Thanks to reader Mike Borges for alerting me that Dynamic Catholic has now published their complete RSV-CE Bible. This Bible is available in paperback for $19.95 and leatherette for $39.95 (plus shipping) from the Dynamic Catholic website. I contacted Dynamic Catholic to request a review copy, and they generously offered to send a copy of each edition! I just received them today, and I’ve spent some time familiarizing myself with them.

These bibles are a very nice size to hold in the hand. The paperback edition measures 5 1/4 X 8 3/16 inches, and the thickness is about 1 7/16 inches (just under 1.5). The leatherette edition has a slightly larger footprint, since the cover extends beyond the edges of the pages. The leatherette measures 5 3/4 X 8 9/16. Its thickness is about 1.5 inches thick.

Both bibles have the exact same typesetting and page layout. The paper quality also appears identical between them. All pages are line-matched, so ghosting is not a significant problem. I noticed a least one place where the lines on subsequent pages didn’t line up with the lines on the page I was reading (even though the lines on both sides of each page were in fact aligned properly), resulting in more ghosting than normal. But it wasn’t terrible, and it didn’t interfere with reading.

Compare the ghosting on the left hand page with the ghosting on the right. The lines on previous pages are all perfectly matched, leading to less ghosting on the left page. The lines on the subsequent pages are not perfectly lined up with the right page, though, leading to more ghosting. For readability, this is a minor defect, and I wouldn’t expect anything better at this price point.

The font size appears to be about 8. I placed the bible side-by-side with my Cambridge hardcover REB, which uses size 8 font, and the text size was very similar. The Dynamic Catholic RSV-CE has broader spacing between lines, though, which makes for easier readability.

Left: RSV-CE, Right: Cambridge REB

Both editions offer a glued binding. The leatherette edition comes with a single, double-sided, 1/4 inch, green ribbon.  Both editions feel reasonably nice in the hand. The leatherette is not glossy — it feels almost like imitation suede, although it is not quite as soft as suede. The paperback cover is also not glossy, but it also doesn’t feel like raw paper. It has some type of treatment that gives it a nicer feel in the hand.

The paperback opens wider and stays open more easily than the leatherette, which feels like a tighter binding. The leatherette cover is pasted to a paper liner, and the resulting hand-feel is stiff. The lack of flexibility in the liner makes the leatherette material wrinkle near the spine when open:

Note the wrinkle to the left of the spine as the leatherette cover lies open

The stiffer binding in the leatherette edition also makes it difficult to open the bible wide enough in some cases. The margins are narrow throughout the bible, and text tends to flow into the gutter, especially in the leatherette edition:

On the other hand, where this text layout truly shines is the Psalms, where a single-column format allows the poetry to stand out:

As a final note, this bible contains the textual notes and footnotes that are printed in most editions of the RSV-CE, but they are all placed in a single appendix at the end of the bible. Notes are signified by a superscript letter in the text.

The notes in an appendix

Overall, I’d say these editions are reasonable options to carry with you for everyday bible reading. The font is very readable, and the single-column typesetting with generous line spacing is excellent. If you can deal with the small text size, this could be a good choice. I would recommend purchasing the paperback and foregoing the leatherette edition, though, since the paperback edition is not as stiff, it opens wider, and it doesn’t have the unusual wrinkling near the spine noted above. The one argument in favor of the leatherette edition is that it will probably be more durable than the paperback over time, but since both offer a glued binding, the durability of the leatherette edition is not as good as an Ignatius RSV-2CE in either hardcover or bonded leather.

8 thoughts on “First Look: RSV-CE Full Bible from Dynamic Catholic”

  1. This might well be an excellent edition, but given that I already own at least half a dozen copies of the RSV, in various editions, I cannot really see myself getting another one.

    1. Yes, I was disappointed they chose the RSV-CE instead of the NABRE or even the RSV-2CE. Of course, if they chose the NABRE, they would get stuck printing all the notes, which would make a single-column edition like this excessively thick.

      1. Or the ESV Catholic Edition, but perhaps I wish for too much. Although I own as many copies of the ESV and the NAB as I do of the RSV, probably more, but I would spring for another ESV if they published the Catholic Edition.

  2. I am looking for a single-column Catholic Bible and on the face of it this looked like it might be the solution, but with it not being able to lay flat and with durability concerns this doesn’t seem like the solution, unfortunately!

  3. Hi Keith, have you looked at the HarperOne NRSV bibles? I’m working on a post about them which should be on the blog later today, in fact. They make a very nice hardcover single column NRSV with Apocrypha. They also have a Catholic Edition, but I don’t recommend it because of excessive ghosting through the very thin paper. I’ll have more details in the upcoming post.

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