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.

ESV w/Apocrypha is underneath the ESVCE

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.

Sirach (or Wisdom of Sirach)

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!

15 thoughts on “A Brief Comparison of the ESV w/Apocrypha and the ESVCE”

  1. I’m excited to see this comparison, Timothy. How would you compare the amount of ghosting in each of these bibles? I’ve been frustrated by the amount of ghosting in the Augustine Bible.

    1. I think it is similar, although the paper in the ESVCE makes the ghosting a tad less of an issue compared to the ESVA. I still remember how bad the ghosting was with the various NRSVs that HarperOne put out over a decade ago. I am not having as big an issue with the ESVs comparatively.

  2. R. Grant Jones is a bible reviewer on Youtube–probably the best one I’ve seen–who did a very interesting review of this bible. He felt very positive about it. I think what most of us will find interesting is that he notes several places where the ESVCE is different from the ESV. Very similar sorts of changes as between the RSV and the original RSVCE. I highly suggest checking out this video if you are interested in this edition.

  3. I found the ESVA from Anglican Liturgy Press to be such a disappointment. Glued binding with a smaller font for the Deuterocanonical books. The out of print Oxford University Press edition from a few years ago was much better though the ghosting was a bit distracting. I’m holding out hope that the Augustine Institute will sooner or later release a leather-bound edition of the ESVCE. If not, they will follow the trend of other publishers and release the ESVCE with some faux leather cover that can be shipped off to Leonards as a rebind project.

    1. Mike,
      Yes, I do hope Augustine Institute does a good job with promoting their new Bible and providing some different options . It doesn’t have to be many, but a nice thinline would be great. A reference one, at some point, would be good. And I would imagine they would love to do a legit study Bible. We shall see.

      And yes, I remember the dreadful ghosting on the the Oxford. Oh my.

  4. Timothy,
    It’s great to see you posting on this and similar topics. I would visit your Catholic Bibles Blog probably every day seeking new information on anything having to do with the Catholic Bibles universe. Just yesterday I was looking at your post on comparing the ESV and the NRSV. I have no doubt that the Augustine Institute has plans in the works for everything you mention. My dream Catholic Bible is for an ESVCE in single-column layout, line matched, 9-10 size font, opaque paper, with a goatskin leather cover. You can tell I’ve been influenced by bibledesignblog.com

    1. Thank you so much Michael! Good to always see you post your thought .

      The ESVCE you hope for would be an amazing bible. I would definitely get it. I’ll be honest, one of the reasons that the MSGCE is my daily devotional bible is due to the format. I love interacting with the page, particularly due to its single-column and the margins for personal annotations. I do love Peterson’s way of expressing the scriptures too, and think the MSG works well for personal prayer.

      But an ESVCE single-column would be pretty fantastic. The current paperback will work for other situations, like teaching and study, but it isn’t going to make the soul impact that my current MSGCE is making. It is funny, a number of the authors I am currently reading often have the ESV and MSG as the two bibles they cite from.

  5. I should have also mentioned that if you are thinking about ordering the ESVCE, I would recommend going with Amazon. I initially placed an order through catholic.market, which is associated with the Augustine Institute. They charged my debit card but sent no invoice. It has been well over two weeks without any contact from them, even though they have my money. I attempted to reach them in two different ways, without success. My order from Amazon took about a week.

    1. My order from Catholic.Market arrived yesterday. I don’t mind waiting longer, but an email invoice would have provided a bit more certainty that the order was being filled.

  6. I am a little disappointed by the content because I thought you were going to compare the text, give us an idea of what changes have been made between the ESV and the Catholic Edition. Not your fault, I just misread it. I’m still interested in a discussion of that.

    1. BC,

      I hope to do that once I read enough of the ESVCE. There are some places that have done that, particularly on YouTube. I just don’t have the time right now with everything going on. But perhaps in the summer.

  7. Thanks for the solid review Timothy. I may have to pick one of these up.

    With the sewn bindings and all it sounds like they have a solid base product to build in. I hope they follow it up with other covers. A good faux leather cover might be nice.


  8. Tim,
    The ESVCE is not the latest edition of the ESV (2016). Do you prefer earlier ESV editions or the 2016? Thanks.

  9. Hi! Good review! The Augustine Institute already came out with a hardback and bonded leather editions of the ESVCE. Have you seen them? As to the text edition that was used in the ESVCE, it was indeed the latest 2016 Text Edition. You can verify it by reading Gen. 3:15-16.

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