Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bible Review: Baronius Press Standard and Large Douay-Rheims Editions

I know that many of you love the venerable Douay-Rheims Bible.  I have a deep appreciation for it as well, and think, like many Protestants do about the KJV, that every Catholic should own a copy of the Douay-Rheims.  It is an important part of our English-speaking Catholic heritage.  Occasionally, people have emailed me in the past with the question as to where should one go to purchase a Douay-Rheims edition?  That may be the easiest question I regularly receive since starting this blog.  For my money, nothing compares to the work Baronius Press does with their classic Catholic Bibles.  Their bibles, missals, breviaries, and books are the finest in the Catholic publishing world and show a commitment to producing literary treasures that can be read and prayed with for a lifetime.  They are not a large publisher, so there is never a guarantee that their products will be in stock for long, like the traditional breviary or some of their Douay editions.  So, if you want one of these Douay-Rheims Bibles, I wouldn't wait too long to purchase one.  (Don't forget about the Knox Bible either, which is, in my humble opinion, the gem of their entire catalogue.) 

Almost two years ago, I gave a glowing review of their pocket Douay-Rheims.  There is so much packed into that little Bible, yet without any lack of the quality.  Again, this is something I have come to expect from Baronius Press.  Since then I have been eager to examine, and re-examine, some of their other Douay editions.  I know that for some of you a pocket edition may have too small of a print.  Fortunately, I recently received a copy of both their standard and large edition Douay-Rheims Bibles and, once again, I was not disappointed.  Both of them are in black, with the standard being in the leather "flexible" and the large being in the leather hardcover.

Both Bibles contain the exact same features, which are:
*1898 Edition of the Douay-Rheims
*1,512 Pages
*Leather bound cover with stitched edges
*Gold gilt edged pages and 2 ribbons.
*Completely retypeset to reproduce the original 1899 edition.
*Eleven coloured maps digitally redrawn by hand and fully coloured
*32 beautiful engravings that recreate key moments in Biblical History
*Family Register section
*Printed in India
*Three Papal encyclicals regarding the importance of the Holy Bible:

Both editions come in sewn bindings, which, if you really care about using a Bible any longer than a couple years, is a must.  The standard edition is in the flexible leather, which Baronius describes as being "leather, hand covered over flexible boards, which are specially designed to flex many times without breaking. The corners are rounded and the edges are then meticulously stitched to create an elegant and durable appearance."  Yes, it is of high quality, but it is not really flexible.  In comparison to the hardcovers it is, but don't expect anything resembling the supple covers of most leather or even bonded leather covers.  The size of the standard edition is 6" x 8 1/4" which makes it perfect for prayerful reading and for taking to Bible studies.  

The large size edition comes in at 7" x 10", which should be appreciated by those who are in need of a large-print bible.  Or, perhaps, you love the Douay-Rheims and would like a Bible to serve as the Family Bible, this would be a great choice.  The cover is a very elegant black leather hardcover, much like my beloved Knox Bible.  According to Baronius, they "use the same leather covered over 1/8" (1/12" for smaller titles) thick, stiff boards, to create strong and durable books that will last for generations."  This will indeed last for generations.  

Each edition comes with two bible ribbons, red and yellow, and the paper is gold gilded.  This makes the overall look to this Bible simply amazing and classy, fitting the translation contained in it.

When you get to reading this text, you will find it to be very readable.  While the paper is a thin and bright white in tone, I don't thing ghosting is too much of an issue.  Included with the Douay translation are cross-references, occasional notes, and chapter headings that give an overview of the chapter. Like the pocket edition, maps and engravings are included and printed on a very thin glossy paper.  This adds a nice touch, without hindering page turning like in some other Bible editions which use a thicker glossy paper for their inserts.  For those of you who regularly attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, you will welcome the inclusion of the Mass readings for Sundays, Holy Days, and Saints Days.  In addition, there is a two-page Table of References which can serve as an aid to doing apologetics or study. 

So, yeah, I think these editions are wonderful in almost every way.  However, my biggest critique about the work Baronius does with their Bibles is that they haven't moved to having their Bibles covered in goatskin, calfskin, or any of the other premium leather possibilities.  I know that there is a great tradition in the Church of having beautifully bound hardcover Bibles and Missals, but it would be amazing to see the standard Douay-Rheims in a soft goatskin.  Even the flexible black leather cover of the standard edition is a bit misleading, since it simply isn't flexible in the way most people, who haven't handled one of these bibles, would expect.  These beautiful editions are begging to be wrapped in some soft premium leather options.  Perhaps, in the future, they should consider working with R. L. Allan's in providing them some of their best editions, including the Knox.  Hey, they are both located in London!

Thank you to the fine folks at Baronius Press for providing these review copies.


Unknown said...

I agree. Allan's needs to make a Catholic edition! Sigh. I still haven't managed to find a good bible for me. The Reader's edition came in—had printing issues and I'm returning it. I suppose I'll be biting the bullet to purchase a Cambridge Popular text edition when I can. The NRSV reference spoiled me, and at this point I only need a text bible (no cross-references, etc.) so there we are. Yes, it's anglicized, but the week I spent with an anglicized text convinced me that isn't a problem. I read enough English literature anyway...

Glad you liked Baronius. We have a guy at my parish who just loves his and won't use another bible. :)

Unknown said...

How does the large print compare size-wise to a Ignatius RSV-2CE (original or Didache edition)? Also, how does it compare to a Jerusalem Bible (full edition)?

Timothy said...


The biggest difference is that the DR paper is thinner and the translation is laid out verse by verse. This makes it difficult to compare in some ways. It certainly is bigger than the RSV-2CE standard and somewhat like the Didache.

However, it really is like comparing apples to oranges.........perhaps the first time I have used that phrase on this blog.

Luke said...

Hi Tim -

Sorry to revive an old post. I'm planning on buying the Baronius standard size D-R but I see it comes in either hard cover or the "flexible" cover. Which one would you recommend between the two?

Happy Easter!

Timothy said...

If you like hardcover, I'd go with that. If you want something a bit lighter, go with the flexible. Although it really isn't flexible.