Category: Resources and Reviews

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

 

 

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

As I am preparing to step into a Senior Pastor role, I find myself looking at resources for the disciples who come to church and today I would like to introduce you to one of the two Bibles newly saved disciples will be offered, the NLT Christian Basics Bible. (Disclaimer: unlike other review Bibles, this was not sent by Tyndale nor was a review solicited; this is completely on my own.)

First, some information from the publisher:

New to the Bible? The Christian Basics Bible is for you! It can be difficult for readers who are new to Scripture to explore the Bible’s teachings and to understand how Christian beliefs are established in its pages. The Christian Basics Bible is filled with features designed to help readers-especially those new to the Bible-connect biblical teachings to Christian beliefs and to see how those beliefs apply to their lives. By delivering the right amount of both information and application, the Christian Basics Bible can become the catalyst that helps you to live a vibrant Christian life guided by God’s Word.

Product Information

Format: Imitation Leather
Number of Pages: 1700
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 1496413571
ISBN-13: 9781496413574
References: Cross References

Initial Thoughts:

I was rather surprised with the Christian Basics Bible; my original expectation was something geared more toward teens or perhaps children and I was not expecting much theology. I half expected the Christian Basics Bible would just call out the major stories that most people would already be familiar with. Instead, you actually get Theology, and good Theology at that.

Translation Choice:

The editors chose the NLT and they could not have made a better choice. The NLT is translated using English at an early middle school level, approximately 6th-7th grades. The “Meaning Based” or “Thought-for-Thought” approach is what gives NLT its broad appeal; if you did not know it, outside the United States, NLT is in a statistical tie with the NIV for the dominant English Translation and I find that it is perfect for someone who has English as a second language.

Front Matter:

First up, we are given a Read This First Article. This article is a brief overview of the Christian Basics Bible and a guide to using it.

Becoming a Christian

This article provides a guide to how to become a Christian and begin a life of discipleship. The article discusses the need for a savior, the need to repent, and how to do so. There is a sample prayer provided to help the new disciple in confessing sin and yielding to the Lordship of Christ.

Now That You Are a Christian

Following on the Becoming a Christian article, this article guides new disciples through the beginning stages of the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus. The article references several topical articles located throughout the Bible that will provide guidance in starting that relationship.

What is the Bible

This is the longest of the three articles. It covers Bible history, the major sections of the Bible, and the languages of the Bible. The article also covers the overall message of the Bible as well as its priority in the life of a believer.

A Timeline of the Bible

This is an estimated chronology of when the events in the Bible happened. It is fairly self explanatory.

Main Study Helps

Book Introductions

Like any good study Bible, each book comes with its own introduction. Each introduction has a 1-paragraph summary of the book. The What’s It All About section provides an overview of the book and where it fits in the overarching story of redemption. The What Does It Mean for Us section gives us a glimpse of how the truths of each book applies to our lives today. Lastly, the Overview Section provides a brief outline of the book.

Topical Articles

Interspersed throughout the Bible are topical articles related to what it means to be a Christian. Each article concludes with a reference to another article that is related to the topic being studied. Topical exegesis isn’t my favorite way to study the Bible but when you are trying to learn theology for the first time it is a very helpful way to begin.

Back Matter:

Reading Plans

Plan 1 takes 28 days and gives an introduction to the Bible. Plan 2 will take approximately 180 days and provides a panoramic picture of the Bible. There is not a Plan 3 but that isn’t a drawback. By the time a new disciple completes plans 1&2, there should be enough familiarity with the truth of Scripture to be able to decide what is desired to be studied next and select an appropriate study plan.

Basic Truths of the Christian Faith

At first glance, you would think this is a concordance, but you would be mistaken. This is a topical guide to the major subjects a Christian would be expected to deal with in their life. There is an introduction to the topic followed by an expository outline to the reader through the topic.

Glossary

There is a brief glossary which helps readers to understand the terms that Christians commonly use.

Visual Overview of the Bible

Lastly, there is a visual overview of the Bible. These are 14 full color maps and charts to help you visualize what you are reading about and make the Bible come alive.

Final Thoughts

This is not what I had expected and I am delighted by that fact. I have spent almost a month on reviewing the materials offered and I am well pleased. The theology is basic enough that a reader would have a solid foundation after following the 200 days of readings recommended in the reading plans but it will also provide a jumping in point for deeper discussion of theology.

This is one of two Bibles that we will be providing at Abounding Grace Baptist Church for those who are new disciples, the other being the Swindoll Study Bible and we will choose which one to give based on how much, if any, the new disciple already knows about the Bible. I highly recommend the NLT Christian Basics Bible.

 

 

NLT Reflections Journaling Bible Review

NLT Reflections Journaling Bible Review

 

 

Initial Thoughts on the NLT Reflections Bible

It’s no secret that I love a wide margin Bible and in the case of the NLT Reflections Bible, these are the widest margins I have, personally, seen in a Bible, 2.25 inches. Tyndale made the margins ruled which eliminates a huge problem for me; for some reason I cannot write in a straight line on un-ruled paper, so giving me ruled margins made me exceedingly happy.

