NRSV Pew Bible with Apocrypha

Hendrickson sent a copy of this pew bible for review. 

For churches who prefer the beauty and accuracy of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, inexpensive but high-quality editions have been difficult to find. Until now. Hendrickson’s new NRSV Pew Bible combines thoughtfully designed features with a surprisingly affordable price. Boasting better-grade paper, clear and readable type, three pages of updated color maps, and a presentation page, this is a beautifully crafted Bible as well as the most affordable one on the market.

The best judge of any translation is its level of fidelity to the underlying source text.  One can attempt this sort of fidelity by being wooden and rendering word for word but this generally results in a version that is stuttering and unwieldy.  Wooden, as it were.  Which makes for a generally unpleasant reading experience and doesn’t really bring the reader closer to the original, since it at least has the benefit of being sensible and appealing.

Another method of translation is the sense for sense method.  This was the approach of Jerome when he rendered the Hebrew and Greek texts into Latin.  And his version, based on fairly faulty manuscripts, was as good as it could possibly be under the circumstances.

The second best judge of any translation is its ability to break free of the constraints of previous translations.  Some versions turn out to be little more than rephrasings of previous ones.  Think, for example, of the New King James Version and its relation to the 1769 edition which was itself a revision of the 1611 edition.  ‘There’s nothing new here’.  Just the same reading with modernization.

When Jerome translated his edition of the Vulgate it was so different in appreciable ways from the preceding editions (and there were several), there were riots in the street.  By the second measure, then, Jerome’s edition was a smashing success because it so differed from its predecessors that it angered the mobs.

The Revised Standard Version, appearing in the early 50’s, similarly caused uprisings of discontent.  It’s rendition of Isaiah 7:14 led many to find as many copies as they could and burn them in the streets as heretical (merely because the translators followed the actual meaning of the Hebrew word ‘almah’ with ‘maiden’ instead of the very incorrect ‘virgin’ which would have required the Hebrew ‘bethulah’.  Things any first year Hebrew student would know).  In that regard, it too was a departure from its predecessors and for that reason it was a very worthwhile edition.  It, as well, was a faithful rendering of the underlying texts, so that too spoke in its favor.

The New Revised Standard keeps many of the advantages of the RSV and improves them (even if slightly) and is, consequently, a very good edition to use as a pew bible.  The edition under review here also contains the Apocrypha, so that is an added benefit.

The Hendrickson pew bible is printed on nice paper (and not that terrible onion paper too many bibles use), and the font is legible, though not large.  There are a minimum of footnotes and these are variant readings when they are of some importance.  There are no maps, no indices, no frills, no fluff.  This is a bible designed specifically for sitting on a pew and providing worshippers a version they can follow along with when the Scriptures are read.   It is not a study bible.

The binding is firm.  The layout is dual column.  The margins are minimal.  The edition is super.

If your church is looking for a sturdy pew bible, containing a good, reliable, and faithful translation, then this may be exactly what you are looking for.

Or, if you simply want to give a bare bones Bible to a friend or new convert or seeker or young person then this is an affordable and efficient edition.

If, though, you want the best translation of the biblical text, the Revised English Bible remains the king of the English editions.  No translation surpasses it.

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