The much-anticipated new editions of the New Revised Standard Version — Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE) from Thomas Nelson’s Catholic Bible Press are now in print! The product page on Thomas Nelson’s website lists the details for all four new editions: the journal edition, gift edition, large-print standard edition, and personal-size standard edition. I recently purchased the personal-size standard edition in burgundy leathersoft (imitation leather) from ChristianBook, and I received it yesterday.

In my view, this bible is a home-run for Thomas Nelson. It does an excellent job balancing the preferences I often talk about in bible reviews. The size is eminently portable and suitable for reading in-hand. It measures approximately 8.9 X 5.75 X 1.25 inches — roughly the same size as the Augustine Bible ESV-CE:

Thomas Nelson NRSV-CE Personal-Size Standard Edition (top) and The Augustine Bible ESV-CE (bottom)

To compare with a few other editions, this bible is notably smaller and more portable than the Cambridge NRSV with Apocrypha in burgundy goatskin which was released in 2018, but a little larger than the Cambridge REB with Apocrypha in French Morocco (which is no longer in print):

Thomas Nelson NRSV-CE Personal Edition (top), Cambridge NRSV with Apocrypha in burgundy goatskin (middle), Cambridge REB with Apocrypha in French Morocco (bottom).

The imitation leather on this edition is excellent — similar in quality to the Great Adventure Bible RSV-2CE and the Nicholas King Bible. These are all examples of soft, flexible, imitation leather which is truly a worthy substitute for the feel of good genuine leather, rather than the plastic or rubber-like covers on bibles like the Dynamic Catholic RSV-CE or the CEB with Apocrypha in imitation leather. Here are a few photos of the Thomas Nelson NRSV with the Great Adventure Bible:

Thomas Nelson NRSV-CE Personal Edition (top) and Great Adventure Bible (RSV-2CE) from Ascension Press (bottom)
Thomas Nelson NRSV-CE (left) Great Adventure RSV-2CE (right)

This bible has a simple presentation page inside the front cover and the introductions penned by the NRSV translation committee, the Oxford team which produced the Anglicized text of the NRSV, and an introduction to the NRSV Catholic Edition. I had hoped that the Personal Edition and the Large Print edition would feature the original US text of the NRSV, since the product website didn’t mention that they would be anglicized. This edition definitely features the anglicized text, however. For the most part, this makes a minor difference to American readers, primarily in spelling of various words.

In some cases, though, it introduces words that are inaccurate in an American context. For example in Mark 2:23, when Jesus and the disciples are walking through a field of grain, with the apostles picking grain on the sabbath, the anglicized text changes “grainfields” to “cornfields” to conform to British usage. To an American ear, corn refers to a specific plant (otherwise known as maize) rather than grain plants in general.

The presentation page inside the cover of the Thomas Nelson NRSV-CE Personal Edition.

The bible features two large ribbons (one burgundy and the other gold), gold gilded page edges which are decent in quality, and a sewn binding.

Headband, ribbon markers, page gilding, and sewn binding.

Thomas Nelson created a new font called “NRSV Comfort Print” for this edition. The personal edition uses size 9.5 font, and I can confirm that it is significantly larger and bolder than the size 8 font in my Cambridge REB with Apocrypha:

Thomas Nelson NRSV-CE Personal Edition (left) and Cambridge REB with Apocrypha (right)

The text is line-matched, and ghosting of text from nearby pages seems well-controlled. When I first opened this bible, my heart sank when I looked at the font. The typesetting and page design looks dense and unappealing. I quickly realized that the font is very readable, though. This is a case where the designers opted for something that is functional over something that looks beautiful, and it was a sensible decision. I’m impressed that they were able to combine such a large font with manageable ghosting in a thin form factor. They’ve clearly worked to balance everything here in a way that is commendable.

I’m very impressed with this edition. If you are looking for a simple, portable bible with no commentary notes and easy-to-read print, this is a great choice. The sewn binding and excellent imitation leather add a lot to the quality of this edition.

16 thoughts on “First Look: NRSV-CE Personal Edition from Thomas Nelson Catholic Bible Press”

  1. I don’t even know how many copies of the NRSV I already have, including commentaries probably at least half a dozen. I definitely won’t be buying a new one until the update.

  2. For what it’s worth, I am not a huge fan of the mandatory “this Holy Bible is presented to” page.

    I have a fair number of bibles (i.e. I’d have difficulty counting them), but nearly all of them have been bought by me. Wouldn’t it be better to have this included as a sticker that can be used if someone is presenting a bible to someone else, and otherwise doesn’t have to be used.

    1. I agree! I like the sticker idea. Furthermore, Thomas Nelson has a separate gift bible where the presentation page makes sense. But it doesn’t seem necessary in a personal edition which many people will buy for their own use.

  3. I like the binding and raised spines of the cover, but the column width is just too narrow. The REB bible in the comparison photo has a much better column width.

    1. Good point. The column width is too narrow for most lines of poetry in the psalms. Almost every double-column layout has that problem, but in this case, the bible designers did not try to minimize it. It was a necessary consequence of the other design features they were going for: compact size and large bold font.

    1. No, the presentation page pictured above is the only dedicated space for personal details. There are several blank pages at the end of the bible which could be used for that purpose, but they are not marked for any particular purpose.

  4. Where can I find this Thomas Nelson Personal edition NRSV-CE? I have searched the internet to no avail? Any help would be appreciated.

  5. These are actually published by Catholic Bible Press, the Catholic imprint of Thomas Nelson which is probably why it may be difficult to find when searching. Great review

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