Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oxford NRSV-CE Readers Edition

One of my earliest reviews on this blog was for the delightful NRSV-CE Readers Edition from Oxford, which is now sadly out-of-print.  I thought I would re-publish it here with a few additions, which you will see in bold.

Here is the info given for this edition by the publisher, Oxford University Press:

In addition to U.S. and Canadian imprimaturs, the Reader's Text contains "The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation", 64 in-text maps, 12 in-text charts and line drawings, a unique NRSV Catholic concordance, a Presentation and Family Record Section, eight pages of full color New Oxford Bible Maps, Prayers and Devotions of the Catholic Faith, and a Table of Sunday and Weekday Lectionary Readings for the Canadian NRSV Lectionary.

I must say that I find this edition of the NRSV a true joy to read and use daily. I own the burgundy berkshire leather edition, although I am still unsure as to what berkshire leather actually is.  (Berkshire Leather is high quality pigskin. It is tanned to enhance its appearance and durability.)  It doesn't feel like the rather cheap bonded leather that you sometimes see used in Bibles, but it certainly is not lamb-skin either. The fact that I paid a decent amount for it suggests to me that it is a better quality leather binding. The Bible fits nicely in the hand and will open up flat when placed on a table.

It's size is 9.9 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches and it weights only 3 pounds, making it very easy to take with you to Bible studies, Holy Mass, or Panera. In addition, the text size is very readable, the print is clear, it contains paragraph headings, and there is a fair amount of space to write notes if desired. The binding is sewn.

Probably the main reason I like this Bible is that it contains a lot of Bible extras, something that most Bibles of this size do not. As many of you know, I love a Bible with a lot of maps. With this edition, not only do you get the standard "Oxford Maps" in the back, but there are 64 in-text maps placed throughout the Bible at appropriate places. For example, if you are reading through 1 Samuel about David fleeing from King Saul, you will find in 1 Samuel 22 a nice in-text map of David's escape route to En Gedi.   In the New Testament,  there are some wonderful maps of "Jerusalem during Jesus Time" as well maps of the individual cities that Paul visited. In addition to the maps, there are some very helpful charts placed within the text, like a "Harmony of the Gospels" and "Chronology of the Postexilic Era" in the Book of Ezra. The appendix includes the full table of Mass readings for Sundays and Weekdays, which is really nice to have when taking this Bible to Mass. There is also a nice 6 page section on Catholic prayers and devotions. Finally, there is a concise NRSV concordance in the back. This 100 page concordance, which helps you to find familiar phrases and words in the Bible, is the most thorough concise concordance that I have seen for a Bible this size. It is particularly helpful when looking up a Biblical name or place.  It has more entries than what you would find in the HarperOne editions of the NRSV.

The one drawback to this Bible is that it doesn't contain any cross-references. Certainly having the concordance helps that a bit, but overall it would have been nice to have cross-references for those passages that are explicitly quoted elsewhere in the Bible.  You will notice my final picture shows how I copied and glued the "Old Testament References in the New Testament" chart found in the appendix of the HarperCollins Study Bible into the back of this Bible.  Problem solved.

Overall, this is a great Bible! I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an NRSV Catholic edition.  If you can find one!


Jonny said...

Do you like the cut out thumb tabs, Tim?

I have those on my Oxford large print RSV-CE, which also includes the lectionary. I used it last Lent for Lectio Divina with the Mass readings, and I found them pretty handy.

Timothy said...

It's nice to have. Once you have used it for a while you can kind of feel where a particular book is without the tabs. But I don't mind having them.

owen swain said...

Between the Cambridge NRSV I was fortunate enough to find on the cheap (the one you, Timothy have lauded on this blog) and my newer NABRE Personal Size Zippered (with the nasty dated illustrations carefully trimmed out) I'm pretty much set.

I can recall my days as a Protestant when those cut away tabs were sort of the status symbol of real bible study enthusiasts. Heh heh. Sporting a Thompson Chain Reference KJV in fine leather (black preferred but burgundy acceptable) with cut away tabs pretty much mean you were on speaking terms with Oral Roberts or maybe even Billy G! ;-)

Anonymous said...


