Monday, February 19, 2018

CUP NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha Part II: The Externals

Today I continue with my review of the NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha published by Cambridge University Press.

A few days ago I decided to go back and look at some of my earliest posts on this blog, which began ten years ago.  One of those posts, a favorite of mine, was titled "Catholic Bibles Stink" and was published only a month after I started this blog.  At the time, I was dismayed by all the different quality editions that one could find in any of the major Protestant Bible translations, yet we Catholics still had so little to choose from.  I mentioned a few things in that post, including the fact that at that time the best bible I had was the late 90's version of the NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha.  Ironic?  I also wished that we could see the NAB in more stylish editions.  Did that happen?  Yes, for the most part it did, thanks to publishers like the USCCB, HarperOne, and Little Rock Catholic Bible Study.  (We also got a brand new edition of the NAB Old Testament in the process.)  Yet, we are still waiting for a premium NABRE.  Then there was the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible which at that point hadn't even been released in a single volume New Testament edition yet.  Back then I joked that it had been eight years at that point since the first volume (Matthew) was released, which seemed like a really long time to wait for a completed ICSB.  Re-reading that comment seems kind of funny now.

Yet here we are in 2018, ten years later.  And while there have been some truly wonderful bibles produced in Catholic editions since then, there still really hasn't been a high-end, premium leather edition.  Which leads me back to Cambridge University Press and their newest NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha.  As I stated in the first part of this review, the NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha is the best premium bible on the market today that a Catholic can use and enjoy.  The content is top-notch, as I said before, but what makes this a truly fine bible are the quality materials used to create and manufacture each edition.  Let me briefly explain to you why I hold this bible in such esteem.


Binding:
We have discussed the issue of sewn versus glued bindings dozens of times on this blog.  So often I (and many of you) have come across a really cool Catholic bible edition, which unfortunately has a binding that is glued.  Now if you are looking for a bible that you will use occasionally or planning to use when travelling, a glued binding on that bible will probably do the job.  However, if you want something that will last (which means you are actually using the thing every day) then you want the best possible binding that is available.  Also, if you are shelling out a lot of money for a bible that is covered in a premium leather, like goatskin, but has only a glued binding, you are asking for a disaster.  Fortunately, every bible produced by Cambridge is sewn to the highest quality.  And it is glued.  Yes, glued.  Cambridge University Press explains: "Note that all sewn books and Bibles are also glued.  The sections are glued along the spine (usually with gauze fabric attached) to hold the book block together properly.  The glue penetrates a little between the individual sections, but the advantage of a sewn book is that the individual pages are not separately attached only be a single thin line of glue to the cover: each page is part of a folded section (a 'signature') of multiple pages; each signature is sewn to all the others; then all the signatures are glued to from a book block before being cased in the cover."  This means that a Cambridge bible is created to be used and to last.  With care, it will also open flatly on a table or in your lap.  This is the type of bible that can be handed down to your children (and children's children) because of the quality binding process which stand the test of time.


The Cover:
Previously, Cambridge only offered this edition in a black French Morocco leather, which came in varying quality.  Fortunately, this time around, they are offering the edition with the Apocrypha in goatskin, French Morroco leather, and hardback.  (If you want one without the Apocrypha, they are available in cowhide, French Morroco leather, and hardback.)  The full grain leather burgundy goatskin edition is incredibly smooth and supple.  The Cambridge goatskins are procured from "arid areas where environmental conditions are ideal for producing hides with the balance of strength and suppleness."  In comparing this cover with the other bibles I own, none of them compare to it.  The only one that would be remotely close is the Baronius Press Knox Bible that I had rebound by Leonards in a brown goatskin.  The goatskin cover from Leonards is still quite good, don't get me wrong, but the Cambridge one is of a higher level of quality.  The biggest difference between the two is that the inside cover of the Knox Bible was done in a "paste-off" process by which they glued the cover to the endpages of the book block.  The Cambridge NRSV is edge-lined, meaning "the hand-made edge-lined cover is attached to the book block by means of a flap of the inner cover material being glued to the endpapers of the book."   This goatskin edition is actually leather lined in black leather, which again increases it's softness and flexibility.  If you haven't held a bible that is leather lined, you are missing out.  Its smooth, supple, and durable.


