Category: Resources and Reviews

NLT Giant Print Bible Review

NLT Giant Print Bible Review

 

The NLT Giant Print Reference Bible brings one of the most helpful English translations of the Bible to one of the most helpful formats, giant print. Before we continue the review, Tyndale House Publishers provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one, and my opinions are my own.

 

additional photos click here

 

The Translation

NLT is often confused with its predecessor, The Living Bible Paraphrased, but NLT is an actual translation. It is a Dynamic Equivalence Translation (Meaning Based). NLT usese the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Hebrew Text and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition and was translated by a team of 95 scholars across several denominations.

 

The English used is around 4th-6th Grade reading level. It is incredibly readable, making it one of the three best selling English translations of the Bible. In fact, it is one of the top two, rivalling NIV.

 

Is NLT good for teaching? Believe it or not, yes. Two-thirds of the world’s 800,000,000 English speakers have it as a second language. It is wonderful for teaching, so much so, that Oasis International, a ministry focused on resourcing African Christians, exclusively uses it.

 

Cover and Binding

The edition that I am reviewing is teal leathersoft (a type of imitation leather) with a sewn binding and a paste down liner. The cover has a medium stiffness and is easy to hold in the hand,

 

Font

Thiss is one of the largest fonts I have seen in a bible. It is a 14-point font on par with the monstrous Lexington font in the Giant Print ESV from Crossway. In the NLT, I have not encountered a more readable font. Tyndale really hit a sweet spot with the font size.

 

The black letter portions are very well done, a deep rich ebony. I hate to complain, it feels so ungrateful, but the red ink leaves a little to be desired. The red is not dim but it is not as dark as I would prefer. In the pulpit it does pose a little difficulty as the overhead lights tend to be severe and they cause the red letters to look faded out. On the other hand, in my reading chair, I had no issues. It is adequate for most situations but in the pulpit a black letter is preferable.

 

Paper and layout

I am not aware of an NLT in a verse-by-verse setting and this is no exception. This is a text only Bible laid out in paragraph format. There are no references at all but translation foot notes are provided at the bottom of the page. A solid black line separates the two columns of text with chapter numbers being very bold.

 

The paper is much improved over earlier editions. There is a tiny amount of show through but nowhere near as bad as in earlier editions. If you are going to mark, I recommend using Prismacolor brand colored pencils. In most Bibles you will get a good color without show through. The paper is bright white and it is very easy to turn the pages.

 

As a carry/reading Bibles

The Giant Print NLT is a 6”x9” Bible so it is considered full size. Is is relatively portable. Naturally, it is quite readable

 

For preaching and teaching

For the most part this does well for teaching and preaching. That being said, we must be candid and tell you that the type of lighting available will impact utility as a preaching and teaching Bible. There may be some fade out on the red letters.

 

Other Observations

There are not helps other than the translation footnotes and maps. A single teal ribbon marker is included for you to mark your progress in your reading plan. Bonded leather and thumb-indexed editions are available but I cannot find whether or not a black letter only edition exists.

 

Should you buy this Bible?

I cannot see any reason why not. Tyndale is really improving the quality of their Bibles as global adoption grows. I always recommend that teachers get the largest font which is practical for them and this Bible will fit the bill nicely.

 

 

 

CSB Pastor’s Bible (Recovered Content)

CSB Pastor’s Bible (Recovered Content)

The following content has been recovered and reposted for your enjoyment.

 

Click for photos

The most important tool any pastor carries is his Bible and a number of publishers have released special Bibles for pastors, all of which are worth consideration.  Previously, we have reviewed the EVS Pastor’s Bible from Crossway and today we are reviewing the CSB Pastor’s Bible in brown genuine leather. (Note: This Bible was acquired at my own expense; no review has been solicited by Holman Bible Publishers.) 

 

Before we begin, some information from Holman… 

Product Description 

Available in two editions, Genuine Leather or Deluxe LeatherTouch-theCSB Pastor’s Bibleis ideal for pastoral use during preaching, officiating services, or personal study. Helpful features include a single-column setting, large type, wide margins, a special insert section in the middle of the Bible. Also contains outlines for officiating weddings and funerals, and extensive tools and articles from some of today’s respected pastors and church leaders. TheCSB Pastor’s Bibleis a valuable life-long resource for Pastors. 

 

Features include: 

  • Smyth-sewn binding 
  • Single-column text 
  • Footnotes 
  • Black-letter text 
  • 10-point type 
  • Concordance 
  • Presentation page 
  • Two-piece gift box 
  • Over 17 articles on leadership and ministry by experienced pastors and leaders disbursed throughout the Bible’s pages 
  • Outlines for officiating weddings and funerals 

The CSB Pastor’s 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 and share with others. 