Is this edition anglicized?

Michael P.

Timothy said...

Yes it is.

Jason Engel said...

Can you share that ISBN of this book? That would simplify searching for a copy, a particularly frustrating task with Oxford Bibles because they tend to have 3 or 4 cost/quality variants for a given book but just one inaccurate description for all of them, making search without the ISBN somewhat more complicated than with other publishers (I do wish they would not do that).

Timothy said...


I am sorry to say that there is no ISBN in the book. I have always had this problem with Oxford as well. Perhaps it was on the box that it came with, but don't have anymore.

Theophrastus said...

This particular NRSV was published in "economy" editions (basically paperbacks), hardcover editions, and various colored Berkshire leather editions, both with and without concordances.

Here are some ISBNs (not a complete list):

* Black leather - 0195282728
* Burgundy leather edition - 0195282736
* Hardcover - 0195282647
* Expanded Economy (w/concordance) - 0195282655
* Economy (no concordance) - 0195282663

I also think that this is printed from the same print edition (at least it has the same cover), but I am not absolutely sure:

* Liturgical Press - 0814627951

Various editions are readily available from used dealers, and you can even find dealers who claim to have new editions.

Catholic readers of the NRSV have a wide range of editions to choose from. This is even more true if the readers are also interested in:

* out-of-print (but readily available used) NRSV Bibles
* NRSV Bibles printed in Britain
* "ecumenical NRSV editions" (which also include books belonging to the canon of Eastern churches)

CJA Mayo said...

I would think it certainly is nice if you'd like to read the NRSV, and certainly less so if your intent is to read the Bible.

(Emoticon wink.)

owen swain said...

The emoticon wink unfortunately does not hide the derisive nature of the unhelpful comment. I imagine the caveat is intended to make the barb familial. I simply find it divisive.

Theophrastus said...

I would think it certainly is nice if you'd like to read the NRSV, and certainly less so if your intent is to read the Bible.

I realize this was meant in as a wisecrack, but I'd like to respond seriously.

If one wants to "read the Bible," the ideal option is to consult original languages. However, many people have only partial ability in Greek. The NRSV has them covered. Here are some interlinears, diglots, and parallel New Testaments with the NRSV:

* New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament

* Word Study Greek-English New Testament

* The Interlinear NRSV-NIV Parallel New Testament

* The Greek New Testament: UBS4 With NRSV and NIV

* The Precise Parallel New Testament

* Greek-English New Testament (NA28)

If you are interested in reading the Deuterocanon in Greek with the NRSV, this is an excellent resource:

* The Parallel Apocrypha

I am not aware of any printed NRSV diglot (or any English text with imprimatur) for the complete (Hebrew) Masoretic Text -- and I'm not sure the NRSV is an ideal translation for reading with the Masoretic Text, since the NRSV uses an eclectic textual base drawing also on the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient translations. (Perhaps the best option for a Masoretic Text diglot is the [Jewish] NJPS diglot. The NJPS shared a translator with the NRSV).

Finally, the NRSV is included in all major Bible software, so that is another way to read it with original texts.

The NRSV is even useful in reading the Septuagint, since the best English translation of the Septuagint, the New English Translation of the Septuagint, is keyed to the NRSV.

In terms of the number of aids available for reading the Bible in original languages, the NRSV easily holds first place among English Catholic Bible translations. (Second place goes to the RSV.)

Jason Engel said...

I am looking forward to the release of this new NA28 with NRSV & REB interlinear, due out in October.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28th Edition with NRSV/REB Greek-English New Testament

ISBN-13: 9781619700352

I appreciate the information provided by Theophrastus, and agree with Owen Swain.

Russ said...

Does anyone know what the difference between NA27 and NA28 will be?

Appreciate any comments.

CJA Mayo said...

Theophrastus: touche. That's a most long and complicated wisecrack - complete with hyperlinks!

Russ: The NA28 has a few minor changes in a couple of the Catholic Epistles. Everything else is the same insofar as I can tell. (I believe I owe Theophrastus for pointing that out, as, upon my first inspection of it, reading a gospel and some of Paul's epistles, appeared identical. The NA28 itself has been out since late last year.)

owen swain said...

