Thursday, October 15, 2009

Your Favorite Bible Edition

While it seems that I am always looking for the "next best thing" in regards to Catholic Bibles, there is one thing that has remained constant over the past few years: My favorite Bible edition is still the Cambridge NRSV Reference Bible with the Apocrypha--French morocco leather. While there have been times when I have been "tempted" to switch Bible translations, I always seem to fall back to this edition. Although it is true that I am sympathetic to the NRSV translation, the overall quality of this Cambridge edition, including not only the Moroccan leather, but the plentiful cross-references, thick paper, 18 maps, and truly helpful glossary, make this edition a true gem for Catholic Bible readers. There is no other Bible that meets my needs like this edition of the NRSV.

But how about you? What Bible edition do just absolutely love and use? This question has less to do with a particular Bible's translation, but rather the whole package. Feel free to give a glowing report of your favorite Bible, including any links to websites that provide further details about it.


Vince C said...

Translations aside (I'm a devout Catholic student of the Bible who's preferred translation is the RSVCE), I think my favorite Bible is the St. Joseph gift edition of the New American Bible. I use this edition quite a bit, by necessity, in teaching parish Bible studies. Not crazy about the translation; absolutely loathe many of the footnotes, but I am really fond of the book itself. The font and layout are perfect, it is attractive and well-bound, it 'lays' open easily on table on/in the hand when teaching, the pages are not too thin or thick, and it has many helpful charts and liturgical aides.

My dream version of this version of the NAB would be to take out all the footnotes containing 'higher criticism' speculation, revise or replace the dopey "Reading Your Bible" essay, revise a few key passages to more traditional renderings (i.e., Psalm 23, Luke 1:28) update the color plates to fine art depictions of the same scenes, and provide full size color maps in an appendix. A place ribbon or two would be nice as well.

In my opinion, this would make this edition of the Bible, maybe not perfect, but at least much more attractive and usable.

rolf said...

Timothy, I think I agreed with you in the past on this Bible. The NRSV translation is growing on me, but this edition is my favorite Bible. I love the French Morocco leather, it is flexible but not floppy soft like some of the other premium leather. I like the Bible paper used, it is very resistant to bleed through. I like the cross references, the maps and the glossary. I also like the fact that this is the non-aglicanized version of the text. The new NRSV Catholic editions that Harper Collins is putting out are the anglicanized versions. Overall, I love the quality of this Bible, and long as I don't do something to ruin it (like spill coffee on it), it should last a life time!

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the Jerusalem Bible 1966 edition,
the footnotes are plentiful and a support catholic perspective. I don't find too much higher criticism notes overall and the translation is balanced.

jogomu said...

In NRSV-land I am currently reading from the Cambridge "giant print" (18 pt I believe) New Testament, which is vol 4 of a complete (Prot canon) Bible offering.

For use when not on the go it is so nice to not have to work at it AT ALL to make out the text... and I don't have poor vision (when corrected).

As long as I'm commenting I'll plug ... looking for contributors!

TSO said...

For a long time my favorite was the New Jerusalem hardback version with full notes but found myself so often getting sidetracked that now I prefer the look and feel of the New Jerusalem leather edition which has fewer (even if helpful) distractions.

The CTS Bible arrived in the mail yesterday, and it's goose-bump city even if the print is a bit small for middle-aged eyes. But it's a keeper. Jerusalem version with notes and the Grail Psalms - don't have any Bible like it.

The bible I actually use the most seems to be "The Catholic Comparative New Testament", which has no less than eight parallel translations. It makes St. Paul's writings clearer when one reads multiple versions of the same verse.

Theophrastus said...

I prefer to use Bibles with original language -- so one very useful resource that I use (unfortunately no Deuterocanonicals) is this Hebrew- Greek (BHS/NA27) edition. This is the Bible I use most often (and it is small enough to carry easily).

For the New Testament, this Greek-Latin (NA27/Aland Vulgate=Nova Vulgate + critical apparatus) is useful.

For the Deuterocanonicals, I prefer the Oxford Parallel Apocrypha (Stuttgart Septuagint/Knox/TEV-GNB/NRSV/NAB/NJB) (out of print).

For a comparison New Testament, I prefer the the Oxford Precise Parallel New Testament (NA27/KJV/Rheims-Challoner/Amplified/NIV/NRSV/NAB/NASB) (out of print) or the NA27/NET Bible Diglot -- the latter because of the useful notes.

