Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Life with God Bible

So, one of the things I like to do on a weekly basis is to check out sites like to see if any new Bibles are forthcoming. This past week I discovered that Christian author Richard Foster, via HarperCollins, will be publishing a new NRSV Bible edition called The Life with God Bible in July 2009. Although I have not read any of Foster's books, I am somewhat familiar the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible that came out a few years back. I never purchased it, simply because I thought it was just too big to be useful. However, I appreciated the fact that they produced an edition with the Deuterocanonicals.

So, what is up with this new The Life with God Bible? I haven't been able to find all that much info on it yet, but it appears that it will come in editions with and without the Deuterocanonical books. My first thought is whether this is simply a re-visioning of the Renovare Bible, but in a smaller, more compact edition. Below is a short description:

The Life with God Bible combines the depth of a study Bible with the warmth of a devotional Bible, offering a new way to discover the full riches of the Scriptures. According to Richard Foster, bestselling author and the project’s editor, the Bible is all about human life “with God.” As we read Scripture, we should consider how God is with us in each story and allow ourselves to be spiritually transformed.

Many people are looking for a new way to read the Bible, not as a text to be mastered. but as a story to enter into and a lifestyle to pursue. This unique Bible, previously published as The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, spearheaded by bestselling authors Foster (Celebration of Discipline) and Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy), introduces the concept of life with God - or the “with-God life” - a model for seeing the whole of Scripture as the unfolding story of God’s plan for our loving relationship with the Creator. This central theme weaves throughout the essays, introductions, notes, and exercises, powerfully revealing how God is present to his people today and throughout history.

Yet our relationship with God should not be passive. Concrete practices - Spiritual Disciplines - have been used throughout church history to guide disciples of Jesus. This Bible integrates the Spiritual Disciplines into the Christian life by showing how they are central to the Bible’s teachings and stories. Abraham and Ruth, Moses and Deborah, Jesus and the disciples all provide amazing examples of the life-changing power of prayer, worship, fasting, celebration, and many other Spiritual Disciplines. Scripture thus becomes a primary means for the discovery, instruction, and practice of these disciplines as well as a tool for spiritual formation.

Combining the highest possible biblical scholarship with the deepest possible heart devotion, this new Bible project seeks to nourish inner transformation by unlocking and revealing the profound resources within Scripture for changing our hearts and characters and bringing them in line with what God wants for our lives. The Life with God Bible will redefine what the Bible means for Christian discipleship.

This unique study Bible will include several distinctive features:
An introductory essay explaining the paradigm of “The With-God Life”

A series of fifteen “With God” essays sprinkled throughout the Bible laying out the progression of the biblical story

Introduction and notes for each book of the Bible

50+ character sketches giving a sense of the ways key Biblical figures lived with-God

Spiritual exercises

Profiles of key biblical characters

A “Spiritual Disciplines Index” and glossary

Includes a concordance

Italian leather-like material with a sewn-binding, gilded edges and a ribbon marker

Compact size - portable for travel and Bible study groups.

At this point, I am more interested in seeing how the Bible looks, since it appears that it will closely resemble the Renovare edition. It would be nice to have a compact sized NRSV with all the extras that this edition appears to provide. We shall see.....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Premium Leather Bible Round-Up

OK, so what we have learned is that there just aren't many premium leather Catholic Bibles out there on the market. I have listed the ones that were mentioned below by translation. Please notice that I have included Bibles that aren't specifically Catholic, but do include the Deuterocanonical books. Also, while all these Bibles are at least "genuine leather", I make no claims on the actual quality of each edition mentioned.

Oxford NAB Genuine Leather

Oxford NAB Catholic Study Bible

NAB Catholic Youth Bible

New Oxford Annotated Bible

RSV-CE Readers Edition

Cambridge NRSV Reference with Apocrypha Black French Morocco

Oxford NRSV Catholic Edition: Standard Edition

NRSV Text Edition Bible with Apocrypha

NRSV Catholic Youth Bible

HarperCollins Study Bible NRSV (1993)

New Oxford Annotated Bible 3rd Edition NRSV

New Oxford Annotated Bible 4th Edition NRSV

New Interpreters Study Bible NRSV

Baronius Douay-Rheims
(Baronius Press used to make their Douay-Rheims in genuine Moroccan leather, but they no longer do. Many of the reseller websites have NOT updated their descriptions accordingly. Baronius is in the process of finding the resellers with incorrect descriptions and asking them to update accordingly. So make sure to find out before you purchase one. Thanks reader David for the info.)