 

There are 3 covers available, all with sewn bindings so they will lay flat. Tyndale sent me all three (free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own): Ocean Blue (actually more of a teal) cloth over board, Sketchbook (The cover feels very similar to a Moleskine notebook and is the same shade of black), and Mahogany Bonded Leather over board. Of the 3, the mahogany will be the one I carry most. I cannot explain why, but it seems to be the most “pastoral” and since it will be used in a church plant, it seems the natural choice.

 

From the publisher

Product Description

NLT Reflections is a handsome single-column, wide-margin New Living Translation Bible. Extra-wide 2.25″ lightly ruled margins make this Bible great for note-taking, journaling, recording prayers, doodling, drawing, and other forms of creative expression.

Special features include

  • A line-matching setting that’s designed to prevent text show-through
  • A durable sewn lay-flat binding
  • Matching ribbon marker
  • Elegant spine hubs
  • Presentation page
  • One-year Bible reading plan
  • 8-point text size
  • 75″ X 6.75″ x 1.50″

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 1704
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.50 X 6.38 X 1.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1496418042
ISBN-13: 9781496418043
Text Layout: Single Column|Wide Margin

 

Text Color: Black Letter
Text Size: 8 Point
Thumb Index: No
Ribbon Marker: Yes
Spine: Sewn
Page Gilding: None
Page Edges: White

The Paper & Font

The paper is a crisp white, not quite so bright that it would be difficult to read in the sunlight but not an off-white either; I guess that eggshell would be the best descriptor. Tyndale lists an 8-point font which I would have to say is the most readable 8-point font I have seen in a while. It is not the same font family as my KJV Concord Reference Bible but it is just as readable. Since I am planning to preach from the Reflections Bible, the font is the biggest factor for me; I am pleased to say that I have experienced no eyestrain when reading from this Bible.

Margins and their use

The margins, as I said earlier, are 2.25 inches and they are ruled for easy writing. I think there is one Bible with larger margins but it is only in KJV, if memory serves. In my case, the margins will be used for main points of sermons and word studies.

For writing your annotations, I recommend Papermate’s Better Retractable (shown in photo below) and I recommend Accu-gel Hi Glider for color coded marking. I have the six color pack and I am using the following color coding:

  • Green: Fruit of the Spirit/Christian Life/Discipleship
  • Purple: Kingdom of God/Eschatological Kingdom
  • Blue: the Godhead
  • Yellow: Prophecies of Christ, His Advents, & Ministry
  • Pink: Salvation
  • Orange: Ecclesiology

 

Naturally, your color coding may vary. There are many important topics that are worth color coding; in my case I chose the topics I believe are most important to a brand new church. How you color code is not as important as actually doing the color code. Color coding is one of several memory triggers that you can use to recall information quickly.

Actually Writing in the Bible

Typically, my annotations are word studies although, on occasion, I have been known to add some topical references. In the example shown in the photos, I have provided markings from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5. Because the Beatitudes fall into the category of Christian Life, I have marked them with the green accu-gel highlighter pen. You will notice that the coloring is noticeable but it is not so bright as to distract from the text. In the margin, there are some brief comments on the word makarios which we translate as blessed. The word to be studied is in red with the definition and references to Strong’s and Thayer’s in blue and my summary remarks in black.

I have also provided a picture of the opposite side of the page from where I made the markings. You can see the slightest hint of a shadow where I wrote but you cannot make out individual letters and the green highlighting barely shows any shadowing.

For Carry/Daily Use

For daily carry and use, this Bible is a great choice. The format lends itself to reading large amounts of text in a single sitting. Of course, the exquisite margins provide the perfect canvas to record your thoughts as you read devotionally or your study notes while you prepare your lessons. In the case of my wife, who has claimed the Ocean Blue, that point you want to remember from the Sunday Sermon fits here nicely as well. The overall size and weight of the Bible lends itself to one handed use without worrying if the Bible will fall out of your hand while reading. I am very peripatetic (walk while talking) and I have not noticed any issues with that habit and this Bible.

Overall Thoughts

I’m really enjoying the NLT Reflections Bible. It works out nicely for my purposes in using it as a pastoral tool. My only suggestion would be to add two more ribbons so that you can study the Old Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, and the New Testament simultaneously. I hope that, after reading this, you will get an NLT Reflections Journaling Bible and that you will customize your own study/devotional Bible.

 

 

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Charles Spurgeon…The words are often spoken with reverence as if the words themselves define what it means to be a pastor. Spurgeon is often called the Prince of Preachers and deservedly so. However, there has always been one disadvantage…you cannot have Spurgeon in your living room teaching the Bible. Holman Bible Publishers and Allistair Begg have been able to remedy that with the Spurgeon Study Bible.

I was asked, by a friend, for a one sentence reaction to the Spurgeon Study Bible and here it is, “I liked the Spurgeon Study Bible review copy so much that I procured a goatskin one so that I will be able to use it till Jesus returns.”  (NOTE: The Hardcover in the pictures was sent free of charge in exchange for an honest review; the goatskin was not. My opinions are my own.)

