Thanks to reader Eric on this fine guest review of these two Jerusalem Bibles.
So, I’ve been seeing something called the thin paper edition (hereafter referred to as the TPE) on E-Bay and been curious as to how it would compare to Big Red. I’ve thrown a few bids around and been outbid every time, so apparently I’m not the only one who likes the idea of a thinner version of Big Red. Well, as luck would have it, I found a seller on AbeBooks who had a copy still in the box, which was aggressively priced (i.e., so inexpensive that I almost felt guilty buying it, and using a 10% off coupon code to make it even more affordable… ALMOST). Well, it arrived yesterday and Tim said he would love to have a compare/contrast between the two editions.
First, the outside….
The cover is what the box calls ‘flexible binding.’ What it feels like to me is a textured cardboard that’s meant to look like leather. The feel on the hand is underwhelming – Big Red’s cloth hardback feels nicer on the skin. BUT, the fact that the TPE is about half as thick as Big Red, the weight savings and being able to comfortably wrap my hands around the spine, more than makes up for the lame cover material. The cover does flex, and there is a definite flex mark along the spine. Page edges are gilded and it comes with a ribbon marker. Other than the cover material, win-win all the way around. This would be a prime candidate for a Leonard’s rebind to something nice (Love, are you reading this? Leonard’s gift certificates make wonderful Christmas gifts… hint hint).
Now, the inside….
The paper is thinner, with significantly more ghosting on the TPE than Big Red. Also, it has a less-than-smooth feel that more recent bible papers have. I don’t know if it’s related to the thinness or just age, but it is something that makes me want to tread slowly when turning its pages. The thickness feels to me similar to the paper that comes on the Oxford compacts or the Little Rock Study Bible hardback (just not as smooth). While the ghosting is much more noticeable, it is no worse than the Darton Longman Todd Popular Edition of the Jerusalem Bible I also have (as a traveling/casual reading copy). Contents are identical between Big Red and the TPE, right down to the page numbers.
So, to summarize some thoughts here….
If you want to get ready for the ‘gun show’ but not hit the weights, get Big Red.
If you want to be able to hold your Jerusalem Bible comfortably in one hand, yet still have all the notes, get the TPE.
Of course, if you just want the text of the Jerusalem Bible that can be comfortably held in one hand and don’t care about all the notes, just get the Doubleday Reader’s/DLT Popular Edition.
For me? I’m keeping the thin paper edition (and trying to treat it gently until I can save up some cash and get it rebound). I’ll probably keep the DLT Popular Edition I have for awhile (besides, the resale value on them stink on E-Bay) and maybe let my kids use it as a starter Bible. But, after a wonderful journey with Big Red, it’s going to go online and hopefully travel somewhere in the USA to another reader who would like a good copy of the full Jerusalem Bible and nice biceps to boot.