Monday, May 18, 2009

O NRSV with Cross-References Where Art Thou?

Yes, that is the question. You see, I have a friend who is looking to buy an NRSV-Catholic Edition which has scriptural cross-references. She doesn't want a large study Bible, like the NISB or HCSB or NOAB, but rather a normal sized NRSV Bible. Cross-references are something she definitely needs to have, but it would be nice to have Bible maps, Mass readings, and even a concise Bible glossary as well. As many of you know, I have made the NRSV my everyday, all-purpose Bible. The edition I use is the Cambridge NRSV with Apocrypha Reference edition. While not specifically a "Catholic Edition", it does contain all the Catholic books, cross-references, Bible maps, a handy glossary, and the cover is made of premium leather. I like it a lot. Is it perfect? By no means! But it is the closest edition that meets my everyday needs.

So, back to my friend who needs an NRSV-CE with cross-references. I am sure one exists right? Currently, the answer is no. There are a number of new editions of the NRSV-CE that have been published in the past few years, principally by HarperCollins. However, none of them have scriptural cross-references. All other Catholic translations, including the NAB, RSV-2CE, and NJB, come in editions with cross-references. She has used the Catholic Youth Bible NRSV in the past, but wants to upgrade to another NRSV edition. So, she is comfortable with the NRSV translation, along with its plentiful textual notes. There are a couple of editions, like the one I own, which she could get. However, that edition is not always available and can be a bit pricey. Yes, I know there is a bonded leather version available, but who would want to use a bonded leather edition? That's crazy!

So, this post is simply a call to all NRSV publishers to consider publishing an NRSV-CE with cross-references. As a matter of fact, I don't remember seeing many NRSV's in any edition that have cross-references. It's really not that hard, however it's definitely needed!

Update: Theophrastus reminds me of this hardcover edition by Oxford, which unfortunately is out of print.

Update 2: Reader Paul has alerted me to this one, by Collins in the UK.


jogomu said...

My own experience with cross references is that the ones I really want aren't there, and the ones that are there I don't use. But that might just be me...

How do other people actually use the included cross references on a regular basis?

Timothy said...


For example, I am leading a Bible study on Revelation. As I am sure you know, Revelation quotes a lot from the Old Testament, most notably Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. Therefore, for me, it is necessary to have those cross-references right there in the Bible. Paul's letter to the Romans is also another book where having the cross-references handy is very helpful.

jogomu said...

I guess I would just caution against the following usage model:

"I'm reading this verse, I look over into the margin, I don't see a [further] cross reference, therefore there must not be anything I need to know in terms of broad context to understand this."

That describes me about 10 years ago, and most of the "cross references" that have been most beneficial to my understanding of Scripture as a whole have been excluded from most published cross reference lists.

They are excluded because (partial list):
- they are theological parallels instead of more direct textual parallels
- they are too Catholic
- they are cross references with Jewish oral tradition rather than the written OT

I guess I'm not saying that published cross reference information is useless... only that I've never (as far as I can remember) had an "aha!" moment stemming from a published cross reference in a printed Bible.

But for those who have... more power to you :)

I have, however, had "aha!" moments from the translation notes in the NRSV. :) Since you brought up Romans 3, check out the "faith of Jesus" notes and start Googling about it. I wish the NRSV would demarcate every aorist as such... I might do a bit of that at compare tense choice with the Rheims! Ok this comment has really wandered now hasn't it.

Errant Aorist Interpreters

jogomu said...


The most recent thing that has stuck out to me in terms of a cross reference is Job 8:18... "Then it will deny them, saying, 'I have never seen you.'"

This brought to mind Matt 7:23 "I never knew you."

I just did a quick search and apparently I'm not the first person to ever think this way about it.

So my question is as follows: is this a cross reference in any of your Bibles that contain cross reference information? Just curious... I'll be pleasantly surprised if it is.

Theophrastus said...

Because of the way the NRSV was produced and received imprimatur, there is very little reason to insist on a "Catholic Edition" of the NRSV.

With the RSV, there is a very real difference -- the RSV translation team did not include Catholics, and as a condition of receiving imprimatur, there were minor revisions (usually adopting alternate readings from footnotes) from the RSV (first edition). (Even here, since the revisions to the RSV second edition NT were never integrated with the CE, I think that there are some disadvantages to using the RSV-CE.)

In the case of the NRSV, there were no textual changes whatsoever. The "Catholic Edition" merely omits the apocrypha (that is, those parts of the Eastern Orthodox canon not in the Council of Trent's canon) and follows the old Vulgate ordering of the books.

The ordinary interpretation of Trent's list is that while the list carries dogmatic weight, its order does not. Indeed, there is more than one plausible ordering of the books. (It is also useful to distinguish those books that appear in the Hebrew Bible from those that appear only in the Septuagint.)

Furthermore, every edition of the NRSV I can recall seeing had the now familiar chart showing the ordering of books in the Hebrew Bible and in various Christian traditions, as well as marking which books were canonical in which traditions. Books canonical to different traditions are clearly marked in the text as well.

Finally, the Eastern Catholic Churches do use the Apocrypha as well as the Deuterocanon, and perhaps our era we will be blessed to see the reconciliation of Rome and Constantinople. While there are great challenges to overcome, the chances of reconciliation seem greater than ever before in the last 800 years, and the anathemas of both sides have been nullified.

As to suggestions for a cross-reference NRSV, I think you will find this edition to be rather complete. While it is out of print from the publisher, it is readily available new from numerous booksellers.

Timothy said...


Yeah, I don't mind the edition I have, which has all the Orthodox books in it. As a matter of fact, I am getting to the point where I prefer its inclusion. Back to the main point, I would just rather see more NRSV's with cross-references. I think it would help, even if in a small way, the NRSV's popularity. It is a shame that the ones that due ahve cross-references are either very expensive for most people or out of print.