Other Features:
Have you ever purchased a bible and realized that it didn't have ribbon markers?  While that isn't terribly unexpected when you get a hardcover or paperback edition, but when you get a leather or (even) a bonded leather bible I have always found it a bit jarring when one isn't included.  Fortunately, this isn't the case with the bibles produced by Cambridge.  The larger lectern and goatskin editions contain two ribbons, while the other leather ones contain one.  Each ribbon is produced at the appropriate length and strength so that they don't get lost in the pages or curl up after repeated use.  Those of you who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, with all the flipping between pages, know that well-produced ribbon markers are an essential.

The last final touch that sets this bible apart is the art-gilt page edges.  This edition is decorated on the edges of the paper with a metallic foil.  When it is done in an "art-gilt" style, as this one is, a "lustrous finish is created by a combination of red dye and gilt foil." The reddish tint to the metallic foil goes really well when paired with the burgundy red cover.


Final Thoughts:
If you have desired a truly high-end bible in a translation that can be utilized by Catholics, you need to order this one.  Are they expensive?  Yes.  (Although there is an introductory discount as of this posting available.)  Are the made of the highest quality of craftsmanship and care?  Absolutely.  I am convinced that there will never be a Catholic-specific edition of the bible made in premium leather and other materials until it is clear that there is a market for it.  It seems that it still remains more popular in Catholic circles to spend money on an expensive rosary or leather bound missal than the Word of God.  I am all for having nice rosaries and missals by the way, but there are plenty of options there.  With the Bible, there simply aren't many.  So, if you are still on the fence about getting one of these new Cambridge NRSVs, I'd encourage you to take a chance on one.  You will instantly see and feel the difference when you open the box for the first time.  And it also smells terrific, by the way!  :)


Additional Photos:
The CUP NRSV is 9.5′ x 7.2′ x 2′





I want to thank Cambridge University Press for providing both the goatskin and hardcover editions of the NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha in exchange for an honest review.  Cambridge University Press also provided a helpful catalogue which contained detailed information about the workmanship that goes into their bibles.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

CUP NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha Part I: The Content

c/o Cambridge University Press


This month, Cambridge University Press (CUP) published brand new editions of their NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha.  Since the late 1990’s, CUP has occasionally republished this edition, with some results better than others.  The most premium one they offered came in a French Morroco leather cover.  Those of you who have either held or seen the various versions of this edition (1996,2007) know well that the quality was not always the same.  While the content (inside the cover) was the same, the leather and paper quality was not.  Now to be perfectly fair, even with that criticism, the CUP NRSVs were still the best premium editions on the market that a Catholic could utilize, due to the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books.  The only bibles that were even close to it were the Douay and Knox bibles being published by our friends at BaroniusPress.  But even Baronius Press only published hardcover bibles, which were then covered in (a very good) bonded leather.  CUP, on the other hand, was providing flexible Morroco leather editions, among others.  Skip ahead to 2018 and you will see that CUP has clearly raised the bar with the publication of these new editions of their NRSV Reference Bibles.  Over the next couple of posts I hope to share with you why I think these editions are the leading premium bibles on the market today which can be utilized by Catholics.  I will be primarily referencing the goatskin edition, though occasionally I will include the hardcover one as well.  The NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha is also available in French Morocco leather.

Content:
So, before going into the premium elements of the goatskin edition (the external elements so to speak), I want to begin by looking at the content which is found in the 1504 pages of this reference bible.  Over the years, I have grown to prefer having a bible without notes or commentary.  Now I am not saying that there isn’t a place for study bibles, but I have grown to desire a bible with a clean page, with only the most basic extras like textual notes and cross-references.  I also just don’t have the space to carry around a bulky bible with me to a class I am teaching.  So, then, what I am looking for is a portable, though non-compact, bible that is pleasing to read from while also containing the basic necessities for leading or taking part in a bible study or class.

