Tuesday, October 22, 2013

J. Mark Bertrand's Review of Allan's NRSV in Brown Highland Goatskin


Timothy said...

Perhaps a Catholic Edition one day?

Theophrastus said...

I believe that particular copy is out of print; in any case, it lacks the Deuterocanonicals and Apocrypha.

Amfortas said...

Hasn't this man come across the CUP NRSV?

Jason Engel said...

Allan has indicated an intent to bind a Catholic NRSV in 2014.

The ISBN used by Allan has several sibling editions in hardback, one of which includes the Apocrypha. Indeed, while the Allan NRSV book blocks were printed in China, the hardcover NRSV+A was printed on better paper with better ink in Belgium. If you don't mind that the pages edges would be plain textbook white, it might make a solid candidate for one of Leonard's new all-leather rebinds.

The brown Allan NRSV is no longer available, but the black one is.

Timothy said...


I too have heard from Allan's that they will indeed be making a Catholic edition in 2014. It will be interesting to see which book block they go with. As you know, there are not many NRSV-CE's out there that have some of the nice extras, like cross-references. I really like HarperOne's NRSV Standard edition, with its single column format. However, the problem that plagues the Harper releases, in addition to the lack of cross-references, is the very thin Bible paper. So, I am eagerly anticipating hearing something soon from Allan's.

Theophrastus said...

Amfortas: Mark Bertrand reviewed the Cambridge NRSV; it was mostly a negative review.

Theophrastus said...

Jason: If I recall correctly, the Allans was based on on this Collins (UK) textblock. If that is correct, then it is interesting to note that the corresponding edition with Apocrypha is now out of print.

It turns out that I own this edition, and while the paper may be better some Collins (UK) Bibles, I think it still has room for improvement.

I remember that we discussed this edition because it came up as part of Tim's continuing hunt for an NRSV with great cross-references.

Timothy said...

As a number of us await an announcement from Allan's, I am trying to figure out if there is a book block in the Catholic edition of the NRSV that would be best suited. I wonder what you Theophrastus and/or Jason think about this? I may be wrong, but I see only two outcomes: 1) An NRSV w/ Apocrypha that includes cross-references or 2) An NRSV (like from HarperOne) which is simply a readers Bible.

I am not sure of all the editions that may be available outside of the USA. I was also told a few years back that HarperOne was going to work on a NRSV Reference Bible, but I haven't heard anything about that since.

Jason Engel said...

The HarperOne Go-Anywhere Compact Thinline NRSV is perhaps my favorite reading Bible, oddly enough considering my costly addiction to rare and expensive leather-bound books. The text is small but bold and unadorned thus exceedingly clear and easy to read. They printed with line matching on surprisingly opaque paper. It is a sewn binding, and I have definitely stressed it out with far more abuse than any book I have ever owned and it is solid. The Catholic edition only comes in the larger standard thinline, which of course has all the same quality but with a larger font. One reason I like the compact edition, even with the Apocrypha, it actually fits in my back pocket perfectly; another reason is the low price leaves me free to literally use it in any situation without worrying about ruining something costly, while still looking nice.

Oxford has an NRSV, w/ or w/o Apocrypha (currently no Catholic editions), available with a genuine leather cover in both pocket and larger reading editions, at reasonable prices. I would choose the HarperOne compact over the Oxford compact because the Oxford paper is so translucent, the printing is faint, there's no line matching, the font is smaller, and yet the book is larger in all dimensions. However, the standard size edition is actually quite nice. I will say, though, that if you can find the compact edition Oxford printed in 1998 that uses the anglicized NRSV, instead of the current 2006 compact edition that uses the US text of the NRSV, I would definitely choose the 1998 edition. It is very hard to find these days, but it is an excellent compact NRSV.

The Cambridge NRSV, w/ or w/o cross references is a beautiful text block ruined with a truly awful cover. Sure, it's a french morocco leather, but instead of allowing it to be limp, they wrapped it around a very very stiff board. It is uncomfortably stiff. It's fine if you are going to read from it with it flat on the table, but I can't stand holding it for long. It would be an excellent candidate, I think, for Leonard's new all-leather rebind. I suppose if you prefer a stiff leather cover, this might be OK, but I would still rip the default one off and replace it with a leather-bound hardcover instead.

Collins in UK published the book block that R.L. Allan used in it's beautiful goatskin-bound NRSV. However, the Allan block was printed in China (it has a poor reputation, but in this case I think it's fine). The Collins textbook-like NRSV w/ Apocrypha and cross references is printed in Belgium, and there is a noticeable difference in quality. The Belgian paper is much whiter, but the print is a wee bit lighter. I have one of each, and it was a little deflating to see the $10 used textbook look the same as the $200 beauty (yes, you are paying for the addition of art-gilt page edges, goatskin leather, and an amazing binding).

Frustratingly, due to the tiny market for the NRSV translation, publishers just don't seem inclined to bother to make a truly excellent edition. If I could take the one best feature from each of the books discussed above and blend them into one book, it would be awesome. But no one seems willing to give me the money to do it.

Jonny said...

Hi Tim:

Have you seen the Cambridge Catalog available on their website?


Pages 19-22 go into the details of making a high quality Bible, and the materials that they use.

This was very interesting to read, and I learned a few things too! All their book blocks for each edition are the same high quality, regardless of the cover material. Apparently the wide margin editions have different type of paper better suited for note-taking. The last page goes into detail about their selection of cover materials. Makes me wonder, when I see a book advertised with a "leather" cover, what it actually is!

There was a time in my life when having a premium Bible was more important to me. As a Protestant, I used one Bible almost exclusively! Now I take one small Bible to Mass, two different ones for Bible Study at my Parish, several study Bibles and several devotional Bibles for home... and no one predominate edition that would make sense for me to have in goatskin leather. Honestly, I am using the RSV-2CE quite often, and I am having no trouble holding the bonded leather cover. It would look nicer to have it in a goatskin wrapped hardback... but would it be worth the price? I think the "medium-sized" and larger Bibles are better complimented by the hardback covers, regardless of the leather or lack thereof, but even that is not a deal-breaker. I opted for the bonded-leather edition RSV-2CE because it looks nicer with the gold edges and ribbon bookmarks!

Just a few thoughts.... It will be interesting to see if Allen will offer a Catholic Bible comparable to the overall Cambridge quality. My bet is that one who is interested would be better off having a quality text block rebound, as several readers on this blog have done already!

Timothy said...


Thanks for the link! Not sure I have read that before.