Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Choose.....choose wisely!



I have been debating this question in my mind recently, so I wanted to propose it to you.

What is better to have for a day-to-day/multi-purpose Bible: 1) one that has a superior translation; or 2) one that may not be as good of a translation, but contains such things as a quality binding/cover, study helps, cross-references, maps, and concordance?



I know that this might seem a bit trivial for my Protestant brothers and sisters, since most Protestant translations come in multiple editions so that if you like a particular translation, there is probably an edition that fits you well out there too. However, in the Catholic Bible publishing world, the options are not as expansive. (I am sure I will post on this issue again at a later time.) So what do you think?

But before you comment on this question, let me make a few additional points that might help in gauging where I am coming from:

1) The four translations that I have in mind here are the RSV, NRSV, NJB, and NAB. I like using the NAB the least, while I consider the RSV and NRSV each to have their positive and negative points. (I will be continuing my RSV vs. NRSV comparison in a week or so.) The NJB is still attractive in many ways, particularly due to all its reference material.

2) My background is that I do full-time campus/young adult ministry, while working on a graduate degree in Sacred Theology from a local seminary.

3) Personally, I like to carry around a Bible that is of standard/medium size.

11 comments:

ElShaddai Edwards said...

For a "swiss army knife" Bible, I don't think one can overestimate the value of cross-references and a concordance or "cyclopedic" index. I'm not so high on study notes in my primary Bible.

I wish that every publisher would make a "Reference Edition" of their proffered translations (preferably 10pt single-column text, a modest number of cross references on the inside with a wide outside margin for handwritten notes - but I'm probably being picky...).

Meg said...

Does such a Bible exist?

I use the New Oxford Annotated NRSV with Apocrypha -- so not a catholic Bible -- as my desk Bible. If I'm studying, that's my go to book. The print is good for long stretches of reading, the notes are wonderfully detailed. It has it all, including coloured maps at the end. It's a bit heavy/bulky for carrying everywhere, but do-able in a backpack.

I carry the NRSV-CE, a floppy green soft-back to RCIA classes -- the font and the layout make it difficult to read for any length, there are some brief notes at the end - a chronology, prayers, Paul's voyages -- but no maps. It was handed to everyone - inquirers and catechists alike, so we all use it.

I take my nice REB with Apocrypha (not CE) to my Scripture class at the University -- the prof uses the NRSV and I like seeing the difference between the more and less formal translations. Also, the REB is in English (not American). I've heard there's an Anglicized NRSV out there, but I have not seen it.

So do you really want to settle on ONE Bible? Maybe you're better off getting the right one for each purpose.

Tim said...

Elshaddai, I agree with 100% about wanting a reference edition like you described, however it is amazing how few there are, particularly Catholic editions! I cannot find a simple NRSV-CE with crossreferences. Its amazing.

Meg, which edition of the New Oxford Annotated NRSV do you use? (I like the first edition they did with the Metzger as editor back in the early 90's better than the current edition.) I do have an older RSV Oxford Annotated leather edition, which is still in print. I really like the size, it is not as big as many other study Bibles.

Anonymous said...

Since most the work I do is for RCIA class and Bible study I need the Catholic Study Bible (NAB).
When I pray the Liturgy of the hours, I use my RSV 2CE for the psalms and readings. I also use the
NISB Study Bible (NRSV)if I attend any classes at LMU or seminars(they generally use the NRSV). I am waiting for Ignatius Press to come out with a RSV 2CE Study Bible. rolf

Kevin Sam said...

I feel for you. I did a search for NRSVs but found none with reference edition. The only one that comes close seems to be the Cambridge NRSV Reference with Apocrypha. Maybe somebody ought to put in a request for one?

Kevin Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ElShaddai Edwards said...

I had a copy of the Cambridge NRSV Cross-Reference with Apocrypha for a while, but didn't use the NRSV enough to justify having it, so I sold it and bought Cambridge's text edition instead. You can read more of my thoughts on the Cross-Reference Edition here. It also has the Anglicized text.

Tim said...

Rolf, thanks for your comments. I think what you describe is very similar to my situation. Like you, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours. However, I use the standard Liturgy of the Hours book, which uses the NAB/Grail Psalms. Then for study I am usually using the RSV or NRSV, although I am still undecided as to which NRSV study Bible is the best. Then there is the NJB, which I refer to a lot as well, particularly due to its study notes. Its not as literal as the RSV/NRSV, but it does have places where it shines.

rolf said...

Tim, I use the same liturgy of the hours book, but when I read from it, I read the psalms and the Bible readings from my RSV 2CE, and all the antiphons, intercessions and prayers, etc from the Liturgy of the Hours book.
I just find the psalms and readings from the RSV 2CE to be superior (for prayer)to the NAB and Grail psalms and readings. At first it is a little more clumsy but after a while you will switch between the two books with out thinking about it.

Meg said...

Tim, I use the one edited by Bruce Metzger and Roland E. Murphy -- 1994, I think.

My husband is a big fan of the Catholic Mission Edition of the NRSV.

It has maps, headings, timelines and some notes. Unfortunately, it's a shiny bright green paperback. I like the font and the layout too -- more readable than my little NRSV. This one is put out by Saint Jerome Press.

Tim said...

Thanks Meg! I wouldn't mind getting one of those NOAB made in the early 90's.