Friday, July 5, 2013

A Discovery at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids

Last week I had delight to visit my friend Louis who works at the amazing Christian bookstore Baker Book House in Grand Rapids.  It truly is an amazing Christian bookstore, which has a nice selection of Catholic Bibles and books too!  After having lunch with Louis I began to take a look at the used book section and found a Bible I had longed to get for many years.  It is the New Oxford Annotated Bible w/ Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books published in 1991.  This is the edition that was edited by two of the most prominent Biblical scholars of the 20th century, Dr. Bruce M. Metzger and Carmalite priest Fr. Roland E. Murphy.  A truly ecumenical study Bible if there ever was one.  This was the first edition that included the NRSV translation, but before many of the changes to the annotations that were found in later editions.  These annotations are similar to, but not exactly the same, as the original New Oxford Annotated Bible RSV.  This edition, though slightly bigger in size than the previous edition, also contains very generous margins for personal annotation.  It may be the best I have seen to be honest.  The second picture below, gives you an indication of what I am talking about.

Now, what made this find even better was the fact that they had a copy available in burgundy leather.  It is a soft, genuine leather cover with sewn binding.  Since it is a used Bible, it opens very easily and has a great feel to it.  Fortunately for me, this edition has only a few pencil marks on some of the pages, which can easily be erased.  A truly great find!

There were some additional NOAB NRSV editions available in hardback, so if you are interested you can contact Baker Book House and they will ship it to you.  If you are close enough, I would highly recommend stopping by Baker Book House.  It took me a little over two hours to drive there from metro Detroit, and it was worth every minute.


Tom said...

Jolly good find! Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like Baker House doesn't have any other 1991 editions -- which to me is a good part of the appeal (i.e. the ecumenical '91 editors).

Timothy said...


I'd give them a call. They might not have them listed on the website, but as of last week I saw at least two hardcover editions in their used book section.

Timothy said...

Tom, let me know of you are successful.

Jonny said...

Speaking of older editions, it appears that the genuine leather Oxford RSV available from Christianbook is the not the "Expanded Edition" of 1977 but an older edition from 1962. That would mean that it also would have the older version of the New Testament, and not the second edition. I would really be surprised if this wasn't a misprint, but here is the link anyway:

As far at the NRSV edition mentioned here goes, I think this is the same one, hardcover, from amazon. There are multiple copies available for a penny.

Theophrastus said...

Jonny -- the Oxford RSV from Christianbook is definitely the 1977 edition.

The 1991 entry in the New Oxford Annotated is perhaps the high-water mark in the series to date. Congratulations on getting a nice copy of it.

Timothy said...

What I find interesting is that both the NOAB of 91 and the Catholic Study Bible published in 1990 both had sizable margins, whereas future editions by Oxford pretty much eliminated that feature.

Theophrastus said...

My understanding (from discussion with Oxford University Press folks) is that the smaller margins was a deliberate design decision.

Both the NOAB and Catholic Study Bible are widely used as textbooks (e.g., college and seminary markets) and there was concern that they were becoming unwieldy (particularly after the introduction of the much more compact HarperCollins Study Bible, which is a serious competitor to Oxford for the college market.)

Actually, this is a trend for college textbooks in general. In terms of physical dimensions, many "big" textbooks such as calculus or first year economics textbooks have been shrinking in physical size over the last 15 years.

I'm just speculating now, but perhaps this is partly for competitive reasons, and partly because of widespread complaints about heavy textbooks leading to back pain for students (see, e.g., here, although articles on the subject go back for two decades.)

The more compact typesetting though makes these study Bibles much less usable -- both by college students and members of the general public.

Stuart Dunn said...

Congrats on finding a book you had been looking for forever. I had that experience once with a kid's book for my son. I found it for sale at a monastery...apparently the last one in stock.

CJA Mayo said...


My copy of Alister McGrath's "Christian Theology: An Introduction" is still relatively new, and is massive. It's 400 pages long, if I recall correctly, but reads like it's 1600 pp. instead due to the sheer size of the thing.

Not to mention even in the space given he doesn't have the time to give even the most cursory once-overs to many doctrines, and many of those he can cover, he must cover in a paragraph!

Anonymous said...

Jonny wrote:

"As far at the NRSV edition mentioned here goes, I think this is the same one, hardcover, from amazon. There are multiple copies available for a penny."

Hello Jonny,

Thanks for the above link! Although, the ones for a penny were very tempting, I decided to order a more expensive ($1.95) very good condition NOAB. ;-)


Jason Engel said...

I recently came across a similar find, an Oxford REB study Bible in burgundy leather. It would be nice if such books were not so hard to find, but it sure is a fun treat when you manage to find one. Congrats on your new treasure :)

Timothy said...


Thanks! It was one of those classic double-takes when I saw it. Couldn't believe I saw it there, and I wasn't even really looking for it. Once spotted, I knew I couldn't leave the store without it. Fortunately, the price was reasonable.

Jonny said...

I recently attempted to obtain a blessing for a NOAB that I bought as a gift for a non-Catholic friend. The priest would not bless the Bible because supposedly the 1971 RSV New Testament never received am imprimatur. Well, ok, but here was the perplexing point for me: I thought the 1971 RSV was approved by Pope Paul VI, in the form of the "Common Bible." But most notably, the Catechism credits the 1971 RSV as a source of the included Bible translations. Kind of strange that the version of the RSV used in the English version of the Catechism is not approved for me to use as a Catholic! Should I yet further dismiss the importance of an imprimatur on a Bible, or am I missing something here?

Timothy said...


1) I never knew priest were suppose to bless Bibles.

2) Many of the changes in the second edition actually follow the ones found in the Catholic edition.

Jonny said...

I wasn’t suggesting that a Bible must be blessed in order to read it, but that is a common practice and there is actually a form for the blessing of Bibles in the Book of Blessings.

This incident was simply the way that I came about this underlying question: Is the 1971 RSV an approved Bible or not?

Timothy said...

My guess would be technically it isn't, although some of the Oxford RSV-CE reader editions actually encorporate both the '66 CE and '71 revised together. I have also read from some people who question whether or not the RSV-2CE is actually properly approved as well.