The One Bible, One Year Challenge… Success?

Dear readers, I don’t want to jinx it, but I may have found the one. Yes, you heard me right. I may have stumbled upon my “perfect” bible, as far as bibles go. Is it possible? Could the One Year, One Bible Challenge be back on? I’m crossing my fingers that the answer is yes.

Last month I stumbled upon the Christmas gift I’d given up for lost. Of course that crispy Benjamin was just burning a hole in my pocket until, lo and behold, I spotted a Cambridge NRSV Popular Text (with Apocrypha) on sale at Since I was already in the market for a Greek New Testament, I decided to give it a go.

'Slightly Imperfect' Cover

‘Slightly Imperfect’ Cover

The only caveat was this bible was listed as “slightly imperfect.” Thankfully, what Christianbook considers “imperfect” is actually a great deal. The product itself is not defective, but the personalization is misprinted. Christianbook covers the name with a matching foil color and sells these bibles at a discount. Rather brilliant, right? You can see the foil covering on the right.

So what about the bible itself? First, it is an “anglicized” and “with Apocrypha” version, so that may not be your cup of tea. I read enough British literature that it’s not bothersome, although British quotation conventions take some getting used to. I’ll probably end up posting a nerdy exposé about British grammar things at some point…

The text is printed in a very clear, consistent serif font on creamy paper. I did a comparison with the NRSV Reference, and while the Popular Text is nowhere near the quality of older Cambridge bibles, its paper is still miles ahead of your typical bible paper. Oxford ranks a close second, but I think Cambridge wins this round. Just look at this beautiful layout:

Crisp, dark Lexicon No. 1 typesetting

Crisp, dark Lexicon No. 1 typesetting

Even though its only an 8 pt font, the text is very easy to read. I’m legally blind in one eye, so readability is always a concern—so many wonderful bibles rendered unusable with microscopic font sizes! Thankfully, this text is perfectly readable unless you have severe vision problems. In that case, Cambridge sells a Giant Print Set, although I don’t know if it includes the Deuterocanon.

This is a text bible, so there are no extras. This is the biblical text with minimal footnotes, similar to what you’d see in an Oxford RSV-CE, but without the prayers or presentation page added. I’m already loving this for devotional reading—it’s simple and doesn’t distract from the Scripture.

If you are a note-taker, this bible has great margins and plenty of space for notes. Well, this is more true of the prophecy and poetry sections, but the individual lines are well-spaced enough to allow for at least underlining in other places. It is not a cramped layout. The French Morocco leather is thick and feels good in the hand, although I will agree with many others that it is stiff. This bible does not lay flat on a table, but the extra stiffness keeps the bible from flopping in the hand. I can’t decide if I like it or not. I like bibles that lay flat, but I don’t like bibles that flop in the hand. You can’t have everything, I suppose.

The bible has one thick, red satin ribbon. Cheap ribbons are my pet peeve—this is not cheap. Cambridge wins in my book, if only for the ribbons. There’s nothing worse than having a nice book ruined with a cheap ribbon—like having a delicious meal without hot rolls. Who wants that? The gilding is also well-done, though it’s flaked a bit in places where it stuck. Still not as well-done as the NRSV Reference, but again better than most.

Overall, I like this bible and plan on making it my daily reader. At 9″ x 6″ or so, it’s very portable and not the least bit heavy. This is a bible you’re expected to carry with you; in fact, the page numbers correspond to the lectern edition, so all our Anglican-Christian friends can follow along in church! What a smart idea—maybe someone will make a Catholic version soon.

Until then, dear readers, God bless you all and keep you well as we approach Holy Week and Easter Vigil. In the words of John’s Gospel, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:3-5) As we reencounter the Light this Easter, join me in praying for our Elect who will soon be entering our family.

In His Sacred Heart,



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