Features include:

  • Introductory Biography of Charles Spurgeon
  • Study notes crafted from Spurgeon sermons
  • Spurgeon’s sermon illustrations placed on the same page as the associated biblical text
  • Sermon notes and outlines in Spurgeon’s own handwriting
  • “Spurgeon Quotables” inserted throughout the Bible
  • Book introductions with book overviews in Spurgeon’s own words
  • Two-column text
  • Concordance
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation Page
  • Full-color maps

About the Translation

The Spurgeon Study Bible is published in Holman’s own translation, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). CSB is an Optimal Equivalency or Mediating Translation; it does not swing too far on the thought-for-thought end of the translation spectrum nor does it swing too far toward the word-for-word end of the spectrum. I find it to be fairly in the middle.

The CSB is an excellent choice for teaching and study and, in fact, is one of the translations I use daily alongside NASB, NLT, and NIV. Several ministers that I know, personally, have switched to CSB and, frankly, the only reason I have not is because most of my audience was already using NLT before they became my audience and I felt it would be easier to use the Bible they already have rather than have them try to switch to what I’m using. I feel confident in recommending the CSB to you for your daily use.

To be a little more specific on the translation, it is like the perfect combination of the NIV and the NASB. It is very readable though a little more challenging than the NLT but the translation is easily readable enough for students of any age. I always recommend using two translations in a study session and my favorite pairings for CSB are these: CSB/NLT for devotional readings and CSB/NASB for lesson prep and academic study.

The Introductions

The Introductions are 1-page each. They provide an overview of each book in Spurgeon’s own words as well as how the book contributes to the Bible. There is also some information about the structure of the book and the circumstances of writing.

You won’t find any outlines in the Spurgeon Study Bible. Normally this would annoy me, but in the case of this particular Bible, it actually makes sense. Spurgeon focused more on pastoral understanding of the Scripture as opposed to academic theology.

The Notes

The notes provided aren’t commentary in the traditional sense that you find in most study Bibles. These notes come from Spurgeon’s sermons. While they do not cover every single verse of the Bible, and I would not want them to, they provide an excellent understanding of how God spoke through the man who is arguably the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul.

Translation Notes

The Translation Notes have been reduced in quantity to allow for the other notes on the Bible. They can usually be found in a green box under a column of text.

Spurgeon’s Sermon Outlines, Quotes and Illustrations

There are 20 one page outlines from Spurgeon. They’re from The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854, Volume 1 from B&H Academic.  They take two pages – one page is a facsimile of the hand-written sermon and the opposite page, you will find the sermon outline typed out.

You will also find quotes on particular passages of Scripture and sermon illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.

The Paper and Font

The paper here is fairly opaque. I would put it between 28 and 32 gsms. 2k/Denmark provided the design layout in their Bible Serif font. If you have ever seen a 2k/Denmark layout, they are incredibly easy to read. I did have a couple challenges but those challenges resulted from deficiencies in my own eyes and not anything to do with the font. The fact that this Bible is a black letter text is very useful when it comes to being able to read it.

My goatskin leather edition also includes tabbed indexing. These are small rectangular tabs cut into the text block as opposed to the rounded thumb-index type. Many of my colleagues have mixed feelings about indexing tabs but they can be useful. If you have not memorized the order of the books of the Bible, or if you are like me and sometimes need rapid reference to a particular section of Scripture, they can be most helpful.

Cover Options

There are 4 Cover Options available, Cloth Over Board, Black & Brown LeatherTouch, Burgundy & Marble Leather Touch, Black Genuine Leather (Actually goatskin). The cloth over board is very nice and sturdy and would be well suited for daily carry, especially for students. For taking into the pulpit, the goatskin is phenomenal. It is vinyl lined so it is a little stiffer than a leather lined Bible but this is in no way a negative as it will still lay flat due to its sewn binding.

What Holman is doing with their Bible covers is absolutely amazing. The LeatherTouch (imitation leather) is incredibly realistic and, I think, is even more convincing than what Crossway offers. The true surprise, though, is goatskin with tabbed-indexing for $99.99 which is normally what you would pay for a pigskin genuine leather.

I am not sure who the source of the leather is, or the bindery house, but it is very well done. The skin is very soft and smooth, almost like it was ironed goatskin but there is the tiniest bit of grain that you can feel as you run your fingers, slowly, over the leather.

Is Anything Missing

There are two features that are noticeably absent but their absence does not detract from this Bible: Book Outlines (mentioned earlier) and Center Column Cross References. The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible is not intended as an academic aid like most other study Bibles are; it is much more pastoral in nature. To me, it feels like you really do have Spurgeon in your living room mentoring you.

Final Thoughts

Spurgeon was, perhaps, the greatest pastor since the Apostle Paul and, in the Spurgeon Study Bible, you get to see the heart of the pastor and you get to be mentored by Spurgeon. I would rate the Spurgeon Study Bible a perfect 10.

 

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 and the NLT.

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.

 

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