And like you, I do pray for the reunion of the Eastern and the Western Churches. If it were to happen during my lifetime, I would consider it a real blessing to be alive to see it occur. Hmm...perhaps I should devote greater prayer time to reunion.

Scott said...

I'm wishing for an NRSV with Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals that's designed for extended reading: very minimalist, with just the NRSV text and the apparently required glosses and translators' introduction. Nothing else. Single column, comfortable type size, minimal (or no) ghosting from the other side of the page. Standard, highly readable typeface like Palatino or Sabon. Can be a bit thick to accommodate opaque paper. Creamy off-white paper would be nice. Some day they'll print such a "reader's edition." Wish it were soon.

Timothy said...


Have you seen the NRSV Notetakers Bible:


Paul said...


This NRSV CE with cross-references might be what you are after:

Timothy said...


Thanks for the link!

Theophrastus said...

There is a big gap in the number of cross-references in the different volumes. I have the Oxford and the Cambridge, but not the Collins. Mark Bertrand has posted a picture of the Collins textblock (the same textblock is apparently used for the R. L. Allan's edition and the Collins edition).

I regard the Oxford as better than the Cambridge in terms of cross-references; based on Mark's photo, I think that perhaps the Cambridge may be slightly better than the Collins.

Theophrastus said...

I would also like to mention that to the best of my knowledge, the Oxford is the only one of the three editions that cross-references the Deuterocanon in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.

Timothy said...


I too have heard that the Oxford cross-references the Deuterocanonicals as well.

One reason I decided to go with the Cambridge edition is because of its overall presentation, which included some great Bible maps, a handy glossary, and the premium leather cover. But of course, that is just me.

Paul said...

Hi Timothy,

I'm following these comments with interest :).

I also thought of the Cambridge Annotated Study Bible and the Cambridge Annotated Study Aprocrypha, both edited by Howard Clark Kee, as editions of the NRSV that contain extensive cross-references. Unfortunately, the Deuterocans, Hebrew Bible and New Testament of this study Bible aren't published in one volume by Cambridge--doing so would make it too big? And it's not a very handy size; nether may your ideal reader warm to the annotations that crowd out the page.

Andrea said...

Thanks for the post Tim. Right now I think your Bible is in the top of the running, but I will probably head over to Cokesbury soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Timothy for keeping the comments open on these old posts. I have been (can't believe I am saying this) drawn back to the NRSV - can't believe has nothing to do with the translation per se but because I swore an oath (not to God happily) no more bibles! and I was pretty committed to the RSVCE that I managed to scoop a while back.

Well, I just bought the edition recommended by Theophrastus for, wait for it, 2.00 and 5.00 shipping to Canada. What! I have to think the seller had no idea what they were selling.

Also, I found your 'My Favorite Bible 2.0' article very interesting. I did a lot of looking around for that very edition on Abebooks for a cheap as one may find it with free shipping from the UK.

I forget which post it is in where someone comments about accumulating editions of bibles as being a particular thing with converts from Protestantism. I don't know how accurate that is in general, it may well be, but it is true of me. My wife says, at least I don't spend my money of beer.

Timothy said...


Even after three years, we still await a Catholic edition of the NRSV with cross-references. Yet, the Cambridge edition remains a real beauty in so many ways! You are a fortunate man to get one at that price! The NRSV, even with its issues, is still a fine translation and is superior to the original in some cases.

Anonymous said...


Sadly, the seller refunded my purchase for the Oxford and the notice via paypal says, "Item Missing". Could be, or, it could be they realized they had missed a digit or two in the offering.

Happily, the still-your-favourite Cambridge is on it's way. I was very reasonable, though not as reasonable as the Oxford at 2.00.

Timothy said...


That looks really good, too bad it is out of print.

Daniel said...

This has cross-references that run along the bottom of the page (Including references to Deuterocanonicals!):

Here are page samples from an edition without Deuterocanonicals:

Impressed with the quality for the price as well.

Timothy said...


Thanks for the link. The second one seems to be the same as the first. I am definitely interested in purchasing one. Since the page that has the Deuterocanonicals doesn't seem to have a sample, can you confirm that one has cross-references as well?

Daniel said...


Sorry about that! I ordered the one which you have linked to and it does indeed have cross-references.

Timothy said...


Thank you! I ordered one myself. Couple other questions if you don't mind:

1) Is there anything else included in this edition? Maps? Concordance? Lectionary readings?

2) I assume the binding is glued?

3) Overall, do you like this edition? Any drawbacks?

Daniel said...


There are a few basic maps in the back but no concordance or lectionary readings. I think the binding is glued but it feels pretty solid and opens easier than my hardcover Cambridge REB.

I like the edition overall. The paper is very white and the text is clear and dark. I like the font choice but the text seems just a little small. The inner margin could be wider. For the price I can't complain but...

I also ordered this:

It's the GNT which I like quite a bit (Just in completely different ways than I like the NRSV). Same attractive burgundy hardcover, white pages, dark and even print, and cross references but also with a larger font, concise and helpful introductions and outlines to the individual books, weekday, Sunday, and feast day readings, a word list (Sort of concise bible dictionary), list of New Testament passages quoted or paraphrased from the Septuagint (Explanations of differences from the Hebrew text), a timeline, a subject index (More useful than a concordance for a dynamic translation like GNT), and Dei Verbum. Plus Annie Vallotton illustrations!

Binding is still glued and inner margins a little narrow but overall a really well put together edition.

I like the ABS NRSV quite a bit but I think I'll be using the GNT edition more on a day to day basis.