Monday, January 5, 2015

Bible Review: Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata Parallel Bible from Baronius Press

As many of you know, I have been an advocate of parallel Bibles for a while now, particularly in Catholic translations.  We all know that there are so few of them available.  (I think a Knox/NRSV would be a dream parallel Bible, but I digress.)  Now, it is true that Oxford had printed an eight version parallel Catholic New Testament, as well as the Complete Parallel Bible, but both sadly are out of print.  Although I must admit that my particular edition of the parallel New Testament Bible basically fell apart, since the pages weren't properly sewn together.   To be sure, parallel bibles tend to be more popular in Protestant circles, where it seems that you can find pretty much any combination of translation, including a NKJV/Message Parallel Bible.  So those of us who are into unique Catholic Bible editions are, as usual, a bit envious.  Also, what would be the chances in finding a Catholic parallel Bible that is actually beautifully made?  Impossible?

I am happy to report that there is an edition out there for Catholics, The Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata Parallel Bible from Baronius Press.  Before I make a few comments about this edition, here are some particulars from the Baronius site, supplemented by a few comments of my own:

*Clementine Vulgate
*1899 Challoner Edition of the Douay-Rheims
*Challoner's notes and cross-references
*3 and 4 Esdras and the prayer of Manasses (in Latin with an English translation).  These are placed after the Old Testament.
*Bound in black bonded leather (in hardcover) with ornate gold blocked cover and spine. 
*Gilded page edges, head and tail bands and two satin ribbons.
*Sewn Binding
*End pages
*8 1/2" X 11 1/2"
*1488 Pages

This is a beautiful Bible. The edition I have is the fourth impression, being printed in the Philippines in 2013.  The cover and spine are nicely ornate, fitting this august and historical edition of the Bible.  When you hold this edition, you just have the feeling that you are holding something quite unique and remarkable.  It looks and feels sacred, as if one is in possession of a liturgical book from a few centuries back.  Yet, it is new and inviting to a new generation of readers.  

The text, itself, is dark and clear enough for reading and comparing the two translations.  What you will find on each page is that the Douay is on the left, while the Vulgate is on the right. At the bottom of each page you will find Challoner's notes and cross-references, as found in all other editions of Douay-Rheims published by Baronius Press.  I agree with Baronius when they say: "Having both Bibles side by side allows us to see exactly where the vernacular translation came from. Even those with limited Latin skills will be able to follow along, using the Douay Rheims translation as an aid. You'll see how the Douay Rheims is a literal translation of the classic Vulgate."  

This is not a compact or simple reading Bible by any means.  While it isn't quite the size of a family Bible, it isn't far off either.  Therefore, this will not likely be the kind of Bible you will drop in your backpack for daily use.  In the past I have expressed the hope that Baronius would consider publishing some of their Bibles in calfskin or goatskin.  In this instance, particularly due to the size of the volume, it really needs to remain in a hardcover format.  The bonded leather hardcover is perfect for this Bible.   

My one minor concern with this Bible is that the paper is quite thin.  I would imagine that this is because of a desire to not produce a Bible that would be the width of a family Bible.  So, if you are going to purchase this Bible, you need to be careful in how you turn the pages.  Now, I am not saying that it as fragile as tissue paper, but it isn't thick as some of you would be accustomed to.  In some ways, it does remind me of the paper used in the Oxford parallel Catholic New Testament.  

Overall, this is a beautifully made and immensely useful Bible.  If you are a devotee of the Clemetine Vulgate and/or the Douay-Rheims, and would like a reference Bible that includes both, this needs to be in your possession.  If you are studying Latin or just prefer the venerable Douay-Rheims, again, this needs to be in your possession.  This is a Bible, with care, that will last a lifetime.  This is also the kind of Bible the reminds you that Catholic publishers can make Bibles that are both exquisite in production and comparable in usefulness to those made by Protestant publishers.

I want to thank Baronius Press for providing me a review copy.


Russ NY said...

Beautiful bible, Tim. And I really don't mean to take this down a road you didn't intend, but I would love to see a bible like that with the RSV/NRSV.


Anonymous said...


Saw this one, on a store which I bought my RSV-2CE. They had a lot of Baronius products there, with some from Ignatius and CTS. Though I didn't mind to buy the Parallel Bible, it's a bit clunky. Didn't know that it was printed here in the Philippines.

In fact, I also saw there a Sinag-Tala Douay-Confraternity Bible.

If NCC would let that happen. But I think at least that is more feasible than those pairs mentioned by Tim.

Biblical Catholic said...

There wouldn't be any point in making a parallel RSV/Clementine Vulgate Bible because the RSV is not translated from the Vulgate.

Anonymous said...

I would hazard a guess then that the thickness of the paper is similar to that of dictionary pages? Also if that Bible is printed here in the Philippines I need to find a store that actually stocks it, so I can procure it.

Alexander said...

I've been interested in this bible for a while, but am hesitant to buy it because I have read in some reviews that the binding is of poor quality or that it's liable to fall apart. I don't want to spend the $100 if the bible isn't sturdy. Have you had any problem with the binding or general integrity of this bible?

Timothy said...


While I don't use it everyday, I haven't seen any issues with the binding on this bible. It is a big book, so it needs to be handled with care.

Bz G said...

Hi Tim, are you interested in selling your Baronius D-R with Vulgate to an Australian teen who does not wish to pay $150 to get it shipped over? Many thanks haha

Bz G said...

Hi Tim, would you be willing to sell your Baronius D-R with Vulgate to an Australian teen who is not willing to pay $150 to get it shipped over? If so, please respond ASAP!