Monday, December 29, 2014

A Bible for "One Bible, One Year"

Which Bible Should I Use Exclusively in 2015?
Cambridge NRSV Reference Bible w/ Apocrypha
New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV (2nd Edition)
The Catholic Study Bible NABRE
Poll Maker
So, I have decided to give this a try for 2015: One Bible, One Year. I have selected the three Bible editions that would fulfill my needs for prayer, study, and teaching. However, before I make a decision, I would like to consult you, my loyal readers, to see which Bible you think I should use for this year. Part of my desire to do this is simply to be consistent with one single Bible for once in my life. To be honest, I am tired of using multiple Bibles all the time. I have mentioned on this blog before that one of the most beautiful things I have seen is a Catholic who has a well loved, read, and marked up Bible. I am ready to move in that direction.

In addition, being completely honest with you, I have way too many Bibles.   Which reminds me, if you are looking for a particular Bible feel free to email me since I feel called to reduce the number of Bibles I currently have on my bookshelves.  I would be happy to work something out for those who need a Bible to read.

A couple of additional thoughts that may answer any possible questions that you may have:
1)The one major exception to this would be that I am currently praying the Liturgy of the Hours, which has a combination of the Grail Psalms and original NAB.  I can't really get around that.

2) Some may ask why there isn't an edition of the RSV-2CE that I am considering.  Well, the answer is that I don't particularly care for many of the formats of those published currently.  The standard Ignatius version I simply do not like to read from.  I have honestly tried a number of times over the years, and I simply can't warm up to it.  Of course, there is the impending release of the Didache Bible......but that is still not published.  (There is, of course, the NOAB RSV out there, but I would prefer to use a Bible without archaic English.)

3) Don't worry, I will still be doing Bible reviews.  As a matter of fact, I have a couple for January already in the works.

4) Why did I choose the three that I did?  I am comfortable with these three Bibles and each in their own way meet my needs in a variety of settings.  

5) Why not the Knox Bible?  While I have a deep affection for the Knox Bible, I simply cannot use it for study and teaching.  It is simply too different from the other translations my students will be using.

6) I plan to blog about my experiences doing this.  I will start by announcing which Bible I have decided to go with during the first few days of January.

7) Some have expressed an interest in joining me on this crusade.  If you are interested in doing so, please comment below and let me know if you would be willing to occasionally contribute a post, perhaps a total of 4 times during 2015, about your experiences.  We can then chat via email about particulars.


Jonny said...

Well, of the three choices given, only one is an approved Catholic Bible edition. So, as a Catholic, especially a teacher at a Catholic school, your answer there should be obvious. But the real question is, why are you in a hurry to make a vow to use one Bible exclusively when an important edition (Didache Bible) is on the verge of being released? I see your reasons stated... you want a love affair with a physical book... beat it up, mark it up, etc, etc, just like that one guy who is still using his 1970 NAB with the cover falling off. But is this God's will for you? God wants you to fall in love with paper wrapped in genuine leather with a silky ribbon bookmark? God wants you to swear to something that will limit how he can utilize you in your ministry at home, school, and your parish for a year? This talk of "loving" a physical object, especially in this context of prayer and devotion, to me, is completely missing the mark. Perhaps it would be better to prayerfully discern how your love for the Word of God can be better utilized in 2015 to further God's kingdom, even if that means carrying a paperback Bible you can give away if necessary!

Timothy said...


Thanks for your comments. A couple of my own:

1) the NRSV is of course approved as well. The editions I have listed just simply aren't in the Catholic order. It's all there. However, there are no Catholic editions that have cross-references, which is something I need.

2) This is something I have been thinking and praying about for much longer than these past few days. So I don't take on this little experiment lightly,

3) The didache does look promising, but I do not believe the RSV-2CE is the far and away best translation available. It remains a touched up 60 year old translation which does not reflect any advances in textual research or discoveries. Of course, that is my preference.

4) I certainly could walk around with a paperback, but why? At Mass, the church calls us to use dignified materials for vestments, liturgical vessels, and books. So why not a Bible?

David Garcia said...

I think one piece you may be overlooking is that this is for ONE YEAR. It's a commitment. A personal challenge. If we don't challenge ourselves to commitments and goals, we become lethargic, lazy people. So what's so wrong with someone challenging him/herself to one book, one year, to see if it's something s/he can accomplish and see what fruits it bears on the other side of the journey?

