Monday, December 12, 2016

Guest Post: Using Different Editions of the Same Translation

Thank to Allister for the second of his guest posts.

Hello again, brothers in Christ – it’s me, Aloy, back to drowse you out of reading my boring discussions. But seriously, my reservations on comments notwithstanding, I have sometimes been inspired to share some of my experiences with the Bible, especially now that the site’s posts will be more guest-run than before.

For today, I would like to discuss the experience of using different editions of the same translation, which by circumstance (or not) I have been led to doing. I did mention in my previous guest post that I, too, primarily use the NRSV-CE, as it happened to be the only formally-equivalent alternative to the NAB(RE) available widely here in the Philippines (and, I hear, the more accurate one, “accurate” being of course quite subjective). This also happens to be the translation I have different editions of, as I have only one NABRE. I have as of this writing, however, three NRSV-CEs (one to be gifted) and one compact NRSV with the Apocrypha, the same one that fellow guest Kevin mentioned in his post about compact Bibles last November 7. I will list the three CEs down here with brief overviews on their content, then mention my purposes for each of them.

1. ST PAULS Philippines NRSV-CE
This is the NRSV-CE I featured in my first guest post, which was a guest review of the same. In brief, this NRSV-CE is produced by the Philippine arm of the Society of Saint Paul, and is a semi-study Bible in the sense that it contains the NRSV Concordance, numerous in-text maps and charts, and the text of Dei Verbum, as well as Catholic prayer resources such as popular prayers and devotions and tables of readings and dates. However, it contains no introductions, no cross-references or study notes (though, then again, the NRSV really does not usually contain cross-references, and this edition never claimed to be a study Bible), and the Psalms, most strangely, do not come with titles.
I have mainly consigned this Bible to the house for home-based study and annotation, usually alongside my NABRE, because of the rich amount of resources it contains. It also happens to be the frailest of my NRSV-CEs, which is a no-no when going out or traveling.

2. Harper Go-Anywhere Thinline NRSV-CE
The big brother of my little NRSV with the Apocrypha, this edition is the full-sized Go-Anywhere Thinline NRSV. Full-sized though it is, it’s meant to be a travel-friendly Bible, so it’s similar in thickness to the compact NRSV, an inch or less thick. This comes at the cost of the only study materials being the Concordance, which is better than the Compact edition, which has no study materials at all. However, the Psalm titles are, rightfully, present.

I semi-regretfully bought this NRSV-CE as a complement to my ST PAULS NRSV-CE, given that that wasn’t feasible for taking out of the house to, say, church; and that I was so disturbed at having no Psalm titles. (I’ll also admit that I wanted a leather-bound Bible, genuine or otherwise.) As such, it was supposed to be my main reading Bible, and be it was, until came along…

3. The Catholic Gift Bible (Harper NRSV-CE)
Here at last was the answer, or a partial one at least, to the first two above. I wanted a reasonably portable Bible that had a decent amount of study materials and the Psalm titles. Had I encountered this before the Thinline, I would have bought this already.

As the name implies, this edition is meant to be presented as a gift for special occasions, though I treated it as a gift for myself. This edition comes with a series of essays meant to serve as an introduction, or refresher, to the Catholic faith, with articles about Christian terms and spirituality and Biblical characters – and, finally, an introduction to each book of the Bible. The Concordance is also present, but sadly, no Dei Verbum or in-text maps and charts. At least it serves as a “spiritual” study Bible to some extent, for me.

Now that I had this edition, I decided to gift the Thinline to my then-new business, a membership hub for entrepreneurs, but since not all of us are exactly religious, it got shelved in the storeroom. I am retrieving it first thing when I go to the office, then refurbishing it and gifting it to someone who will appreciate it better.

The Gift Bible is now my default reading Bible, whether simple or contemplative (such as Lectio Divina). The ST PAULS, while extensive in study tools, may inadvertently distract; and the Bible paper bleed is of comparatively poor quality. Additionally, this one is more durable (trust me, if you’re clumsy like I am, it makes a difference). And as mentioned above, it’s full of annotations and highlights. On the contrary, there is not a single mark on my Gift Bible, other than the presentation page contents, though it looks more worn.

Until I got the Compact Thinline with Apocrypha, the Gift Bible was my church Bible (yeah, yeah, our Lectionary here is based on NAB, but I use NRSV nonetheless), but my purpose of requesting for a compact Bible for Christmas was to be able to very easily bring around a pocket Bible when going out or traveling. And so the Compact Thinline is now my default church Bible, although the Gift Bible will remain, for both denominational and spiritual reasons, my main Bible for reading.
Why the same translation, rather than different ones, you ask? Simple: for consistency. While I do support owning multiple translations so you can compare the text for better studying, if you really want to focus on spiritual growth through Bible reading, it’s best to stay in one translation (with just occasional cross-checking from another) so you don’t get caught off-guard.
Have a blessed day!

Allister Chua, or Aloy, 25, is a struggling entrepreneur (with emphasis on “struggling”) from the Philippines who was born and educated, but not raised, Catholic. At the end of a spiritual crisis, he made a conscious decision to stay with and grow in his Catholic faith. Though he speaks none of the Biblical languages or even Latin, he speaks fluent English and Filipino, is proficient in Chinese, enjoys elementary proficiency in French, and is learning Spanish and Japanese. He runs The Daily You, a blog-based institute that advocates living a truly good life through one of higher purpose, rooted in awareness and service.


