A response to my previous post “Caprice” from a reader prompted me to take another look at the NRSV. I am very frustrated right now by the choices of nice Bibles from our friends at Harper San Francisco. I don’t know if they’re concentrating on trying to give the young folks what they perceive that they want, or what. They give us imitation leather in various and sundry colors over hardboards for covers, funny shaped Bibles, single column Bibles, small print Bibles.

I’d like to see an NRSV in double column with 12-14 point type, bonded and genuine leather covers in traditional colors, with good cross-references and text & translators notes.

I’m assuming the publisher will get around to those in the near future. I hope!

So I took a look at what I have among my own possessions that have the letters NRSV on them, and found two. There’s a nice reference Bible from Zondervan, hardcover, but with relatively small print, so it’s hard for me to use for any length of time. I then picked up my old New Oxford Annotated Bible that I got sometime back in the mid- to late-90s. I’m not familiar enough with it to tell you if it’s the second or third edition, or fourth, or however many they have now. But for a long time I have detested it because of it’s glaringly-liberal book introductions and articles. Even so, it does have the NRSV for the text, and it’s in a relatively large print.

I began looking it over even closer, and realized that even though it’s hardcover, it’s from Oxford. That means it’s fine quality! I think it may even be a sewn binding! It lays open nice and flat. The paper is fine to the touch. Examining the print under a magnifying glass shows clear, straight lines, a rarely-mentioned sign of good quality. It’s got a good concordance, and the maps … oh, those maps! They’re beautiful and large, nicely readable and they’re even in color. (But they’re not the popsicle colors other Bible makers use, these colors actually make sense!)

I can read this Bible. The text looks to be maybe 10 point, and the notes aren’t much smaller at all. One of my biggest complaints about the NRSV is that it’s almost impossible to find it in a type-size that an old fogey like me can actually read. It’s like they think everybody who reads the Bible has good eyes. And if you don’t, like me, it can be really frustrating. There is some “bleed-through” from the other side of the page and a general gray hue to it due to all the bleed-through from the other pages. I’m not usually bothered by it, but I think some of my blogging friends who frequently complain about bleed-through would find this Bible unacceptable for that reason. I can handle it, though, without much trouble.

I’m still not real fond of the choice of words by the NRSV folks. Sometimes it almost seems like they chose the most difficult way possible of saying something, almost as if they are trying to keep people from understanding it, although I know they didn’t really do that.

So until the good folks at Harper come out with “real” Bibles, this Oxford isn’t too bad to pass the time with. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll actually find that I’m comfortable with the NRSV. Maybe.

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