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NA28 editions (ESV, NRSV, REB)

January 29, 2013

My heart sunk a bit a few months ago when I saw that the NA28-ESV diglot published by Crossway – I had feared that this would be the official replacement for the wonderful NA27-RSV diglot published by the German Bible Society (or the interesting NA27-NET diglot).  As it turns out, my fears were unnecessary – it appears that the German Bible Society is putting out an edition of the NA28 with both the NRSV and REB translations, which will be useful on all sorts of levels.

Crossway has been very active in publishing all sorts of editions, but as I previously reported, their edition of the ESV together with BHS was a stinker. 

(I do not wish to belabor the point here, but I should mention that I have long held the opinion that the RSV and NRSV are better translations than the ESV, and I also take issue with the narrowness of the ESV panel.  On the other hand, I continue to be impressed by Crossway’s success in marketing the ESV and making it available in a wide array of formats.)

Of course, all of these diglots are a bit anachronistic, in the sense that none of the translations mentioned (ESV, NET, NRSV, REB) used the NA28 as source material – they all used previous editions of Nestle-Aland. 

But I am happy to see that the appearance ESV diglots reflect Crossway’s ambitious publication program rather than any sort of imprimatur from the German Bible Society – which instead is publishing with the NRSV and REB edition.

(See also my co-blogger J. K. Gayle’s remarks on the NA28.)

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2013 1:54 pm

    In other news, I was also pleased to see that as of this moment, the top sellers in Amazon’s Books->Christian Books & Bibles->Bibles list include some serious academic texts:

    #1 New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV)
    #4 Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV)
    #8 Catholic Study Bible (NABRE)
    #15 Tanakh (NJPS)
    #16 Gospel Parallels (NRSV)
    #17 New Interpeter’s Study Bible (NRSV)

    with the Jewish Annotated New Testament (NRSV) and Jewish Study Bible (NJPS) also doing well (but in different categories).

    Of course, the high position of these volumes is likely because Spring semester is starting at many schools, and these are textbooks.

  2. January 30, 2013 7:11 am

    Of course, all of these diglots are a bit anachronistic, in the sense that none of the translations mentioned (ESV, NET, NRSV, REB) used the NA28 as source material – they all used previous editions of Nestle-Aland.

    Thanks for the link and even more for this post, Theophrastus. You make an important point about the disjuncture between placing the Greek of NA28 alongside English translations that don’t even translate the updated Hellene. At least a publisher should hire an editor to footnote in the English where the Greek is new and different.

    Also, since you bring up in your comment the Tanakh (NJPS), did you see Jonathan Sarna’s post, “The Jewish Translation That Rewrote the Bible After 50 Years, Is JPS Version Getting Old in the Tooth?“?

  3. January 30, 2013 11:09 am

    Yes, I saw that. I know that JPS has repeatedly made statements about wanting to make a new Hebrew Bible translation, but since there financial situation is a bit difficult now, I thought they were putting it off for the present. Nonetheless, a new translation would offer many opportunities — some of which may be worth mentioning in another post.

    While a translation with the JPS seal may not be forthcoming soon, there is quite a bit of activity in individual and group Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible; perhaps the most prominent example is Robert Alter’s efforts. These efforts have substantially increased the number and diversity of English Bibles.

  4. March 2, 2013 10:12 pm

    Dear Theophrastus,

    On Timothy’s CatholicBible blog you have often praised the (o.o.p.) Oxford NRSV w/D&A. Are you able to briefly note any differences known to you between the 1995 edition and the 2003 edition? I have a line on the former.

    My thanks,
    Owen

  5. March 4, 2013 12:05 am

    Owen — thanks for asking!

    I’m not familiar with the 2003 or 1995 editions — for editions w/Deuterocanons-Apocrypha (with the NRSV) that I know of are:

    1991 — 2nd edition (first with NRSV), edited by Bruce Metzger and Roland Murphy

    This edition can be considered as an updated and expanded version of the 1977 RSV w/Deuterocanons-Apocrypha edited by Metzger and May (which is still in print) applied to the (then new) NRSV text. The annotations are briefer (thus making this more of a “reader’s Bible”) and tend to be written in a way that is more respectful of a wide range of Christian believers. If you like the Metzger’s RSV, you’ll like this.

    2001 — 3rd edition, edited by Michael Coogan (w/Brettler, Newsom, Perkins)

    This edition was a complete overhaul to the classic Metzger volumes. This edition features longer (and sometimes redundant) annotations. The annotations can be regarded as more secular (or, put negatively, less pious — some critics call them more “liberal,” although I don’t think that is really a very precise term) than the Metzger volumes. This version was largely an attempt to recapture much of the college textbook market that had been lost to the HarperCollins Study Bible (1996), which was widely regarded as a much more scholarly (albeit rather secular).

    2007 — 3rd “augmented” edition, edited by Coogan (et al)

    This was a stopgap edition that featured the addition of black and white maps at the end of some book introductions. It appears to have been designed to counter the 2nd edition (2006) of the HarperCollins Study Bible.

    2010 — 4th edition, edited by Coogan (et al)

    This edition builds on the third edition with much lengthier annotations, and is designed to compete with the HarperCollins. This version continues the “secularization” trend of the 3rd edition and HarperCollins. The version was completely overhauled in design, and I think for the worse. Text was no longer right justified, paper is super-thin, and the font of annotations I find hard to read. (However, the redesign makes the volume considerably physically smaller than the third edition.) This is the easiest volume to buy, since it is the current one in print.

    Which one should you buy? I guess that depends on what you are using it for. If you are using it to read the Bible (especially if you have access to a good Bible dictionary), I think the 1995 edition was a high-water mark of sorts in the series. Metzger was a particularly elegant editor, and the terse annotations help explain with a minimum of digression. However, if you are reading to prepare for advanced secular Biblical studies, or in a secular college setting, then the 3rd or 4th editions (or the HarperCollins Study Bible) will perhaps be better.

    I would not pay more than about $30 for either the 1991 or 2010 editions, though. The 2010 edition is currently available in hardcover for $28 from Amazon; the 1991 edition tends to run at about $10 – $25 (depending on condition) on the used market. The 1991 edition is not hard to find online.

    If you are near a decent library, it probably has copies of all of these editions. I’d go there and see what best suits you.

  6. March 4, 2013 1:35 pm

    Dear Theophrastus,

    You’re a gem. Such a thorough answer. Thank you.

    I realize that I obfuscated and sent you down an unnecessary trail, however the information you provided me is still helpful.

    No wonder you are unaware of the 2003 or 1995 editions NRSV w/Deuterocanons-Apocrypha because I named the wrong Bible. I own the NOAB/NRSV/D&A 4rth edition (based on comments some time ago on Timothy’s blog). I am not much bothered by the “secular” focus because I am well versed in particular (even partisan) devotional/pastoral/pious having 20 years in as an ordained evangelical and now 8 years in the Catholic Church.

    I confess to being one of those former Protestants who remains a Bible translation and notes geek who collect and reads’em all. My wife is overly kind toward my accumulation of texts but purchasing another edition of the NOAB… my present her with an occasion to sin.

    That said, to my own surprise I find for a variety of reasons that I am settling down with the NRSV and am thus collecting and using(!) suitable editions. It doesn’t much matter to me (as it was did) to have to have a “Catholic” edition of a translation which until recently in terms of study notes has largely meant nothing more that the Catholic arrangement of the books. I digress; pardon.

    So, it was the 2003 and 1995 of the New Revised Standard Version Cross Reference Edition with Apocrypha (Anglicized Text) (Nrsv Bible) to which you had linked in a comment on CatholicBibles. Now, I have on route to me, a happily cheaply procured edition of Timothy’s favourite, The Cambridge and have a line of a not expensive copy of the 1995 edition of the NRSV Cross Reference but the question may now be best expressed as,

    As I will have the latter soon in hand is the former, in either the 2003 or the 1995; is the referencing substantially different to warrant it and if so is your preference to the ’03 or the ’95 or either/or.

    I know, totally geeked out.

    P.S. I am very interested in The Jewish Annotated New Testament and have appreciated your comment contributions in that regard.

  7. March 4, 2013 1:47 pm

    Owen, I’m sorry — I completely misunderstood your question.

    The quick answer is that I do not know the difference between those two editions — I have the later one, and it has a rather full set of cross references (the cross-references themselves are quite old — I don’t have my copy in front of me, but I remember the front material stating that the cross-references are from an earlier Oxford Bible published in the first half of the twentieth century.)

    If you like the NRSV and you like cross-reference Bibles, this is a definite winner. I would not be surprised to hear that both the ’03 and ’95 are outstanding.

    Are you familiar with http://www.bookfinder.com ? I find it a useful source for searching for used books. It is currently claiming that one can buy the ’03 new from Amazon.fr: listing here. That may be a spurious listing, but it might be worth a try (I’m had luck before buying “new old stock” English books from Amazon.fr and Amazon.de.)

  8. March 4, 2013 1:59 pm

    I just did a bit of Internet sleuthing, and looked at the copyright page of 2003 volume (which you can see using the Amazon.co.uk listing and the “look inside” feature): listing here.

    It does not mention a 1995 edition. Looking further in the “Explanation” (of the cross-reference system) it mentions that the cross-references were newly developed, but based on the 1898 Revised Version.

    So my guess is that the 1995 Oxford edition you have a line on is not related to the 2003 volume.

  9. March 4, 2013 3:45 pm

    Thanks for all that virtual legwork. Good to see the actual pages.
    Sounds like the 2003 then is the one I would want.
    Final question then and I understand the answer may be somewhat subjective but –

    Comparing the 2003 Cross-Reference in question with the Cambridge NRSV linked above (“Timothy’s favourite” Bible) do you feel the references are substantially different in any way; perhaps in terms of how they measure up in the Deuterocanonical/Apocrypha books?

  10. March 4, 2013 8:48 pm

    As far as I know, the Oxford Reference NRSV is the only reference NRSV that includes cross-references from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament to the Deuterocanons/Apocrypha. So, I do not think the Cambridge is comparable to the Oxford. (I haven’t tried to count the cross-references, but I think the Oxford may have about ten times as many cross-references in total than the Cambridge).

    Of course that Cambridge is a classic “Cambridge-style” leather soft-cover Bible. I think many Bible aficionados have formed strong opinions for or against leather Bibles (my opinion is leather softcovers tend to be expensive, hard to store, hard to open flat, and high-maintenance compared to well-made hardcovers or many “faux leather” soft-covers).

    But, if you are a fan of leather Bibles and the NRSV w/Deuterocanons-Apocrypha, then the Cambridge may be the best choice.

  11. March 4, 2013 10:47 pm

    “the Oxford Reference NRSV is the only reference NRSV that includes cross-references from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament to the Deuterocanons/Apocrypha.” That is significant. Thanks for noting that. I just assumed this would be the case with the Cambridge because it has the D/A.

    The cross-references to the D&A are important. “the Oxford may have about ten times as many cross-references in total than the Cambridge” That’s huge. I’m afraid I assumed the Cambridge would do that.

    I confess to being one of those Bible types who has always preferred that leather aesthetic. It’s rather pathetic though I don’t mind a good faux and in recent years there has been a good range of such in the bible market. I should have asked you my question *before* being draw by the Cambridge leather – even though it was a good price.

    Man, have to give this some thought.

  12. March 4, 2013 11:21 pm

    P.S. the other killer (since I didn’t check this out first) for me with the OR.NRSV.D/A is that it *is* Anglicized. That and the above that you have mentioned far outweigh leather from Morocco.

  13. March 5, 2013 12:02 am

    Here is a sample page spread from the Oxford: link

    If you look at the “excerpt” link in Christianbook’s listing, you can see the page layout of the Cambridge edition: link

    You’ll see the Oxford has lots of cross-references — and lots of cross-references to the D/A. On the other hand, the Oxford is just an ordinary hardcover, and it is out of print.

    Good luck with your book hunt!

  14. March 5, 2013 11:42 am

    Thanks again for your thoroughness.

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