Monday, September 26, 2016

Tyndale Select Black Calfskin (Review)

Just about a year has passed since Tyndale re-launched their premium bible line with their flagship translation. During this time, the Goatskin edition found itself amply represented in the world of Bible reviews, while the slightly less expensive calfskin edition was greeted with some rather understated fanfare. A year on since the general exuberance over the release of two premium editions of the NLT (the other being Schuyler's Caxton), it seems appropriate to revisit the Tyndale Select and focus on the less represented calfskin edition. With the aforementioned wave of exuberance now subsided, we can be afforded more perspective than is usually found in the initial months of a new release, and perhaps walk a way with a more refined appreciation of the final product.

To begin, I often feel as though an apologia for the NLT is often required before I say anything more about it. There is, I admit, a fair bit of head scratching when I mention the NLT and it frankly boils town the incongruence of someone who knows the original languages making time for a translation that most people consider a paraphrase.

While it is true that the NLT does not shy away from making the occasionally gloss on the text when the translator sees fit, it should be noted that:

  1. All translation is a compromise between literal fidelity to the original language and literary cohesion with the new host language
  2. Literal or stilted translations do not in of themselves ensure fidelity to the original language where the original language of a text is dependent upon connotation, contemporary context, or poetic allusion
  3. Even the venerable Septuagint occasionally veers in the direction of paraphrase                       
The calfskin is soft and smooth to the touch, though the past down liner prevents any real flexibility. The grain appears to be natural/unpressed.

As you can see above, the block is not edge lined. If you are familiar with edge lined Bibles, you can see where the stress is placed. Still, my sense is that the binding is sufficiently constructed for daily use.

The paper is the typical fair Jongbloed provides for its Cambridge editions and, all told, this is a very typical example of a well produced Jongbloed volume. Jongbloed is consistent in the type of Bible it puts out, and to some extend one knows what one should expect. This being noted, this volume is, to the best of my knowledge, the first example of Jongbloed's calfskin binding I've held. It seems thicker than a goat skin bound volume, a bit more body and heft.

Reading experience is where the Tyndale Select shines.

The typeface of the book block is just about pitch perfect. Typography, line matching, page layout, the Select scores perfect in every category. Indeed, a year on, it seems almost impossible to fault this edition's book block. To this point, I defy you to find a bible with better typography. Be it the calfskin or goat skin edition, I suspect one would be hard pressed to find a better example of typography.

The two black ribbons included with the Select remain one of the best design choices. Although the actual make could be improved upon, the decision to use threaded ribbons as opposed to satin gives this a classic feel. Hopefully, Tyndale will continue this course but with a few design improvements.

Tyndale set out to revive its premium Bible line. It has achieved its objectives in a manner readers only could have hoped for. The binding on both editions satisfies on all levels. Most importantly, the typography has created a thoroughly readable edition, the experience of which cannot be lauded enough.

What was applicable of the goat skin edition still holds true here. Tyndale has delivered an iconic edition of their flagship text. Let's see where they go from here.

Note: Special thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this edition.

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