Part Two: Other Considerations
In Part One, I gave you my ideas about choosing a translation for your personal Bible reading. But translation is just the first step in the decision-making process. When you get to the bookstore, you’re going to find a vast array of publishing differences within each translation: print size, cover type, paper thickness… cost.
You can actually buy a paperback NAB for less than $7.00. Sounds like quite a deal, doesn’t it? It is… until you discover that the fine newsprint pages tear easily when you turn the pages, and the spine of the book is glued and the whole thing comes apart easily. Then you’re going to set the thing back on the shelf and what good will that do anyone?
By the same token, unless you’re Daddy Warbucks, you don’t want to run out and spend a couple hundred dollars on your first Bible, either. Even if you were Daddy Warbucks, I wouldn’t recommend throwing money away like that; it’s bad stewardship.
You can get a decently-bound vinyl (imitation leather) cover NAB, or a quality paperback RSV, new, for less than $20.00. That’s probably a reasonable place to start.
You see, there’s an aesthetic consideration to this business. You want the Bible to feel good in your hand while you’re holding it. You want it to feel balanced. You want the cover, whichever you choose, to feel pleasing to your fingertips. A cheaply-bound Bible will have you clutching at it, trying to prevent it falling to the floor in a scattering of loose pages. A cheap cover feels tacky to the hand. You’ll find yourself fidgeting with it, and that will distract you from reading. It will create in your subconscious mind an aversion to reading, which defeats the purpose (but the Enemy would delight in). A quality paper cover or a well-made “imitation leather” cover will feel secure and comfortable as you hold it; you almost won’t notice it at all. And that’s good.
And since no one has money to waste in this day and age, I do recommend going with one of those options while you get started. Once you know you want to stick with a particular translation, you can invest in a quality leather-bound Bible for … a bonded leather Bible RSV, Compact Edition (be warned: SMALL PRINT) can be bought new for less than $30.00. The prices go up from there. Ignatius Press has a leather-bound RSV that feels like butter, it’s so soft and pliable, and it just drapes in your hand in the most luxurious manner… Sigh. I don’t have that one. I have a mid-sized, standard-print bonded leather RSV and a heavy, real-leather Douay. They’re not luxurious, but they are very comfortable, and they are standing up well to the hard use I give them.
I also have a leather-bound Compact Douay that I tuck into my suitcase when I travel. But compact Bibles have small print, and I’m almost at the age of having to abandon that one, even with bifocals (I’m too impatient to hold a magnifying glass).
So – those are the things I think about when recommending a Bible to someone. Take your time. You don’t have to sneak in and sneak out (one hopes) as if buying a Bible had become an illicit activity. Stand there a minute – or sit, if the store is courteous enough to have chairs – and handle the Bibles. Read from them – a Psalm, a portion of a Gospel. If you find yourself reluctant to stop once you’ve started, that’s a very good sign you’ve found a good Bible for you, but the whole point here is to feel comfortable, not intimidated by reading. Okay?
Next up: How to read this new Bible.