R. L. Allan NRSV in Brown Highland Goatskin

If the NRSV was a parable, it would be like unto a man who graduated from an Ivy League college at the top of his class and had to make ends meet by flipping burgers. The patty slaps the grill and he looks up, astonished at his condition. "What happened to me?" 

What happened indeed. If you're a fan of the NRSV, you get what I'm saying. There are plenty of cheaply made, not very nicely designed editions available, and not a lot of good ones. In most cases, you're better off sticking with the textbook version you bought in college than upgrading to the decorative pleather version. Even promising editions seem to be handicapped by quality issues. I've had people offer me money — serious, Allan-level money — for my Oxford Pocket NRSV bound in mere genuine leather. (To which I say, "Dream on!")

Of course, R. L. Allan has offered NRSVs in the past — very nice ones — but even then, they weren't available in the top shelf Highland goatskin bindings. It was as if the nice man in Glasgow could spot an NRSV fan at the back of the line: "No soup for you!" (Or whatever the Scots enjoy for the soup course … probably thistles washed down with Scotch.

Now, all that is just an unpleasant memory. The clouds have parted and a new day has dawned. The new R. L. Allan Two Column Reference NRSV is available from R. L. Allan direct in black and brown Highland goatskin bindings. There is also a French Morrocco edition which includes the Apocrypha. 

The book block was typeset by Nigel Lynn Publishing & Marketing Ltd, a name you may remember from my earlier piece on Crimond House. R. R. Donnelly printed them for Collins in China. This is the same text setting I reviewed in 2008, but the earlier run was printed by Bath Press in the UK. This may dissappoint some readers who make the automatic assumption that China equals bad, but the two Bibles seem similar in terms of opacity, and the Donnelly book block handles better. The UK-printed edition has a whiter color cast, while the China-printed one is more bone colored (at least in low light).


I don't know what it is about me and dotted lines, but here's another text setting that uses them to mark off the center column references, and I like the result. Never a fan of all the superfluous lines some Bible designers seem to add everywhere, the dotted style knocks the weight down sufficiently enough that they don't distract. Verse numbers at the start of paragraphs are in bold, making it easier to hunt through them for the number range you're looking for. Whereas a text setting like the HCSB tends to use boldface inappropriately, here, it works nicely.

This edition comes with all the earmarks of Allan's finest Highland goatskin bindings: a limp, semi-yapp, edge-lined cover, art-gilt pages, three thick gold ribbons, a gilt line along the interior turn-in, ruled notepaper bound in back. 




Compare the photo above to the ones I shot for the 2008 review and you'll see what an upgrade this is in terms of limp binding. This text setting deserves the luxury treatment. If you use the NRSV, this would make a great addition to your library. I'm thrilled to see R. L. Allan bringing the Two Column Reference NRSV back into their line-up.




27 Comments on “R. L. Allan NRSV in Brown Highland Goatskin

  1. I think the french morocco is the Cambrigde reference edition.
    as a daily nrsv user, I will say that when I opened this Bible I breathed a big sigh of relief and said ‘Finally.’ One other improvement over the former Allan edition, this one features much (but not perfect) line matching.

  2. I wish someone would give the RSV a similar makeover. Heck, I’d settle with the RSV-CE, just give it some RL Allan-esque love.

  3. You review the Highland Goatskin NRSV on the day I celebrate a milestone birthday? It must be a sign to buy my own gift!
    I’m curious to know more about the text block in this edition. In my copy of the Black Grained Goatskin the paper was short grain so there is some crinkling in the gutter and rippling at the edges. How about this edition?

  4. Mark,
    No crinkling in mine (brown). Only issue I have found is a couple of places where footnote superscripts were not superscrpited, so you get “great is LORDJ.”

  5. *sigh* If only a well-made book was also affordable. I’ll have to stick with my Harper compact thinline NRSV for now, and this one will have to go on the birthday wish list.

  6. I have the earlier NRSV edition. Here’s my question — with regard to readability (type size, leading, etc), is there any appreciable difference between this Bible and the earlier goatskin edition?

  7. JMB are you sure that your Pocket Oxford NRSV is hard to get? Amazon seems to have it for under $30. The 2012 Ocford Bible Catalouge lists this book as “genuine leather” which usually means real (though porker).

  8. If it’s the same one, I highly recommend it. (Mine is from more than a decade ago.) On readability, I wouldn’t say this is more readable than the earlier Allan NRSV. The only reason to upgrade would be the binding and to solve the cross grain issue mentioned above, which isn’t a problem here.