For a Psalter, I prefer the Oxford Comparative Psalter (BHS/Stuttgart Septuagint/RSV/NETS).

There are fewer single-volume Hebrew diglots to choose among; perhaps the best of the lot is the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (BHS/NJPS).

There are fewer nice Bibles for Septuagint studies, I like the New English Translation of the Septuagint and the best single volume Greek is the Stuttgart Septuagint (hopefully, we'll have a better one in the future). I do not recommend Brenton's edition.

For a comparison full English Bible, I think the best choice is Oxford Complete Parallel Bible (NRSV/NAB/NJB/REB) (out of print).

I think the Bible is too hard to read without notes, though, so for self-instruction for those not reading original languages, I recommend that people read commentaries or study Bibles. My own preference is for commentaries that focus on a single book -- since I think these allow someone to "dig deeply" into Scripture -- I know that you have recommended several of the in the past (e.g., the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series). If one needs a single volume reference, I think that Oxford's study Bibles are the most interesting: The Catholic Study Bible (NAB), NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible (3rd Augmented edition), RSV New Oxford Annotated Bible (Expanded Edition), and Jewish Study Bible (NJPS).

For cross-reference Bibles, my favorite is Oxford Cross-Reference NRSV with Apocrypha because it has the best cross-references (including full integration of the Deuterocanonicals in the cross references.)

Keith said...

Two questions....what is angilicized (sp?) mean?

Also...does this NRSV bible come in the same page layout etc with a less expensive cover? I'd like to get the bible but would take a paper cover or imitation leather cover to get the price down.

Theophrastus said...

Anglicized means using British spelling and grammar.

The only reference edition from Cambridge currently in print is this one, as you can see from this web page.

You can buy a used one in bonded leather for $35 from Amazon.

The in-print edition is much cheaper at Amazon than at Bookschristian ($88 vs. $117).

But I recommend this Oxford edition instead. It is cheaper and it has much better (and more) references.

Timothy said...


Here are some other possible editions of the NRSV:

Anonymous said...

Hey...maybe take a look at the New Navarre New Testament Expanded Edition

It would be great if you noted it on your site along with the other Navarres!

PS my favorite is the RSV :)

Anonymous said...

PS and send me an email...


becket said...

RSV Oxford Annotated
Douay Rheims
Orthodox Study Bible

Cannot stand liberal "inclusive language" translations.

Martin said...

Hello, I came across your website and it has been really helpful. I am young (22 years old) and I want to purchase my first "real Bible" that will last my whole life. I want quality in both the materials used to make the book and the content. Can you explain whats the difference between the NRSV Reference Bible with the Apocrypha and the NRSV Catholic Edition? I'm confused, shouldn't I go for the Catholic Edition? Thank you for your help!!!

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Jonathan said...

Timothy - Have you seen this review of the Cambridge NRSV? It seems that he's found quite a few annoying things about the binding. Does yours have the same flaws?

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Angel Hazard said...

Certainly my favorite Cambridge Bible is the NKJV goatskin pitt minion reference edition. It's small, compact, has lots of cross references and lays flat while I'm reading. I know the NKJV is'nt a Catholic translation, but this is the translation I used growing up. I really wish that Cambridge would publish a Catholic translation in the pitt minion format. Maybe one day soon they will. My favorite Catholic Bible is my NAB Fireside personal companion edition. It's a really cool edition because there is a pray-able rosary made into the cover.

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Mark K. said...

