Thank you to Jason for this article detailing his rebound NABRE. If there was ever a translation that deserved a premium edition, it would be the NABRE.
After I entered the Church, I quickly realized things were much different on this side of the Tiber. I looked for some time for a quality Catholic Bible, ultimately settling on the (now out of print). I used that Bible for years, but , the binding began to pull apart at the pastoral epistles. Also, although that Bible was pretty good, it had no content at all other than the Ignatius Bible notes, a few prayers, Dei Verbum, and the Biblical text. It had no cross-references or other study helps, and the print was quite tiny.
A couple of years ago, I discovered this blog, and what a wonderful find it was! I actually went back to the very first post and, over several weeks, read through every post until I caught up. In the process I discovered that my frustration with the lack of quality Catholic editions of the Bible was shared by many, but I also came across reviews of some Bibles I did not know existed. And I learned of the possibility of taking a decent book block and having it rebound to produce a premium Bible. This was not an option I had really heard about before.
Through a review on this blog and through discussions with Timothy and Rolf through Facebook, I became intrigued by the . It has a genuine leather cover, which is good, but it is the same hard, durable but not very pleasant, leather found on the RSV-CE Reader’s Edition. The layout, however, is quite good. The print is 12-point, and the NABRE notes and cross-references are in the back of each book, as opposed to on the page with the biblical text. I ordered it and, after reading from it for a month or so, decided this would be my main daily reading Bible and the object of my first rebinding adventure.
From this blog and from the Facebook groups many of us frequent, I was of course familiar with Leonard’s. I considered sending this Bible to them, but I also loved the fact that a number of young men were taking on Bible rebinding as a trade and a ministry.and are two examples, and I really wanted to support them in their efforts. I corresponded with both and ultimately settled on Jeremiah (Diego was simply very busy and it was going to take longer; there were no other concerns at all with him).
A few weeks later, I had my Large Print NABRE returned to me bound in a wonderful black goatskin with four black ribbons (I wanted to be able to mark Psalms and Wisdom lit, other OT, NT Epistles, and Gospels; that tends to be how I manage my devotional reading and prayer).
I loved almost everything about it. The goatskin is some of the softest and most pleasantly aromatic leather I’ve ever encountered (with the caveat that my experience with leathers is somewhat limited). It is simply a pleasure to hold and to read from. And having a Bible that has some personally chosen features, such as the four ribbons, really enhances my feeling of attachment to it and my desire to read from it.
I did immediately have one concern. I’m not sure if this is minor or major, since I have no other experience with having a Bible rebound. As you can see, I hope, from the photos, the edges of the cover are a bit too short. This causes the edge of the endpapers to get caught in the folds of the leather. I’m not sure how serious this issue would become be over time, but it has already caused some wear on the edges of the endpaper. Beyond that, however, I was extremely pleased with Jeremiah’s work, and would recommend him to anyone else wanting to support this new generation of rebinders.
Now for the rather sad ending to my story (or latest chapter, anyway). For the past few months, I have been enjoying this Bible immensely. I love the size of the print and having the notes and cross references in the back of each book, easily available but not a distraction while reading. This was a Bible I could read from for years, at least until the NABRE NT revision is published. And then, a few days ago, I noticed the last signature in the NT was separating from the book block. I don’t think the fault for this lies with Jeremiah; this seems to be a common problem with Oxford. It is the exact same problem that plagued the RSV-CE Reader’s Editions I mentioned above. I have owned two similar, but not identical, Bibles published by Oxford, and this has happened to both of them. It’s hard to believe that’s a coincidence, even if one of them was rebound.
At this point, I am simply not sure what I’m going to do. Given what has happened, I have my doubts about the quality of the book block, but I may send it to Leonard’s to have it repaired. It certainly is one of my favorite Bibles to read from. Any advice would be appreciated!
The quest for a quality, long-lasting Catholic Bible continues!