REB Standard Text with Apocrypha Black French Morocco

Update (10/21/09): St. Benedict Press now publishes a line of genuine leather Douay-Rheims, RSV-CE, and NAB Bibles.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NRSV New Testament Audio Bible

I will be honest, I don't often use audio Bibles. Sure, I have a copy of the TNIV: The Bible Experience New Testament in my car, but I have not listened to it much. When I have listened to it, I have come to appreciate its overall production value, minus the occasional song which, to me, breaks up the flow of the text. Overall, however, I just never think to actually listen to the thing.
So, why on earth did I decide to purchase the NRSV New Testament audio Bible? That is indeed a good question! Perhaps is it just my obsession with all things Bibles? (Hmmm....I think somebody has figured out what he is going to give up next Lent! Yeah, that's Lent!) Moving on, I think the main reason I picked up the NRSV Audio Bible is because I am leaning towards making the NRSV my everyday Bible for prayer, study, and ministry work. Also, while the production quality of the TNIV version is very high, I am not going to be using a TNIV anytime soon, since there isn't likely to be an edition that includes the Deuterocanonical books. It just seems to make sense. For those of you who like the NAB or RSV, there are audio Bible available in those editions as well.
So, what can I say about the NRSV Audio Bible? Not too much. It is simply a very solid audio recording of the NRSV New Testament. It is read by Marquis Laughlin, who at least to my ears is very capable of proclaiming the Sacred texts. He does a straight reading of the text, without any special audio effects or the occasional song. One particular element of his reading is that he includes the NRSV paragraph headings in his presentation, which may be annoying depending on your preferences. But overall, I find that this audio Bible is very clear and meets my expectations.
If you are looking to purchase this audio Bible, the only store I have seen it in stock, in-store, is Cokesbury. I ended up purchasing my edition at, which also includes an audio sample. I am unaware at this time of an audio edition of the whole NRSV Bible.
Anyone actually use an audio Bible on a regular basis? Which version do you use? What has been your experience using it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New NRSV Notes Wiki Site

A new site has emerged that looks to contribute additional textual/translation notes regarding the NRSV. While the NRSV has its fair share of textual footnotes, there are places where additional translation choices could be an important aid in reading. This project is being initiated on the conviction that:

"we need more cross-pollination between translations and probably fewer distinctive translations. The average reader wants to know his options working from a decent base text (none of which will be perfect), and additional notes meet the need. This project is not attempting to create an approved liturgical text, but rather a supplemented text for "lecto divina" ("divine" or holy/prayerful reading)."

More info can be found here, including why the NRSV was chosen as the base text. I am happy to be helping out a bit with this project, particularly since I think the NRSV is, on the whole, a very good translation.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hendrickson's NRSV Gift Bible Review

As if I needed to buy another Bible, yet I decided to do so anyway! Yesterday, I picked up a copy of the new Hendrickson's NRSV Gift Bible with Apocrypha at my local Cokesbury store. I tend to like Cokesbury much more than the Family Christian stores that seem to be more numerous and popular. In my experiences, Cokesbury typically has a better selection of scholarly biblical works, as well as having a small Catholic section. But I digress.

This new NRSV Bible is pretty straight forward. It is the basic text of the NRSV, with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals placed in the middle as they should be. This Bible seems to have the same page layout as the other NRSV Gift Bibles that Hendrickson produces. It comes in two different cover styles: Mocha on Cocoa or Cream on Blue. (Those are the publishers words, not mine!)

Here are the specs:

• Gilded page edges (silver on blue binding, gold on brown binding)

• Ribbon marker

• 9-point type

• Color map section

• Great for confirmations, birthdays and other special occasions

• O-wrap features a die cut window that displays the beautiful binding

While this Bible is pretty basic, I do have a few comments about it:

1) The cover material is Flexisoft Leather, which is the imitation leather that was discussed in the previous post. I tend to like the feel and flexibility of these covers. My only concern would be durability, and since these are relatively new to the market we will just have to wait and see.

2) I currently own two other flexisoft/imitation leather NRSV Bibles, the Go-Anywhere NRSV and the NRSV Catholic Gift Bible, both of them published by HarperCollins. While the other two contained some helpful extras, like a concordance, intros, some maps, I find that I prefer actually reading from this new Hendrickson edition. The page layout is much easier on the eyes, and there is a nice contrast between the bold paragraph headings and the Sacred Text. I also like the map section in the back of the Hendrickson edition best.

