Many thanks to reader, Jonny, for the following guest review:
I was looking at the NABREs on Amazon and noticed that Fireside has a “Church and School” hardback edition out now, in regular and large print. I looked on the Fireside website and saw that they also had a Companion Edition out as well (which is a medium sized edition, about 8 ½ by 5 ½ by 1 ½), and I decided to order it. It was listed under the “Librosario” section (the kind with the embossed crucifix on the front and pray along Rosary on the back.) When I received it UPS two days later I saw that it actually says “Holy Bible” on the front with embossed letters filled with gold, and the back is plain. It has a super-soft Endurahide cover that is a very nice looking dark burgundy with subtle black shades. I will list some of the other details in comparison with other NABREs:
1. Typeface and spacing: A very traditional looking Times New Roman-ish font typical of many modern Bibles is used for the Biblical Text. The chapter headings are in a slightly narrower and plainer bold font and slightly smaller and closer spaced than the previous Fireside Companion Bible. The spacing of the text and notes are about the same size as the Saint Benedict Press edition of the NABRE.
2. Other details about the text: This version has the chapter-colon-verse system of reference (e.g. Ben Sira 19:20), like the SBP version. The SBP version uses a series of symbols to locate the references, but the Fireside version uses an asterisk every time, and you simply look for the verse number. The cross-references are less cluttered and therefore easier to read in the Fireside version, but the SBP version has the advantage that the source of the reference location is listed (chapter/verse) rather than just the letter. Both Bibles have a unique symbol to indicate a textual notation.
3. Other details (the extras): The Fireside Bible has the “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation”, “Origin, Inspiration, and History of the Bible”, and “The Bible: A Catholic Perspective” at the front of the book. It also has the complete lectionary reading list for all Masses throughout the year, a 156 page Catholic Encyclopedic Dictionary, and 8 maps with a grid index in the back. I know that some study Bibles like Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible have more information as far as the maps and essays go, but the Fireside has the advantage of having what Fireside calls the “Perfect Binding”, which is a lot of little sewn together signatures. My hardback Catholic Study Bible, for example, is falling apart page by page in the map section because each page was glued in individually. (I hope the NABRE edition has a sewn binding like my genuine leather Oxford NOAB RSV, or I won’t be getting that one at all.) The Endurahyde cover of the Fireside Bible I hear is supposed to outlast leather, but does not stay open as well as a hardback at the beginning and end of the book (but I am hoping that I can break it in more.) It also has indexed pages to find each book easily and one burgundy ribbon marker.
All in all, I think that the Fireside Bible is the best medium sized Bible available now. I personally prefer a smaller Bible, especially for devotions, and this one has a lot to offer, especially now with the improved Old Testament and Psalms.