A Few Remarks About CSB 

The choice to preach and teach from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one that more and more pastors are making and I can see why. On a number of occasions, I have described the CSB as the perfect blend of NASB (the most literal) and the NIV (the most popular). CSB is fastidiously literal yet very easy to read. I would estimate at an approximately 8th grade level, which is excellent because it will afford the teacher of God’s word the broadest audience spectrum possible. I have mentioned, in previous articles, that CSB is one of the 3 main translations that I use for regular reading. I am happy to commend the CSB to you; you will find it to be very accurate, readable, and most importantly, faithful to the original text.  

Cover and Binding 

I selected the brown genuine leather version, for myself, and I want to tell you two things about it. 1. Brown genuine leather is a total understatement. This is actually goatskin leather, as you will see stamped on the back of the Bible. 2. This goatskin cover is absolutely exquisite and I cannot believe that you can find a goatskin Bible at this price ($99.99). The brown  goatskin has an ironed cover which provides a smooth texture and a softer feel. The coloration is similar to milk chocolate and is reminiscent of a cup of hot cocoa. Brown is not, normally, a favorite of mine but I really enjoy this. 

The liner is a paste down, which I think contributes to the pricing. Here, in Phoenix, the heat can make a paste down liner a little problematic because if you leave it in your car, you can melt the paste (This has actually happened to me in the past.). 

The block, itself, is sewn. If you know anything about bindings, you know that a sewn binding is the only type that will stand up to the near constant punishment a pastor will subject his Bible to and I can confidently state that the cover will wear out before the sewn binding will.  

One other note, there is no stamping on the front cover and I find it to be most appreciated. The Pastor’s Bible should be a reflection of the pastor, reserved but accessible and focused on the glory of Christ. 

Layout, Font, and Margins 

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The margins are approximately 1-inch. A wide margin is essential for a pastor so that you can mark out your notes and references.  In all honesty, a wide margin is an often overlooked feature In the Bible a pastor chooses but it is a very smart feature to have because it is not always practical to carry notes into the pulpit with you but you can easily put the essential notes into the margins so you are still able to preach a passage.

 

2k/Denmark designed the font and, even though it is officially a 10-point font, it reads more like an 11-point to my eyes. The text is black letter and I have found this to be much more useful in the pulpit than a red letter.  

The single column paragraph format works out well for large scale consumption of the Biblical text and, since consuming the Biblical text is a pastor’s most important undertaking, this format is highly desirable.  

 

Helps 

At the end of the Bible are the various pastoral helps.  These include a “where to turn” section with Scripture references to help (pictured below), “A Brief Biblical Theology of Leadership,” “Eight Traits of Effective Church Leaders,” “Pastor, Find Your Identity in Christ,” “Glorifying God in Your Ministry,” “What is Biblical Preaching?,” “Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures,” “What is Doctrinal Preaching?,” “Four Keys for Giving an Effective Invitation,” “Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing,” “Soul Care: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,” “Letter to the Church,” “Five Steps to Start and Keep an Evangelistic Culture,” “How Do You Disciple Others?,” “The One Thing You Must Do as a Student Pastor,” and “Sharing the Gospel with Children.”   

 

In between Psalms and Proverbs is where you will find the “Life Events” helps. These are for weddings, funerals and so on.  Noticeably absent are helps for communion and baptism as well as cross-references, which can all be found in the rival ESV Pastor’s Bible. Whether or not missing these helps is problematic will depend entirely upon who you are as a pastor. The helps that are “missing” I have in other books that are in my library. 

 

There are 3 ribbons provided so you can mark your spot in each of the 3 major sections of the Bible: Old Testament, Worship and Wisdom, and New Testament. 

 

As A Carry Bible 

The Pastor’s Bible is not small but it is not overly large, either. I would list it as just right. It fits in my bag easily, I can hold it one handed without my hand/arm getting tired, and it pairs well with my iPad when placed on my pulpit.  

 The Pastor’s Bible is, essentially, in the sweet spot for Bibles. Like many of my brethren, I preach from a tablet but I still carry a physical Bible as I always recommend to my colleagues.

Final Thoughts 

Would I recommend the CSB Pastor’s Bible? Yes. I use different translations (NLT, CSB, & NASB) for different purposes and I definitely plan on moving the pastor’s Bible into rotation as my pastoral care and discipleship Bible. I will also be using it alongside my Tyndale Select NLT Reference Bible for large scale consumption of the Biblical text.  