3) Once again, no cross-references! I simply don't understand why so few NRSV's have cross-references. At the very least, why not follow the lead of the ESV which includes OT cross-references in the NT as part of the textual notes at the bottom of each page. That's not too much to ask is it?

4) Interestingly, I was looking at the copyright info at the front of the Bible and noticed that the edition used by Hendrickson is "New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993 NCCUSA". This is interesting since only in the Catholic edition of the NRSV are the Deuterocanonicals dispersed throughout the OT. Also, the Catholic edition does not include the other apocrypha/deuterocanonical books that are accepted by some of our Eastern brethren, like 1 Esdras.

5) Finally, there is some inconsistency in how the apocrypha/deuterocanonicals are labeled. On the cover of the Bible, it is simply labeled as "with the Apocrypha". In the table of contents it is labeled as "Deuterocanonical Books" and in the text, itself, it is labeled as "The Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books". Perhaps trying to appease everyone?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More on Imitation Leather

If you would like to learn more about the new generation of imitation leather covers that are becoming more popular these days, J. Mark Bertrand, guru of all things related to quality Bible covers, blogged about this topic here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Differences in Leather

Courtesy of

Simulated or Imitation Leathers
"Simulated Leather", "Imitation Leather", "Leather-look", "LeatherLike" and "Leatherflex" Bibles all have a leather appearance but may be made from a variety of materials. These materials are then coated and embossed to give them a leather-like quality. These covers are slightly more durable than a paperback but not as durable as bonded leather.
In recent years, many publishers have come out with some very nice "imitation leathers" which should prove to be close in durability to bonded leather, but they haven't been on the market long enough to know for sure. Some of these better quality imitation leathers go by such names as "Tru-Tone," "TuTone," "Duo-Tone" and the like.

Bonded Leather
"Bonded Leather" is made from real leather. However, as the name suggests, the cover is made from leather pieces that are bonded together with latex. Once bonded, the leather is dyed, cut and embossed to look like genuine leather. The look and feel is as genuine leather (though not high-grade leather). Due to the fact that it is not made from a single sheet of leather, bonded leather is less expensive, and more often than not, less durable than genuine leather.

Genuine Leather
"Berkshire Leather", "Genuine Leather", "Top-Grain Leather", "Cowhide", and "Morocco Leather" differ from Bonded Leather in that they all consist of a single piece of leather, not many bonded pieces. With proper care, these covers could last indefinitely.

"Berkshire Leather" is high quality pigskin. It is tanned to enhance its appearance and durability.

"Genuine Leather" is made from first quality animal hides (usually pig or cowhide). It has a finely grained texture, which is thicker and coarser than Top-Grain Leather.

"Top-Grain Leather" is cut from the top or outside of the hide and consists of Pigskin or cowhide. Its grain is thicker and coarser than Cowhide.

"Cowhide" is cut from either cattle or water buffalo. It has a finer and suppler grain, which is slightly more durable than Top-Grain leather. As a result, it is more expensive.

"Morocco" is high quality leather made of imported goatskin, usually worked by hand. It is considered to be one of the finest binding leathers. As such it is very durable and expensive.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Leather Catholic Bibles

Yes, true leather, not imitation leather or bonded leather. I am looking to catalogue the best made, genuine leather Catholic Bibles. Why? Well, I honestly don't think there are many out there. (In some ways, this current post is a continuation of one of my first.) In any case, the origin of this post comes from a recent thread on the Catholic Answers website. Let me display two excerpts from my responses so far:

1) Like I mentioned in a previous post somewhere, we have very few quality leather Catholic Bibles to choose from. It is a real shame. I own a pretty large collection of Catholic Bibles and the only ones that "say" that they are genuine leather are the Oxford Catholic Study Bible NAB 1990 version and the Oxford RSV-CE Readers Bible of recent years.

I also own a 1960's original Jerusalem Bible that is supposedly in "leather", which is of course bonded leather. If I wanted to use it everyday, it would probably fall a part in a month or so. I also met a seminarian who has been using the Igantius RSV-2CE "leather" edition for well over a year and he commented to me that he was going to have to get a new one because it was falling a part.

Finally, like I mentioned in that previous post, the nicest Bible I own is a French Moroccan leather edition of the NRSV, which includes the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha: For the most part, Cambridge publishes some high quality leather Bibles. It would be nice to see them publish some more Catholic editions.

