Category: Resources and Reviews

ESV Systematic Theology Bible Review

ESV Systematic Theology Bible Review

It’s not the Bible I expected…I had visions of a juggernaut along the lines of Crossway’s ESV Study Bible, a massive tome that I could literally use to beat the heathen out of someone. Instead what I got when I opened the box was more like a mini me for the ESV Study Bible. The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible is unlike what I envisioned, but Crossway likes to surprise me and in this case, the Bible they sent is no exception.

 

Disclaimer: Crossway sent me the hardcover of the Systematic Theology Study Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review; so let’s do that.

 

First, some particulars:

About the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible (from Crossway)

Theology should, first and foremost, be rooted in God’s Word. The goal of the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible is to demonstrate how all Christian doctrine arises from the pages of the Bible. Created to help readers understand how Scripture forms the basis for our understanding of God, humanity, sin, salvation, and eternity, this study Bible features over 400 short in-text doctrinal summaries connecting Christian beliefs to specific Bible passages, 25 longer articles explaining important theological topics in greater depth, and introductions to each book of the Bible that highlight the unique ways each book contributes to the whole of Christian theology. Created by an outstanding team of editors and 26 contributors, this resource has been created to help Christians better connect what they believe about God with the very words of Scripture.

Features:

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Footnotes
  • Book intros
  • Topical index of sidebars
  • Cross-references
  • 400+ doctrinal summaries explaining core doctrines and connecting them to specific Bible passages
  • 25+ longer articles on key theological topics
  • Lifetime guarantee on leather and TruTone editions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: J-Card (Hardcover); Box (Genuine Leather and TruTone)

Contributors:

  • Gregg Allison
  • Bruce Ashford
  • Gerald Bray
  • Bryan Chapell
  • Graham Cole
  • David Dockery
  • John Frame
  • Michael Horton
  • Kelly Kapic
  • Michael Kruger
  • Robert Letham
  • Donald Macleod
  • Chris Morgan
  • Stephen Nichols
  • J. I. Packer
  • Michael Reeves
  • Fred Sanders
  • Sam Storms
  • Scott Swain
  • Stephen Wellum
  • David Wells

 

 

I admit to not knowing some of the names on the contributors list but others (JI Packer, Stephen Nichols, John Frame, Michael Horton, and Greg Allison) read like a who’s who of theologians. Actually, there are two names, major players in the arena of theology, that are glaringly absent and I’m stunned that those names are not on the list of contributors, Drs. Sinclair Ferguson and R.C. Sproul. I suspect that is because of the role they play in the Reformation Study Bible.

 

The Fly in the Oatmeal

The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible does not include any Dispensational Theologians which means, necessarily, that I will have disagreements with the Eschatology and any Israelology that you may find. However, this does not mean that I would discard it off hand. In fact, I would say that I am in agreement with probably 95% of the supplemental material that you will find here.

 

An Important Point

“Theology should, first and foremost, be rooted in God’s Word” –the back-cover.

 

Crossway could not have stated it better; the font of our understanding of who God is stems from His revelation of Himself in the Bible. I understand that, for many, Theology is difficult to handle and, at times, can seem rather dry and boring. Thankfully, that problem does not exist within the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible.

 

Introductions

This time around, the introductions bring more to the table with regard to theology including specific points on theology for each book of the Bible. The introductions also cover the author, the original audience, and provide an abbreviated outline for each book of the Bible. I say abbreviated because they are not as detailed as in other study Bibles.

 

Notes and Articles

In a change from traditional study Bibles, you won’t find verse by verse commentary at the bottom of the page. What you will find are 400 doctrinal footnotes and I, personally find these to be more useful. This is very important because of what Systematic Theology is, the discipline of formulating an orderly, coherent, and rational account of the doctrines of the Christian Faith.

 

The articles are expanded with larger articles in the back of the Bible. There are 28 articles and they are titled as follows:

 

  1. What is Doctrine and Why is it Important?
  2. How to do Theology: Worldview and Process
  3. A Brief History of Doctrine
  4. Theological Traditions Within Christendom
  5. The Origin and Authority of the Biblical Canon
  6. Doctrine in the Creed and Catechisms of the Church
  7. Apologetics
  8. Orthodoxy and Heresy
  9. Doctrine and Preaching
  10. Reading the Bible Theologically
  11. Revelation
  12. Scripture
  13. God
  14. Creation
  15. Providence
  16. Humanity
  17. Sin
  18. The Christian Life
  19. The Person of Christ
  20. The Work of Christ
  21. The Holy Spirit
  22. Ordinances and Sacraments
  23. Grace
  24. Election
  25. The Gospel
  26. Salvation
  27. The Church
  28. Eschatology

Honestly, the only article I have any kind of problem with is number 28, eschatology. I am a futurist and a dispensationalist so my point of view on this doctrine will be markedly different from the contributors.

Thoughts on the Book

I am impressed. On the other hand, I would really like to see people stop treating Dispensationalists like the fair haired step child. That being said, I think that the Systematic Theology Study Bible will be a benefit to anyone who is not a theologian by trade. There is a real lack of adherence to any form of theology in western evangelicalism and it is my hope that the Systematic Theology Study Bible will help to address that gap.

 

The paper that has been provided is crisp white and the font is a deep rich black. As is typical from Crossway, we have a sewn binding so that you will get a lifetime of use out of the Bible.

If there were ever a Bible that screamed for a wide margin, this is it. The paper is thick enough that you should not have any bleed through with your pen and so a wide margin would be perfect here.

Would I buy it? Should you buy it?

I would buy it, most likely for gift giving purposes. I have a number of Systematic Theologies on hand including the volumes by John MacArthur, Charles Hodge, John Calvin, Luis Berkhoff, Stanley Horton, and Wayne Grudem so I am well versed in theology. I emphatically recommend this Bible because of the glaring need for coherent theology in the church today.

 

 

Swindoll Study Bible Review Part One: The Actual Bible

Swindoll Study Bible Review Part One: The Actual Bible

In 1996, Chuck Swindoll and Zondervan released the Living Insights Study Bible; 21 years later is it back (sort of) as part of the NLT Family in Tyndale’s Swindoll Study Bible. I say it is sort of back because it would appear that Tyndale not only updated the translation but they also updated the content. I will be reviewing the hardcover, iPhone, and iPad editions in one simultaneous review. (All 3 were provided by Tyndale House free of charge in exchange for an honest review.)

 

As is our habit, let’s begin with some particulars from the publisher:

 

The Swindoll Study Bible offers the best of Chuck Swindoll’s wit, charm, pastoral insight, and wise biblical study directly to you as you study God’s Word. Chuck’s warm, personal style comes across on every page, and his informed, practical insights get straight to the heart of the Bible’s message for the world today. Reading each part of this study Bible is like hearing Chuck speak God’s Word directly to your heart. It will both encourage readers’ faith and draw them deeper into the study of God’s Word.

In Chuck’s own words:

“This study Bible was designed with you in mind. As you read the Scriptures, imagine me sitting beside you and sharing personal stories, important insights, and hard-earned lessons that will encourage you to walk more closely with Jesus Christ. You’ll discover the whowhatwherewhenwhy, and how of the Bible. Who wrote it and whenWhat does it mean, and where did its events occur? Why should I trust it? And most importantly, how can I apply it today?

“It’s that last question more than any other that has fed my passion to publish this Bible. My primary focus in ministry has been teaching biblical insight for living—for genuine life change. After all, that’s why God communicated His Word to us—that we may become like His Son, Jesus Christ, the central figure of this Book.”

 

Product Details

Published: October 17, 2017

Binding: Hardcover

Text Size: 9.0

Trim Size: 6.5 x 9.188 in.

Pages: 1984

ISBN: 978-1-4143-8725-3

 

Now on to the review…

 

Free App:

The first thing I want to point out is the free app that is bundled with the print editions of the Swindoll Study Bible. It is provided by Tecarta Bible Apps (https://tecartabible.com) and is available to use on you qualifying iOS and Android devices.

 

The app includes the NLT Bible (SRP $7.99) and the Swindoll Study Notes (SRP $14.99) giving you $22.98 of free content. The Swindoll Study Bible App will sync any content that you already have in your Tecarta account, but if you do not have one you will need to register first. There is a promo code that is under a scratch and reveal tag on the page following the maps and there are instructions for redeeming your code. It is very important that you use the same email to redeem your code that you used to sign up for Tecarta so that the premium content that Tyndale is including syncs into your account.

 

Currently, I have the app on both my iPhone and my iPad Pro; the iPad Pro app being the one used more often. When linking this app with your Tecarta account, you will find that there is a plethora of resources that the app developer makes available to you. Some of the content that is available is at a lower cost than other soft-ware but most of it is priced similarly to OliveTree and WORDSearch Bible, which are the two that I use most frequently, though I am also a long time user of e-Sword. If you have not invested in any software for your Bible Study, Tecarta is equally as good as the ones from the major publishers but the advantage is that it is built from the ground up entirely for mobile.

 

There is a lot more to say on the app and there will be a 2nd review article focusing on that.

 

The Translation Choice

The Swindoll Study Bible is offered in the New Living Translation (NLT). where the original, the Living Insights Study Bible from 1996 was in NIV. As Chuck Swindoll and I have both discovered, the NLT is, perhaps, the easiest Bible to read and understand without becoming a complete paraphrase. I have really grown to love the NLT, in part because it so easily captures Greek and Hebrew thought, but mostly I love the NLT because that is the Bible my wife was reading when came to Christ and yielded her life to Him. I commend the NLT to you for the same reasons, if you have never understood the Bible before, you will with NLT and you may even find that this is the Bible that Christ uses to draw you unto Himself.

 

Around a month ago, I switched to NLT as a primary translation for 1-to-1 discipleship, for the content here at Exploring the Truth, for daily devotional reading and for any public speaking that I will do. I always pair my NLT with a word for word translation (NAS, ESV, or KJV) and I recommend you do the same. I feel like reading the NLT is like listening to a wise old friend explaining the Scriptures.

 

Living Insights Notes

In this edition, the Living Insights Notes have been moved to the bottom of the page and now look and function more like a traditional study Bible’s notes. Each Living Insight is designed to illuminate a specific verse of Scripture. Unlike many study Bibles, the Swindoll Study Bible does not feature a study note for each verse of Scripture; instead the notes are structured to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord.

 

I absolutely love the Living Insights Notes. They are perfect for on the go teaching.

 

Book Introductions:

Each book comes with an introduction that is focused on answering the following questions: Who wrote the book? Where are we? Why is this book important? What’s the big idea? How do I apply this? You will notice that the introductions in the Swindoll Study Bible fell much more pastoral than they do academic and if you are a Bible teacher in a church or small group, these insightful articles will prove most useful to laying a foundation for your teaching.

 

Application Articles

Application Articles are adapted from Chuck’s sermons and explain important passages with his winsome style including stories, illustrations, and usually three to five specific points of application. This is my favorite feature of the Swindoll Study Bible. Oftentimes we are left to ask the question, “What do I do about what I just read?” and these application articles tackle the most common passages that face this question.

 

People Profiles

Quite simply, people profiles highlight the lives of major players in the drama of Redemptive History and points out lessons, from their lives, that we could all benefit from learning.

 

Holy Land Tour

Learn more about geographic locations where biblical events occurred. These include a photo of the modern archaeological sites, many that can be viewed today, and a modern-day map of the location. You’ll be transported to the ancient sites with background information and devotional content, similar to being on a tour of the Holy Land with Chuck and his Insight for Living team.

 

Prayer Moments

Scattered throughout the text, prayer moments are similar to the prayers that Chuck Swindoll uses to close out his weekly sermons. Each prayer focuses on asking God to help us apply the truth of a particular passage of Scripture.

 

I do not ever recommend using someone else’s prayer in place of your own. On the other hand, you can easily use the prayer moments as a guide to help you get started with your prayer during personal worship.

 

Is Anything Missing?

This is probably a niggling little complaint, but I would have liked to see references; end of verse references would do just fine here without interrupting the layout. It is very important to understand that Scripture interprets Scripture and references go a long way toward that process, especially for a new believer.

 

I also think it would be nice to see and upgraded/deluxe edition in genuine leather.

 

How to Study the Bible (Searching the Scriptures Section)

This section showcases the genius of Chuck Swindoll. So many study Bibles have a section on how to use them but I think the Swindoll Study Bible is the only one that I have ever seen that includes a section on how to study the Bible. Many people that I encounter, especially new disciples, have trouble getting started with Bible study and the How to Study the Bible and practice section will remedy this problem easily.

 

Who would benefit from the Swindoll Study Bible?

In my estimation, the Swindoll Study Bible should have broad appeal. The app will most definitely appeal to Millennials and younger who are very tech savvy and want to do their study on electronic devices. On the other hand, the physical Bible will appeal to traditionalists who desire to study in an actual book; I happen to very much enjoy both.

 

You may find yourself saying that the content seems very simplistic. I would discourage you from dismissing this Bible simply because the notes are not overly complex. The Bible tells us we need to become like a child, in our faith, to see the Kingdom of Heaven and the Swindoll Study Bible endeavors to help us get there with its simple, down to earth, practical resources.

 

Usage Experience

After around two weeks of regular use, I could see this being my every day carrying Bible. The coloration of the pages is different enough that I don’t find much in the way of eye strain. The font is a crisp black and, despite being around an 8-point size, it is very easy to read.

 

The theological content is very solid. Dr. Swindoll takes a consistently literal approach to the Scripture, which I would expect from any dispensational theologian. The major takeaway that I have from the content is a better way to say the things that I teach; I have taught at various levels for 21 years so there is not a lot of new content for me. If you are a new disciple, or are looking for a gift for a new disciple, I encourage a purchase of the Swindoll Study Bible.

 

Overall Impression

I have a number of Study Bibles but I have to say that this one has moved into a favorite spot for me. I have told my wife that, when it comes to teaching, I endeavor to be as in depth as John MacArthur but as approachable and easy to understand as Chuck Swindoll. Tyndale publishes two other Study Bibles that I enjoy, the Life Application Study Bible and the NLT Study Bible. Of the three, my recommendation is that you buy the Swindoll Study Bible, especially given the fact that I usually find some gripe with the Bibles I review and cannot in this case.

 

Stay tuned for Part II where we will look at the Swindoll Study Bible on iPad…

 

 

 

NLT Select Reference Bible

NLT Select Reference Bible

This review was from 2015 but was “lost” as a result of a server failure. It has been recovered and is being shared again for your enjoyment.

 

 

NLT Select Reference Bible Review

On a recent trip to the Philippines, I was invited to take another look at the NLT. While there, the opportunity to review the Tyndale NLT Select Reference Bible was opened to me. The experience of both was, to put it mildly, a most unexpected pleasure.

(A quick disclosure and we will get into the review: Tyndale House Publishers provided a black goatskin NLT Select Reference Bible at no charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to provide positive feedback.)

Let’s begin with some official remarks from Tyndale House Publishers:

“The New Living Translation is an authoritative Bible translation rendered faithfully into today’s English from the ancient texts by 90 leading Bible scholars. The NLT’s scholarship and clarity breathe life into even the most difficult-to-understand Bible passages—but even more powerful are stories of how people’s lives are changing as the words speak directly to their hearts.

The NLT translators set out to render the message of the original texts of Scripture into clear, contemporary English. The result was a Bible that is faithful to the ancient texts and eminently readable.”

Now the official product description which can be found at http://www.tyndale.com/Tyndale-Select-NLT-Select-Reference-Edition/9781496404749#.VkAXaYSMCCQ

 

Tyndale Select Bibles are the highest quality bindings available in the New Living Translation. Select Reference Editions are the premier Bibles in the Tyndale Select line. Select Reference Editions deliver God’s enduring word in a fresh, yet timeless, reading experience. Each full-grain leather Bible is meticulously handcrafted with excellence, and Smyth-sewn with the greatest of care to ensure durability, flexibility, and a lay-flat binding.

Handsome editions are available in black or brown full-grain goatskin leather. Goatskin leather covers are edge-lined to maximize the suppleness for a luxuriously soft leather Bible that is a pleasure to hold. Other premium features of the goatskin leather edition include perimeter stitching, two ribbon markers, a gold foil frame around the inside cover, and luxurious art-gilded page edges, revealing red under gold gilding.

The attractive single-column interior of the Select Reference Edition makes this Bible enjoyable to read. The line-over-line setting and top-quality paper maximizes the brightness of the page and minimizes show-through for optimal readability. Other premium interior features include the generous 8.75 font, spacious margins, and over 40,000 cross references. Printed, bound, and meticulously handcrafted at Jongbloed’s premier bindery in the Netherlands, Select Reference Editions are Tyndale’s finest-quality Bibles available in the New Living Translation

Now on to my review:

The Translation

The New Living Translation is, technically, classified as a Dynamic Equivalence Translation but in more common language we would call it a meaning based translation. Much to my surprise, I find myself liking meaning based translations more and more as I grow in ministry.

The NLT was originally intended to be an update to Ken Taylor’s Living Bible Paraphrase of the American Standard Version. However, Tyndale House felt a new translation would be better. (You can read all the details at the Tyndale website). It is translated at a middle school reading level there by making comprehension of the Bible more accessible to a wide audience.

Many of my “conservative” colleagues do not seem to like the NLT, not that I understand why. I can think of nearly a dozen people whose first time reading the entire Bible was in the NLT; I think that is part of the reason for my growing fondness of the NLT. NLT actually holds a special place in my heart because it is the Bible Christ used to draw my wife unto Himself for redemption.

Cover Material

This Bible is available in both goatskin and calfskin, both of which will last you a lifetime. A reader had asked, with regard to another Bible, if goatskin is better than calfskin. Technically speaking, the answer to that would be yes. However, in choosing a Bible, either one is considered to be a premium cover material.

As mentioned earlier, the edition being reviewed, here, is the black goatskin. I have read the reviews from several colleagues and have not seen mention of what kind of goatskin we are using. I will assume (dangerous, I know) that we are being treated to highland goatskin since this is bound by the master craftsmen at Royal Jongbloed in the Netherlands. It is as glorious to the touch as anything I have ever felt. There is a pronounced grain, meaning you can feel the “bumps” in the skin which I much prefer to ironed hides.

Binding

The binding is hand bound and smyth sewn so that the book itself lays flat when opened to any section. Jongbloed has a distinctive spine hinge that is a little stiff when the book first comes out of the box. A number of my colleagues do not like this feature but I, actually, think it makes the Bible a little more special. There is a feeling, when you take a Jongbloed bound Bible out of the box for the first time, that this Bible was crafted just for you by a master artisan and when you get to “break it in” it makes the experience all the more personal. To be sure, the spine loosens up rather quickly and the stiffness becomes no bother.

Why Cover and Binding Matters

For most of my readers, and indeed Christians all over the world, all that they have available is a single Bible, and said Bible might well be the only Bible they have for their entire life and ministry. Cover and Binding should be in your top two deciding factors because they determine how long you will be able to utilize your Bible. As an example, I have a Bible that has been in my family for over 50 years and aside from some scuffs where the Bible was dropped, it is as good today as it was the day it came out of the box. For lifelong use, you want to choose a sewn binding and the highest quality leather that you can find.

What comes in the box?

Aside from the glorious Bible, which is protectively wrapped in black paper, you will find a double sided insert from Tyndale. One one side, there are Bible Care Instructions. This seems like such an obvious inclusion, but you would be surprised at just how many Bibles do not come with this in the box and, as a consequence, how many people damage the spine on their Bibles. On the second side is a little snippet about the design and then the guarantee information. Like all premium Bibles, this is guaranteed for life against failure due to a defective manufacturing process.

The Text Block

Layout

This is a single column paragraph format of which I am, normally, not a fan. However, this time it really works. With no disrespect intend to the Sacred Writ, this feels more like a normal piece of literature. You can easily get lost in the moment while doing your daily reading and take in much larger chunks of the Bible.

References are in the outer margin and I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I am glad to see that the placement was carefully thought out so that the text is not broken up. On the other hand, this is one Bible that screams for a margin wide enough to notate.

The inner margin, often called the gutter, is better in this Bible than in most of the other Bibles on the market today. It is sufficiently large enough to not have the text block curl into it which would cause difficulty reading.

Font, Coloration, Readability

This is the only area where I have a gripe, but it is a legitimate one. The 8.75 font size will be difficult for some to read. I have found that a 9-9.5 font size is the sweet spot. While I can easily read this Bible in most circumstances, a low light setting, such as the one on my bedside table can pose problems.

This is a complete black letter text. I know that red-letter editions have their fans but I do not mind a black letter text. The choice to go completely black letter ensures that if you were to take this into the pulpit you would have an easier time reading it and it also ensures that if you use other colors to annotate, you will have distinctive coloration for your eyes to fixate on.

Paper

The paper is, from what I have read, Indopaque paper with 28gsm and 79% opacity. In English, that simply means that you don’t have that pesky ghosting effect nor will you have bleed through.

In daily use

This Bible has been with me every day since it arrived approximately two and a half weeks ago. It has gone into and out of my laptop bag several times a day, come to church with me, done my daily reading before bed, done some supplemental reading on my lunch break and even found its way into conversations with others.

The NLT Select Reference Bible was quite a surprise to me; with the exception of wide margins, it brought everything I could want into a Bible. There are 40,000 cross references (Scripture interprets Scripture) a 119-page concordance/dictionary combo for study aids, and the NLT itself.

Overall thoughts

I have a confession to make: I did not expect to like this Bible. Sure it is a premium edition and it hits on all my key points. However, previous to my trip to the Philippines, I had more or less dismissed the NLT off hand as being more of a paraphrase. Then, while overseas, reality came along and slapped the taste out of my mouth. I read the NLT again (like it was the first time) and I got excited. Yes, it’s translated to be easy to read but that is part of its charm. You get a very easy to understand translation that doesn’t just invite you to read the Bible but instead invites you to fall in love with the Bible all over again.

Had Tyndale asked my opinion in advance, I might have suggested verse-by-verse for the layout but that might then cause it to lose its attractiveness. I would sum up my thoughts this way: NLT, read it again for the first time.

 

 

ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible

ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible

 

Crossway has delivered some amazing Bibles, true works of art that make the Sacred Book a delight to read and to touch. I have owned a number of them and I have always been impressed but I don’t think any of Crossway’s Bibles have ever left me speechless…until now.

The ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible is, I think, the perfect reader’s edition. (Note: this review was not solicited by either Crossway or EvangelicalBible.com and neither organization provided a review copy.) This Bible is available in five colors, three of which are exclusive to evangelicalbible.com. The exclusive colors are Ocean Blue (I am reviewing today), Purple, and Green. Black and Brown are available from both Evangelical Bible and Crossway.

A little from the publisher and then on to the review:

“The ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible is a special edition of the original ESV Single Column Legacy Bible. Based on the Renaissance ideal of a perfect page, the Single Column Legacy Bible features a simple, clear layout with generous margins.

As with Crossway’s other Heirloom Bibles, the Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible is printed in the Netherlands on high-quality European Bible paper and features art gilding, three ribbon markers, and an extra-smooth sewn binding. This exclusive edition is available in green, purple, and blue goatskin covers. The Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible is a fine edition that combines elegant design with the best production materials available. Features include (Your art gilding and ribbon colors will vary depending on color purchased.):

  • Black letter text
  • 9 pt. font
  • 28 gsm paper
  • Single-column, paragraph format
  • Concordance
  • Art gilding (blue under gold)
  • Three ribbon markers (Navy)
  • Leather lined in dark blue
  • Sewn binding
  • Raised hubs on the spine”

 

 

The Reading Experience Part 1: The Perfect Page (design layout)

When Crossway released the original ESV Single Column Legacy Bible in 2012, they stated that the design was based on the Renaissance idea of a perfect page. I have to say that they have achieved this goal; even the most untrained eye can see the care that has gone into the layout. Subject headings are shifted to the outer margin and the gutter, even with translation footnotes is more than generous. A 9-point font came as a bit of a surprise; it is sufficiently large enough for reading in large blocks of time without your eyes getting tired and small enough to keep this Bible from becoming a behemoth. The layout of this Bible is so perfect, in fact, that it has caused me to no longer care about the major complaint I had on the original, tiny verse numbers. I find myself getting “lost” in the text and I love it. As a teacher, I forget, sometimes, that the Bible is meant to be read and enjoyed and there is none better, in my opinion, than the Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible. Simply look inside one and you will understand the joy that comes from reading the Bible. If I did not know better, I would swear that an ophthalmologist oversaw the design because it so perfectly caters to the human eye.

The Reading Experience Part 2: Paper and Font

The design layout is the most important feature of the Heirloom Single Column Legacy; it has to be because this a “Reader’s Bible.” I think we tend to forget that the Bible is literature. We know about its life changing power but we forget the literary experience of reading the Bible.

The Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible is one of the best in the reader’s category. Two major factors affecting this are the paper and font. Crossway chose a cream colored paper for this Bible, in fact they use cream colored paper in a number of their Bibles. I cannot say enough about how smart this decision was. Reading this Bible outside in the Arizona sunlight was absolutely no challenge at all. I also read in my office with my bright overhead lights and did my bedtime reading with a softer white light. The bedside reading took about 90 seconds for my eyes to adjust but that is more an issue with my eyes than this Bible.

At 28gsm the paper is quite thin but the opacity is amazing; I do not think that I had to deal with any show-through at all.

Verse numbers are quite muted, so much so that I find it very easy to “get lost” in the reading. To the best of my knowledge, the Heirloom SCL uses a Lexington font which, I believe makes a frequent appearance in Crossway’s lineup. The font in crisp and clean in a rich deep black. While discussing this Bible with a colleague, I was asked if a red-letter edition is available and, thankfully, the answer is no. In some cases, I do not mind a red-letter edition. Here, though, a red-letter edition would prove an unnecessary distraction.

The goatskin

The feel of goatskin is unmistakable on a Bible and the feel of this goatskin is even better. The grain is pronounced but not overly pronounced. When I run my fingers over it, it feels like every nerve in my fingertips is awakened. In truth this is probably the same goatskin as on my Allan NASB Reader, or my Cambridge Concord, or even my Schuyler ESV w/Confessions a fact which would be due to the fact that they are all bound by famed Bible bindery, Royal Jongbloed. However, it feels just a little different and I can’t explain why. The best way I can describe it is to say that it reminds me of my grandmother’s rocking chair, it feels already broken in and ready for me but at the same time new and ready to be with me for ages.

Just the right amount of ribbons

3 ribbons are, in my estimation, just the right amount; you get one for Old Testament Reading, one for Psalms and Proverbs, and one for your New Testament Reading. It is true that there are other reading plans which require a larger number of ribbons but for this Bible I cannot complain. 2 ribbons would not be enough and any more than three would be too many.

Minimalist helps

There really are not a ton of helps/study tools in the Single Column Legacy Series. There are translation footnotes, subject headings in the margins, and a concordance. Don’t let that disappoint you, though, as this edition is more about the quality of your personal worship reading than your study and lesson prep.

Leaving a legacy of faith in your legacy Bible

With legacy in its name, I would be hard pressed to pass up mentioning leaving a legacy of faith to your children or grandchildren. This is not a traditional wide margin Bible nor is it per se a journaling Bible and yet there is room on every page to do just exactly that. One of the most unique features of the Bible is the fact that, even though they all have the same words on the pages, God creates personal relationships, with His people, through the Bible. Keeping records of that relationship is an ideal choice for using the Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible so that, in the end, it will live up to its name and be an heirloom for your family.

How does the Heirloom Single Column Legacy Compare to others?

I do not wish to overburden you with a ton of comparisons, but there is one Bible that I would like to compare the Heirloom to, the Tyndale NLT Select Reference Bible. Both are single column and worthy of a place on your desk. The Select Reference features a slightly smaller 8.75-point font that is equally readable. Both Bibles feature exquisite goatskin from Jongbloed with a smythe sewn binding to ensure that they lay flat when opened.

The one “advantage” that is offered by the Select Reference would be the references in the outer margins, 40,000 in total but I’m not sure that really is an advantage. Both Bibles are spectacular and represent what I believe to be the pinnacle format from the respective publishers.

Why buy an Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible?

I am not even going to entertain the question of if you should buy, I think you should. Instead I want to summarize my thoughts as an explanation of why you ought to own an ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible.

  1. It is as perfect as you are going to get in terms of a reader’s Bible
  2. The craftsmanship guarantees that this Bible will live on in your family for generations.
  3. Using this edition will enhance your spiritual growth because you will consume larger portions of the Bible.

Overall Thoughts

If it is not obvious, I love it. Crossway offers a huge selection of Bibles, but for me this the best they offer. The ESV that I normally carry is the Schuyler ESV w/Confessions but I can say with confidence that this Bible will get plenty of use. As a matter of fact, I have been looking for a new primary translation for my audience and have narrowed the field to the ESV and the NLT and since I will be using both translations for different reasons, I think both the Heirloom Single Column Legacy and the Select Reference will end up being my main two Bibles for a while.

 

CSB Study Bible Review

CSB Study Bible Review

This particular review has taken me a little longer than normal, not because there is anything wrong with the CSB Translation but because old habits die hard. The HCSB, predecessor to the CSB has been one of the translations that I have used for a number of years and I am trying to make it a main translation but after 21 years with NASB, old habits really do die hard.

 

The particular CSB that we are reviewing today is the CSB Study Bible in jacketed hardcover which was provided by B&H Publishing free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

 

The CSB Study Bible is an update to the HCSB version of the Holman Study Bible.

 

From the Publisher

The CSB Study Bible continues to offer the ECPA award winning Holman study system with all of its study notes and tools uniquely designed to be on the same page as the biblical text to which they refer. Newly expanded to offer additional word studies, feature articles on the apostles by Dr. Sean McDowell, and more.

The CSB Study Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read it today — and share it always.

For the growing believer whose desire is to know Scripture more intimately and live out its loving instruction, the CSB Study Bible always keeps you and God on the same page.

Features include:

  • 368 word studies to introduce you to the context and meaning behind key Greek and Hebrew words
  • High-quality smyth-sewn binding that will lie open whether you are reading Genesis 1 or Revelation 22
  • Full-color visuals to help you see the structure and context of Scripture come alive, including 94 photographs, 55 maps, 44 paintings, 21 illustrations/reconstructions, 19 charts, and 61 timelines
  • Introductions and outlines for each book, including background information, theological themes, and insights into the unique contribution of each book
  • Easy-to-read layout with two columns of text, center-column cross-references, and three columns of notes

 

Why do you need a study Bible?

A number of my colleagues do not care for study Bibles and I think this is a bit short sighted. The primary audience for a study Bible is a new disciple. Fully 95% of the Christians in America will not get the benefit of Bible College but will need resources to help them grow. A good study Bible, and this one is an excellent choice, will provide an excellent foundation for discipling a new believer.

Translation Choice

The CSB is what we would call a mediating translation, or to use B&H’s description, Optimal Equivalence. It is not strictly literal like the NASB nor is it an entirely meaning based translation like NIV or NLT. You will find the text to be literal where it needs to be and meaning based where it needs to be. All in all, I really like the translation and I will eventually replace my NASB and NIV with the CSB.

Study Notes

The study notes are conservatively estimated at 15,000 but I would say that we are closer to 20,000. The notes easily rival both the MacArthur and ESV Study Bibles, two of my favorites. They are very comprehensive and do not simply explain the text but they provide cultural and theological background as well.

The predecessor, HCSB, was often times called the “Hard Core Southern Baptist Bible” because it is copyrighted and published by a Southern Baptist entity. However, the notes are not strictly Southern Baptist, even less so now than in the preceding edition. I would say they are pretty much mainstream evangelical.

 

Hebrew and Greek Word Studies (CSB Only)

There are times when you need to go deeper into a word’s meaning to be able to interpret Scripture correctly. The CSB Version of the Holman Study Bible offers Hebrew and Greek Word Studies. A word study will feature the word, its pronunciation, how it is translated in the CSB, an explanation of the word’s use in the Bible. This is arguably my favorite feature in the Holman Study Bible. In the updated version we are treated to 315 Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic word studies.

 

The word studies do not take the place of learning any of the original languages but they are most helpful for a Sunday School Teacher or a younger pastor who wants to go a little more in-depth with the audience.

If there was to be one feature that would cause me to recommend this study Bible over some others, it would be the word studies.

 

Additional Helps

141 photos, 62 timelines, 59 maps, 40-page concordance, 20 articles and essays on practical and theological issues, 16 illustrations and reconstructions, and 15 charts all come together to make what is doubtlessly one of the best tools you can add to your library.

The photos bring Scripture to life in new ways as they enable visualization of the lands of the Bible that may have been hard to imagine before. The timelines bring the historical context into the Bible and the charts present key information in a systematic way for more practical study

Overall Impression

All in all, I like the CSB Study Bible. I would prefer the paper to be a little heavier so that I felt comfortable writing in it but that is simply a niggling little complaint. Despite snarky remarks from its detractors, there is not really any denominational or theological bias in the CSB Study Bible.

If this is going to be your main/only Bible, spend a little more and get a leather edition. There is nothing wrong with a hardcover but it will wear out faster than a leather edition will.

 

 

Concord Reference Bible: The King of KJV

Concord Reference Bible: The King of KJV

 

Important Note: Since this was originally published, I have upgraded to the goatskin. I will add some comments regarding that but I will not be updating pictures at this point. 

When I think of the King James Version of the Bible, the first name that comes to mind is the Concord Reference Bible from Cambridge University Press. As cheesy as this may sound, holding the Concord feels different than holding any other KJV with one notable exception, the Westminster Reference Bible; It feels more scholarly and using it gave me the sensation of standing amongst great men of our faith, but that’s just me and my obscure little oddities, I’m sure.

I have had conversations with a number of peers and we all agree, there is just something special about the Concord.

Binding & Cover

Cambridge sent me the black calf-split leather edition to review. It has that certain scent to it, the kind only a real Bible nerd would notice and appreciate; it’s the smell of pure leather and it’s almost like a drug. Every time I hold this Bible, I catch a whiff of the leather scent and I am flooded with euphoria. (total nerd but that’s ok. )

I mentioned that I have upgraded to the goatskin and the leather scent is even stronger, almost intoxicating. 

The cover is not as limp as a goatskin liner and it is also a little stiffer than the calfskin in my Holman Minister’s Bible and I really like that fact. The concord is much easier to hold than other Bibles, staying open/flat with single hand use without me worrying that it will spill out of my hand. The grain is quite visible and the texture is luxurious. If you have never felt a calf-split leather Bible from Cambridge, it would be difficult for me to describe; suffice it to say that this Bible feels like no other.

Both editions of the Concord have a somewhat pronounced grain. It is hard to describe, except to say that the moment my Concord is in my hands, I immediately fell the compulsion to preach.

Of course it is a sewn binding; Cambridge Bibles are bound in cooperation with Royal Jongbloed, the best binder in the world and you can see the attention to detail that Jongbloed has brought to Cambridge. The smythe sewing guarantees a lifetime of use. How long? Well, I have a Bible that is 70 years old with a sewn binding that is still going strong so I would have to say, with proper care, this Bible could probably last 70 years or more. On the other hand using it so much that it falls apart is also a very good thing.

 

Paper:

Good luck finding any ghosting (see-through) in a Cambridge Bible. I am sure that if you looked hard enough, you could find some but the eye-strain required would then result in a nasty headache.

Cambridge always uses the finest papers available and this is no exception. I would estimate a 30 gsm paper although I could be wrong. It is just the right shade of white to allow you to see the red-lettering with no issues. Incidentally, unlike some other white papers, you do not get the nasty glare when out in the sunlight.

 

References

The Concord reference Bible references are so exacting and precise that they are one of the two sources of references for my beloved Westminster. I would go so far as to say that if the Concord Reference Bible were the only Bible that you had available, you could effectively interpret Scripture with no issues.

Glossary

This is a feature that you do not often see in a KJV Bible but one that every KJV publisher needs to adopt. The glossary offers explanations of words, which have changed their meaning or are not in use any more. For example, oblation, which means anything offered in a sacrifice and is no longer used in everyday English.

Concordance

The 140 page concordance is a shining star amongst Bibles. Every topic you could possibly imagine is included along with Scripture references. You really don’t need any other tool for topical analysis of scripture.

Bible Dictionary

This 129 page offering is a concise expository dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament words geared toward those faithful men who stand in the pulpit every Sunday. While you will not find every word that you may want to study in depth, there is more than sufficient material to keep you studying until the 2nd Coming.

I understand why Randy Brown at Bible Buying Guide keeps coming back to the Concord Reference Bible and why I, too, keep finding myself going back to it; you just don’t need anything else.

There are two other English translations that would pair well with the Concord NASB and ESV. I really do not understand why one of the top two reference Bibles on the market only comes in a single translation.

Concord Reference Bible is the King of the KJV. Long live the King…

 

 

KJV Classic Wide Margin Study Bible (With C.I. Scofield Notes) – Lambskin Edition Review

KJV Classic Wide Margin Study Bible (With C.I. Scofield Notes) – Lambskin Edition Review

 

It is always a privilege to review a new Bible because I love to help people find that one Bible that they will use every day as they walk with Christ. Today, we get to talk about one of my favorite KJV Bibles, the Classic Wide Margin Study Bible from the KJV Store. Before we go any further, a disclaimer: This Bible was acquired at my own expense and this review was not solicited by the KJV Store. My thoughts are my own and the KJV Store had no influence on the content of this review.

 

We will not only talk about this particular Bible but we will also talk about the KJV Store buying experience.

 

Here are some technical details from the KJV Store

 

The KJV Classic Study Bible (With C.I. Scofield Notes) contains reflections on the Word of God that have guided believers for over a century. It features the original 1917 notes from Dr. C.I. Scofield and references in a Center-Column format and is matched to Dr. Scofield’s time-honored study system, with book introductions, center column subject chain references, chronologies, and same-page text helps that provide “Help where Help is Needed.” It also features a slightly larger trim size to accommodate the wide margins.

Features:
– Buttery Soft Black Lambskin Leather Cover
– Quality, flexible Imitation Leather-lined to the Edge
– Sewn Pages for extreme flexibility
– Margin Measurements: 1/4″ inside, 1-1/4″ outside, 1″ top, 1″ bottom
– Large trim size (6-3/4 X 10 X 1-3/4″)
– Black Letter Text
– Clear readable typeface
– Complete 1917 Edition Study Notes by Dr. C.I. Scofield
– Complete Old Scofield cross references in center-column
– Translator’s Preface to the Reader
– Introduction to each book of the Bible
– Subject chain references
– Same-page text helps and subheadings
– Award Page
– Chronologies
– Concordance
– Dictionary of Proper Names
– Subject-Index
– Bible Maps
– 2 ribbon markers
– Printed and Bound in the U.S.A.!
– Pure KJV Text

 

Buying from the KJV Store

Buying from the KJV Store has been one of the easiest transactions I have ever completed. From start to finish the order process took approximately 7 minutes. I did have a question about shipping and when I called for assistance, the young woman who answered the call was most pleasant and found the information I needed in less than two minutes. I have to say that this was one of the most pleasant buying experiences I have ever had. I deal with major publishers and retail stores regularly and have never had a process go this smoothly. The experience alone would be enough for me to recommend the KJV Store even if they did not provide a product that I personally enjoy.

 

Here is what I said on their website a few days after my Bible arrived:

 

I have reviewed a number of Bibles, premium and mass market, and this tops the list as the best KJV I own. The lambskin feels better to the touch than any of the goatskin Bibles that I own, even my venerable KJV Concord Reference Bible. I always say everything about the Bible should bring joy to the reader and this is no exception. You have well outdone the competition and I could not be more pleased with my new Bible.

 

The Major Feature

Anyone who has read my reviews knows that I love a wide margin Bible and this is no exception. Most of my other Wide Margin Bibles give you a 1-inch margin but this wide margin classic gives you an extra 1/4 inch on the outside margin. They get it, pastors and students will annotate their Bibles and you need all the room you can get.

 

One of the most common questions that I get asked is what to write in the margins. I wish that there was a specific answer to this question but there isn’t. As I have said over and over again, what you write in those margins is what will make this Bible uniquely yours.

 

The Leather Cover and the binding.

There may have been a time when I have touched a softer, suppler feeling leather than this lambskin, not that I can recall when. The closest comparison I can think of would be to go to a local Mercedes Benz dealer and caress the leather in a new one. I think I might like this more than the goatskin on my NASB.

 

We need to touch on some practical care information before we continue: Depending on your climate (I live in the Sonoran Desert), you may find the cover drying out. I recommend keeping Lexol on hand to condition the leather. Remember that the oil that naturally occurs on your skin will help the leather.

 

The cover is edge lined with an imitation leather liner. Matched with the sewn binding, it should lay flat regardless of where it is opened to. Keep in mind, lambskin is a thinner hide than cow or goat, and even though it will last much longer than a hardcover, how long this cover lasts will depend on your usage. If this is your main Bible, I would expect to rebind after about 10-20 years.

 

The Paper, Opacity, and Font

The paper, like most other Scofield Bibles, is bright white and fairly opaque. I would guess at least 32 gsms on the paper. The text of Scripture is at a 9-point font and the notes are in an 8-point font. Each of these is a whole point larger than the standard Oxford edition. The edition from CBP offers 10-point font and 1-inch margins whereas the KJV Store Wide Margin edition gives you wider margins at 11/4 inches on the outside margin and gutter in exchange for a slightly smaller font. Is the trade off worth it? I would have to say yes. I travel in a lot of “Reformed” and Baptist Circles and almost every pastor, elder, and deacon that I meet notates the margins of their Bibles and this margin size seems ideal.

 

Important Features of the Classic Study Bible

Why do you want a Classic Study Bible? It offers you

  • An unparalleled, subject-based topical chain reference system that will enable you to follow major themes throughout the entirety of Scripture
  • Enlightening introductions, complete outline subheadings and a complete chronology for each book of the Bible
  • Illuminating, same-page explanatory notes
  • Comprehensive indexes to annotations and subject chain references which permit thorough topical study
  • A detailed study Bible concordance with integrated subject index and dictionary of Scripture proper names
  • 12 pages of accurate, full-color Bible maps (with index of places and natural features) that illustrate the biblical world

 

An interesting note:

In an age where most Bibles are published in Korea or China, this Bible is printed and bound in the United States. This is a rarity in Bibles and many will consider a USA printing to be an added premium.

 

Final thoughts:

I am very well pleased with the WM Classic Study Bible in lambskin. KJV is one of the 3 translations that I have used for more than 20 years and this is far and away my favorite KJV.

 

I realize that some of you, beloved are not Dispensationalists and I respect that. However, there are a lot of people who think they know what Dispensationalism teaches but really miss the mark. I commend this Bible to you for your study so that you might better understand how we in the Dispensational School of Thought view Scripture.

 

NASB Side Column Reference Bible (2017) Review

NASB Side Column Reference Bible (2017) Review

 

Since at least 1973, the Side Column Reference Bible (SCR) has been a mainstay of the New American Standard Bible. It is the “workhorse” Bible for many a pastor, student, missionary, or at-home Christian who wants to know God better. It is the one Bible that I keep going back to, irrespective of which translation that I try to use. Why, though? What is it that makes the SCR the ideal choice in a Bible? I hope to answer that in this review…

 

Disclaimer: Today’s review Bible, the NASB Side Column Reference Bible in black calfskin was provided by the Lockman Foundation at no charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked for a positive review, simply an honest one.

 

Product Details from Lockman

A one inch outside margin and over 95,000 cross-references will enhance your daily reading and study. This Bible features a single column of Bible text making reading smooth and steady.

Features

  • 1″ Wide margin
  • Concordance
  • Maps
  • Side-column cross references and text notes
  • Single column, verse format layout
  • Presentation Page
  • Family record section
  • Black Letter
  • 2 Ribbon markers
  • Gold page edges
  • 10-point text size
  • 75″ x 7.00″ x 1.50″

 

To the question of what makes this Bible the ideal choice…

As I have mentioned before, most people have only one Bible that they use on a daily basis; it is an uncommon event for them to purchase a new one and so choosing a new Bible can be a very momentous event (and from what I have been able to participate in at local bookstores, a very emotional one as well). Hopefully this review helps you to make your decision…

 

Translation Choice:

It is no secret that I love the NASB and there is perhaps no choice more important that which English translation that you use. New American Standard Bible is absolutely uncontested as the most literal translation that you can invest your resources in; a sentiment backed up by a number of college professors and pastors that I know. Almost every pastor I know, regardless of what they teach from, owns an NASB and uses it for comparative study. NASB, being the update of the 1901 ASV, well lives up to its tagline that the most literal is now more readable. Some have said that the NASB sounds “wooden/stiff;” I disagree. After 21 years of use, I find the NASB to be as familiar as talking to an old friend.

The Margins

I love wide margin bibles and this is no exception. Margins are 1-inch wide and while I have seen as large as 1.25 in times past, this seems to be the standard size. Every page has these luxurious margins for your notes and personal cross references. In fact, it is this feature alone that makes this your personal bible. No one else will ever put the same content into their Bible.

 

Let’s digress for a moment. There are two brands of pens that I would recommend for writing in your margins and I will link them below.

http://pilotpen.us/categories/ball-point-pens/better-retractable/

F-301 Retractable Ballpoint 0.7mm Assorted 9pk

 

Both of these pen series will provide rich color with little to no bleed through. I have tried a number of different pens and highlighters in various Bibles and I have found that I like the Pilot Better Retractable and the Zebra F-301 the best for writing notes and underlining. Your results may vary. As far as highlighters go, I still have not yet arrived at a product that I like well enough to recommend. 

What do I recommend to write in the margins of your SCR Bible? There really isn’t one specific answer. In some Bibles I like to write key points from a sermon I am listening to. In other Bibles I like to do topical reference lists. With my NASB, I always have at least one that has word studies in it.

 

Notes and References

95,000 references guide you through virtually every possibility of Scripture interpreting Scripture. There are one or two Bibles that offer more references such as the Westminster but, for most pastors, this Bible will go far beyond your daily needs Accompanying the references are translators notes, showing alternate translations as well as what variant Greek manuscripts may or may not have in the text.

 

If you are unfamiliar with a Bible from Foundation Publications (Lockman’s publishing brand) it is somewhat difficult to explain why I think the references are a big deal. There are some other Bibles with excellent references, Concord, ESV Classic, and others but Foundation Publications Reference Bibles stand in a class by themselves, ok maybe Westminster joins them. I always advise people to choose a Bible as if it were going to be the only tool you have to study the Bible ever again and in choosing the SCR you will be sufficiently supplied with tools to study and to teach others. We will talk about additional tools in another section.

 

Size and Portability

This is considered a full size Bible with dimensions of 9.75x7x1.50 inches. To look at it, you would not think it would be easily portable. For a book of its size, I expected it to be a little heavier. I am very parapatetic (I like to walk and talk) and I am also very Italian (I talk with my hands and in both cases there was no issue. While I am not as hard on my Bibles as Dr. Stanley, I do put them through their paces and I am confident that this will hold up nicely.

It was a little big for the pocket I normally use in my laptop bag but easily fits in the main pocket. If you are curious as to which Bibles work well with which briefcases, I have found that Solo and Swiss Gear do nicely. When you are traveling, this Bible should fit in most luggage or laptop bags easily.

Cover & Binding

As would be expected, the SCR uses a smythe sewn binding. In regular English, that means that it is sewn together so that you do not have to worry about chunks of the Bible falling out (I live in Arizona and have made the mistake of leaving a glued Bible in the car. That is not a cleaning bill I plan to get again). It also means it will lay flat, ready for study, no matter which book you open to. This particular method would allow, if you were so inclined and I am not, for folding your Bible in half. I am not inclined to do that because eventually it will damage the spine.

The calfskin for the cover is very soft and limp. It does not rival the venerable 2002 edition but I do not really see anything to complain about; it is what I expect from an ironed calfskin cover. The calfskin SCR is leather lined for an even softer more supple feel.

 

Caring for your calfskin

For some of you, this may be your first calfksin Bible and I want to add a little note. The most important advice I can give you is to use it. Your skin has natural oils that will keep the leather soft and supple. Do not use household oils. If you need a particular product, I recommend you contact Leonards Books and they can give you several ideas.

 

How long should this SCR last? That will depend on you, the user. With proper care, I could see 20 years of use before a rebind would be needed; here in the desert that might be closer to 10. The block itself could last 50 years.

 

The Paper

At last we come to it, the major concern of those buying Bibles today, the paper…

How you view the paper is largely dependent upon your experience with other Bibles. I would classify this as a semi-premium Bible because of its price point. I have 4 versions of the SCR, 1973, 2002, 2013, and 2017. The 2002 has the best paper of the three. That being said…

I like the paper. There isn’t really see through like there was on the 2013 edition. Comparatively speaking, the 2013 SCR was no where near as bad as some of the garbage other publishers try to pass off as a quality Bible. Some people are super particular and if they see any shadow, at all, they don’t like the book. Those folk will not like this edition. Others, like myself, are more realistic and will note that even though you see a little shadowing, you cannot read the text on the opposite side of the page like you can in other Bibles.

I want to write in this Bible, what will happen? Earlier, I mentioned two series of pens that I recommend; if you use these, you will be fine. You should not experience bleed through. I cannot speak to any liquid highlighters as I do not plan to try them. The gel and dry-liners should not have any issue either.

Here is some official information from Lockman:

“New:

30 gsm, 1520 pages per inch

Whiteness ~84

Opacity ~83

 

Past/current paper:

28 gsm, PPI 1350

Whiteness ~87

Opacity ~77

 

The new paper is a brighter color which provides better contrast with the print. It’s smoother and more consistent in opacity across the page. It’s more thin reducing the thickness.

 

It will take a while for the new editions to filter into distribution depending on binding and there will be a mix of edition for quite a while. There is not a way to tell when purchasing, so the new ones will get out over time and I don’t know how long that will take.”

 

I am pleased with the paper overall.

 

Tools

The other tools that are available are the NASB Concordance, Book Introductions and Maps. These are fairly uniform across Foundation Publications products so there is not much needing to be said.

Final Thoughs

This is an excellent Bible. I give it a 9.5/10. I am only taking half a point off for lack of goatskin as a cover option. While we wait for the new update, I commend this Bible to you for your daily study and ministry needs.

 

**Additional/better pictures to follow**

 

ESV Pastor’s Bible Review

ESV Pastor’s Bible Review

 

If there is one organization that is committed to resourcing the local church, and especially pastors, it is Crossway. Crossway publishes dozens of different editions of the ESV Bible, Commentaries and other academic texts. Now, they have brought to the market, in a single volume, the ideal resource for the minister who is always on the move, the ESV Pastor’s Bible.

Note: Crossway provided this Bible for review free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

A word from Crossway about the ESV Pastor’s Bible

“About the ESV Pastor’s Bible

A pastor depends on the wisdom of Scripture for all aspects of ministry. What truths can be relied upon in seasons of celebration and in those of sorrow? What does the Bible have to say to us about marriage, sickness, and death? The ESV Pastor’s Bible was designed to help pastors draw wisdom from God’s Word for specific situations requiring pastoral care, such as baptisms, weddings, hospital visits, or funerals. In the front matter, back matter, and throughout the text, the Pastor’s Bible contains excerpts written by pastors offering practical help for crafting a sermon, planning a special service, leading congregational prayer, conducting premarital counseling, visiting the sick, and resolving conflict within the church. Compiled under the guidance of seasoned pastors R. Kent Hughes and Douglas Sean O’Donnell, this substantial but portable edition is a great all-in-one resource for the on-the-ground pastor.

Features:

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • 2 daily Bible reading plans
  • Excerpts from experienced pastors
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: Slipcase”

I am reviewing the cloth over board edition. Admittedly, I find the existence of this version to be a little odd; I almost never see a pastor carrying a hardcover Bible. I suspect this edition is offered for bi-vocational pastors who may be on a tight budget and it is good that Crossway is considering the pastor who needs an excellent resource but may have limited dollars to commit to gathering resources.

Paper, Font, Readability

I am quite impressed with this Bible’s readability. The font is a generous 9-point and is considered by some of Crossway’s competitors to be a large print font. The Pastor’s Bible finds itself in between the ESV Thinline Reference Bible (8-point) and the Large Print Thinline (10.5-Point). Overall, it is very comfortable on the eyes.

 

Part of the ease of use comes from the paper, it is just a little bit off-white and very opaque. Add to that the fact that Crossway’s printer uses a very deep and rich black and you get one of the easiest text blocks to read. Circling back for a second, the “off-whiteness” of the paper plays a very important role in why this Bible is so easy to read- there is no glare. Here in Arizona, the afternoon sun is very bright and severe which makes reading crisp white pages a bit of a challenge and with the particular paper in use, here, I wonder if maybe someone from Crossway has spent some time in the Southwestern U.S.

Binding, Ribbons, and Cover

There are 3 cover options available: Genuine Leather, Cloth over Board, and TrueTone. Because of the sewn binding, and one of the 3 cover options should last for a very long time.

Crossway provides two ribbons, one for Old Testament and one for New

Minister’s Helps

Located in between the New Testament and the Old, you will find a section of Pastor’s helps. Essentially, what Crossway has done is to take a Minister’s Service Manual and put it right into the middle of the Bible. There are sample weddings, sample funerals, baptisms (infant & believer’s), communion services, etc.

Here is a list of the helps you will find:

Invocations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prayers of Confession . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Announcements of Assurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Historical Christian Creeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Liturgy for Baby Dedication. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Liturgy for Infant Baptism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Liturgy for Believer’s Baptism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Communion. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . Wedding Service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Funeral Service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Graveside Service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Benedictions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

It would be hard to overstate how useful theses resources are. In addition, you will find helpful articles for pastors covering such topics as praying for the sick and cultivating discipling relationships.

 

Overall Thoughts

I really like the ESV Pastor’s Bible. I think it is one of the more useful tools Crossway has produced and I highly recommend to any pastor.

 

 

CBP Classic Study Bible Review

CBP Classic Study Bible Review

 

If you’re a Baptist, and chances are good that you are, you have probably heard of the Classic Study Bible albeit under its other name, the Old Scofield Bible. First published in 1909, the Scofield Reference Bible has been a mainstay in Baptist and other circles and for good reason; the Scofield and the Thompson Chain Reference, which came out around the same time, are the oldest “study” Bibles available and the longest currently in production. What sets the Scofield apart it that it was the first that offered commentary on the Bible.

I mentioned in a previous review that Church Bible Publishers (CBP) is an endeavor of the local church in Michigan and that they offer their Bibles at cost, which is a marvel in today’s money driven society. I have had a small amount of interaction with CBP staff and I found them to be knowledgeable, friendly, and generally seemed like the people you want to eat fried chicken with (It’s the official bird of Baptists, fried chicken). A note before we get into the review: CBP did not provide this Bible for review nor did they solicit a review; this is my own endeavor.

 

THE REVIEW

Translation Choice

CBP publishes in a single English translation, the King James Version (KJV). Even though I read other translations besides just the KJV, I am pleased to see CBP specialize in a single translation; I find it makes for better overall quality because you can focus on providing what customers need rather than vetting a translation. One point about the choice of KJV: Many people say that the KJV is not copyrighted in the US and so makes for a better translation choice. This is actually incorrect; The US honors the Crown Copyright in the United Kingdom (Elizabeth II currently holds the copyright and granted letters patent to Cambridge) even though to try to enforce it would be a logistical nightmare. When you see the term Authorised Version or Authorised King James Version, you see that because the Official King James Version is being used as is the case here.

Leather Cover

As was the case with the Thompson Chain that I reviewed earlier, the Classic Study Bible came to me in black ironed calfskin. There is an alternate choice of Top Grain Cowhide but, in my opinion, the calfskin is to be preferred. You may order in black, brown, burgundy, read, two-tone (black and brown) and thumb indexing is an option. I have no clue where CBP gets their leather but it is some of the softest most luxurious leather you will ever touch; I love the feel of it.

Two other publishers offer the Classic KJV Study Bible, Oxford University Press, the original publisher and copyright holder of the Classic KJV Study Bible and Barbour Books, neither of which offer calfskin. Barbour offers hardback and bonded leather while OUP offers bonded or Genuine Leather (read pigskin). That fact, alone, would be reason enough for me to endorse the CBP version over the others but lets continue.

Paper and Font

CBP offers a much larger font vs OUP and Barbour. OUP and Barbour use an 9-point font for the text and an 8-point for the notes while CBP offers the following for font size: Bible Text – 10 pt, Center Reference – 6-7 pt, Footnotes – 9 pt. I have both of the other versions and I can tell you with absolute certainty that this version will replace the other two.

CBP’s paper is bright white and very opaque making this Bible very easy to read indeed. The black is rich, deep, and bold and the red jumps off the page. Many publishers screw up the red and you end up with pink; I am happy to say that this is not the case here. The red is exquisitely done.

Sewn Binding

This is one feature that is non-negotiable for me; I live in Arizona and a glued binding would melt if I happened to forget it in my car. A sewn binding guarantees a lifetime of use and also guarantees that it will lay flat anywhere you open the text. The fact that CBP can deliver a sewn binding on every Bible they sell tells me that other publishers have no excuse.

Bonus Feature: Wide Margins

This is not advertised as a wide-margin edition but it has wide margins anyway. Why is this bonus feature important? It is in the margins that your Bible truly becomes yours. All of your study notes, perhaps some prayers and so on; it all goes here and makes your Bible uniquely yours. It is true that there are literally millions of Classic Study Bibles around the world, from all three publishers, but no two are identical and the wide margins guarantee that.

Important Features of the Classic Study Bible

Why do you want a Classic Study Bible? It offers you

  • An unparalleled, subject-based topical chain reference system that will enable you to follow major themes throughout the entirety of Scripture
  • Enlightening introductions, complete outline subheadings and a complete chronology for each book of the Bible
  • Illuminating, same-page explanatory notes
  • Comprehensive indexes to annotations and subject chain references which permit thorough topical study
  • A detailed study Bible concordance with integrated subject index and dictionary of Scripture proper names
  • 12 pages of accurate, full-color Bible maps (with index of places and natural features) that illustrate the biblical world

Final Thoughts

Buy this Bible. Do it today. If you have never seen the inside of a Scofield, you are missing out and that is irrespective of how you view Dispensational Theology. The Classic KJV Study Bible from CBP is the best edition of the Scofield Reference Bible that is available today. To say anything else is gilding the lilly.

 

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