Bibles I've Read

I was raised Mormon (Latter-day Saint), went on a mission to Northern England and Wales at 19, then left the church of my youth, finally removing my name in 2001. I later joined The Episcopal Church, based on positive experiences with the Church of England and Church in Wales. I am a member of the Verger's Guild of the Episcopal Church, a verger at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark's in Salt Lake City, and an Education for Ministry (EfM) graduate from the School of Theology, Sewanee, University of the South.

I think I was one of those weird young missionaries that had not only read the Bible (1979 LDS edition of the Cambridge KJB), but also had read parts of Asimov's Guide to the Bible (I finished it after returning), and other commentaries both LDS (e.g. Skousen, McConkie) and not, dabbled into what other translations there were, and had a hard bound copy of the Joseph Smith Translation (though it is perhaps better called a purposeful interpolation). Why weird? Though as missionaries we were required to read the Book of Mormon, a Bible reading schedule was optional. The optional study guide I was given walked through the Bible in a year, so twice for a mission, which I followed, though it strained my hour-per-day reading alotment. I already had the habit of reading the Bible, and never wanted to stop.

Notes

This section gives notes only on those Bible editions that I've read cover to cover, and gives my thoughts on each edition. The purpose is to review the edition, but some things about the translation I'll comment on as that is relevant to the experience of the edition. This is a work in progress and will grow and fill in over time (and as I finish new editions). I intend to review other editions as I encounter them, but will add those to a section at the end for editions I haven't thoroughly read.

Review Contents:

The Cambridge King James Bible

Cambridge is not always clear about the contents of their Bible printing in context to other editions they offer, though they're open to questions. There's basically two forms of KJB: text editions and reference editions. The text is in two forms: the received edition found in the Concord Reference edition (and earlier editions that preceeded it), and David Norton's restorative work found in the The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible. Reference editions include portions of the Concord supplementary materials mapped against mostly old typographical layouts. This also means that the older layouts will have older notes and references from the period of the reprint. The Clarion Reference edition is essentially a replacement of the Concord, using a modern typography, paragraphing, and layout. It's not clear if some of the spelling updates from Norton's Paragraph Bible are used, but otherwise it is the received text not the restored text of The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible.

The Oxford 1769 received text is the result of printing variations from the beginning in 1611 and over the years that Oxford and Cambridge has tried to correct. The Cambridge edition of the received text not identical to Oxford's. The 1769 text can be considered an actual revision of the KJB, which is part of the motivation for the formal revision of it called the Revised Version. (The other motivation is moving past the Erasmus New Testament text, as well as Beza and Stephanus, and the Bomberg Hebrew texts, to critical text editions.)

These variations are all documented in Norton's work A Textual History of the King James Bible. As a note with reference editions, the original reference notes are those of the Latin Vulgate as found in the 1602 Bishop's Bible. Where translator modifications or additions might have been made, they are not consistently printed, and referenced verse numbers are not always consistent with the verse numbering of the KJB. The references were extensively corrected, revised, and expanded by Scrivner in the original Cambridge Paragraph Bible. Numerous subtle variations and corrections exist elsewhere depending on printer and edition. These were replaced entirely in the Clarion edition. Norton points out that it is questionable whether there actually is an intended translators reference system for the KJB: instead there is the 1602 Bishop's Bible and a few references that some translators noted that could as much be marginal notes as corrections to the inherited (ultimately from the Vulgate) reference system.

LDS Edition Cambridge King James Bible

LDS King James Bible 2012 edition paperback

I originally read an old copy of my father's 1979 edition. At 18, I bought a genuine leather, mini quad (which includes other Latter-day Saint scriptures) with a snap closure. It lasted the rigours of a mission in England and Wales.

The original work in the 1970s was done by Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Marvin J. Ashton, the latter of which was replaced by Bruce R. McConkie, in conjunction with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints, and Cambridge University Press. I didn't realize that Cambridge had been involved with LDS bible editions until I saw a copy of my grandmother's bible from the 1960s. The text foundation was the Cambridge Concord, where the headers and bible dictionary were used and modified, by permission of Cambridge. The rest, such as indexing and topical guide, also included work by James Talmage and others.

Recent changes in 1999/2000 and 2012 were done for the sake of the original Cambridge plates having aged. I understand the supplementary material (e.g. translator notes, dictionary, JST additions) have been extended and elaborated on, the headers updated, and some modernized spelling (introduced by David Norton's work and advisement that led to the Concord itself being reset for printing in 1996, and later the Clarion edition and the more extensive The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible. The image shown here is of the 2012 economy edition, given out gratis to the public, often by missionaries, which includes nothing other than the Cambridge text, LDS headers, a couple maps, and a photo of Jesus.

In general, the headers and notes present a fundamentalist biblical world view. Most of the references are to the Book of Mormon, instead of the Bible itself, though not exclusively so, with other references to the Salt Lake church's modern editions of Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. Joseph Smith's translation (JST) excerpts are fairly extensive in the new edition.

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is an excellent resource for the classic King James Bible in context of their other scriptures and interpretation, following the Cambridge Concord as a model, and with the 2012/2013 edition there appears to be some spelling influences from the The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible.

Cambridge Cameo KJB box cover

Cambridge Cameo KJB with Apocrypha

I have the Cameo Reference Edition With Apocrypha, Black Calfskin Leather binding. This has a paste down cover, soft leather, but with just enough stiffness to be comfortable, and not too much binding flexibility. Model and bind number is KJ544:XRA - B 1467. It is the only KJB reference edition (that I know of) that includes the Apocrypha. Unfortunately, the references in the text that point to the Apocrypha have been deleted, (these can still be found in The Interlinear Bible). If following the common 1611 prints, 102 references to the Apocrypha in the Old Testament, and 11 in the New Testament, have been removed. Of all the KJB editions I have, or have had, this one I like the most, for size, readability, and comprehensiveness.

This edition has pronunciation markings. It is a red letter edition, with darker but readable red that reminds me of my old Royal typewriter ink. It does not have the translator's preface, nor does it have the Bible Dictionary or Glossary, but does have a glossary and the traditional dedicatory to King James. This is the June 2011 print, so has the 2011 maps and map index. Along with the Turquiose, it is the second oldest layout (photo reprint?) and references/marginal notes from the 1920s (the oldest being The Interlinear Bible).

Oxford Annotated hardcover

The Oxford Annotated Bible

I have the 1 October 1961 hardcover edition. The original RSV came out in 1952 (the New Testament in 1946), published by Thomas Nelson. The Oxford edition contains changes from 1959, and is not identical to the earlier Nelson editions. With nearly 100 changes, it can be considered a small revision of the original, but such seems par for the course with some recent translations (e.g. NLT, ESV). The Revised Standard Version as a translation builds on the English Version (EV), and the American translation recommendations, but with a more readable, less literal, approach than English translations under the British crown and Canterbury, and using North American idiom and vocabulary. Second person archaisms are only used when referencing deity. Use of the Tudor/Danelaw speech in worship did not start until the 1970s.

This is the primary text I read with Asimov's Guide to the Bible years ago. The difference between this and the The New Oxford Annotated Bible is this has the 1946/1959 New Testament.

New Oxford Annotated hardcover

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (RSV)

The RSV Apocrypha was released in 1957, and The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha was released in 1965, and expanded in 1977. The New Testament was updated in 1971. The New Oxford Annotated Bible added the updated New Testament in 1973. The leather edition continues to be released by Oxford University Press, and for genuine leather is a beautiful print and binding, which is larger than the current hard cover print. Annotations and references are at the bottom of each page, and marginal notes are included at the bottom of the text, above the annotations. Headers and color maps are included at the back along with scholarly articles.

Instead of revising the Old Testament with a second edition, the NRSV project was started. The New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV has had five editions.

Catholic Heritage Edition NAB cover

The New American Bible: Catholic Heritage Edition (1971)

The Roman Catholic Church has a long history in English Bible translation going back to the Douay-Rheims prints in England to compete with the Matthew and Great Bible, as well as the Geneva. In the United States, this began with the Confraternity Bible in 1941. When the Vatican II council allowed for the direct translation from the Hebrew (ironic, considering the Vulgate was a direct translation from the Hebrew, not the Greek Septuagint), instead of the Latin Vulgate, this began the New American Bible project. Each new release (New Testament in 1986, Psalms in 1991, and Old Testament/Deuterocanonical books in 2008 leading to the New American Bible Revised Edition) has stopped the publication of the previous editions. The liturgy approved for use in the United States is based on a modification of the 1986 Revised New American Bible (RNAB) edition, and the Liturgy of the Hours is from the original 1970 edition, though will use the NABRE in the future.

I read the original 1970 edition, and my family Bible, the Heritage Edition is advertised as a leather edition, though I think it might be more accurate to call it a bonded leather. It includes pictures, maps, scholarly and pastoral annotations, and cross references, a dictionary at the end, as well as other documents, and red letter in the New Testament. This is a well done study Bible and translation, and of all the Bibles I've read this is my favorite translation, and one of my favorite annotated and study or reference Bibles.

Cambridge Reference NRSV with Apocrypha box cover

Cambridge Reference NRSV with Apocrypha

Over my adult life, this is the most constant translation I've used. Though I've spent most of my time with the Oxford editions, it is the Cambridge Reference NRSV with Apocrypha that has got to be my all time favorite Bible. The Cambridge edition contains the entirety of the translation, headers, and references offered by the translation committee. It includes the Cambridge/Oxford 2011 maps and index. It also has a custom Bible Glossary from Cambridge that seems equal to the Clarion KJB Reader's Companion (essentially a compendium of the Concord's Concordance, Bible Dictionary, and Glossary). The paper is thicker, line matched, and not too large of a size yet very readable. The typography is excellent, with center references. This edition comes in several bindings, and the hardcover is not only well bound but surprisingly affordable.

I have two editions, the hardcover with a perfect fitting Brodart dust cover, and the Black French Morrocco Leather edition (NR 563:XA). If there is any criticism to offer, it is that (with the exception of the 1907-based Cambridge Interlinear Bible), the references do not point to the Apocrypha except within the Apocrypha.


©2022 David Egan Evans.