Take a look at the new USCCB NABRE Personal Edition. Also available in gift and paperback editions, this is finally a Catholic Bible that doesn't need to be rebound. The bonded leather cover flexes nicely to lay flat, the typeface is clean and a decent size, and the two-color inks make for easy navigation, especially with the book introductions and chapter guides at the top of each page. One of my favorite features of this Personal Edition is the way it (accidentally?) blends gilded pages with printed navigation tabs without cutting thumb tabs into the pages. Lay it flat, and its a beautiful gold-edged volume. Flex it sightly, and you see all the red tabs.
The only thing that keeps this Bible from taking the prize is the unwieldy way it manages the textual notes. Personally, I am not one who objects to the NABRE notes, though I understand those who do. The 2010 NABRE OT is actually my favorite modern Edition in English, and having gone to an academic Protestant seminary, the content of the notes don't strike me as at all problematic. That's just what Biblical studies is, for me, and what led me to Catholicism as an adult. What bothers me isn't the content but the format. For some reason, instead of a single common asterisk, the publisher opted to give each subsequent textual note it's own distinctive footnote marker at the bottom of the page. I suppose the internet is to remove confusion about which text reference tracks to which footnote, but the result is a rather confusing connection of scribbles. I'm never sure if the notation is a call out to a footnote, or just a reference to a parallel text. I would have preferred a plain asterisk throughout, with clear verse references at the bottom of the page. The font size in the footnotes is a little too small to be comfortable.
The text, of course, is the NABRE, consisting of the 2010 OT and Psalms, with the 1986 NT (currently under revision by the Catholic Biblical Association of America). Devotional fluff are minimal: just a presentation page, and maps at the back. For my use, I'll still default to the Didache NABRE because of the addition of the catechetical notes there, but I sure wish it was bound like this!
In this volume, the USCCB seems intent on providing the very thing we do often mourn the lack of on this blog: a basic Bible text, decently and sturdily bound, with uncluttered design for everyday Catholic use. Basically, a Protestant lap Bible for Catholics. Making its own translation available under its own imprint and in this format, the USCCB is finally doing just that. This is, quite literally, a full Catholic Bible translated and published by the Church for the Church.
Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at StoryWiseGuy.com. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn, and Bible.com.