|c/o Cambridge University Press|
This month, Cambridge University Press (CUP) published brand new editions of their NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha. Since the late 1990’s, CUP has occasionally republished this edition, with some results better than others. The most premium one they offered came in a French Morroco leather cover. Those of you who have either held or seen the various versions of this edition (1996,2007) know well that the quality was not always the same. While the content (inside the cover) was the same, the leather and paper quality was not. Now to be perfectly fair, even with that criticism, the CUP NRSVs were still the best premium editions on the market that a Catholic could utilize, due to the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books. The only bibles that were even close to it were the Douay and Knox bibles being published by our friends at BaroniusPress. But even Baronius Press only published hardcover bibles, which were then covered in (a very good) bonded leather. CUP, on the other hand, was providing flexible Morroco leather editions, among others. Skip ahead to 2018 and you will see that CUP has clearly raised the bar with the publication of these new editions of their NRSV Reference Bibles. Over the next couple of posts I hope to share with you why I think these editions are the leading premium bibles on the market today which can be utilized by Catholics. I will be primarily referencing the goatskin edition, though occasionally I will include the hardcover one as well. The NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha is also available in French Morocco leather.
So, before going into the premium elements of the goatskin edition (the external elements so to speak), I want to begin by looking at the content which is found in the 1504 pages of this reference bible. Over the years, I have grown to prefer having a bible without notes or commentary. Now I am not saying that there isn’t a place for study bibles, but I have grown to desire a bible with a clean page, with only the most basic extras like textual notes and cross-references. I also just don’t have the space to carry around a bulky bible with me to a class I am teaching. So, then, what I am looking for is a portable, though non-compact, bible that is pleasing to read from while also containing the basic necessities for leading or taking part in a bible study or class.
|c/o Cambridge University Press|
The CUP NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha excels in meeting this need. How so? Well, you will find in this edition the standard (American) version of the NRSV w/apocrypha, which is a relief to those of you who dislike the Anglicised version. The page size is 8 ½ by 6 inches, printed (and bound) in Italy by L.E.G.O SPA (Vincenza). The print is in 9 point Swift on 37gsm white “bible” paper. The print, itself, is sharp and very clear, with paragraph headings properly italicized to provide a good contrast with the biblical text. Each page is “line matched” or “line on line” meaning that one line exactly matches the position of the text on the reverse side of the paper. If you have never been aware of “line matching” I would encourage you to take out a few of your favorite bibles and compare them. You will notice that “line matched” bibles reduce most issues relating to bleed-through, even if the paper is relatively thin. With the center-column cross-references and the textual notes placed at the bottom, the NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha is a pleasure to read and teach from.
Besides the NRSV text, notes, and cross-references, you will find a presentation page, table of weight and measures, glossary, bible maps, and a map index. The glossary is a real gem. At over 60 pages in length, it is truly useful and in some ways serves as a mini-concordance. The content of the glossary, which is keyed to the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books as well, is not theological, but provides valuable information on people, places, objects, rituals, holy days, etc… For example, there is an incredibly helpful entry for “parable(s)” which not only gives a definition and examples from the OT, but also lists all the parables found in the Gospels according to each book. (The same thing is done for the miracles of Jesus as well.)
In regards to the maps, this edition contains a new set of high quality color maps, 15 of them in all. These cover the entire biblical history, including one for the Greek kingdoms after Alexander. Those of you who had the earlier editions of this bible will remember that there were three black and white, gazetter, maps that were meant to go with the Apocrypha section. Fortunately, they did not get rid of them. Instead of placing them before the 15 full color maps, they are now placed in the apocrypha section of the biblical text. This means you have, in total, four maps dedicated to the period of biblical history associated with the Deuterocanonical books. That is far more than pretty much every Catholic bible available today.
In future posts, I will look at the cover materials, ribbons, gold-gilding, and binding.
I want to thank Cambridge University Press for providing both the goatskin and hardcover editions of the NRSV Reference Bible with Apocrypha in exchange for an honest review.