  9. For this interested in another review of the original 2008 Allan NRSV, I have updated links to the blog entry I wrote back when I got mine. It can be found at:
    Since then my NRSV has taken a licking or two but is still going strong. However, this new edition causes me to wish I had it. The old edition was very good but brown Highland goat and the deluxe Allan treatment would be awesome.
    Thanks, Mark for the nice review.

  10. The pocket edition of the NRSV fetching Allan-size prices is probably the edition from 1998. It’s printed in England and the font is Scala.
    There is a newer Oxford edition of the NRSV from about 2006 or so printed by Blue Heron Bookcraft. The quality is ok but doesn’t compare to the earlier one. This more recent edition is available in lots of places for reasonable prices.

  11. Perusing through the endless shelves of a discount bookstore, I found a real gem … a pristine first-edition RSV from 1952 in genuine black leather, unused in its original box … all for $2!
    Now, the question is, should I preserve it? use it? sell it?
    Thoughts? 🙂

  12. I just received this Bible in the mail several days ago from evangelicalbible.com. It is fantastic. I love the anglicized language, the feel of the Bible is wonderful, and I preached from it this week. I am in the minority of NRSV fans at my church (a rural Restoration Movement church in Indiana), and this Bible is the first truly quality NRSV I have owned. I would highly recommend it.

  13. I have to say Mark that the font of this edition is not very impressive. Nor are the dots running down the centre margin. This is an aesthetically
    mediocre imprint wrapped up in gorgeous leather.

  14. FYI, when it comes to soup, patriotic Scots would enjoy ‘Cullen Skink’, a fish concoction with rather more body than the chowders found furth of the Atlantic. As for the washing down with Scotch, there’s a good chance your surmising may be correct in that respect…

  15. This edition looks terrific. I emailed Cambridge to see if there were any plans for a Clarion edition of the NRSV, and I’m afraid those of us looking for a quality single-column edition are out of luck:
    “Nothing in the pipeline at present.
    We publish the NRSV under licence from the National Council of Churches of the USA, so any new edition would have to be authorised by them.”

  16. How does the French Morocco edition with Apocrypha compare? As someone noted, that one is Cambridge, and
    less expensive.

  17. dee,
    it is an excellent bible. it is however, not even in the same class as the allan. it is somewhat larger, and more square-ish. it is not leather lined, and the french morocco is nothing like goatskin. all in all, it is a quality edition, and the one to go with if you require the apocrypha/deuterocanon. but as far as nrsv’s go, the allan is in a class by itself.

  18. I’m pleased to finally have one of these in my library. It just arrived today. It is as nice as all the reviews indicate. Though I was aware of the dimensions, and had compared other books I have of similar size, this still “feels” bigger and heavier than I expected. Interestingly, out of the box, it does not just open flat at any page and stay that way; I have another new Bible in “mere” genuine leather that is quite a bit more limp than this (not really an issue for me, its just that my expectation had been set higher than reality). The note paper in the back is bound in tightly, but I was thinking of picking up one of Allan’s black goatskin journals to go with it anyway.
    On, and I love the brand new leather scent 🙂

  19. Where does one purchase the NRSV Brown Goatskin Bible? Is it available in the US or only in Britain?

  20. I don’t believe that there is a version without the British spelling. I have the Allan NIV with the British spelling. After reading it for several months, I don’t even really notice the spelling differences anymore. In any event, there just aren’t that many words that are spelled differently.

  21. I am one of those frustrated NRSV fans. My frustration stems from the poor quality presentation of this translation. I have been looking for a quality NRSV bible for some time now. The Allan NRSV Brown Goatskin has my attention and desire. But I see only the product in black. How do I order the brown?

  22. How can I order the NRSV Brown Highlands goatskin binding Bible without apocrypha.

  23. Hi! I was wondering if you also sell Bibles? I am looking to purchase this very Bible, but I also understand it isn’t made any longer. Do you sell used Bibles?

  24. I found there was a big difference between the British and American versions of the Pocket NRSV. The 1998 British one is calfskin with excellent paper and very clear print (FF Scala). The US version has exactly the same format but the font is much lighter, not very even, and the ghosting is a problem. I bought a discounted US edition, and a cheap soft cover British edition, and had the British innards rebound in the US leather binding, as a working text. My wife subsequently found a new UK edition still in a small conservative Bible shop, over 25 years after they stocked it, and It became a welcome birthday present.

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