c/o Cambridge University Press
The CUP NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha excels in meeting this need.  How so?  Well, you will find in this edition the standard (American) version of the NRSV w/apocrypha, which is a relief to those of you who dislike the Anglicised version.  The page size is 8 ½ by 6 inches, printed (and bound) in Italy by L.E.G.O SPA (Vincenza).  The print is in 9 point Swift on 37gsm white “bible” paper.  The print, itself, is sharp and very clear, with paragraph headings properly italicized to provide a good contrast with the biblical text.  Each page is “line matched” or “line on line” meaning that one line exactly matches the position of the text on the reverse side of the paper.  If you have never been aware of “line matching” I would encourage you to take out a few of your favorite bibles and compare them.  You will notice that “line matched” bibles reduce most issues relating to bleed-through, even if the paper is relatively thin.  With the center-column cross-references and the textual notes placed at the bottom, the NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha is a pleasure to read and teach from.

Besides the NRSV text, notes, and cross-references, you will find a presentation page, table of weight and measures, glossary, bible maps, and a map index.  The glossary is a real gem.  At over 60 pages in length, it is truly useful and in some ways serves as a mini-concordance.  The content of the glossary, which is keyed to the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books as well, is not theological, but provides valuable information on people, places, objects, rituals, holy days, etc…   For example, there is an incredibly helpful entry for “parable(s)” which not only gives a definition and examples from the OT, but also lists all the parables found in the Gospels according to each book.   (The same thing is done for the miracles of Jesus as well.) 

In regards to the maps, this edition contains a new set of high quality color maps, 15 of them in all.  These cover the entire biblical history, including one for the Greek kingdoms after Alexander.  Those of you who had the earlier editions of this bible will remember that there were three black and white, gazetter, maps that were meant to go with the Apocrypha section.  Fortunately, they did not get rid of them.  Instead of placing them before the 15 full color maps, they are now placed in the apocrypha section of the biblical text.  This means you have, in total, four maps dedicated to the period of biblical history associated with the Deuterocanonical books.  That is far more than pretty much every Catholic bible available today. 

In future posts, I will look at the cover materials, ribbons, gold-gilding, and binding.


I want to thank Cambridge University Press for providing both the goatskin and hardcover editions of the NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The ESV-CE is Now

Thank you to James for this.

Bengaluru, Feb 10: The launch of ESV-CE (English Standard Version – Catholic Edition) Bible took place on February 4 as Oswald Cardinal Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) officially released the first copy of the first edition.
Earlier, he had granted the ESV-CE the mandatory imprimatur on behalf of the CCBI (an official approval issued by the Roman Catholic Church which permits the printing of an ecclesiastical or religious book). The Pope Paul VI auditorium of the St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences quivered with awe and controlled excitement as 140 Bishops from across India, CCBI office bearers and the city’s own revered Archbishop Bernard Moras, witnessed the event and got their individual copy of the new ESV–CE Bible, published by Asian Trading Corporation (ATC).