ESV Verse by Verse Preaching Bible

ESV Verse by Verse Preaching Bible

Regal. Scholarly. Majestic. Pastoral…pick an adjective and chances are it will fit this Bible perfectly. I refer, of course, to the ESV Verse by Verse Preaching Bible, which Crossway generously provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Crossway did not ask for a positive review just an honest one and my opinions are my own.

 

Click Me for Photos of the ESV Preaching Bible

From Crossway

The ESV Preaching Bible, Verse-by-Verse Edition builds upon the foundational features of the ESV Preaching Bible with a new verse-by-verse format. The primary vision behind this edition was to create a Bible specifically tailored to the task of preaching. To that end, this edition maintains a preacher-friendly layout with each verse on its own line to ensure ease in public and personal reading. This elegant Bible features a highly readable type, enlarged and bolded verse numbers, extra-wide margins, high-quality paper, a durable smyth-sewn binding, and a premium goatskin cover guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Features

  • 9.75-point Lexicon type
  • Single-column, verse-by-verse format
  • High-quality, coated Bible paper
  • Created from the ground up with input from pastors and church leaders
  • Enlarged and bolded verse numbers surrounded by extra space to easily locate verses on the page
  • Presentation page
  • Concordance
  • 2 ribbon markers
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Premium goatskin cover
  • Packaging: Box

Now the Review

Initial Impressions

While I was growing a tad accustomed to Crossway’s offerings (there are only so many alternatives to excellent as adjective of choice and only so many ways to say they are worth investment) Crossway has slapped me out of my lethargy and prompted me to say this to Lauren (my contact at Crossway)

“NOW you have given me the ESV I have been pining for. My first ESV was the Single Column Reference Bible (that first copy was gifted to a new believer). I have a hardbound copy that has been my main ESV but this…this is the ESV I have wanted since I got the SCR. 

As far as I can tell, I will be returning to the ESV and will staying there.”

I very much enjoyed the original ESV Peaching Bible. However my own habits prevented my adoption of is as a preaching Bible; for 24 years I have taught from a Verse by Verse Format and, while I did endure a couple of months using a giant print in another translation, Verse by Verse is the format that I use. Ergo, I am delighted to have this offering from Crossway for my pulpit; it is the ESV I have longed for, I will explain why in the various sections as we go.

Layout

We will go a little out of my usual order and begin with the layout. This is a single column verse by verse format with almost no accoutrements in the text block. You will not find a reference in the text but you will find a few translators footnotes as well as subject headings. The headings are helpful if, like me, you take one section at a time. The margins are easily 1.5” wide and, when I first saw them, I instinctively reached for my pencil (though I am waiting until 2021 to begin the notes). Bolded verse numbers round out the accoutrements and they are the feature that I find most helpful. Much like the large print wide margin, they are very bold and black as midnight making it quite easy to find your place in the text.

Paper and Font

Crossway, as is their custom, gives us a very muted paper-moderately cream colored but very light in its coloration which sets off the red under gold gilding quite nicely. The paper is rather heavy, 32gsm if I had to guess. I would venture to say that most writing implements will work well on the pages of this Bible. I am not sure that I would use an archival pen but that has more to do with me having a heavy hand when writing. In normal cases I do not expect bleed through but always test your writing utensil in the concordance where it will not interfere with the text.

This is a black letter text edition, which is the only acceptable choice. A red-letter edition would interfere so much when taken into the pulpit. It is a deep ebony, coming close to the coloration of a Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate bar. Even without my bifocals, there is no strain on the eyes, which surprised me quite a bit as the font is only 9.7.

Cover and Binding

If you guessed the binding was sewn, you win! It lays flat quite nicely despite not being sewn super tightly.

The goatskin on the cover is the best that Crossway has offered on a Bible. I have handled many of Crossway’s Heirloom (goatskin) and Top Grain Leather (Calfskin) and have never walked away unsatisfied. I had previously thought that the single column preaching Bible was the best goatskin Crossway had offered but this is somehow better. The pebble grain is very pronounced, exciting every nerve ending in the fingertips.

For preaching

My pulpit stands at 5’10” tall and the Perching Bible performed quite well. I could leave it on the pulpit and read therefrom but I am rather a fidget and have difficulty not walking while I talk. The Preaching Bible is conducive to single handed use being evenly balanced. I can best describe its utility this way: This Bible could easily stand up to the punishment that Charles Stanley inflicts upon a Bible (watch him sometime and you will get the idea).