"Theophrastus: touche. That's a most long and complicated wisecrack - complete with hyperlinks"

Of course it was not a wise crack but rather a generous and reasoned response that you cannot help but belittle, CJA Mayo. It is embarrassing to see you persist in this manner.

Theophrastus, thanks for you time in on this. It is appreciated.

Biblical Catholic said...

"I would think it certainly is nice if you'd like to read the NRSV, and certainly less so if your intent is to read the Bible."

Honestly I think these kinds of snide remarks only discourage people from reading the Bible. If someone was to compile a list of reasons why people don't read the Bible surely 'I don't want to be judged or insulted by people who look down on me because I don't use their preferred translation' would be near the top. This attitude is the exact opposite of Christianity.

Theophrastus said...

Russ asks: Does anyone know what the difference between NA27 and NA28 will be?

The NA28 is already in print, although the NRSV/REB/NA28 is coming later this year.

The difference between the NA27 and NA28 is primarily in the apparatus, which has been made considerably easier to use -- and is also more up to date (for example, it includes references to eleven papyri discovered after the NA27 was published.)

The NA28 follows the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung's Editio Critica Major, which currently has only published the Catholic Epistles, so that is the only part of the text that is updated. However, the extensive changes to the apparatus (mostly improvements) make this new edition well worth the cost -- even if you already have a NA27.

However, one important way, the NA28 is a step backwards: while the NA27 had involvement from a Catholic scholar (Carlo Martini) and a Greek Orthodox scholar (Ioannes Karavidopoulos) as well as three Protestant scholars (Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, and Bruce Metzger), it is not clear that NA28 had interdenominational cooperation -- the only editor listed is "the Institute for New Testament Textual Research ... under the direction of Holger Strutwolf."

Here is a detailed review from Peter J. Williams.

You can find a sample page of the forthcoming NRSV/REB/NA28 edition linked from the bottom of this page.

Theophrastus said...

Russ: I should probably add that if you are interested in how different translations use different Greek textual sources, and want an explanation in English of those differences (rather than the terse apparatus of the NA28 or NA27), then I can recommend any of the following three books:

* Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary

* Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament

* Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament

Comfort's book is especially easy to use -- it contrasts 15 different English translations (including translations with Catholic involvement -- including NAB, NEB, NJB, NRSV, REB, RSV) as well as the variants mentioned in textual notes of those translations. Comfort clearly shows where those translations differ in their Greek source texts.

Omanson's book is also quite easy to use, although it is not quite as exhaustive in its examples as Comfort's.

Metzger's book is a classic resource, although it is written for an audience somewhat more familiar with textual criticism than Comfort or Omanson assume.

CJA Mayo said...

Also I would think (I've never used Omanson's book) that, if you can get used to Metzger - as with anything, the learning of a new field or sub-field can be most daunting at first, but consequently becomes relatively simple - he's the source to use, containing the most information.

In general I have found Metzger to be always in a class of his own when it comes to both the practice and defense of the "reasoned eclectic" text-critical method (i.e. the text-critical method used to compile modern, post-W-H texts). Every divinity school or seminary I've attended, known someone who attended, or even read the online syllabus for, includes at least some of Metzger's work when it comes time to begin working on the Greek NT and textual criticism. ("Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration" in English form is limited to the Anglosphere: "Textual Commentary" seems to be used everywhere, probably along with a translation of "TC&R" under a different name.)

Whether or not I believe that reasoned eclecticism truly is reasoned, Metzger is the most thorough and lucid, while at the same time one of the most erudite, proponents of it. It is rare that for any theory or set thereof, in any subject - whether in the natural sciences or in the humanities - that the most learned scholars have any significant overlap with the most lucid ones.

Theophrastus: I hope you took my reply to your comment in the vein it was offered. If you did not, and I caused offense, I apologize and ask forgiveness. (It was so thorough, and irenic, that I could not reply to it, except to try to produce a comparable list for another translation, which would have been off-topic and without purpose.)

Russ said...

Theophrastus and CJA Mayo: Thank you both very much for your help and direction. It is much appreciated.

Many thanks,