Thursday, December 21, 2017

Guest Review: Augustine Institute's Bible in a Year

Thanks to Jason for providing this guest review!

When the Augustine Institute announced earlier this year that they were producing a new Bible in a Year with daily commentary and in a leather-bound edition, I pre-ordered it immediately. I’m a big fan of editions of the complete Bible arranged in daily readings. They are prevalent in Protestant editions, but Catholic ones are harder to come by. The One-Year Bible, which was first published with the NLT text and later with other translations, is the gold standard, arranging the readings with a little OT, NT, and Psalms/Wisdom literature read each day. 


To my knowledge, the only Catholic contender until now has been My Daily Catholic Bible from Our Sunday Visitor, which has been published in RSV-CE and NAB editions. It has some nice features, such as a quote from either the saint of the day or another saint speaking about the day’s feast or about the Scriptures. It also gives you readings from the OT and NT each day, although the wisdom literature is included in the OT, as opposed to being a third reading on its own. I felt at times that the readings were quite uneven in length from day to day, though I haven’t done a close study to confirm that. Also, the only binding available is paperback.



The Augustine Institute’s Bible in a Year (RSV-2CE) is also available in paperback, but for a bit higher price a leather edition is also available. This latter edition you can see in the photos. Though I’m not an expert with leather, it is almost certainly bonded, so far from premium (despite the publisher’s description), but it has a great size and weight. It’s glued instead of sewn, which is easily the biggest knock against it at a $50 price point. The paper is white with clear dark text. There is some ghosting but it appears to be line-matched, and it is very comfortable to read. I’m not sure about the type size, but it appears to be the same as the standard Ignatius RSV-2CE. With the bright white paper and darker text, though, I think it’s easier to read than the Ignatius edition. There is one yellow ribbon, which is perfect for this type of Bible.


As for the content, this is every bit the equal of The One-Year Bible. Each day has a manageable reading from the OT, a short reading from the Psalms or Wisdom lit, an NT reading, and a closing reflection. This really is an ideal way to read the Bible in a year. Flipping through the volume, it appears that each OT reading is a bit over two full pages, and seems more or less consistent. Each of the three sections reads through in (RSV-CE) canonical order (Genesis-2 Maccabees, Psalms-Song, Matthew-Revelation). This is perhaps my one disappointment in the layout. Why not spread the Gospels out over the course of the year, reading the epistles in between? But this is a minor quibble. The daily reflections are, as you can see from the photos, the length of a long paragraph and provide a bit of background and give you something, in the form of a closing question, to think about in light of the day’s readings.  All in all, I think this is an excellent resource.

One closing note: I ordered this in October and just received it in on December 20. They sent out an email saying they had printing issues which delayed the first pre-orders being shipped until now. If you notice on the order page now, it warns that new orders won’t ship until late January. So, be aware that getting one before January 1 is likely impossible.


16 comments:

Ronny Tadena said...

You had me until "Glued Binding," ugh....what a shame.

Anonymous said...

Glued binding??? Oh, what are they thinking?

I just can't understand why Catholic Bible publishers can't get it right more often. It's not that hard.

vladimir998

Timothy said...

Until Catholics are willing to buy better bibles this will continue to be the case. This will likely never change. Too expensive for most Catholic publishers.

JDH said...

It really is a shame. The paperback is only $30 full retail, so I suggest getting that if you're interested. The idea that bonded leather on a glued binding is a "premium" edition is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Timothy,

I'm not attacking you when I say this, but I don't think it's just a matter of "Until Catholics are willing to buy better bibles this will continue..." I blame the lack of imagination of the publishers. Let's face it, if you were to ask anyone, I mean ANYONE, do you want a mediocre Bible or a better Bible, they're going to choose the better Bible. So, if we're going to say the issue is demand or price, then that can be tackled with effort on the part of the publisher - at least to some extent.

Where was the Bible printed? That effects cost.
Is Augustine Institute doing this in association with any other publisher? That effects cost. Ignatius sells this Bible (out of stock) so I wonder.
Why didn't Augustine Institute use a subscriber service to lower costs?
Why didn't they at least give the option of a sewn binding albeit at a higher cost? Wouldn't some people have been willing to pay more? Why on earth did they wait until the Fall to start advertising a Bible that people would naturally buy for the new year? And now we can't buy one anyway!

And what about this: Let's say a sewn binding costs $5 a book. I doubt it's that much, but let's just say it is. If I were running AI and wanted to produce the best Bible possible and still make a profit (which is the point of this project after all), I would approach ten donors (and they have plenty of wealthy friends) and ask for $2,000 each. That would help produce 2,000 Bibles with sewn bindings and cost AI NOTHING. In return, each donor would get their name listed in the Bible and be allowed to make a request for prayers for a particular intention that would also appear in the Bible. That would take up exactly one page of text, cost almost nothing and pay for 2,000 Bibles' sewn bindings. And believe me people would donate to get their name and their prayer intention for the decease mother or what have you in a Bible people would be handling every day. It would happen! Our Ancestors built Gothic cathedrals that way so we can certainly get some sewn bindings that way!

