Thursday, January 26, 2012

Geoffrey's Review for January

This month, permanent guest blogger Geoffrey has prepared a concise review of Oxford's Catholic Bible: Personal Study Edition 2011.

This is not a study Bible for the timid and can be quite dense in places, but for those dedicated souls willing to slog through it and put their heart and soul into truly internalizing its scholarly riches, the rewards far outweigh the work.

As far as scholarship goes, the Catholic Bible, Personal Study Edition is "middle of the road"--neither overly conservative nor overly liberal. Essential truths of the faith are affirmed, but in a positive way that respects other points of view and emphasizes a historical-critical approach to Scripture without neglecting theological and inspirational methods of reading. Moderates like myself will feel right at home, however, those who are seeking a more traditional interpretation of Scripture should probably look elsewhere, such as Dr. Scott Hahn's magnificent series of commentaries.

Format-wise, I was afraid the two-column layout of the text would prove regrettable, but after spending time with my new Bible, I've actually come to like it. Essays and side notes are separated from the main text in clean, simple ways which are very pleasing to the eye. Also, all study materials, unlike in the Oxford Study Bible, have been updated to conform to the NABRE text. The font is also a decent size. The only negative thing I can think of is that the pages are a bit thin, so I'd imagine habitual notetakers will be disappointed; I have a taboo against writing in Bibles, so I don't really care.

If you're a Scripture student going for a degree in religion or history, or if you're preparing to enter the clergy, or if you simply desire to become a hardcore hobbyist, this Bible is essential, just as it purports to be. What are you waiting for? Buy it!

Some features of this edition include:
•Available in hardcover, paperback, and bonded leather
•Marginal references in the biblical text that point to specific pages in the Reading Guide are screened for greater visibility
•A 25-page glossary defines biblical terms with which students may not be familiar
•A 36-page section of authoritative, full color New Oxford Bible Maps (with place name index)


Christopher W. Speaks said...

The PSE and the CSB each have their respective role in the degree of study one wants to apply to the biblical text. The PSE should, in my opinion, be stocked in every RCIA classroom if nothing else. As Geoffrey says, it's very middle of the road: neither too liberal nor too conservative. For example, I really appreciate how the editors approach the question of Moses' authorship of the Pentateuch in the Reading Guide: whether he wrote some of it or all of it, Moses was THE important prophet of the OT and it's because of him that the Pentateuch exists, period.

Despite my praise for the content, I returned my copy only a week or so after receiving it. Why? The ghosting is pretty horrible. Every other page has some picture or blocked text surrounded by a thick outline which really, really bleeds through. When you combine this drawback with the small and large section headings of the NABRE plus the footnotes, it makes concentrating on the text extremely difficult. What a shame. This definitely does not feel like a long-term personal reading bible; more of a reference tool. The placement of the Reading Guide is still a cumbersome feature. The hardcover and leather should come standard with bookmarks (plural).

I'm still considering purchasing an updated CSB when it's released and having Leonard's rebind it in an inexpensive leather with, oh, around 5 or 6 bookmarks so that I can save my fingertips from hunting and searching in the Reading Guide, Concordance, etc..

Theophrastus said...

I have never spent time with the Personal Study Edition, but I was under the impression that it was a watered down Oxford Catholic Study Bible -- presenting similar material in a similar format but at a less advanced level. I thought that main difference between the two was the "Reading Guides" and that the PSE's "Reading Guide" was similar to the CSB's "Reading Guide" but more accessible to a non-academic reader.

Is that wrong?

(Obviously, having up-to-date material in the PSE is a huge advantage -- I'm still annoyed that Oxford released the CSB with one text [the 2011 NABRE] while its "Reading Guide" is based on another text [the 1970 NAB Old Testament and 1991 Pslams].)

Colleague: probably you already know this, but just in case: all of these Oxford Bibles also come in leather-bound editions. I find that volumes that are re-bound are never as tight and sharp looking as volumes that are bound at the time of publication. Also, it is very to add ribbons to a Bible -- all you need are ribbons, epoxy, and a pencil (see here for example).

Unknown said...

The ghosting on my edition actually wasn't too bad at all. I can read the text just fine. Maybe you got a bad batch Colleague?

rolf said...

I bought his Bible after comparing it side by side with The Catholic Study Bible(at Barnes and Noble). I like the way it is laid out, for instance the reading guide introduction to the Gospels has a six page chart called 'The Four Gospels at a glance' which compares side by side biographical information (date, place of writing, author, etc) and continues with the Harmony of the Gospels where all the subject matter of the four Gospels is compared side by side.
Informational boxes also appear in the text, putting information at your finger tips. As to the ghosting, in certain places it has a little more ghosting than the CSB, that might be because the paper in the CSB appeared a little bit whiter which maybe disguises ghosting a little better. Study Bibles with this many pages have to opt for thinner paper to keep them reasonable in size, so some ghosting is a trade off. My copy of this Bible in the bonded leather version and it does have two ribbon markers.

Chrysostom said...

P-slams... That sounds like the name of a Christian rapper. David was quite the P-slamist, wasn't he?

One can even backronym the "P" to "poetry".

Tim: I'll have it to you by this Monday, finally. I eventually accepted the fact I'm not a journalist and I'll have to break it down in to parts.