My favorite Bible is the Douay - Rheims Version with notes by Bishop Challoner. Somewhat difficult to get used to at first, but once I did, it became my favorite. It's language makes me really think about the passage and add the meaning already supplied by other translations. For this reason I take so much more from the passages, than just simply reading the smooth text from many of the modern translations. Such an excellent Bible, it's easy to see why it was the standard Bible for so long.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,
I have been looking for a catholic blog about the bible and catechism.
I finally found it.
I have been a lector and commentator for many years. Our mass readings and the Sunday and daily lectionary books in the US are from the NAB version which is the version recommended by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops . If I were to ask I will recommend the NAB. Why? If you have been using NAB and you have been been reading (as a lector or studying the bible)and have been listening to mass readings, your tendency is to memorized some of the readings. And believe me it is self rewarding if you memorized some chapter and verses. I have been studying side by side the bible and catechism. I have some study materials of Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavin. They are my favorites. I have also the complete Navarre and St Jerome commentary books . But not one of them are using the NAB version. I also have the MP3 audio of the NAB by Stephen Johnson. I have a big NAB family bible that I always use, scrible some notes and highlight some important words.
By the way, in the website you can find the complete NAB bible as well as the Sunday and daily readings written or in audio version. I recommended this website to our church and it save the cost of purchasing lector books. You can also find the complete copy of the catholic catechism and some other vatican documents. See it for yourself. If you are studying the bible, I recommend to study the catechism. Do not buy the small white catechism book. Buy the big green book , second edition by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. There are several used copies from Barnes and Nobles online for only $1.99 plus shipping. This green book has several index of citations and glossaries which the small catechism does not have. Among the many citations you will find bible chapters and verses that are referred to the corresponding catechism paragraphs. Thanks Tim for this website. Lynn

AnRuaRi said...

I Love the CCB (Christian Community Bible) I use the Large Print version.
It has a lovely pastoral commentary, ans is in a moderate (literal-eguivalent) style. The translation is designed to be easy to read. Most versions come with built in Thumb Tabs.

On a side note: can the above comment stream be moderated to pull out all that spam?

Diana said...

Dear Timothy,
Up until a short while ago my favorite Bible was also the NRSV Reference Bible with the Apocrypha--French morocco leather. I actually bought several of them to serve me for the rest of my life. Then I discovered 2 Esdras chapter 7 verses 28-30. At first I thought this to be The death of our Lord Jesus Christ at his first coming, but at further reflection it appeared to look as if it is speaking of our Lords second coming, see the mention of Him staying 400 years and then dying. But if this is so, it is wrongly teaching a second death of Christ.
I may understand this wrongly. I tried to find info on this passage in the internet and had no luck to explain the 400 yrs. and the Lords death.
This caused me quite some distress and I came to decide not to use the NRSV with Apoc. although I otherwise love it.
Can you perhaps help me with the understanding of this passage? Perhaps I can continue to read my NRSVs and keep them.
I wish you well, and a wonderful Easter, may the Lord Jesus be with you.
Sincerely, Diana (I am Catholic)

Unknown said...

My favorites (in order):

1. RSV-2CE
2. Douay Rheims
3. Jerusalem
4. Confraternity
5. NAB

Been reading some of the Knox on BibleGateway and am intrigued. Have a copy on order from the library. Might need to add that to the bookshelf.

Unknown said...

I’m a Jewish convert to Catholicism. My knowledge of biblical Hebrew has become somewhat of a curse. The deplorable spirit of the world, liberalism, modernity, and lack of faith have infected most Catholic translations of the Bible. As a lay Catholic, I love praying the Liturgy of the Hours, but I’m tempted to give it up, as the translation of the Scriptures is pathetic. Below is my list of the most accurate and literal English Bibles on the market. The King James, though, not perfect is an accurate literal word for word translation of the Hebrew. The Douay-Rheims is an accurate literal word for word translation of the Clementine Latin Vulgate, which corresponds nicely to the Hebrew. The Revised Standard Second Edition is the closest one can get to a seemingly accurate modern Catholic Bible. However, the translators elected to delete Israel from Psalm 73:1 with no adequate explanation in the footnotes. This translation also has many other deficiencies, which I will not mention in this post. The NAB is not even worth mentioning. The fact that the Vatican Website will not even post the NAB Psalms speaks for itself. The New Revised Standard Bible takes too many liberties. I firmly believe the NRSV and NAB translators will have to answer to God for their willful manipulation of His Word. Below are the top three accurate English Bibles, in my opinion.

1. King James with the Apocrypha
2. Douay-Rheims
3. RVS-2nd edition

Anonymous said...

The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (KJV with Apocrypha). Either in calfskin or hardcover (both are great in their respective designs). This is a masterpiece. I'm actually not the biggest fan of the KJV, but it's got to be the most definitive edition if you ever want one. And what I wish all bibles looked like (either calfskin or something equally supple like some synthetic leathers), with single column text. Some ESVs get cloth, but I'm very displeased by that translation. So called "literal" translations doesn't mean anything when the translators are disgustingly biased themselves.

Other than that, I like pocket bibles the most. Either NAB or NRSV