Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NOAB 4th Edition Genuine Leather

Last week I decided to order the NOAB 4th Edition in genuine leather. At the time, it was priced at for only $59.00, so I decided to go for it. As I was awaiting it's arrival over the weekend, I started to get a little buyers remorse. Should I have used part of my tax return for another study Bible? The fact is that I really liked what I had saw in the hardcover edition. While some people did not like the new page format and font, I actually found it easier to read. I also found the notes to be succinct, yet helpful and the new map section and essays were informative. My biggest issue, then, became whether or not the genuine leather cover would be quality. I have written often on this blog about the need for premium/quality leather Bibles for Catholics, so I was hoping that this would be the case with the NOAB 4th Edition. I usually don't recommend people purchasing a genuine leather Bible unless recommended by another or unless you are able to see and feel it for yourself. Needless to say, I broke my own rule on this one!

Fortunately, when I opened up my package yesterday from I was very pleased with the quality of the genuine leather. While not being goat or calf skin, it is actually very soft and nimble. It is definitely a step up from the other two genuine leather Oxford study Bibles that I own, those being the NOAB RSV and The Catholic Study Bible NAB (1990) editions. While the durability of any Bible can only be judged over time, my first impressions are that it will be just fine. I plan to use this Bible exclusively this summer, for personal reading, leading Bible study, and any retreats or conferences I attend, so I will let you know how it holds up.
Below are some additional pictures I took with my I-Phone:

I should also point out that this edition comes with two Bible ribbons, tabs, and a simple presentation page at the front of the book.


Qohelet said...

Looks great but a wee bit too pricey for me. I think I'll settle for my 3rd ed hardback NOAB... for now.

Timothy said...

Yeah, genuine leather Bibles can be a bit pricey, however this one is still available on for $59.00

Diakonos said...

I need to go to confession for transgressing the 11th commandment, "Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's genuine leather NOASB-4 Study Bible."

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! (And thanks multos for including pix).

Matt said...

Glued or sewn binding?

Timothy said...


Going by the rationale at this website:

I think it is sewn.

Anonymous said...

Hi Timothy,

I bought the NOAB hardback NRSV mid 2009. I was surprised to find that 3 of the tabs were badly attached, resulting in pages stuck together.

So I hope you don't have the same problem.

Thanks for the great review, will be interested hearing what you think about it during the next few months.

Theophrastus said...

Let me sharpen my criticism of the typesetting of the NOAB4.

Here is a simple test that illustrates the problem. Turn to page 260 in the NOAB-RSV and page 308 in the NOAB4. (When I write NOAB-RSV, I mean the NOAB-RSV Expanded Edition).

Now, find the annotations to Deuteronomy 33:6 on both pages.

My timings:
NOAB-RSV: less than a second.
NOAB4: 6 seconds.

Now this may not seem like much of a difference, but when one is trying to read all the annotations, this really slows one down. (It is even worse when one does not whether a particular verse is annotated or not.)

In more detail:

Most pages contain three levels -- the text, textual footnotes, and the annotations.

The Biblical text is clear enough -- but it is still hard to read because it is not right-justified -- it looks like a draft written by a student rather than a professionally typeset book.

The textual notes are outstanding -- the large spaces between different footnotes, and hanging reverse indentation make it easy to find what one is looking for.

But things get awful with the annotations proper. As with previous editions, the text is printed in smaller font and single column -- making it difficult to scan with the eye. This is compounded from visual noise caused by the bleed through. (Compare your NOAB4 with the NOAB-RSV-Expanded -- you'll see the paper is much thinner and has more bleeding).

Simply finding the annotations is problematic. Annotations are set in long paragraphs with verse numbers being put in bold face. However, in the new sans-serif font used by the typesetters the bold face is very close to the normal typeface. Also, cross-references are integrated with the annotations, so the paragraphs are full of numbers.

These three things: the absence of right-justification for the Biblical text, the thin paper, and the difficulty in quickly finding annotations make the NOAB4 much less useful for me than I would prefer.

For me, the NOAB-RSV-Expanded edition is a reading version of the Bible -- I can easily hold it and just read it. In contrast, the NOAB4 is a reference Bible -- I can't really read it for long stretches (and when I try to, I end up missing most of the annotations -- which is the raison d'ĂȘtre of the annotated edition).

Oxford has typeset many beautiful Study Bibles -- for example, I think Oxford's Jewish Study Bible may be one of the most beautifully typeset study Bibles available today. But I find the NOAB4 is a step backwards from previous NOABs -- in fact, it is the hardest to read of all the Oxford Study Bibles I have.

What a pity!

Timothy said...


The tabs in my edition are all fine, no problem with them.

Timothy said...


I agree with you about how the NOAB-RSV is a reading version of the Bible. It is compact, yet contains plenty of annotations and other important study helps. Plus, the typesetting for the Biblical text itself is very clear and welcoming to read. I use to feel that way, though to a lesser degree, with the original Oxford Catholic Study Bible NAB. Although it is pretty massive in size, the Biblical text stands out and of course there is plenty of room for personal annotations.

I also agree with you about the Oxford's Jewish Study Bible, which is wonderfully typeset.

Ann said...

What IS the size of the print for this Bible? I'm afraid it is going to be to small for me.

Timothy said...


It is a bit smaller than the prior edition of the NOAB.

Chris said...

I just wanted to thank you for your honest, concise reviews of many of the serious contenders out there on the study Bible market. Like yourself, I have been searching these past four years for a Bible which I can call uniquely my own, use constantly, and be my constant companion through life with for study, devotion, and teaching. Finding such a one has almost proven futile. If the ESV Study Bible were less programmatic and included the Aprocrypha/Deuteros I think I would be satisfied. I find the fluidity and dynamism of the NJB, but the footnotes are so difficult to read and, as someone who is a stickler for original language renderings (especially when using critical commentaries), it's really not the best option for study.

Given all the things said about the NOAB both on your blog and in general, in addition to your recent review here of the 4th Edition, perhaps my search is over for a time? Probably not as there will always be elements in other study Bibles which will ultimately shift my devoted usage. Regardless, I've purchased myself a copy of the NOAB 4th Edition in the leather in the best of hopes.

Anonymous said...


The Fifth Edition of this is being released this spring. Love to know if you plan on reviewing it.

Michael P.

Timothy said...

We shall see. If I can get a review copy I may.