Hello again, brothers in Christ – it’s me, Aloy, back to drowse you out of reading my boring discussions. But seriously, my reservations on comments notwithstanding, I have sometimes been inspired to share some of my experiences with the Bible, especially now that the site’s posts will be more guest-run than before.
For today, I would like to discuss the experience of using different editions of the same translation, which by circumstance (or not) I have been led to doing. I did mention in my previous guest post that I, too, primarily use the NRSV-CE, as it happened to be the only formally-equivalent alternative to the NAB(RE) available widely here in the Philippines (and, I hear, the more accurate one, “accurate” being of course quite subjective). This also happens to be the translation I have different editions of, as I have only one NABRE. I have as of this writing, however, three NRSV-CEs (one to be gifted) and one compact NRSV with the Apocrypha, the same one that fellow guest Kevin mentioned in his post about compact Bibles last November 7. I will list the three CEs down here with brief overviews on their content, then mention my purposes for each of them.
1. ST PAULS Philippines NRSV-CE
This is the NRSV-CE I featured in my first guest post, which was a guest review of the same. In brief, this NRSV-CE is produced by the Philippine arm of the Society of Saint Paul, and is a semi-study Bible in the sense that it contains the NRSV Concordance, numerous in-text maps and charts, and the text of Dei Verbum, as well as Catholic prayer resources such as popular prayers and devotions and tables of readings and dates. However, it contains no introductions, no cross-references or study notes (though, then again, the NRSV really does not usually contain cross-references, and this edition never claimed to be a study Bible), and the Psalms, most strangely, do not come with titles.
I have mainly consigned this Bible to the house for home-based study and annotation, usually alongside my NABRE, because of the rich amount of resources it contains. It also happens to be the frailest of my NRSV-CEs, which is a no-no when going out or traveling.
2. Harper Go-Anywhere Thinline NRSV-CE
The big brother of my little NRSV with the Apocrypha, this edition is the full-sized Go-Anywhere Thinline NRSV. Full-sized though it is, it’s meant to be a travel-friendly Bible, so it’s similar in thickness to the compact NRSV, an inch or less thick. This comes at the cost of the only study materials being the Concordance, which is better than the Compact edition, which has no study materials at all. However, the Psalm titles are, rightfully, present.
I semi-regretfully bought this NRSV-CE as a complement to my ST PAULS NRSV-CE, given that that wasn’t feasible for taking out of the house to, say, church; and that I was so disturbed at having no Psalm titles. (I’ll also admit that I wanted a leather-bound Bible, genuine or otherwise.) As such, it was supposed to be my main reading Bible, and be it was, until came along…
3. The Catholic Gift Bible (Harper NRSV-CE)
Here at last was the answer, or a partial one at least, to the first two above. I wanted a reasonably portable Bible that had a decent amount of study materials and the Psalm titles. Had I encountered this before the Thinline, I would have bought this already.
As the name implies, this edition is meant to be presented as a gift for special occasions, though I treated it as a gift for myself. This edition comes with a series of essays meant to serve as an introduction, or refresher, to the Catholic faith, with articles about Christian terms and spirituality and Biblical characters – and, finally, an introduction to each book of the Bible. The Concordance is also present, but sadly, no Dei Verbum or in-text maps and charts. At least it serves as a “spiritual” study Bible to some extent, for me.
Now that I had this edition, I decided to gift the Thinline to my then-new business, a membership hub for entrepreneurs, but since not all of us are exactly religious, it got shelved in the storeroom. I am retrieving it first thing when I go to the office, then refurbishing it and gifting it to someone who will appreciate it better.
The Gift Bible is now my default reading Bible, whether simple or contemplative (such as Lectio Divina). The ST PAULS, while extensive in study tools, may inadvertently distract; and the Bible paper bleed is of comparatively poor quality. Additionally, this one is more durable (trust me, if you’re clumsy like I am, it makes a difference). And as mentioned above, it’s full of annotations and highlights. On the contrary, there is not a single mark on my Gift Bible, other than the presentation page contents, though it looks more worn.
Until I got the Compact Thinline with Apocrypha, the Gift Bible was my church Bible (yeah, yeah, our Lectionary here is based on NAB, but I use NRSV nonetheless), but my purpose of requesting for a compact Bible for Christmas was to be able to very easily bring around a pocket Bible when going out or traveling. And so the Compact Thinline is now my default church Bible, although the Gift Bible will remain, for both denominational and spiritual reasons, my main Bible for reading.
Why the same translation, rather than different ones, you ask? Simple: for consistency. While I do support owning multiple translations so you can compare the text for better studying, if you really want to focus on spiritual growth through Bible reading, it’s best to stay in one translation (with just occasional cross-checking from another) so you don’t get caught off-guard.
Allister Chua, or Aloy, 25, is a struggling entrepreneur (with emphasis on “struggling”) from the Philippines who was born and educated, but not raised, Catholic. At the end of a spiritual crisis, he made a conscious decision to stay with and grow in his Catholic faith. Though he speaks none of the Biblical languages or even Latin, he speaks fluent English and Filipino, is proficient in Chinese, enjoys elementary proficiency in French, and is learning Spanish and Japanese. He runs The Daily You, a blog-based institute that advocates living a truly good life through one of higher purpose, rooted in awareness and service.