Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oxford World's Classics vs. Penguin Classics

Both the traditional King James Version and the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible are available in handsome text-only, black-letter, paperback editions which include the Apocrypha.  The Oxford World's Classics KJV and the Penguin Classics NCPB are both bricks - at least two inches thick - with sturdy, opaque paper.  Both editions print the entire Bible without editorial interruptions - all the extensive notes are found at the back of the book.  This feature also provides some ballast for the New Testament: even when you are reading Revelation, there are still about a hundred more pages in the book!

Here is a comparison of these two Bibles:

Biblical text 
Oxford: Standard 1769; words that have no equivalent in the original text are printed in italics.
Penguin: 1611, but with modern spelling and punctuation; no words are in italics.

In both editions
Epistle Dedicatory.

Also included 
Oxford: The Translators to the Reader, a 36-page Introduction by Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett, 121 pages of Notes on the books of the Bible, a four-page Glossary to the Notes and six maps printed over eleven pages.

Penguin: A 16-page Introduction by David Norton, 53 pages of Notes on the books of the Bible, five maps printed over seven pages - and 14 sheets of blank paper at the back!

The Oxford is double-column; the Penguin is single-column.
The Oxford is verse-by-verse; the Penguin is paragraphed.

Font size
Slightly larger in the Penguin than in the Oxford.

Page size 
Oxford: 5 x 7 11/16 x 2 1/8 inches.
Penguin: 5 1/4 x 8 7/16 x 2 inches.

Printed text
Oxford: 4 1/8 x 6 inches.
Penguin: 3 7/8 x 7 3/8 inches.

Lines per page
Oxford: 47 (7.83 lines per vertical inch).
Penguin: 48 (6.51 lines per vertical inch).
There is more space between the lines in the Penguin than in the Oxford.

Books begin...
Oxford: where the previous one ended.
Penguin: at the top of a page (with one exception) and usually on a right-hand page (with two exceptions).

Text sample (click on “Search inside this book”)

Paper opacity
Excellent in both.  It is a paradox that these cheapest of Bibles have the most opaque paper!

From the Introduction
Oxford: “The Bible is the basic book of our civilization.  It holds a unique and exclusive status not merely in terms of the religious history of the western world but also in literary history and even in what might be called our collective cultural psyche.”

Penguin: “Experienced throughout life by generations of English-speakers, [the KJV] is at the heart of English-speaking religion and culture, shaping emotional history, law, language and literature.  Whether or not one is a Christian, one cannot know what it means to be part of an English-speaking heritage without knowledge of the King James Bible.”

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