Thanks to a reader for alerting me that Sophia Institute Press will release the Catholic Reader’s Bible New Testament in two volumes on July 16th. Here are links to the product pages for the first volume (The Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles) and the second volume (The Epistles and Revelation).

The volumes will be printed in single-column format “without all the verse numbers, section heads, comments, references, and footnotes that, while valuable to scholars, clutter up most Bibles today.” The product description says that Bishop Challoner’s revision of the Douay-Rheims (the most common edition of the Douay-Rheims in print) will be used for the scripture text. The cover art for each of the two volumes features the words “Confraternity Edition,” which made me wonder whether the text will actually be from the Confraternity Version New Testament. The product description seems to preclude that possibility, though.

Both volumes will be released on July 16th, with a pre-order price of $24.95 per volume from the publisher. Amazon’s pre-order price is currently $19.95 for the first volume and $24.95 for the second one. Christianbook’s pre-order price is $13.99 for the first volume, but I cannot find a listing for the second volume on their site yet.

29 thoughts on “Coming Soon: Catholic Reader’s Bible from Sophia Institute Press”

  1. Well, this is really interesting – both because I love the concept of reader’s Bibles (it’s about time a Catholic edition came out!) and because this may be the Confraternity version, which I’ve heard great things about but never personally read.

  2. The Confraternity New Testament renaissance would be the most bizarre trend in Catholic publishing, bar none. I own a copy and it is interesting to have a Vulgate translation with no thee’s and thou’s, but i can’t help but wonder if anyone uses it as their daily reading bible.

    I am a big fan of this sort of page layout, but I think I will stick to the Knox and the New English Bible to scratch this itch. The marginal verse numbers don’t distract me anyway.

    1. The Cambridge REB New Testament also has a nice single-column reader-friendly format. It still has verse numbers in the text, but I don’t mind them.

      I’m curious how sales will be for a two-volume New Testament with no commentary.

      1. I’m sure sales will be excellent if they market it well. Just look at how Protestant reader’s Bibles have done, beginning with Adam Greene’s Bibliotheca back in 2014 or thereabouts (they existed previously – I have a KJV set from the 1960s – but weren’t nearly so common as they’ve recently become). The ESV Reader’s Bible is very popular among my Protestant friends.

        1. Those ESV readers editions are gorgeous. I’d get a version with the deuterocanonicals in a second.

    2. I do, and I cannot recommend it more highly. I think it is ranks among the best NT English translations ever made.

      In particular the St. Anthony Guild* editions of the NT from the 1940’s have a wonderful single-column layout as well, which I believe is unmatched by any of the modern Reader’s Editions, achieving excellent readability without having to jettison all the notes or commentary. See:

      (*They had a matching multi-volume, single-column OT, which is quite difficult to find, but the Confraternity OT is a different beast than than the NT requiring a different discussion.)

      1. It’s interesting that Mark Bertrand also refers to the Confraternity Version as the “Challoner-Rheims New Testament” in the link you referenced. One of the commenters corrects him at the bottom of the page. Is that a common mistake? I have never run into a mix-up between the confraternity and Challoner versions before.

        1. I noticed that. Honestly, I don’t get it. I can understand never having heard of the Confraternity translation, but every edition I have seen is pretty plain about labeling itself as what it is.

          In the Sophia case, it may be accidental foreshadowing. I have a suspicion that if if the NT does well this may become a full Bible set , using the Douay for the OT.

    3. It has thees and thous, by the way, just not ‘ye’.

      “You” is used for plural, but thee/thou/thy are retained for the singular to more faithfully represent the original texts.

      For example, St Luke 22:31+ reads:

      “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you [vos], that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee [te], that thy [tua] faith may not fail; and do thou [tu], when thou hast turned again, strengthen thy [tuos] brethern.”

      Obviously without the bracketed parts…

    4. “[T]o have a Vulgate translation with no thee’s and thou’s,” see Ronald Conte’s
      Catholic Public Domain Version (CPDV): “[A] translation of the Sacred Bible, Sixtus V and Clement VIII Latin Vulgate edition. The 1914 Hetzenauer edition of the Vulgate was the main source text. Several other Latin editions were consulted including the 1861 Vercellone edition, the 1822 – 1824 Leander van Ess edition (which compares the 1590, 1592, 1593, 1598 editions of the Sixtus V and Clement VIII editions), and the modern-day Tweedale Edition (London, 2005). The Challoner Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible was used as a guide in translating the Latin text into English. The original Rheims Douai Bible was also frequently consulted.” –

      1. I’ve personally been pretty interested in the CPDV. It has some interesting goals, and I like the idea of having a modern biblical translation from the Vulgate.

        However, Ronald Conte’s really kind of an odd duck. His theological musings seem highly suspect to me. And that combined with the fact that he seems to have no formal education or experience as a translator, at least prior to this work, and no official approbation from any Church authority makes me a bit nervous about using his translation.