The ESV- CE Bible is an adaptation of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) Bible. The Catholic Church in India used the RSV for decades in the Liturgy. Eight scholars from across India, led by head of Scholars’ Committee Fr Dr Lucien Legrand worked on the translation process comparing it to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Nigel Fernandes, CEO of ATC, co-ordinated the project. After careful scrutiny and examination of the completed work, the CCBI Commission for Bible headed by Fr J Susaimanickam recommended the ESV-CE to the CCBI to be used for liturgical readings. This ‘essentially literal’ very first edition is recommended for public reading, preaching and private meditation, academic and devotional study. Like eminent Catholic scholar and master of ceremonies, Fr Dr Assisi Saldanha, put it, “With its commitment to literary excellence, the ESV-CE is well suited for in-depth study of the Bible.” On the occasion, two other important books were released – “The Order of Confirmation and The Order of Celebrating Marriage” – published by ATC in collaboration with CCBI Commission for Liturgy.
The celebrations were carried over to February 5, with ATC celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its Bengaluru operations, at The Grand Magrath Hotel here. Nigel Fernandes and Brenda Fernandes, CEO and Co-CEO of ATC, the couple with limitless enthusiasm thanked the dignitaries and guests which included Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, about 70 archbishops and bishops, Dr Lane Dennis, president and CEO and Co-CEO, Dr Dane Ortlund, executive vice-president and Bible publisher, Crossway Publishers, US, ESV-CE Scholar Committee, CCBI office bearers and executive secretaries, provincials, rectors, superiors, librarians, and Ivan Fernandes, MD of Regent Technologies Dubai, chairman of KE Global, Adrian D’Souza, president and representatives from Kanara Entrepreneurs, Peter Anil Rego, MD and other directors of Brilliant Printers, ATC Patrons and ATC Staff.
All the speakers on the occasion lauded the work of ATC and said that it is a remarkable example of the unique contribution which the laity has made to the mission of the church. They also lauded ATC’s contribution to ecumenical collaboration. Archbishop Bernard Moras commended and specially felicitated Nigel and Brenda Fernandes with a shawl and garland for the work of ATC in Bengaluru archdiocese and for reaching Christian literature to different corners of India and the globe.
In 1968, Bengaluru welcomed its first ATC bookstore in Brigade Road started by the late Fredrick Pais. (ATC founded in 1946 in Bombay), ATC was the Catholic resource centre for seminaries, convents, monasteries, religious houses, educational institutions and the laity. Today, ATC has become the most frequented Catholic bookstore in Bengaluru with 4 outlets across the city. ATC has published over two thousand titles, is one of the few bookstores to sell Catholic and protestant titles of various publishers side by side. ATC also has a great collection of books on self-help and current interest. Books published by ATC are today popular in Bookstores and Church stall across South East Asia.
ATC is the only lay organisation to publish four Bible translations in Asia – the Revised Standard Version (RSV), RSV Second Catholic Edition, the New Living Translation Catholic Edition (NLT-CE), and ESV-CE. ATC has the distinction of having Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI write a personally signed letter in April 2010 to Fr Joseph Fessio, the editor of Ignatius Press, San Francisco requesting him to grant rights to ATC to publish the Pope’s books for Asia. In addition to Pope Benedict’s books, ATC has also published the writings of Pope Francis, St Mother Teresa, Fulton Sheen, Henri Nouwen, etc. The recent bestsellers from ATC include the very popular Youcat Series. In the pipeline are the 3 volume Lectionary Chapel edition of the Missal for India and several other exciting titles.

(To purchase your copy of the English Standard Version- Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) contact ATC bookstore or call 080 2549 0444/25487444/25471444/7090100444/9036003544 or log on to www.atcbooks.in.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Question(s) of the Day

With the RNJB being combined with the Revised Grail Psalms, does this open up the possibility of the eventual revised NABRE being paired with the RGP?  If so, is that a good thing or would you rather keep the current 2011 NABRE Psalms?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

RNJB on February 15th?

According to the Amazon listing, the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (NT and Psalms) will be published on February 15th.  The price is quite good, coming in under $10.  It will be interesting to see if this is the actual date of publication this time around.  A reminder that the Psalms appear to be the 2010 Revised Grail Psalms.  I have it pre-ordered and will let you know if I get a shipping notice.

Once again, here is the description:
A Bible for study and proclamation. The Revised New Jerusalem Bible presents anew the scholarship, character and clarity of the 1966 Jerusalem Bible (the first modern English version) and the 1985 New Jerusalem Bible. It is a Bible that prioritises accuracy of translation and richness of tone, written that `the message might be fully proclaimed' (2 Ti 4:17). This volume presents the full New Testament and the Psalms, and a comprehensive set of study notes, cross-references and book introductions. `Clear read' style. The biblical scriptures were written to be proclaimed, so the RNJB uses linguistic style and speech patterns best suited for being read out loud. Formal equivalence. The language, concepts and imagery of the original scriptures are presented more accurately by the RNJB than the colloquial approach of many other modern translations. Gender inclusion. The message of the Bible is for all people, so care has been taken to avoid traditional male bias of the English language, while remaining faithful to the meaning of the original scriptures. Revised Grail Psalter. The book of Psalms is based on the text of the 2010 translation of The Revised Grail Psalms. Modern measurements. Ancient systems of measuring and timing have been replaced by modern, metric equivalents. Comprehensive study notes. The notes, cross-references and book introductions of the JB and NJB are replaced in the RNJB by new materials which reflect the fruit of the most up-to-date and ecumenical scholarship. The Revised New Jerusalem Bible has been prepared and edited by The Revd Henry Wansbrough OSB, who was previously General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible.