Ascension Press released the Great Adventure Catholic Bible (based on Jeff Cavins’ influential Great Adventure Bible Study) in September of 2018, and the first printing quickly sold out. I purchased a copy soon after the initial release, and I posted my review here. Many aspects of the bible are very nicely done. The imitation leather cover (called “alpha cowhide” on Ascension’s website) is very good quality, the paper is opaque, the printing is large and readable, and the colorful information pages and bible timeline tabs offer good resources for anyone who is beginning to study the bible. Unfortunately, the bible I received featured a glued binding, rather than a sewn binding. At a price of nearly $60, this was a major disappointment, and it led me to recommend alternative bibles like the Oxford Catholic Study Bible (for serious study) or the HarperOne NRSV Standard Bible with Apocrypha (for a good quality bible with a nice type-setting).

About a month ago, reader Michael P. mentioned that he contacted Ascension Press to ask whether they plan to release this bible with a sewn binding in the future, and Ascension replied that the bible is already printed with a sewn and glued binding. I contacted Ascension for more details and included a picture of the glued binding on my bible (which arrived with a split in the binding when I first received it). Ascension promptly sent a replacement bible. As the photo below shows, the new edition also has a glued binding:

A replacement edition of the Great Adventure Bible with a glued binding.

I exchanged emails with two customer service representatives before Christmas, both of whom assured me that the Great Adventure Bible is printed with a sewn and glued binding. When I provided photos of the replacement bible, one of the representatives promised to look into the matter further. I have since sent two follow-up emails over the course of a few weeks with no response. With no further information, I am forced to conclude that the Great Adventure Bible continues to be printed with a glued binding.

10 thoughts on “Update on the Great Adventure Catholic Bible”

  1. I happy to hear they send you a replacement bible, but disappointed to find out it still doesn’t have a sewn binding. I was almost ready to buy one, thinking it had a sewn binding. Oh well.

    Michael P.

  2. I don’t think we are looking at this Bible in the context of its intended use. First, it contains two elements. The elements are a $20.00 Bible and integrated within it study materials, for a specific Bible Study. The stand-alone study materials cost about $40.00. (Look at Ascension Press site for cost of study materials) Hence we have $60.00; a fair value. So if you are relatively new to Bible Study, and don’t have a good Bible available, and are joining a Great Adventure Bible study group this may be the perfect Bible; or rather text. The price is right and the materials are immediately at hand.
    I think the excellent Great Adventure Bible study (or something like it) should be a pre-requisite for starting out the study of the Bible. In a Catholic High School using this program, this Bible would be the right text book. As a stand-alone Youth Study Bible; I don’t think this paper medium would be appealing to today’s young people.
    For my purposes the excellent $5 fold-out timeline, available at Ascension Press, and a $55 Bible, of my choice, would be a much better investment.

  3. Ignatius Press publishes bibles with sewn bindings in this price range. For a glued binding, this bible is priced about 50% too high (shouldn’t be more than $40), in my opinion.

    Michael P.

    1. Agreed. It is sad that many other bibles (read: non-Catholic), are available with a high quality binding, durable, classic, and meant to stand the test of time. I spoke with a Catholic store owner when the GACB was first available. I spoke of my concerns (mostly, poor quality). The store owner agreed that the Bible was too high-priced, and it seemed geared to an audience who would benefit from the GACB add-ins, and felt a separate book could have been published, to sit next to a justifiably priced Biblical text. In addition, the very heavy-handed marketing style (buy it now, as it will soon not be available) has turned me off most markedly. I find it in poor taste in relation to selling a Biblical text.

  4. I’m sympathetic to Jim’s points. The Great Adventure Bible has some important positive points. Aside from the binding, I can’t find much fault with it. In most other ways, it offers excellent quality and features. The excellent paper and print quality juxtaposed with a glued binding make me swing back and forth like a teeter-totter. At times, I wonder whether the binding is really all that important. I know a person with an old paperback NAB (with a simple glued binding) that has been extensively used. I haven’t seen any pages falling out of it, despite years of use. In many cases, I think glued bindings can hold up surprisingly well.

    On the other hand, I can’t shake the thought that a glued binding is an unnecessary cost saving measure in a bible like this. When the HarperOne NRSV Standard Bible can offer a sewn binding, imitation-leather-wrapped hardcover, and nice type setting for less than $20, I’m scratching my head at why Ascension can’t do the same at $60. The glued binding doesn’t fit the production quality of all the other features in this bible. I also have to confront the fact that the Great Adventure study inserts are relatively sparse. This bible has far fewer study resources than even a normal NABRE with its standard translators’ notes and introductions. Granted, the Great Adventure resources are better geared toward someone who is just starting out with bible study, so they may be more approachable than the NABRE notes.

    Another point of comparison is the New Jerusalem Bible study edition (sometimes called “big blue” because it is printed in a large blue hardcover in the US). It has a glued binding like the Great Adventure Bible, but it offers exceptional study materials. The introductions are masterful at presenting scholarly information and offering explanations of how scholarship can be squared with traditions. In many ways, I think the NJB study edition remains one of the best study bibles for Catholics. And it retails for around $35 on Amazon. I would be hard pressed to recommend the $60 Great Adventure Bible — with fewer study resources — over the $35 NJB.

  5. The print is generally pretty good, but my copy does have several pages with very faint print. The quality control of Ascension press does not seem to be exemplary if this is anything to go off of, especially if one includes the split binding Marc had in his copy.

  6. The Second edition of this Great adventure Bible does have a sewn binding as well as glued it is a very well-made Bible. If you look in the pages you can actually see the sewing. It also now has a leather cover.

  7. I just bought my own today, and it is indeed sewn together! I have the regular sized leather bible.
    I purchased on 2/26/23, so if that helps anyone looking into getting one, it is very obviously sewn together.

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