Unknown said...

I've got multiple editions of the RSV2.. Didache Bible, Ignatius Study Bible (both dead tree and iphone app), Pocket NT/Psalms. I also have multiple copies of the DR (my TAN books and my great great uncle's PJ Kennedy that's 100 years old), Confraternity (NT for me, full copy for when my daughter is ready for it), and two Knox (Baronius and S&W-the latter is available if someone wants one for a rebind project).

Jason Engel said...

I use the Harper Go-Anywhere Compact Thinline with Apocrypha as my daily travel Bible. It literally goes everywhere with me and has for over 4 years. I've also tried every edition of the full size Thinline, but while the type is excellent as a compact 6pt it's visually boring as a larger 9pt. Great Bibles, though, and they are not only line-matched & printed on excellent paper but they did this a full two years before the publication of Cambridge's famed Clarion, which claimed linematching was brand new then.

I use an Oxford 9814A NRSV with Apocrypha when I want a pure reading experience devoid of section headers. Alas, the Korean-printed editions are awful; one must track down a USA-printed copy to have average quality.

I use the 2015 Cambridge Reference NRSV with Apocrypha as my daily reader. It's probably the best NRSV in print today. It's hampered by bad outer margins, but Cambridge claims they will address that with a reprint next year.

I use the New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th edition from 2010, as a portable study reference. It is printed & bound by Jongbloed, the world's best Bible printing company. The 1991 edition may have better layout but I prefer the richer content of the NOAB4. Plus, it's a proper study Bible and not an indoctrination Bible. However, if I'm studying at my desk at home, I pull out the New Interpreter's Bible (12 volume commentary includes full NRSV in the Catholic order as well as the NIV) and the companion New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (5 volume).

I use the Saint John's Bible for devotional reading, lectio divina, and visio divina.

The point of all those "I use" statements is that I believe a serious student of the Bible, like a carpenter, has more than one chisel in his tool box to address different needs.

Allister said...

*UPDATE: The Go-Anywhere Thinline (#2) has already been lovingly re-gifted to my business partner in another business, and I'm glad to say she was extremely appreciative of it!*


@Eric, I've got the Lighthouse app of the RSV2, if we're talking about the same app. Great that I've got both the RSV-CE and the RSV-2CE in my pocket; not so great that it:

1) Is freemium, and you need to pay to get the full set of notes et al (John is free though); and
2) Is presented line-by-line per verse. It's easier to read than the traditional paragraph typesetting but I'm not so fond of it.

Wow, when your daughter's ready for it! I did give my godson an NCV but for more selfish reasons (I was "detoxifying" myself)... but perhaps I should prepare my NABRE for a similar purpose.


@Jason: That Compact Thinline's the same I have! I got it for Christmas upon request very shortly before writing this post, and except for the past week, yes, it also literally goes everywhere with me. Even though I don't get to read it as much as I would like to, the mere presence of it brings me great comfort already - and perhaps that in itself is already a blessing.

I have wanted the NOAB4 for some time already, but it's quite rare AND expensive here, around US$80.00+. Not quite yet within the range of an entrepreneur's modest income...

I get what you mean, and I feel the same way - yet I can't help but gravitate myself to a single "favorite" tool, so to speak. Besides my two remaining NRSV-CEs and the Compact Thinline with Apocrypha, I have a NABRE as well as a Tagalog (Magandang Balita Biblia 2005), French (Traduction Officielle Liturgique 2012), and Japanese (Franciscan 1978) translation, but I lean towards the Compact Thinline and Gift Bible.

rolf said...

I have five versions of the Jerusalem Bible:
1) The Dali illustrated edition in red
2) The brick colored cloth hardcover
3) The sheepskin covered compact (black)
4) The Black french morocco hardcover
5) The Red french morocco hardcover (which I bought on ebay yesterday).

Dann said...


If you don't mind the older editions, I was able to buy both a second and 3rd edition of the NOAB (OT+NT+Apocrypha; I am Protestant BTW) from a Bookstore in Virra Mall Greenhills for about 250 pesos for the 2nd ed and about 400 pesos for the third ed.

I can't recall the name of the Bookstore though I think it might be Goodwill, it's on the ground floor of Virra Mall and I bought them about five years ago. There were plentiful stock, maybe about twenty or so copies back then.

rolf said...

In collecting all these editions of the Jerusalem Bible (listed above), it has really brought to realization the fact that really nice Catholic Bibles are becoming a thing of the past. Yes I know that you can have a wonderful spiritual life with a good paperback Bible which is I started with, but they don't last a long time if your reading out of it twice a day! The Oxford Catholic Study Bible is not currently offered in leather?!? Genuine leather is becoming a thing of the past in Catholic Bibles, sad! If you want a nice Catholic Bible I would start with ebay, most were made in the 1950s and 1960s.

Timothy said...


You are 100% correct. We can't even get a measly genuine leather bible anymore in a Catholic edition. This is another reminder to support those places that make nice editions, both in word and dollar. So, places like Baronius and Scepter need to hear from you all!