Whats the deal with Catholic Bibles?


This post is not about translations it’s about the physical book. Maybe I’ll write about translations another time.

If you’ve read the last post you will have perhaps noted that I, a Catholic, have been reading from the protestant Authorized Version of 1611 commonly known as the King James Version of the Bible. Why would I do that?

Well you see, on the bookshelf in my living room is a Cambridge bible. I picked it up used some years ago. It is a wide margin edition, bound in fine Morocco leather which is  fairly flexible and soft, with strong nearly opaque paper and crisp dark print. Physically it is a very well made book, you want to pick it up and then once it is in your hands you open it, and with it open in front of you, one cannot help but read (and the poetic nature of the KJV text certainly contributes). And while her gilding has declined still she is still dark, supple, and attractive in every way, I have been seduced.

Alas, the book she is a protestant. I have tried and am trying to find one of our own to take her place, but nothing of this quality is available from Catholic sources. The big difficulty of course is that Cambridge Bibles are some of the nicest Bibles being produced in the world. There are a handful of other printers and binders who also produce top of the line models they are all Protestant. Even so the average Protestant doesn’t have a Bible this nice, these sort of books sell for over $100. But there is a market among the Prots which is probably insignificant in the Catholic world. Besides the vast majority of people don’t know what they are missing.

Why can’t Catholic publishers produce anything like the quality of the bible I’ve been reading from? I’m sure it has to do with economics. I will continue to explore options.

(In case  anyone is thinking of Baronius press let me mention something few are aware of. When they first republished the Douay Bible they were bound in I think French Morocco leather. They made a big deal about how it wasn’t bonded leather. Then at some point they quietly switched to bonded leather which is what they use now.)

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