Catholic Book Publishing Corporation‘s (CBPC) beautiful Bibles and devotional titles have been featured on our blog on several occasions. The quality and design of these publications are, in my opinion, one of the finest (and affordable). The thing with CBPC’s publications is that there is a sense of simplicity, yet a nobility that speaks to the importance of the texts that they publish. Last June, I (The Catholic Man) reviewed CBPC’s New Catholic Bible (NCB) Giant-Print Edition. Well throughout the latter half of 2020, and throughout this year, the review for this Bible have been one of the most read Bible-reviews on our blog.
This year for the 12 Days of Christmas series, my sister and I are joining forces together to bring to you this last review for season 4 of this series, a review of one of the CBPC’s newer NCB Editions,the St. Joseph NCB Gift Edition – Large Type. It contains the same translation as the NCB Giant-Type Edition, reviewed last year, but there are also many special features in this Gift Edition – Large Type, not only in terms of type size as the title suggests, but well beyond.
Please note, just like other reviews of Bibles on this blog, I will not be taking a critical look at the translation, for several reasons. First of all, I am not Scripture scholar. I do not have any authority in the Church or in academia to publically speak about this translation. Rest assured though, as with any other Bible translation published by CBPC, care is taken to include the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, all of which could be found in the Bible. The NCB translation though, unlike the New American Bible (in the USA) and the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (in Canada) is not a Liturgical translation. Even then, the translations listed have been adapted for liturgical use (more on that in a future posted). The NCB, as CBPC clearly states in the Frequently Asked Questions is that,
The NCB OT, NT and Psalms are not intended for liturgical purposes, as is the case for several other Catholic Bible translations, but it can be enjoyed for private use and study.(emphasis added)
And indeed so, the NCB as I remarked in the review for the Giant Type edition last year, is ideal for prayer and study, especially since this particular translation, is “classified as a formal or verbal equivalence Bible translation, which emphasizes a literal translation (word for word) of the Scripture text to make sure to preserve the original word order and capture the nuances found in the ancient biblical text.” (NCB, FAQs) If you would like to know more about the translation, I suggest you take a look at their helpful Frequently Asked Questions. The goal of bible reviews on this blog is to provide a viewpoint of a day-to-day Catholic on using these bibles. Thus, we take a look at readability of the texts and their user-friendliness for “common folks.”
As mentioned, the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type contains many features similar to the NCB Giant-Type edition. This review will speak of several features that I think merit attention. By the end of the review, I will have spoken about the ideal audience of the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type in comparison with the NCB Giant-Type Red Imitation Leather. (Note, from now on, the terms ‘Large Type’ will refer to the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type while ‘Giant Type’ will refer to the NCB Red Imitation Leather – Giant Type.
Fonts, Font Size and Notes
When I first opened the box to see the Large Type Bible, I honestly did not know what to expect with the font size. I thought the terms “Giant Type” and “Large Type” were interchangeable, but upon comparing the font size of both version, it became apparent to me that that is not the case with CBPC’s NCB Bibles. The Giant Type is larger than the Large Type… I honestly cannot count by how many points, but approximately, I would say the font size of the Large Type version is about 12pt, while the Giant Type is about 13-14pt.
There is a difference I have found reading with the Large Type than the Giant Type. The benefit of having the 12pt font is that there seems to be more room to include more on a page. I notice that the notes of the each book of the Bible, unlike the Giant Type edition, are put as footnotes rather than endnotes. That creates for a much more pleasurable experience if you were using this edition for studying the Bible. This was one of the critiques I had with the Giant Type edition.
However, that does not mean that one should dismiss the benefits of having the notes as endnotes. I would personally prefer the Giant Type for prayer, since the notes would not get in the way, causing a distraction. From top to bottom of that edition is just Scriptural Text. I think both the Large Type and Giant Type’s placement of notes have their own pros and cons that would better be suited to the needs of an individual. If you are purchasing an NCB Bible for study, the Large Type would be more ideal, while the Giant Type would be suited for those who want strictly a Bible for prayer.
Returning to the talk on fonts and font sizes, CBPC clearly put a lot of thought into the use of them. I thought the Large Type would be like the Giant Type, simply having the Gian Type’s fonts shrunken down a couple points, but it seems to me that both editions utilize different fonts. I think this is rightly so. Different fonts have different “looks” when readjusted in size, and for some fonts, it is not a matter of “one font fits all.” Same with printing liturgical texts… as a Liturgical MC at my parish, I strive to use fonts that are readable for the celebrant, that would suit the small 10pt font for red rubrics, and 14pt font for spoken text. I am glad that the same consideration is being considered here for Scriptural texts.