David Garcia said...

Quick question... Why the NOAB NRSV 2nd edition when there is a 4th one out with the latest research and scholarship?

Timothy said...


Mostly because it has wide margins and the type is more readable. I also like the annotations, which are almost identical to the ones in the RSV edition. Plus Metzger was the editor.

Jonny said...

Of course, the NRSV-CE has an imprimatur, but the editions you listed Tim, and their study notes do not, and are not Catholic Bibles. If you want a Catholic edition reflecting the latest critical manuscripts and scholarship, what you want is the NABRE. And I don't think there is anything wrong with having a quality Bible, but if "if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell." I know that is an extreme example, but having a devotion to a Protestant Bible "with the Apocrypha" because it is pretty is extreme as well when you are in a position of public scrutiny in the Church. Perhaps I am the only one who has seen a Catholic carrying an unapproved Bible to a Catholic function being an occasion of someone being scandalized... but I doubt it.

David, I can see the advantage of making a yearly commitment. How about reading the Bible through in a year without limiting yourself to one physical copy? I have a checklist I made in Excel that lists the Bible books in three approved versions. Therefore I can keep track of my readings in my small groups, family, and private devotions, which end up being in different translations depending on the situation. Or better yet, commit to reading with your family, not only the Bible, but other spiritual reading as well this year. Tan books now has all of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood books, which are excellent devotionals... and yes, set goals!

Leighton said...

I would hard pressed to make that commitment with the new Didache Bible coming, too. I think the notes will be very helpful for teaching and study. I have uses for different volumes. I think Jonny makes some good points, though I do see it as an interesting experiment, and identify with the desire to have one worn Bible that in my hands when I gasp my last breath.

I notice a trend: many of us are Bible addicts, with a combined passion for reading and praying the sacred Word and a love for good books (exceptionally well-made, etc.). The former is a more laudable trait, for certain. But the latter is real and hard to deny. (Why else would any of us spend good time on writing posts and comments on said interest after all?)

I treasure a good book (and of course THE Good Book most of all). The idea of shelving fine Bibles for a year--- well, those of you participating in this "fast" are admirable in my book (pardon the pun).

My constant prayer: Lord, Let me so devoted to the Bible that I pay little notice to the kind of package it comes in! The package won't change me; what is within may change me if I let it.

Russ NY said...

I’m not familiar with the Cambridge edition. From what I understand it’s not a study bible but it does have some terrific cross references. If it wasn’t so pricey I would buy one myself.

Although I liked the Catholic Study Bible when it first came out I still don’t believe they’ve updated it to reflect the revised OT so I wouldn’t consider that one at this point. I like the NABRE translation. I’ve never had a problem using it. Also, I didn’t like how they had the extra study material towards the front of the book. I guess I didn’t like the flipping backwards and forward.

So of the three listed I select the NRSV NOAB of 1991. I like the feel of the book, it fits the leather case I use when I need to lug it around it around with me, I like the maps, and they have just enough footnotes to guide you thru the text. You don't get overwhelmed with notes. I find myself concentrating more on what the inspired text has to say. Plus, being the NRSV, there are tons of study aids available, unlike a lot of other editions. Then if you see what most bible scholars have to say about the translation, it seems to be the most “accurate” translation out there and for someone who doesn’t know the original Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, it’s what I need if I want to study the bible. I find it very enjoyable to read. I still have a copy of the RSV but to be honest, I rarely use it any longer.

That’s my two cents.

Russ NY said...

David, you're right. For those of us who have so many translations, this will definitely be a challenge but a worthwhile one. Like Tim, I'm going thru my collection and finding out which ones I'm gonna keep and those books I don't need or use, I will be donating to St. Joseph's seminary in Yonkers. I have way too much "stuff" collecting on shelves and in boxes and for what? It's not being used. This is the prompting that I've needed.

Anonymous said...

Drashko K.

I would like to take you up on the offerin regards to a Bible. I am looking for a good NABRE Bible but simply cannot afford one at the moment

Timothy said...

Send me an email and we'll chat.

rolf said...

