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Entries in NOAB (1)


New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th Edition: Q&A

NOAB4The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible (Amazon link // OUP link) tends to be the standard Bible in many academic circles. Two and a half years ago, the 3rd edition was reviewed here at This Lamp. Very soon (OUP page says February, 2010) Oxford University Press will release the much anticipated 4th edition. One of This Lamp's readers, Mark Maney, recently shared with me some questions about the NOAB4 answered by Donald Kraus, executive editor of Bibles for OUP. I've received permission to give This Lamp readers access to this dialogue which you will find below.

Will there be more notes at the bottom of the page?  Compared to other study Bibles the NOAB seems sparse.

Of course, one person’s “sparse” is another’s “concise.”  If you actually compared the amount of information available in, say, the NOAB with that in the [other academic study Bibles], I think you’d find that the Annotated had at least as much, perhaps more.  We have made a deliberate decision to provide a variety of means of presentation for information that a student or general reader needs: not only book introductions and annotations (a format, I might note, that Oxford University Press pioneered), but also section introductions, giving an overview to various biblical divisions and genres; general essays, providing background that is applicable to the text as a whole, or large parts of it; and ancillaries, like maps and a glossary, that can provide quick references for specific matters.  The choice to put virtually all the explanatory matter in annotations means either that you must repeat information every time it is relevant (since you can’t expect, for example, the reader to remember an explanation from one of the historical narratives when he or she is reading one of the prophetic books) or you must omit an explanation entirely, since there is no other place to put it.  We think our method of presentation is the best option available, but other publishers have chosen differently.  That gives readers a range of choices, which we think is all to the good.  We have, however, increased the annotations in many of the biblical books – see my answer to your next question.

Will the large print of the third edition be retained?

The biblical text is, I believe, in the same type size.  The annotations are in a different, easier-to-read face that is more condensed, though I don’t think it is smaller.  We have changed the design of the standard page for two reasons: the new type choices will more strongly differentiate the annotations from the biblical text, and they permit a slightly higher word count per page.  This has allowed us to increase the study materials by about 10% without increasing the page count of the book.

Will there be a bigger concordance?

No.  The concordance remains the same length.  We and the other publishers of the NRSV have agreed among ourselves that the current concordance will be the standard one for use in the back of the Bible.

Will there be more cross references in the notes?

We have included extensive cross references throughout.  I don’t have a direct comparison with the third edition, so I can’t tell if there are more, but there are many cross references.  Intertextuality is fully represented.

Will the excellent paper of the third edition be retained?

The paper for the fourth edition is of a similar or slightly better quality than that generally used in the third edition.  We are caught, like all Bible publishers, between trying for a thin sheet and an opaque page.  You can’t have both when you are publishing a 2400-page book that can still be held comfortably by the reader.  I think the paper in the new edition compares favorably to what we had before.  To some extent this is a matter of taste – some people prefer a white sheet, some an off-white one.  Ours is slightly off-white, which reduces glare.  The opacity is good, though there is inevitably some show-through.

Look for the 4th edition of the New Oxford Annotated Bible in February, 2010. Feel free to leave any further questions in the comments. I'll invite Don Kraus to answer them as he has opportunity.