        I’ve seen online that he argues vociferously about how canon law does not explicitly forbid a laymen like himself making an independent biblical translation, a case that seems somewhat plausible at least on my surface level reading of his argument as a non-expert in canon law, but even if this is so, just because something isn’t explicitly forbidden by canon law, it doesn’t follow to my mind that it must be a good idea.

        I’m wondering if others, especially those with Latin language skill, on this site have reviewed the CPDV bible at any length, and if so if they detect any especially odd renderings or questionable translation choices? I want to like this translation, but considering it’s source I’m not sure if I can trust it myself.

  3. I contacted Sophia Institute Press on July 8, and was told that the edition(s) will be using the Confraternity text.

    1. Very interesting! Thanks for the info. I wonder why their product description so clearly refers to the Douay-Challoner text?

    2. I find this a bizarre choice. And I say this as someone who owns and loves a pocket NT Confraternity edition. The Confraternity NT is wonderful, but I’d say half it’s greatness is from it’s succinct yet highly informative footnotes. To print a version the explicitly excuses these is a highly strange choice to my mind.

      I’m wondering if perhaps it was the most modern translation that they could obtain the rights to? Does anyone know if the Confraternity is in the public domain?

      It also raises the further question of the OT. Might this indicate that Sophia press has no intention of printing the OT is this format? Because the OT Confraternity is a very strange bird indeed, as much as I might like the Confraternity NT, they went in a completely different direction when the started translating the OT books (ie using the orignal languages instead of the Latin, and dropping the “thees and thous” that I think give the Confraternity NT a lot of it’s charm.)

      Or if they just plan on marrying the Confraternity NT with, say, the Challoner-Rheims OT, I’d say that would be a logical choice, but it would make me wonder why they wouldn’t have just used the Challoner-Rheims NT as well.

      Just my thoughts.

      1. It is public domain. The USCCB did not renew its copyright to the NT after the NAB. I have no idea why they did not, but in this case, I am glad of it.

    3. The description page at Sophia has added the words “Confraternity Edition”.
      Also, the CBD page lists the Gospel/Acts edition as a paperback version, yet lists the hardback ISBN. On the Sophia pages, for both the Gospel/Acts and the remainder of the NT, only a hardcover edition is listed.

  4. What I find strange is to have a prerelease website for this edition, promote the play out yet provide no sample pages in the website? Someone post some images when it arrives, please

    1. On 7/10/20, a rep from Sophia said they did not have a digital file as of yet to post sample pages. He was going to phone me back with added information, but didn’t. When they have access to a digital file, they intend to post it. I understand that this might be Sophia’s first biblical text offering.

  5. The second paragraph is a bit odd. The Confraternity edition is obviously a derivation from, a revision of the DR-Challoner translation, but that seems to say the text will be DR-C. The Bible I probably read most, simple because it’s well made and to hand is a 1958 Westminster Bible. It is somewhat along the lines of the Confraternity case, and has nice illustration. Confraternity with current scholarly notes would be excellent, but this more about ease of reading than advancing the state of the art of Biblical Studies. The parish TLM uses the Confraternity edition, probably as it was to hand, but the PP dislikes trad identity archaicism like Holy Ghost instead of Holy Spirit, so it might be deliberate. I think a DR-C is used to prop up the dodgy lectern on the pulpit.

  6. Previews of the books’ contents are now available on Sophia Institute’s website. They’re overall quite nice looking.

  7. I just compared random passages of each of Sophia Institute’s two new books with that of the
    1941 Confraternity New Testament. They appear to be identical. So that’s a good thing since
    that’s what the Sophia Institute is saying about their new two books.

  8. You know, I wasn’t sure how interested I was in this project until I saw those previews on the website. It looks like although they aren’t using chapter or verse numbering, they are still including the subject headings, like on pg 10 in the preview in the gospel of Mathew where there’s a heading in the middle of the text that says “I. THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS”

    This isn’t what I expected, I thought it was going to be like the Biblotheca project, without any non-biblical text at all. I actually find this fairly interesting. I own a set of the Biblotheca books and they are very nice, and certainly facilitate “getting lost,” in the text. But this kind of project, with the chapter and verse numbers removed, but keeping the headers and including introductions for the individual books strikes me as a much more “Catholic,” way of doing what Biblotheca was trying to accomplish, since I feel that I sometimes find the lack of any thing but the biblical text in the Biblotheca books to be a kind of distraction in an of itself.

    I think removing chapter and verse numbering, but keeping the material that the reader is currently engaged with situated in context might be and even better balance then Biblotheca.

    All this to say, I wasn’t sure before, but now I’m a lot more interested in this offering. Nice job Sophia Press!

  9. Nice and all but unnecessary when mint copies of the 1941 edition of the Confraternity are available from EBay. I was inspired to look one up after reading the link in the first couple of comments and found a Like New one for $9.99. They are out there.

    1. Those St. Anthony Guild editions of the Confraternity and the 1970 NAB have a surprisingly good page layout. Very easy to read.

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