Well I am not strong enough to just use one Bible for the whole year. I choose one Bible (most of the time) for my daily lectionary and prayerful readings. But even during my daily lectionary readings, I like to compare one or two other translations. The one Bible I use the most is the Oxford NABRE large print, which I had recovered at Leonard's. I like the NABRE overall. I like the large print edition, the notes and cross references are at the end of each chapter (clean page for prayerful reading). But another important reason that I use this Bible the most is the soft whole grain leather cover. I read this Bible three times a day, and I hold it in one hand. Bonded (and many genuine) leather covers are too hard and slippery to hold comfortably in one hand. This genuine cowhide cover is so soft it is a pleasure to hold! Now if that is a sin I will confess it gladly.

Erica McCrea said...


I'm torn. Part of me wants recommend the NOAB. I'm very happy with my copy of the 3rd edition, and while I can't find a good example for the edition you list, I'm sure it's just as fantastic. However, I think a more "plain" text bible like the Cambridge you suggested would be more suitable for prayer and devotional reading. It may not matter to you, but I personally find many extra notes to be distracting during reading. And since you are a theology teacher, I'm sure you have plenty of extra study helps to replace the annotations found in the NOAB. It's your call, but I would go with the Cambridge.

I know I'm currently searching for my own NRSV; as much as I love my D-R, KJV, and RSV, the archaisms you've mentioned really don't help apologetics efforts. People hear one "thee" or "thou," one difficult vocabulary word, and run for the hills. As if learning a few new words were truly difficult. Sigh. I suppose not everyone finds "shew" as funny as I do.

rolf said...

Now Timothy, back to your original question about which Bible that you should choose for this one year adventure? I voted for 'The Catholic Study Bible (NABRE).' I like this study Bible overall for its 500+ page reading guide, its excellent oxford maps (including in page maps), cross references, glossary, list of Lectionary readings, etc. and all in a reasonably sized indexed study Bible! I added a zippered leather Bible cover and a couple of ribbon markers to mine which makes it a nice choice for class or a Bible study class!

David Garcia said...

I think you should go NOAB NRSV. Over the past couple of years you seem to always go back to (or promote) the NSRV over any other edition. Methinks it's time for you to settle down with it and be done! :) While the Cambridge has the nice center column references, the NOAB has references in the notes AND has some notes that you will most likely want to check from time to time. So why not have it all?


I believe the Bible was written by human beings as their experience of God and their response to that experience. So when I hear "the Bible was inspired by God", I view that in the same way as me saying, "I am a painter and my work is inspired by nature." Does this mean that nature actually controls my hand as to what I paint, or does it mean I am inspired by nature and my art is a response to that inspiration?

And once I paint my picture, do I put the canvas in a cruddy frame because it doesn't matter what the picture is framed in, it's only the picture that counts? Or do I want to frame it in a beautiful frame worth of the art? Is it so wrong to hold the Bible in the same way? These pages inspire us (in whatever way we define inspiration) and I want them to be physically contained in a book that is visually inspiring as well - because after all, we are physical beings. My painting is ONE painting in ONE frame to enjoy for a lifetime. Many see the Bible the same way.

That's my 2 cents for what it's worth.

Russ NY said...

I think I'm gonna stick with my original plan using the Harper Collins Study bible NRSV. I was tempted to go with the NRSV NOAB of 1991 but I need to put this fine edition to use.

Timothy said...

You know, perhaps I would need to do a tag-team with a compact NRSV if I decide on the NOAB!

Jonny said...

Already going back on the "one Bible" concept? LOL you are hopeless, Tim! Don't you have the Bible on a mobile device, anyway?

I find it almost humorous that so many Bibles claim to be "the most accurate translation." The problem with the NRSV is that its main focus was to make the RSV easier to read and politically correct... which some claimed to make it more "accurate," but in fact made it much less precise compared to the original languages. This is why the original RSV (and CE) remains in print and widely used, especially amongst Catholics, as well as the updates being based on the original and not the NRSV (the ESV and RSV-2CE.) To me, the NRSV did not offer a significant improvement to displace the original, but more like a half step forward, two steps back.

