Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Friend Paul's Video Review of the NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha (Goatskin)


Unknown said...

Fantastic review! Finally someone got nice and close up on the entire physical bible and also gave details on paper thickness, comparisons with other publishers, etc. Excellent! thank you for sharing this Tim you may have changed my mind with this! Lol!

Rafael Martinez said...

If only a Catholic publisher did the NABRE, or the RSV-2CE in this quality. Baronius Press is great with their Douay and Knox but it isn't as flexible or "sleek" as you could say this is. And since I'm a bit ignorant of the quality difference, what difference does French Morrocan leather have from Goatskin or Cowhide in terms of durability or use?

Rafael Martinez said...

It would be nice if Catholic publishers did the NABRE or RSV-2CE in this quality. And since I'm ignorant of the difference, what difference quality wise does Goatskin have versus Cowhide or French Morrocan leather, like in terms of longevity and usability, since the Goatskin is SO expensive compared to the French Morrocan?

Anonymous said...


From the video, I see that this edition is typeset in 8 3/4 / 9 1/2 point Swift, which is the same as the 2006 edition, however, in 2015 the edition they printed was in 9 / 9 point Swift (according to their website). Any insight on the back-and-forth change?

Michael P.

Timothy said...

I am not sure the reasoning. I also don’t have the 2015 so it’s tough for me to say. Maybe a reader will be able to help.

Corey Cordell said...

@Rafael this is nothing but conjecture because my goatskin one has not arrived yet, but ive heard that the quality of the French Morocco leather varies rather widely. Ive heard nothing but rave reviews about the quality of the goatskin, however.

Rafael Martinez said...

And sorry for the double post. I thought something happened and it didn't post the first comment so I commented again.

Biblical Catholic said...

It looks nice but, I really can't see myself spending $200 on a Bible, or any other book.

Timothy said...

No problem. I have to moderate comments these days, hence the delay.

TSO said...

Tempting for sure, but for that price I'd like to have all my preferences, which for me would be single column pages.

Unknown said...

I’ll never understand why publishers can’t figure this out. Single column, like the clarion editions, are a fabulous read.

Evergreen Dissident said...

The original run of the New English Bible was single column, and that was one of the reasons I was able to sit and read it it for hours at a time. Made a HUGE difference in readability. Alas, when the NEB was published in the mid-1970s as the Oxford Study Bible (with imprematuer!), that went away in favor of dual column.

Corey Cordell said...

I am really looking forward to the compact NRSV that is supposed to come out sometime this Summer. I really like the the Goatskin NRSV, but it is pretty big. I am not sure that I would say it is a bible ideally suited for Lectio Divina or Meditation. The compact may very well be a better fit for those activities.

Unknown said...

Corey.. which compact are you referring to? I am interested as well

Corey Cordell said...

According to Amanda Taylor on Fans of the NRSV Cambridge is in the process of putting the final touches on a compact NRSV. She said that it was expected this would be done some time during the Summer. Unfortunately, that is about all I know. Hopefully, it will come in a similar sort of binding. In particular, the line-matching in the Reference edition is spoiling me. It really is quite hard to go back to reading bibles without it.

Biblical Catholic said...

"I’ll never understand why publishers can’t figure this out. Single column, like the clarion editions, are a fabulous read."

Oh, there is no doubt at all that publishers know that single column is easier to read. The reason why they do double columns is that the Bible is an extremely long book, and single column means that the number of pages will be double, which means that they are much more costly to produce. And when you're talking about a high-quality print edition in leather or goatskin or whatever, the increase in cost by printing in a single column is considerable.

Interestingly enough, the double column format is not new but actually goes back to the earliest days of printing. The Guttenberg Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishop's Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the first printing of the KJV were all double column.

I don't know if this blog will let me post links, but if it does, here is an interesting YouTube video on the history of double columns in Bible printing.

Unknown said...

BC... I understand what you’re saying.. totally. But in this case they have produced a bible that costs well over $200 in a double column format. They could have turned this into a clarion edition and it would have cost the same or even less. So I’m not sure really sure the cost effectiveness is truly in play for this edition?

Will watch that video shortly thanks for sharing that!!

Michael Demers said...

Hello all, check this out.


Biblical Catholic said...

