Since the publication of the ESV back in 2001, many have clamored for a Catholic edition or at least one that included the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals books. It was almost ten years ago that Oxford published an edition with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals but that soon went out of print. This first attempt was appreciated by many, even though it had some issues of ghosting and extremely thin paper. Yet, it was great to have it as an option and it opened up the possibility of future editions. Now, with an actual ESV-CE in print (but not available in North America), some are waiting for it to be published here. Until then, there is a solid option available right now, at the reasonable price of $21.95 from Anglican Liturgy Press.
Coming in at around 6.5X9.5 inches in size and 1274 pages, the ESV w/Apocrypha can serve either as your new favorite ESV or the perfect temporary ESV edition until the ESV-CE gets a US publishing date. The ESV w/Apocrypha is a solidly made bible, even with its unfortunate glued binding. It is advertised as a “pew edition” with a black cover and gold foil stamping. In my hand, it does have the feel of the typical parish hymnal. Compared to the earlier Oxford Edition, it is far more readable in my mind, with a clearer type, more space in the margins, and better paper. Ghosting is far less a problem with this edition. At the bottom of each page you will find textual notes, alternate renderings, and direct Old Testament quotes cross-referenced as found in the New Testament. The only thing missing, in comparison to the Oxford, are a set of Bible maps.
The Apocrypha is placed after the New Testament, much like the Oxford. They are arranged according to canon, with Tobit through 2 Maccabees being first, followed by 1 Esdras to 4 Maccabees. What you will immediately notice is that the entire Apocrypha section is a font smaller than the rest of the Bible, indicating the lesser importance given by Anglicans to them. This is all explained in the Apocrypha Preface, specifically citing from the Church of England’s 39 Articles of Religion. According to the publisher: “Anglican theologian Dr. J.I.Packer, General Editor of the ESV Bible and Theological Editor of the ESV Study Bible, and ACNA Archbishop Emeritus Robert W. Duncan, prepared the Prefaces and Introductions to the Bible and the Apocrypha.” Personally, I doesn’t bother me that the text is presented in that way, though a few might object.
Overall, I think this is an upgrade to the Oxford edition, with my only caveat being the fact that the binding is glued. If the ESV is on your wishlist, this might serve you well until something better comes out. If you are looking to just have a basic ESV w/Apocrypha for reference, this might be the perfect edition for you.
On a personal note, I am curious what the appeal is for Catholics concerning the ESV. Perhaps that question is for another post, but I have read large portions of the ESV and I just don’t see how it is in any way superior to either the RSV (in any edition) or the NRSV. I would love to hear from those who admire the ESV in the comments, along with any questions or thoughts concerning this edition.