Friday, September 23, 2016

The New Jerusalem Bible (Image Books)

I have read a lot of Bible translations in my 30+ years on this Earth - Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. There are MANY Protestant translations. Some are too stilted to read (I'm looking at you King James), and some are too casual to read (Sorry Good News Translation!). Catholics don't have that "luxury" of all the translations. The main versions I can think of are the Revised Standard (RSV) and New Revised (NRSV); New American (NAB) and New America Revised (NABRE); the Douay-Rheims (DR); and the Jerusalem Bible (JB) and New Jerusalem (NJB). Each translation has strengths and weaknesses, and different people have different preferences for translations. I'm not going to tell you which one to pick today, but instead just tell you about about the New Jerusalem Bible as it is one I haven't read before until recently.

The New Jerusalem Bible was published in 1985. It is a hardcover volume that is over 2100 pages long. It is single column format (rare for Bibles, but appreciated) and contains introductions to sections, i.e, the Pentateuch and specific books of the Bible. At the back of the Bible are supplements like colored maps, a chronological table, and various indices (major persons, footnotes, etc.) It has some inclusive language, but doesn't go overboard with it. The pages are somewhat see through, but not so thin that you feel like they will rip merely from turning it. There are tons of cross-references in the margins and the amount of footnotes is impressive. The margins themselves feel a little bit bigger (not much mind you) than other editions, which will give you room for notes, if you are the type of person who marks up their Bible.

Overall, I'm pleased with this version of the Bible and would say if you can get it for a reasonable price (MSRP is $50, but Amazon usually has it for $30), it is a good Bible for someone who hasn't read through the Bible before. The language is very inviting without being casual. It is not liturgical like the NABRE, and not literal like the RSV. It is somewhere in the middle, and what I would call a reading Bible. You won't go into great depth using this Bible as a study tool, but it would be useful for the first reading of a passage and then going deeper with a different translation of the Bible. I could see myself reading this one over the NABRE if I am reading for enjoyment, mainly because it flows better (to me) and the page formatting is much more appealing to the eyes. If I was picking one Bible to read for enjoyment and not in-depth study, it would be this one.

This Bible was provided to me for free by Image Books in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!