Regardless of one's opinion of gender neutralizing and paraphrasing the language of the Sacred Scriptures, it is a mistake to sink into only-ism in regards to reading Bible translation. We English-speaking Catholics are blessed to have multiple translations to refer to that bring out different nuances of the originals. Some of my most fruitful meditations on Sacred Scripture have been through comparing translations. I even can do this from the palm of my hand on my phone, notes, cross-references and all: which alleviates the need to carry a hard copy everywhere I go. But if one does wish to carry a physical Bible to use for family devotions or official use connected to the Church, (or even bestow on it the special honor of a premium cover,) shouldn't it be a Catholic version approved by the Church?

TS said...

I voted the NOAB NRSV, because I too don't like the placement of the reader's guide at the front. I have a NOAB RSV but yours sounds pretty awesome because you get the Metzger-oriented notes along with the more modern-friendly text. I'll take the rebound Knox off your hands if you want. (Haha.)

Erica McCrea said...

I thought the NRSV was approved for use in the Lectionary by Canadian Bishops. I may be wrong, but I don't think the NRSV isn't approved.

Timothy said...

You are right, it is approved for the Lectionary in Canada by their bishops conference. It is also approved by the USCCB for reading and study. I think Jonny objects to the fact that I am proposing to use two editions that aren't the Catholic edition. Now, there is really nothing different, besides the way the books are ordered. However, from my perspective, there is no really good edition of the NRSV in the Catholic edition.

Erica McCrea said...


As far as joining you in the One Bible Challenge, count me in! I'd love to give it a try. Currently the only one I could think to use would be the NOAB I have, but it's so impractical for daily use due to it's sheer massiveness...

Thinking about a simple hardbound copy of the NRSV, but I'd really like space for notes. (The RSV-2CE has terrible margins.) I was thinking about the NRSV Notetaker's Bible, but I may just use the loose-leaf NOAB and go through each book individually. (That was my original plan until the box appeared on my doorstep.) If not that, the Oxford NRSV Text Edition w/ Apocrypha. Anyone have any experience with these?

I'd really love to join the challenge and contribute a post, if I can pin down an edition.

losabio said...

I think that it would be tough to do Bible study without recourse to at least three translations:

1) NABRE - closest to the Catholic Lectionary for the readings
2) Vulgate/D-R - to see the different renditions, and to look up citations from those Saints and Doctors of the Church who cited/quoted the Vulgate in their writings
3) Modern Translation - this is the one where you'd have some wiggle room, and where you'd maybe be able to go a year using just one

I'd be interested to see how the experiment/spiritual exercise (??) goes. I hope that it deepens your understanding of -- and love for -- Scripture. I confess that I might have a touch of "translation ADD", and will do a software comparison of a half-dozen translations at the drop of a hat, if/when I should come across an obscure passage. This is a big change from shutting the Bible (with my finger in it to mark the page) knitting up my brow, and pondering "What does it mean?", when stumbling across an unclear verse.

David Garcia said...

Hey Tim,
Not to add to your dilemma, LOL!, but if you are open to a Bible without cross references, and want a true "Catholic NRSV" that is portable, easy to read, sewn, and worth beating up, I would look at this:

Good luck my friend!


Timothy said...


If that edition had even minimal cross-references, I would have had that rebound and it would definitely be the Bible I would choose. I almost considers adding it to he poll.

Timothy said...


The one Dave mentions might be a candidate for you.

Timothy said...


Here is another one that is available in hardcover, though it isn't super large.

Timothy said...


Another one:

Timothy said...

Last one:

Thomas said...

I always like the idea of having one Bible all marked up with notes and highlights but the problem is I'm sort of OCD since my handwriting isn't that great and it's hard for me to make highlights straight. Later I end up looking at the notes and and highlights and pay more attention to the handwriting and/or straightness of the highlight!

Scott O'Connor said...

I think this is a cool challenge but I know I would not be ready. Using multiple translations is still very fruitful for me. I am sure as you grow in your wisdom of the scripture, the usefulness of multiple translations lessens over time. At times I dream what it would be like to have one Bible that I use always. It's a nice thought. Using multiple translations is helpful but it slows me down also. What ever you decide I wish you well and will pray you have a fruitful journey.

Just in case you are still on the fence, I got the antidote!

I got your solution!

[Drops the mic]

Timothy said...

That bad boy is a beast. To bad it is out of print. Would be cool to see it updated and reprinted.

Erica McCrea said...