I know plenty of people who buy Bibles from Baronius Press. Granted that those are DRVs and Knox translations, but clearly there's a market for quality Bibles out there. When will Catholic publishers notice it exists? When will a Catholic Bible publisher start using social media to interact with Catholics who love the Bible to find out what they want and how much they are willing to pay for it?

Ignatius Press knows you exist. Have they contacted you to find out what you and your readers want in the Ignatius Study Bible? Those behind the Orthodox Study Bible created a website for it BEFORE it was published to interact with possible readers and to create buzz. The Ignatius Study Bible has been coming out in dribs and drabs for 19 years and still has no dedicated website. Seriously, does no one at Ignatius understand how this works? The NABRE came out 5 years ago. There's still no audio version. FIVE YEARS LATER. There's no dramatized version of the NAB or NABRE that has EVER been produced as far as I know. There's no website dedicated to the NABRE (the USCCB website is not about the NABRE, it just has the texts itself). There are, however, thousands of Catholic bloggers writing about the Bible. There is demand. Why isn't it being met by those in charge?

vladimir998

Timothy said...

Vlad,

No worries. You are a regular here so your comments are welcome and appreciated.

I’ll just say that I have been told by people in the know that most of the small Catholic publishers will not risk higher quality bibles because they rarely make a profit on it. They don’t want to have to lay off people due to bad sales on a Bible. Oxford or Harper can do this, since they are considerably bigger. Ignatius, I haven’t a clue what they are doing. They have never reached out to me. (Which is perfectly fine.)

Anonymous said...

Timothy,

By the way, did you know that there was once a Catholic Chronological Bible published in English! I only discovered this last week. I always assumed there wasn't one. I just got it in the mail today.

vladimir998

Ronny Tadena said...

I'm curious about this cost issue for sewn bindings too. I fully acknowledge that I have very little exposure to the ins and outs of publishing, but if a tiny publisher like Baronius Press can do it, why can't others? Are people really busting down the doors to snap up Douay or Knox Bibles? For crying out loud, most people aren't even aware the Knox bible exists!

I'm not belittling the sales of Baronius of course, I know that they're bibles frequently sell out of stock, but isn't that in and of itself evidence to other publishers that there is a market for this? Imagine if a publisher with the rights to the NABRE or RSV2CE produced a Bible of Baronius's quality? You probably wouldn't be able to keep them on the shelves!

I guess what makes me mad about this is that my first serious effort to read the Bible was the old RSVCE OSV Bible in a year kind of thing. I have a great affinity for this kind of approach. And the idea that they added a daily Wisdom reading, and Reflections, and tied some of it to the liturgical calendar! This sounds like exactly the kind of thing that would have helped me to better understand the Bible in a Catholic context. There's so much right with this! We need stuff like this to get Catholics reading the Bible! So I hope this project succeeds - I'm just disappointed they could get so much right and then flub the execution on something like going for a glued binding. But hey, maybe if it takes off they'll be able to afford to print a sewn binding edition someday.

I"m allowed to dream right?

Timothy said...

I had not. Interesting.

Timothy said...

Dream out loud brother!

Anonymous said...

Timothy,

Be forewarned the book is not a chronological Bible in the strictest sense. The passages appear in the order in which they were believed (by scholars at the time of this volume's publication) to have been written. Thus, Genesis 1 appears more than 200 pages after Genesis 12! But this is a Catholic Bible even though it lacks an imprimatur.

Here's my email address: vladimir998@hotmail.com . If you want me to send you some pics and a short write up, just let me know.

vladimir998

Timothy said...

Absolutely! I would love to post it. Send it along with a couple pics. Thank you!

JDH said...

Ronny,

Just to be clear, if I'm understanding your comment correctly, this edition doesn't tie the readings to the liturgical year. I'm not sure if any of the reflections make reference to the time of year, but this is clearly designed to be used in any year going forward, so it isn't tied to Lent beginning at any particular date, for example. The readings are arranged in canonical order (so on January 1 you start at Genesis 1, Psalm 1, and Matthew 1) and the reflections are based on whatever the readings happen to be on that day.

Also, I agree with everyone that the glued binding is a bummer, but the layout of this edition is outstanding. I worry a bit that if it doesn't sell (though it seems to be doing well so far), that won't exactly convince publishers there's a huge market out there for even more expensive Bibles! If you're interested in this kind of format but don't want a leather edition with a glued binding, get the paperback.

Erica McCrea said...

I'd love to see a NABRE this nice!

windmill said...

I have just one measure by which I accept of reject any print edition of the catholic bible and it is where, in the gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel says; "Hail, full of grace". When I read instead "Favoured one", I immediately reject the edition. This is because of my attachment to Mary the Mother of God who has shown me such great favour by Her very direct involvement in my life. Who ever opted to protestantize the Gospel of Luke is doing so in direct opposition to directions from God Himself.

Timothy said...

That might be a bit of a stretch.....