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.
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.
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.
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
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.