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.

 

 

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