Sunday, February 21, 2016

The New Oxford Annotated Bible - New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Fully revised Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press (Review)

There is a lot in a name, and the New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV with Apocrypha (4th edition) conveys as much. For those familiar with the road map of academically inclined study bibles the New Oxford Annotated Bible series is well revered landmark. The series has provided a consistent delivery of quality translation and supporting textual commentary. The 4th edition continues the tradition, reflecting the most up-to-date research on the biblical text through ample annotation and essays.

Of foremost note is Michael Coogan's assumption editorial duties. This is the first edition of the series since the death of Bruce Metzger. Coogan has left his mark; the content of the annotative notes has substantially changed. Some reader's have detected a shift in the interpretative lens, though this assertion may be somewhat more subjective. Although the NRSV has an Iapetus detailing variances in the manuscript tradition, annotations do not appear to go into much detail about manuscript variance or detail why one textual tradition was followed over another.

The text of the NRSV needs little in way of discussion. Although it is decried by some conservative Roman Catholics and Protestants as having a "liberal agenda," the fact remains that it is the agreed upon scholarly standard across secular and religious spectrum. Further to this point, most persons with knowledge of the ancient languages readily see the logic of the translation and attest to its credibility. Although translation choices can always be debated, the discomfort some groups experience with the NRSV is perhaps better directed at the original text itself.

For those interested in the varying definitions of the canon in Christianity, this edition of the NRSV includes 3 and 4 Maccabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 and 4 Esdras, and Psalm 151. To get a more exhaustive collection, one would have to follow the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church!

The edition sent to me for review by Oxford was the paper back version. Oxford publishes this Bible in other formats, including an extremely well done leather bound edition. The paperback edition will give you a good year of regular use before it looks a little worn and you'll want to consider other options. If this is something you're thinking of buying and will use frequently, the leather edition is recommended - it will handle the use and give you a return on your investment.

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