"BC... I understand what you’re saying.. totally. But in this case, they have produced a Bible that costs well over $200 in a double column format. "

And if it was a single column it would probably fill two volumes, each volume selling for $200. Among major Bible translations, the only ones I could find that have a single column format standard are the Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bibles. Remember the original 1966 Jerusalem Bible was originally two volumes and to fit it all into one volume they had to eliminate 90% of the notes. The New Jerusalem Bible has only ever been available in one volume but it has far fewer notes than the 1966 Jerusalem Bible, and the New Jerusalem is probably still the largest, bulkiest Bible in print, and for that reason, it is rather expensive. While you can get most Bibles in a cheap edition for around $20, the cheapest edition of the New Jerusalem, a fact which probably had at least some influence in making the New Jerusalem less popular than the 1966 original.

While cost is the main reason, there is a little more to it than that. Double columns also make it easier to use the Bible as a reference, it is much easier to find a specific chapter and verse. And if it easier to find a specific chapter and verse in two columns, that means it is much more useful for reading aloud in church.

While double columns are not ideal, the thing that bothers me more about the way Bibles are printed is the poor quality paper, which is often very thin and prone to tear when flipping through the pages, not to mention the bleedthrough that is common is you should happen to write something in the margins.

Theophrastus said...

Biblical Catholic wrote:

Among major Bible translations, the only ones I could find that have a single column format standard are the Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bibles.

There are numerous single column Bibles. Here are some Catholic editions:

Little Rock Catholic Study Bible (Catholic edition, study Bible)
NRSV Standard Catholic Edition Bible (Catholic edition, ISBN 9780061689833)

Here are some non-Catholic editions:

Cambridge Clarion KJV (reference Bible)
Cambridge Clarion ESV (reference Bible)
Cambridge Clarion NIV (reference Bible)
Cambridge Clarion NKJV (reference Bible)
Cambridge Clarion NASB (reference Bible)
Cambridge New Paragraph Bible (w/Apocrypha and marginal notes)
Crossway ESV Study Bible (study Bible)
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (study Bible)
NRSV Standard Bible w/Apocrypha (w/Apocrypha)

There are many more, but single column Bibles -- even Catholic editions or editions with Apocrypha -- are not rare.

In the list above, the Cambridge Clarion, the Cambridge New Paragraph, and the NRSV Standard Bibles are not of excessive width -- they are easily handled.

Biblical Catholic said...

" While you can get most Bibles in a cheap edition for around $20, the cheapest edition of the New Jerusalem, a fact which probably had at least some influence in making the New Jerusalem less popular than the 1966 original"

I am unable to edit my comment after it posted, so I have no choice but to reply to myself. What I meant to say is that while nearly every Bible is available in a cheap edition that sells for around $20, the cheapest edition of the New Jerusalem Bible sells for $50, a fact which has probably had some degree of influence in making the New Jerusalem less popular than the 1966 original.

Biblical Catholic said...

"There are numerous single column Bibles. Here are some Catholic editions"

I didn't say that the JB and NJB are the only single column Bibles in existence anywhere in the world, I said that they are the only ones I could find which are single column 'in their standard editions', i.e. that they are the only translations I could find that are available ONLY in single column editions and for which it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a double column edition anywhere.

I can't help but notice that almost all of the Bibles you listed are 'special editions' that are much more expensive than most other Bibles. Which kind of proves my point that single column Bibles tend to be more expensive than double column.

The basis for that claim was that I made an exhaustive search of the Bibles that I myself own, opened them up, and counted how many of them are in single column format. I don't collect specialized editions, I only collect the cheapest, standard editions. Which is why I said that JB and NJB were 'the only ones I could find.'

Although I do have to modify my list, because I just checked my Knox Bible, and it too is single column. But again, that is a more expensive Bible.

Also in a single column is my copy of the New Catholic Version New Testament, but since that isn't a full Bible, I'm not sure that really counts.

So, the only Bibles I have been able to find where the text is in only one column are specialized editions or editions that are much more expensive than most other editions.

TSO said...

I'd buy in a heartbeat a Cambridge Clarion NRSV (reference Bible) if ever they put one of those out.

Theophrastus said...

Biblical Catholic's comments are italics:

"So, the only Bibles I have been able to find where the text is in only one column are specialized editions or editions that are much more expensive than most other editions."

Look at this edition. It is Catholic, single column, one handy volume, and currently sells on Amazon for $12.67 (admittedly, quite a markdown from the list price of $27.67.)