2) I just spotted this NAB "genuine leather" edition from Oxford: It looks pretty nice, with the additional benefit of having the notes and cross-references at the back of each Biblical book. May be the best option for those who use the NAB regularly.

That is what I have so far. My question to you, my fellow lovers of all things Catholic Bibles:

1) Have you spotted any high quality genuine/calfskin/Moroccan leather Catholic Bibles?

2) Do you own and use a genuine leather Catholic Bible? What is it?
Let me also mention that if you would like to see a website devoted to premium bound Bibles, go to Bible Design and Binding Blog by J. Mark Bertrand.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Theologian Calls New U2 Album 'Most Thoroughly Christian' Project to Date

Christian Post, March 03, 2009

Josh Kimball

No Line On The Horizon, the latest album from Irish rock band U2, has finally hit music stores in North America after its worldwide debut Friday in Ireland.And according to a theologian in Alabama, it's "the most thoroughly Christian thing they've done yet." "Like the last two albums, No Line is much more overt in its Christian rendering of the world, what with lyrics like 'Justified until we die/You and I will magnify/Oh, the Magnificent' from the album's second track," commented Steven R. Harmon, an associate professor of divinity at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala. "Yet what qualifies this album as thoroughly Christian is not so much its pervasive biblical/theological images as its overarching eschatological vision," he wrote Friday in a music review featured by the Associated Baptist Press.

The Christian themes in U2's music have been widely recognized since their 1981 album, October, which was ranked as No. 41 on CCM Magazine's 2001 list of the greatest Christian music albums of all time. Also included in the list was the group's 1987 album, The Joshua Tree." The youthful October (1981) set the scene for what was to follow," writes the Rt. Rev. Nick Baines, bishop of Croydon in South London, in his recent book Finding Faith: Stories of Music and Life."Songs of spiritual recognition and searching ('Gloria,' or 'Tomorrow,' for example) mingle with the exploration of love and lust," he adds.

Of course, not all the songs included in U2's albums have a Christian worldview, and some are arguably far from Christian, leading many conservatives to question the group's beliefs. Those that are, however, have gone as far as to make their way into churches across the country and around the world, where they used as hymns, particularly in Episcopal churches."

U2 is good at the art, using language like a poet would, like the classic hymn language," the Rev. Christian Scharen, director of the Faith as a Way of Life Project at Yale Divinity School, told USA Today in 2006, two years after the release of U2's last album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."Listen to their lesser-known song 'Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car,' which is about grace," the Lutheran minister added. "We mess up, but God is merciful. That's playful."

Regarding their latest album, Professor Harmon in Alabama says seven of the album's 11 songs invoke its central eschatological metaphor, which he says is the "sound of the divine song, heard only by those who have the ears to hear it, yet unconsciously sought by everyone, for all people were created to hear and sing this song. "Within this framework, No Line calls people's attention to the discordant dimensions of our world, Harmon adds, noting that the album's basic message is that earth is not yet heaven. "[T]he album summons us to 'Get On Your Boots' and work toward the day when things will fully be on earth as they are in heaven – when heaven and earth will be indistinguishable, and there will at last be no line on the horizon," he wrote in his review.

Written and recorded in various locations, No Line On The Horizon is U2's 12th studio album and is their first release since the nine million selling album How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb released in late 2004. Rolling Stone magazine has already awarded No Line on The Horizon five stars, calling the album U2's "best, in its textural exploration and tenacious melodic grip, since 1991's Achtung Baby."Christianity Today, meanwhile, said the album offers some of the most thoughtful and introspective lyrics put out by U2 frontman Bono, who the magazine noted as being "in love with Jesus and himself in equal measure." "There are the usual 'is it Jesus or a girlfriend?' teases, but those looking for more depth will find much to savor," the evangelical publication added.

I have liked U2 since I can remember, certainly by the time I first started to listen to music back in the late 80's with Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum. While they are certainly not a "Christian band", they do consistently rely on Christian themes and ask important questions. Actually, I think one of their most Christian albums is the much maligned Pop. While what gets most of the attention on that album are the sonic sounds of songs like Discotheque and MOFO, some of the other tunes are quite profound in the Christian questions they ask. In particular, I am thinking of If God Will Send His Angels, Playboy Mansion, and Wake Up Deadman. I think those songs have held up quite well ten years later and remain relevant in the post-Christian world we currently live in.

But the new album, so far, seems to be more subtle in its Christian themes. Although I am highly amused by the line in Stand Up Comedy where Bono sings: "Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady".