Released in 2021, the New Revised Standard Edition Updated Edition (NRSVUE) incorporated more than 20,000 changes to the NRSV text. While currently available through only a handful of publishers, most notably Zondervan and Hendrickson, thankfully our friends at Cambridge University Press are beginning to roll out their own editions of the NRSVUE. Look for Cambridge, in 2024, to publish their full versions of the NRSVUE, hopefully with the same quality as found in their earlier NRSV Reference Bible w/Apocrypha, ESV Diadem, and the ESVCE Cornerstone. Until then, Cambridge has happily released a handy standalone edition of the NRSVUE Apocrypha.
This collection of the Apocrypha contains the full Catholic Deuterocanonical canon along with 1 Esdras, The Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 Maccabees, 2 Esdras, and 4 Maccabees. They are arranged according to four groupings based on ecclesiastical canon. Complete with a “Preface to the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books of the NRSV Updated Edition” prepared by the Society of Biblical Literature, this slim volume presents a readable text that provides the reader an opportunity to encounter both the inherent complexities of translating the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books as well as the style and translation choices specific to the NRSVUE. As the Preface states: “The NRSVue includes a considerable number of changes to the Apocrypha. Because there is no single critical edition of the books in this collection, the team made use of a number of texts (vii).” The Alfred Rahlfs Septuagint (LXX), completed in 1935, remains the base for much of this translation, but other Greek texts as well as the Qumran (DSS) manuscripts are used and noted in the textual notes.
For those specific Catholic Deuterocanonical texts, the Preface explains that the book of Tobit is translated from the “longer Greek tradition (preserved in the Codex Sinaiticus), while taking the Qumran manuscripts and other ancient witnesses into account (vii).” The three additions of Daniel come from the Theodotion. The full Greek LXX version of Esther is provided, following Robert Hanharts 1983 edition. Sirach, also known by various other titles including Ecclesiasticus, has “an especially challenging textual history (vii).” The Preface goes on to note that while they follow the Greek text of Joseph Ziegler, the Qumran and Syriac versions played an important role in the NRSVUE translation. Sirach is the perfect example as to why it is essential to have an edition like this around in order to do more in-depth analysis of these texts. There are a number of pages in Sirach which contain upwards of ten or more textual notes showing you the differences between the Greek and Hebrew versions. With the greater availability of various textual traditions concerning these books, a volume like this is invaluable.
In addition to the usefulness of this edition, the volume itself is pleasing to read and easy to take with you. This sewn hardcover has a beautifully designed smooth cover. The image on the cover is taken from the walls of a home in ancient Herculaneum, preserved thanks to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The pages (248 in total) are printed on thick, white paper that is line-matched. All together, you have a volume which minimizes any issues of ghosting. Typesetting is by Scribe Inc. in a 9.5/10.5 Minion Pro font. The book is printed and bound in Italy by L.E.G.O. (Vincenza).
I am confident this volume would appeal to two groups of people. The first group would consist of those who are interested in analyzing the complexities of translating the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books and the various textual issues that surround it. The second group would be those who are not completely sold on the NRSVUE translation, but would like to have a physical text to read through before committing to getting a higher-end edition sometime in 2024. If you fall into either of these camps, I would encourage you to consider picking up the NRSVUE Apocrypha from Cambridge University Press. It is a lovely volume and one that I will be keeping close to my other bible study materials for 2024. The NRSVUE Apocrypha comes in hardback and externally looks very similar to the original NRSV Apocrypha from Cambridge, but it is slightly larger, with a new typeface. Having seen the previous version, I much prefer the layout of this new one. The NRSVUE Apocrypha is available now at a retail price of £15.99/ $23.99.
I want to thank Cambridge University Press for providing me with a copy of the NRSVUE Apocrypha in exchange for an honest review.