An aside: note that the top reviewer of that NRSV Catholic edition is some guy named Timothy McCormick who describes it as "Almost Really Good!"

"My point [is] that single column Bibles tend to be more expensive than double column."

Now, I think we should compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. The video review was about a premium Bible (like the Clarions), made by Cambridge (like the Clarions) with a premium goatskin binding (like the Clarions), and with references (like the Clarions). However, at, the single-column Clarions are cheaper than the two-column. I would posit that this is because the Clarions have a more compact page size, and thus require less of the expensive binding materials.

I further posit that the extra money a luxury Bible customer pays is not for single column, but rather for the binding (in this case, a goatskin binding from a top bindery in Italy).

If you want the Cambridge edition in hardcover, Amazon will sell it to you for $39 (not that different from other Cambridge hardcover Bibles.)

Or, if you want to buy a super-cheap edition, you can buy a Catholic single-column NRSV for $12.67.

In particular, the claim "if [the Cambridge NRSV Reference were] a single column it would probably fill two volumes, each volume selling for $200" appears to be unsupported.

The bottom line is that premium Bibles can easily cost $100-$200 (whether they are single column or two column), and hardcover Bibles can be had for $10-$40 (whether they are single column or two column).

Probably the main thing standing in the way of Cambridge producing a single column goatskin Clarion NRSV w/Apocrypha (or a Clarion Catholic NRSV) is that their marketing department apparently does not see a sufficiently strong demand yet for luxury Catholic Bibles. If one "only collect[s] the cheapest, standard editions", (which is an entirely worthwhile and reasonable position!) then one is definitely not in the market for luxury Bibles.

But the fact that Tim was sent sample copies perhaps indicates that someone at Cambridge was aware that at least some corners of the Catholic world desire fine bindings on their English Catholic Bible translations.

David said...

Just to clarify, how is the Cambridge NRSV Reference Edition with Apocryphathis different from the NRSV Standard Catholic Edition?

owenswain said...

Single column bibles for Catholics.

Never far from hand is my very non premium, non classy yet actually used paperback The Message Catholic/Ecumenical. (Dear Eugene Peterson, I've known you on both sides of the Tiber (as "they" say) and you're a gem, you just are.) Available in paperback and hard cover, not expensive as bibles go.

The Common English Bible, CEB (one third of the translation team is comprised of Roman Catholics - one third of that number are women) is newer to me and, just wow. After hearing a version of the bible I did not recognize, used in a sermon (by a Protestant friend) I did that Internet Search thing we do and picked up a Used hardcover Study edition. It sees daily use. The Deuterocanonicals (RC) and Apocrypha (separated as such with notations about which groups consider which scriptures to be canon). I plan on getting a single column reader CEB when a good price shows up even though those editions do not yet have the Deuts (they are quite reasonable single column bibles, even so, I'll hunt a deal). Meanwhile, an RC version is available digitally, therefore single column and cheap (which I'll take a pass on and The Bible is one book I simply must have it its old trunk-of-a-tree form. I'm growing to really appreciate the CEB for many reasons and Tim would like me to do a guest post but I've declined because I like my silence and sanity far too much.

And, I have a very dear to me 1966 Jerusalem Bible (share a tale about that in the comments of the post preceding this one), single column which I like to go to now and then. Hardcover editions of the JB as a reader are still out there and can be had at reasonable prices with some searching.

Oh, and good ol'KNOX, yes, single column. I don't use it much but I'll always keep one KNOXing about for I'm grateful for the impact Ronnie had on my thoughts at the time he did.

Oh, there's a very lovely formatted single column NRSVCE hard cover by Harper. When it was new it wasn't expensive at all. I have one but can't recall the last time I used it. I should sell it, yes.

And, that's it. I have had (almost) every conceivable translation out there. Moved through them all. Had my periods of it-must-be-premium or bust but that's so, SO over. None of the above are remotely premium editions and the first two I use daily.

I had a limited edition Little Rock Study NABre (which is single column), which I gave to someone who would actually use it. We were both happy.

I've not a few, in very good condition, some premium RSV(CE, CE2nd)s NRSVs (including rare Moroccan leather NT&PP and a getting hard to find single column Catholic ed, hard back), an RJB leather over board in a matching slipcase, a Clarion KJV and NKJV, NAB, NABre, some NONRSVs of various vintages, a now rare pocket Ignatius RSV2 NT, a mint wide margin ESV, a pitt minion compact ESV (not CE, sorrysorrysorry) and on it goes. I won't use any of them and just haven't gotten 'round to selling (I don't have an eBay account and won't -- and offing them to a Thrift shop seems criminal, though I may get over my pride one day). So if you, good reader of Timothy's blog, are interested in offering something reasonable, let me know or let my pal Tim know and he can put us in touch.

