A couple weeks back I decided to order the Augustine Bible (ESVCE) from the Augustine Institute. I was initially skeptical of this release, mostly due to the high price point for a paperback and my overall curiosity as to why so many are attracted to the ESV. I also had a copy of the Anglican Liturgy Press edition of the ESV w/Apocrypha (ESVA), which I reviewed last year. So, to be honest, I did not plan on ordering it. A few things changed, first I re-read Marc’s first look review of the ESVCE in conjunction with watching a few YouTube video reviews. Most importantly, however, the price dropped $20 to a much more manageable $29.95. So, I pulled the trigger and ordered it. Having read and prayed with the ESVCE over the past few days, I am glad that I did.
What impressed me, almost immediately, was the feel and look of the ESVCE. The slipcase, which I won’t likely use once I get a bible cover, is beautifully made and has a classic feel to it. The bible itself is probably the best produced Catholic paperback bible I have ever owned. (Yes, I know its only a paperback but when there are no premium Catholic bibles you get excited even when a paperback is created with care.) The fact that it has a sewn binding (which of course gives me hope that there will be a good quality leather ESVCE at some point) allows it to be more durable and usable than the average paperback bible, but also the fold-out extension cover makes it more sturdy and firm when using. It is also nice to have a set of quality bible maps in the back.
Looking at the opening pages of the bible, I appreciated the introductory foreword and introductions that complemented the standard ESV one. Unlike the RSV-2CE from Ignatius Press, the Augustine Institute (and the translators from India) have provided useful information about the bible’s textual basis and philosophy of translation. I am hopeful that they will be good caretakers for this translation.
Comparing the ESVCE with the ESVA, the ESVCE is a bit more readable. Fortunately, both editions lay flay when opened, the ESVCE due its sewn binding and the ESVA because it is a hardcover. Although I prefer a hardcover over a paperback, the fact that the ESVA is glued makes the gutter of that bible more restricted than the sewn ESVCE. I also notice some stress in the spine of the my ESVA, which makes me wonder if it can handle regular use. I will say that the outside margins of the ESVA seem to be a tad bit larger compared to the ESVCE. Both editions have the same textual notes and cross-references of direct Old Testament quotes found in the New Testament.
Neither of them are line-matched, but that hasn’t been a huge problem for me. The paper in the ESVCE is of a better (and brighter) quality than the ESVA, while the print being a bit more defined and bold in the ESVCE. (The ESVA was printed in the USA, while the ESVCE was printed in Italy, make what you will of that.) In general, for most of the ESV I don’t find a huge difference between the two, but I would still give the ESVCE the nod due to the paper quality. That isn’t the case for the Deuterocanonical/Apocrypha books. As was noted in my review of the ESVA, and which is clearly visible in the above photo, the ESVA elected to print the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha in a smaller font and place them after the New Testament. In the ESVCE, they are integrated into the Old Testament (with the Maccabees at the end of the historical books thankfully) and in the same font size.
As it stands now, the ESVCE is a better option for Catholics. It will be interesting to see how the ESVCE is promoted in the coming years by the Augustine Institute. It seems that they have lovingly adopted it as their bible moving forward, so there is hope for future quality editions. Of course, as with any Catholic publisher, it is important that those who like the ESVCE to support the Augustine Institute by purchasing their ESVCE. I can say, without reservation, that this paperback is well-worth the $29.95 price tag.
Many blessing to all of you during this Easter Season. Stay safe and close to the risen Lord!