Oxford NRSV Text Edition

Oxford NRSV Text Edition

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This being the 30th Anniversary of the New Revised Standard Version, it seemed like a good idea to review another one. (This Bible was acquired at my own expense and the review was not solicited by Oxford University Press.)

I am reviewing Oxford’s Standard Text Edition in black genuine leather with two ribbon markers.

Translation

The New Revised Standard Version is one of the two commercially available updates to the Revised Standard Version, the other being the English Standard Version. NRSV is a more ecumenical text offering the Protestant Canon, Protestant Canon with Apocrypha, and the Catholic Canonical Edition. The NRSV Translation Committee boasts members of the Evangelical, Jewish, Mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Communities. Having Jewish Rabbi’s on the Committee, NRSV offers one of the most accurate English Renderings of the Old Testament (In most NRSV this is listed as “The Hebrew Scriptures commonly called the Old Testament). NRSV is the translation that powers the top three Academic/General Reference Bibles: New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Interpreter’s Bible, and the Harper Collins Study Bible and it is the standard English translation at Mainline Protestant Seminaries.

There is some measure of controversy regarding gender language in the NRSV; I do have an opinion on this issue but this is not the forum to discuss that. As a general rule, I find the NRSV to be a good general use translation, it features heavily in my Old Testament Studies. I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusion as to the translation itself, though I assume that if you are reading this, you are amenable enough to the translation to be interested in editions that are available.

General Format

This Bible would fall into the hand-sized category. It measures 8.75 X 6.0 X 1.25 inches. It is a quarter of an inch smaller than the medium or standard size bible (6 x 9 x 1.25). It most certainly fits into to the thin-line category and is very briefcase friendly. By and large, I find this format to be very practical but you do have to be careful of font size as some hand size Bibles can have a font size that is rather small.

Font, Layout, Paper

The font is 8.0 but it is one of the more readable 8-point fonts that are available. This is a black letter text, as most NRSV Bibles are, and the black is a deep rich ebony, which is crisp and uniform throughout. Translation notes are also in black, and they are plentiful. They are in a 6-point font.

The Scripture is laid out in a double column paragraph format. I do prefer a verse-by-verse format but Oxford executes the Biblical layout very well. Verse numbers are a little smallish but this Bible does something interesting with subject headings; they are actually in the footer.

The paper is not listed as India Paper, but it feels very similar to the India Paper that Cambridge uses and it is not entirely illogical to think that this is India Paper. It is very soft, thin but not annoyingly so, and a fairly crisp white gold gilding on the edges. There are tiny instances of show through, especially in the poetry books, but it is very minimal.

Cover, Binding, Ribbons

The cover is black pigskin (Standard as genuine leather). The cover is full grain and very pleasing to the touch, The liner is paste down, which annoys me; I think only bonded leather should include a paste down liner. Genuine leather is the baseline for deluxe/premium Bibles and really ought to include an edge-to-edge leather liner.

Naturally, Oxford has sewn the binding. This Bible is very clearly intended as a daily use Bible and the sewn binding ensures that it will last a lifetime. As it happens, the cover will need to be replaced long before the binding gives out. The binding is sewn very tightly and will require a couple of weeks of use before it will lay flat in Genesis or Revelation, but after a couple weeks of continuous use, it will lay flat in any scripture portion.

There are two yellow silk ribbons provided.  One will mark your Old Testament readings and your New Testament Readings. Clearly it will not be enough if you use this Bible for preaching or teaching, but you can have additional ribbons added by a competent re-binder.

Helps

There are not very many helps; I do not really find that to be a problem. Oxford provides what they refer to as a Select Concordance; it is abbreviated but not inadequate. You will find more than enough subjects for lesson prep.

There are also a few thousand translator’s footnotes. These include textual variants and alternate English readings. I really enjoy translator’s footnotes as they tend to give you an insight into the minds of the committee members.

For Preaching and Carry

The compact size of this Bible makes it ideal for every day carry. It is certainly light enough to prevent you from getting tired arms if using in for one handed carry.

As a preaching Bible, your results will vary. For me, I cannot leave it rest on the pulpit while I preach, I have to hold it. I have a tendency to be peripatetic while I am teaching and the size definitely lends itself to walking and talking. The layout is very well suited to preaching and teaching. I wish the margins were large enough to make some annotations but I won’t quibble over petty details.

Who Should Buy

The NRSV is best suited to those in seminary or to those in mainline protestant denominations (I frequently find NRSV in United Methodist Churches and Lutheran Churches.) This particular edition of the NRSV is very well suited to the teacher on the go.

 

 

 

 

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