I have a 1998OXNRSV/A, minty mint. I'm keeping that for practical reasons (NRSV-adapted is the liturgical text in my country) and personal reasons,(like I said, personal :))

Francesco said...


Its curious that instead of thanking Theophrastus for pointing your towards single-column editions of major translations (which you said you were only aware of existing in JB and NJB editions) or responding by saying something like "thanks, what I actually meant was something else" you assert that you made statements you never made or even suggested. Its not implied in your post above that you were referring to your personal library and the "standard edition" qualifier only appears in your most recent comment.

If I might make a suggestion, it would be to consider what you write and how it is interpreted by others. I don't have the good fortune of knowing you in person but the persona you represent here is of someone who needs to dominate every conversation. Most of the rest of us accept our human capacity for improvement and therefore don't take correction as an insult or a negation of ourselves. Perhaps the current season of Lent can be a time to reflect on this?

Matthew Doe said...

There is little difference in absolute size of a printed text set in single and double columns, respectively. Most definitely there is no doubling of the size! Slight gains one might make from less empty space at the end of a paragraph in double column form are eaten up by the space one has to leave between the columns.

Everybody can try this out for themselves. Just copy an arbitrary long text from the internet, say a Wikipedia entry, into Word and flip between single and double column layout. Your page count is unlikely to change much.

There are two basic reasons why bibles are often printed in two columns (apart from tradition). First, bibles are often printed in small font, because bibles are long books. If you print in small font, then a single column line of text can contain a lot of words. It actually increases ease of reading to break a line after about ten words, and so the two column format as such is actually easier to read - at small font sizes.

Second, bibles were books mostly for professionals (priests...) for a long time, professionals who needed to find the right verse quickly. The two column format makes it easier to start each new verse on a new line, simply because there are twice as many new lines in the same space. So it is a better design for looking things up or reading only from one specific verse to another.

Hence, if you want to make a compact bible mainly by employing a quite small font and/or if you want to find specific verses quickly, then for ease of use you should prefer a two column bible. Whereas if you prefer a large font size, sacrificing compactness for better legibility, and/or are into continuous reading rather than jumping around between verses, then you should prefer a one column bible.

Biblical Catholic said...


I am not a rude person by nature rude, and I never stay in a place where it is clear I am not wanted. I am a gentleman and do not force my presence on anyone, ever. So, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I promise not to post on this blog again for a period of at least 3 years. Assuming this blog is still here, I will see you again no earlier than Feb 27, 2021. Thank you again for bringing this matter to my attention, and have a good life.

Timothy said...

Let us remain at peace, BC and Francesco. I think comments on blogs, emails, and texts are always poor indicators of an individuals true intentions. I appreciate both of your contributions here and to see more in the future.

Anonymous said...


Got my copy yesterday and, unfortunately, the corners of about 30 pages were creased. Working with Cambridge to get a refund because the title is no longer available to get a replacement.

We'll see if it comes back in print.

Michael P.

Theophrastus said...

A few quick remarks:

I do not find BC to be rude. I hope he reconsiders his decision to stay away, as I enjoy his contributions, although we sometimes have different opinions.

Francesco, thank you so much for kind words. I'm looking forward to reading more of your comments.

David, the Cambridge and Harper Bibles single column NRSVs are quite different -- the Cambridge is made with better materials and is a reference Bible with quite a bit of supplementary materials. The page format is different too -- the Cambridge has a larger double column page, while the Harper has a single column format. The Cambridge uses the American NRSV and the Harper uses the Anglicized NRSV. The Harper is a Catholic edition and the Cambridge is an ecumenical edition (with books not part of the Catholic canon). The single column format is particularly useful for reading the poetic books. This Amazon link has a (non-Catholic) NRSV with the "look inside" feature if you want to see the format of the Harper.

Anonymous said...


Update: Cambridge informed me that this will be back in stock later this month and will send me a replacement. Very happy about this. Glad I purchased directly from Cambridge University Press. Great customer service.

Michael P.

Timothy said...