Wow, thanks for all the recommendations. I'd be willing to try out the Harper Hardcover (1st one) if the margins are half decent. (I write sort of big, so it's an issue.) Im going to pray over it a while and see what happens, but I think I may stick with the NOAB and work through a book at a time. I was reading St. Augustine the other day, and it struck me that when he talks about reading St. Paul, he only has one letter to read.

I'd like to work through my loose-leaf bible to view Scripture in a different light, if it isn't too cumbersome for my handicapped self. And if I warm up to the NRSV (after a good track record of hating inclusive language translations), I'll probably have a copy on my wishlist. (Maybe even have said copy rebound by Leonard's, but I'm waiting for the Didache Bible.)

Still welcoming recommendations. Does anyone have the Notetaker's Bible to comment on font size? and how is the paper in the Harper Bible? Many reviews say the bleed through is pretty awful.

owen swain said...

The NRSV Notetakers font is a very thin 7pt with tight line spacing. I ordered one several years ago and was excited until I had it in hand. I returned it the same day I received it.

Timothy, I will email you about my own bible and purpose/challenge for 2015. It is an NRSV.

Timothy said...

Thanks Owen.

Larry Pryor said...

Just a quick note for those who like editions without sufficient margin room for notes. I normally use my RSV-2CE because the cream color of the pages cuts down on bleed through. Bleed through is why I really dislike my NRSV Catholic edition. I find it to be nearly unreadable. My solution for notes is to use small sticky notes. Works for me so far.

Jim said...

I know readers of this site (and myself) love the Word of God in book form. Thus, my fingers burn as I type this response. Why not resolve to go to electronic media in 2015. In my Bible study groups I have found using cross references (in tiny print); and asking group members to find the cross-referenced passage, to be disruptive and ruin the flow of the discussion. Those with the NABRE on a Kindle work like magicians in picking up both the cross-references and the notes.
Too expensive to go electronic? Not really, the NABRE is free online at the CCB website (as is the CCC). Thus, why not try a resolution of teaching (100%) electronic (project it in the classroom) and studying 100% electronic. This is the way of the future; and you may capture young people into a lifetime of Bible Study and Prayer.
Now for me, at my reading and prayer location (comfortable chair, good light), not where I study ,if you took away my reading/prayer Bible, and Liturgy of the Hours BOOKS you would be prying them away from my cold dead hands.

Timothy said...

I like that idea.

Timothy said...


I do use electronic sources to supplement my books and bibles, most notably apps for the liturgy of the hours and bibles. I do also have the Verbum software, but I have my own library of books that it is hard for me to make the switch.

Jason Engel said...

I would love to commit to a single physical Bible, and have even tried twice, but both times it resulted in frustration and disillusionment when various things were learned about the translation or about the book binder (for a rebind that was meant to be for life).

It would be easier for me to narrow it down to a single translation rather than a single book. I would choose the NRSV. However, even there I would struggle - I like the Oxford NRSV for its qualities, yet I also like the HarperOne compact thinline NRSV for its qualities. Neither of which compare favorably to the Bible I currently most love to hold, which is a Crossway Heirloom Thinline ESV in wonderful brown goatskin. And I have been journaling in an an NRSV Notetaker's Bible lately, and do not want to give up on that. My REB study Bible is too fun to read, and my NLT Pitt Minion is perfect for casual reading with a study component). This would be very hard to do.

Since I am not Catholic, and I also have authority issues, I completely fail to grok the Catholic attitude that a Bible can not be used unless someone somewhere has approved it for use. I don't get it. Oh well.

Erica McCrea said...

Well it's not as if you can't use an "unapproved" translation, but the reason we do have ecclesial approval of translations is to avoid any sort of bias that might indicate something contrary to Christian teaching. I'm no theologian, of course. And neither is the vast majority of the population, which is why we defer to more experienced leaders occasionally. That's not in any way demeaning to anyone, just a recognition of our strengths and weaknesses.

rolf said...

Jason. I like the Oxford Study Bible (REB) also (of course mine has all the deutro-canonical/Apocrypha books included). I also like having an ecumenical translation that all Christians can use with out worry. The REB was a revision of the NEB and was co-sponsored by 16 Catholic and Protestant churches in Great Britain. Even the scholarship in the Study Bible portion of the venture included Catholics.