible used by Catholics. The New American Bible is the current standard. This is the version that is used in Catholic mass, and has ties to the decision made during Vatican II. Your friend might enjoy comparing scripture from the King James version with this New American Bible.
History of The Jesuits
The Jesuits are perhaps the most discussed order in the Catholic Church. They are involved in teaching (Georgetown, Boston College, Fordham) and also working with the poor. They were involved in spreading Christianity in South America and China and have been the subject of several films (The Mission, the 1986 film about Jesuit missionaries struggling in South America, as well as the upcoming Martin Scorsese film Silence about Jesuits in peril in Japan during a time when Christians were being persecuted.)
When choosing a book about the Jesuits, avoid some of the more "conspiracy" oriented books written for shock value. You should choose one that delves deep into the beliefs of the order, their missionary works around the globe, and the political struggles they have often been involved in due to philosophical disagreements with Rome. A good choice would be book by Georgetown Professor of Religion John O'Malley, who has written extensively about the Jesuits, from the founder (Ignatius) to modern members.
A Book Written By A Pope
Finally, a must-have for someone interested in Catholic literature is a book written by a pope. You could choose one of Pope John Paul's many books, or the current pope's book on Mercy, or Pope Benedict's book about the Infancy of Jesus. In this book, Pope Benedict spends time examining the Infancy of Christ and how it is portrayed in the gospels. Pope Benedict also has books doing detailed coverage of Christs later life, including Holy Week.
For more ideas on Christian literature instruction, contact a foundation like the BURNELL FOUNDATION.