For 1 on 1 Discipleship and Biblical Counseling

Here is the area where my main Bible gets most of its use outside my home and, I suspect, probably where most other reformed pastors get most of their use as well. The margins are ideal for topical annotations related to counseling, marking out the Romans Road to Salvation and others. It may be a little bigger than what others prefer in their bag but I have never shied away from a large Bible and this one is absolutely perfect for carry and pastoral use in almost every situation.

Compared to my NKJV Preaching Bible

Believe it or not, the NKJV Preaching Bible is not my main NKJV for preaching, the Model 334 Personal Size Giant Print Reference Bible is my main Bible  for preaching. Each has clear advantages but the ESV  squeaks out a win.

Nelson 334 offers a 14-point font and thumb indexing. ESV however, offers more opaque paper, wider margins and a goatskin cover.

In the pulpit, I am rather glad of not having the End of Verse References. I would enjoy thumb indexing but its lack of inclusion is not anything I would complain about.

 

Final Thoughts

There is not really anything left to say. If ESV is your translation of choice, then either of the Preaching Bibles is absolute perfection and the Bible that should be in your pulpit. If it happens that ESV is not your translation of choice…maybe you should rethink that.

 

The Book

The Book

 

Photos of The Book (Cllick Me)

 

One of the most popular categories, in Bible Publishing, today, is what is called the Reader’s Bible. In this article, we are looking at the volume that created this category and we have to go back in time to 1971, the year when Tyndale House Publishers revolutionized the way people interact with the Bible and released a volume simply titled, The Book. Note: I acquired this copy of The Book on my own; Tyndale House Publishers did not ask for this article and my opinions are my own.

The Name

Calling this edition of the Bible The Book was quite apropos for two reasons: Christians and Jews are called, pejoratively, called the People of the Book and secondly, this particular edition of the Scripture is laid out like a normal book.

The Concept

When you go to the Bible section of the bookstore and you pick up a Bible, most of them are fairly intimidating and many of them are rather busy. There are all manner of “helps” but those “helps” are often times a distraction to our interaction with the Bible This is where The Book comes into play and really shines. It is laid out like a normal book, really it’s laid out very similarly to a novel. I will cover the layout more in the next section but, suffice it to say, you could sit in your favorite chair with The Book and your favorite beverage and, easily consume, large amounts of the Bible in a single sitting. 15 years ago when I got my first copy (I have worn out 3 or 4 copies over the years), I read the entirety of the Gospel According to Mark in a single sitting and without even realizing the time lapse.

Layout, Font, Paper

The Bible text is laid out in a single column paragraphed format, exactly how any secular book would be laid out. There are 3 and only 3 helps in the text itself and they are chapter numbers, verse numbers, and subject headings. It rather blends a novel and a text book. There is one other set of “helps” in the front of The Book, a topical guide to read about the Christian Life.

The font, which is entirely black letter, is very crisp and easy to read, which should not be a surprise in a volume designed to be read in large quantities of pages. It looks to be in the Lexington Family with the chapter numbers being bold, dark, and very large.

The paper is not your normal Bible paper which is often fairly thin; this paper is a little thinner than in a textbook but very well suited to its purpose. To my surprise, many of the people that I have seen with this volume do highlight and make other markings in The Book. I would venture to say that if you were inclined to write in The Book, you will have no issues with just about any writing implement.

Translation

Originally offered in The Living Bible Paraphrase (the green one in the pictures), the Book is currently offered in the New Living Translation. The New Living Translation is what we call a meaning based translation. It is more free flowing and endeavors to capture the original thoughts as the original readers would have understood them. It is not a technical or a woodenly literal translation.

Cover and Binding

The Book is offered in both Hardcover and Softcover (Paperback). It is considered a milestone in the publishing world when a book goes paperback and The Book has done that in both editions.

The binding seems to an adhesive binding. You might expect me to be disappointed in this fact but, in the case of The Book, I am not disappointed at all. It is exactly what I expected. Since The Book is designed to be as close to a “regular” book as possible, a glued binding fits.

As a Carry Bible

The Book is an incredible choice for an everyday carry Bible. First, it is the perfect format for reading and second, people see the cover and cannot help asking, “so what is The Book about?” and when that happens, it opens the door to a conversation about the Bible and the Gospel.

As a Giveaway Bible

The price point is not my favorite level for a giveaway Bible but The Book is a very practical choice for a Bible to giveaway. In this format, people that otherwise will not read the Bible, will find themselves with an option that they not only will read but will actually want to read it.