Another factor for choice of font might be the use of red for the words of Christ in the New Testament of the Large Type edition. Fonts, their sizes and the colours are factors that go hand-in-hand when producing any liturgical and Scriptural text for ease of reading. More on the “words of Christ in red,” some may think that CBPC is going too far, or ‘Protestantizing’ a Catholic Bible. I do not think so. I think it is a feature that should appear more in Catholic Bibles. Even though the whole Bible is the Word of God, with God as the principle author of the these texts, the Gospels receive special reverence at Mass, as all stand to listen to it because the Gospel texts contain the words of Christ, the Words from the ‘Word made flesh.’ When we want to emphasize the words of somebody, even in academia, would you not give some external emphasis in bold or italicization? I am sure one would… and so why not do so with the words of Christ? Red text also has helped me with finding verses in Gospel passages a lot quicker too… I just wish more Catholic Bibles had it. Yet, I would not be surprised why Catholic Bibles do not include them perhaps out of cost factor too. Two-colour printing might prove to be more expensive than grayscale printing.
Illustrations and Supplementary Features
One of the things that immediately captured my attention with the Large Type edition was how richly illustrated that specific edition is in comparison with the Giant Type edition. The boxes of both editions say, “Beautifully Illustrated,” but I suggest the Large Type edition to say, “Richly Illustrated.” CBPC always does a great job with illustrations, especially with the illustrations in the coloured inerts. However, the Large Type edition goes beyond the usual. Before each book, there is a nice width-wise illustration depicting a key even in the book. This is amazing… it really gives the reader a break from page after page of text, and to show that a new book has come, instilling a sense that we are starting to walk into another door as we read this book.
Compared with the Giant Type edition, the Large Type edition features not 20, but 40 full-colour photographs, not counting the many grayscale photographs scattered throughout. Like the Giant Type version, there are 8 full-colour maps, but also grayscale maps interspersed throughout.
CBPC also always have great inserts- those have only been amplified in the NCB editions. I remarked about this extensively in the review for the Giant Type edition, which you find here. Here’s the truth: many people will use the Bible for study, for prayer, but certainly some who are gifted with a Bible, but might not open it frequently. Yet, perhaps one of the colour-panels might catch their attention. Who knows what curiosity might be sparked by such charts, such inserts? That in turn, may prompt them to open their Bibles and read more in-depth. These are small details for a Bible, but can change the way one may approach the Scriptures in general, in a very positive way.
The last feature I will speak about is one that I critiqued for a lack of in the Giant Type edition – a table of Sunday Lectionary readings. I am so glad to that feature at the end of this Large Type edition. I always enjoy having such features of a Bible, because no matter if it is a study bible, prayer bible, personal travel bible… it is so good to have something to reference the Scripture readings of the upcoming Sunday. It serves as an aid to pray not only individual but with the Church in its lectionary readings.
I have been gifted several Bibles from CBPC over the years from loved ones and received some for review here, but I honestly have to say, I think that this Large Type edition is one of the most magnificent yet. The Dura-lux burgundy cover is elegant. It is not real leather, but nevertheless, very handsome and has a sense of quality to the material. My sister will say more about the aesthetic qualities:
This Bible has a soft cover with a faux leather texture but seems that it will last for generation to come. There is a cross debossed onto the the front. While I think it looks nice, we have found it can collect dust which isn’t very easy to remove with all the ridges. The book feels well bound.
The gilding is also very even. I find that the gilding here comes off on your hands a little but no where near as much as I usually see so I found this quality impressive. The gilding does stick some of the pages together though, so I recommending being extra careful when flipping the pages for the first time since the pages are super thin; about as thin as what you usually see in Bibles and dictionaries.
There are two bookmarking ribbons. There seem to be nice quality – rich colour, very smooth, the ends well cut with no fraying. The printing for both colour and black and white are well done. the edges are all very defined with consistent pigmentation throughout. I also think the text is a good size.
Overall, I think the visual aspect of this Bible is all great save for one thing. I think because the gilding sticks the edges of a lot of the pages together, I noticed a small amount of rippling and buckling on some of the pages. I assume this is from opening and closing the Bible with pages stuck together and thus pulled weird angles, only to be closed, the pages still at a weird angle. It’s a very minor flaw, and if my theory is correct, the person you gift the Bible to likely won’t even notice this until they’ve used it a couple times. I just thought I would bring it up nonetheless.
CBPC’s NCB Gift Edition – Large Type is a beautiful Bible. As the name suggests, it is suited as a gift not only for Christmas, but for Weddings and Graduations. Sacramental events like First Communions and Confirmations are applicable too (but such occasions may merit also looking at CBPC’s special Sacramental editions of their Bibles.) This is a Bible that can be passed on from generation to generation, especially because of the inclusion of the Family Record… however, more importantly, it is a Bible to be opened, read, and prayed upon. I would rather pass down to my family a Bible that has been well read than one that looks new, as if never opened since the time I received it.
You can purchase a copy of the reviewed St. Joseph NCB Gift Edition – Large Type here.
You can also check out some sample pages here.
To learn more about the NCB and explore its other bindings, click here.
Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of NCB Gift Edition – Large Type to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks CBPC for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.