Now that the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has approved the English Standard Version — Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) for their new English-language lectionary, new editions of the ESV-CE have begun appearing from publishers in the UK. A few months ago, I purchased a hardcover ESV-CE from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK). Other editions are also available, including presentation editions for First Communion and Confirmation, as well as a deluxe soft-tone edition. The MSRP for these editions is quite reasonable — generally less expensive than similar Augustine Bible ESV-CE editions from the Augustine Institute at current exchange rates.
In this post, I’ll compare the SPCK hardcover ESV-CE to the paperback Augustine Bible. My copy of the Augustine Bible is from the earliest printing, so it’s possible that some improvements have been introduced in more recent printings. If any readers have updated editions with improvements, feel free to add more information in the comments.
Summary of Features
To begin, here’s a quick summary of similarities and differences between these editions:
Common Features of Both Editions:
- sewn binding
- double-column text layout
- similar paper quality
- minimal notes (only translator’s notes — no explanatory notes)
- no book introductions
- foil-stamped cover art
- printed in Italy
|SPCK Hardcover ESV-CE||Augustine Bible ESV-CE|
|Physical Size||9 1/2 X 6 3/8 X 1 3/8 inches||9 X 6 1/16 X 1 1/4 inches|
|Text Size||9.5||About 8|
Overall, the SPCK is a slightly larger edition in all dimensions with noticeably larger font and line-matched text. I’ll showcase side-by-side photos of the editions in the following section.
To begin, here are a couple of photos showing the cover design on each edition. Both books have embossed cover art with either gold or silver lettering and designs. The SPCK features “Catholic BIBLE” in very large silver letters on the spine.
Both bibles have a sewn binding, and the SPCK edition features a ribbon marker. The hardcover editions of the Augustine Bible also feature ribbon markers, but I do not have one on the shelf to show in a photo.
The front matter for both bibles features the same Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from the Indian bishops conference, but the SPCK edition includes additional lines recognizing the typesetter (2K/Denmark — which is a common typesetter for high-quality and premium bibles) and the printer (Lego in Italy, which prints some editions for Cambridge University Press). The Augustine Bible was printed in Italy, but the copyright page does not specify if the printer was Lego. The SPCK also includes copyright lines for the anglicized text of the ESV, while the Augustine Bible does not.
Below is a side-by-side comparison from the Psalms in each Bible. The poetry sections are good places to check for ghosting of text from the back of the page or from subsequent pages. In my opinion, both editions have moderate ghosting. They are both readable, and the paper quality is quite similar between them. The SPCK edition is line-matched, so the ghosting should be slightly improved over the Augustine Bible. Incidentally, the chapter numbers are enormous in the SPCK edition.
Here is a similar comparison in a section of Ezekiel with a mixture of prose and poetry:
Overall, the SPCK edition is a good quality Bible with a sewn binding and larger font than the Augustine Bible. Since the price is currently lower than similar hardcover options from the Augustine Institute, I think it’s worth considering for anyone interested in the ESV-CE. It is also line-matched, which should improve ghosting. I would be interested in knowing more about the differences between the anglicized ESV text and the original ESV text. Most likely, the differences are relatively minor — similar to the anglicized NRSV.