Final Thoughts/Overall Impression

The Book is a great choice for gift giving, especially for new disciples. The most important aspect of our faith is the actual reading of the Bible. For 49 years, The Book has been helping Christians to do just exactly that. It will continue to do so for many years to come.

CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible Review

CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible Review

 

The newcomer into the field of Archaeological/historical study Bibles comes from the fastest growing English translation on the market, the Christian Standard Bible. Holman Bible Publishers sent me a copy of the CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one and my opinions are my own.

 

Photos of the Holy Land Illustrated Bible

 

The Concept

The Holy Land Study Bible takes a look at the land of the Bible, both current and past. Many of us wonder what it would be like to walk where Jesus walked or to sojourn through the wilderness where the Children of Israel walked but will not get that chance until after the Lord returns. This is where Bibles in this category come into play- helping you to visualize and internalize the land of the Bible.

The Translation

As mentioned in its name, this Bible is offered in the Christian Standard Bible. Since the 2017 release/update, the CSB has pretty well taken the market by storm as that juggernaut that is the oldest Bible publisher in America, Holman Bibles, has flexed its muscles and given us amazing Bibles.

CSB is a mediating translation at approximately 7th grade reading level. It is very well suited to study, devotional reading, and public reading.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper has a somewhat newsprint feel. It will most likely have no issue with writing. It seems to be a muted white, almost gray,

The CSB text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. We have an approximately 9-point font in a black that is very well done, a deep onyx that is very easy on the eyes. Translator’s Footnotes can be found at the bottom right of the page. In a little bit of an “easter egg,” chapter numbers are cranberry which provides a nice break-up of the reading experience.

1,100 images, maps, and illustrations with descriptive captions Few Bibles offer more to delight visual learners than the CSB Holy land illustrated Bible. There are photographs of places and artifacts to make the world of the Bible to come alive. Maps are included but that is rather painting the peacock. I confess that, to my surprise, I found these photos to be more engaging than in other similar Bibles. If you were to pair this with the ESV Archaeology Bible, you would have such an immersive experience as to make you feel like you were walking the land of the Bible and dialoguing with the experts.

275 full-length articles There are times when I am reading a passage and think to myself, “I would like to dig a little deeper on this.” As it happens, the Holy Land Illustrated Bible hits almost every one of those areas with a full-length study article. It is very nice to not need to pick up a second tool to dig a little deeper into a passage.

 40+ “Digging Deeper” call-outs These are bite sized articles containing cultural and historical notes to help whet your appetite for further study.

66 “Non-traditional” Book Introductions  These introductions cover the Circumstance of Writing, Contribution to the Bible and the Structure. These are far more circumspect than in other Study Bibles. However, they lack nothing that would be essential to grasping the Bible.

The Study Bible That Isn’t

Normally, when you think of a study Bible, you think of commentary notes, word studies, charts and graphs, exegetical aids etc. Here, though, Holman has made a study Bible that does not feel coldly academic. It is visually arresting- no matter where you turn, there is something to catch your eye and help you to internalize the Bible.

 

The Experience

Every Bible in this class offers its take on the ultimate Bible reading experience. Many times, I have heard, “I just can’t picture it, or I really don’t understand the significance of this idea.” There is no way to experience that with the Holy Land Illustrated Bible. You need not worry about being able to picture something, it’s right there in front of you and the historical significance is presented in the call out articles.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t what I expected. While I do enjoy other Bibles in this category, they can be a touch dry and academic. I am very pleased to not have that be the experience with the Holy Land Illustrated Bible. I love all things Bible so it should be no surprise that I enjoy this.

NASB Large Print Bible in Blue Buffalo Hide

NASB Large Print Bible in Blue Buffalo Hide

Fans of the NASB, myself included, there is new reason to celebrate, an additional high-quality leather binding option-buffalo hide. In this review, we are considering the blue buffalo leather option, which Zondervan sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

 

Click here for photos of this Bible

 

To begin, the edition I am reviewing is the Large Print Thin-line. It is, to the best of my knowledge, a new style for the NASB and one I rather enjoy, to be quite honest.

 

Cover and Binding

As I mentioned with regard to a similar option in the NIV, this is a very supple and flexible leather offering. This buffalo leather is on the same quality level as an ironed calfskin. Ironically enough, this Bible comes in at a lower price point than a traditional calfskin.

 

The leather lined cover is buttery soft and a delight to the touch. It is not as thick as the buffalo hide on other Bibles that I own but still feels every bit as sturdy.

 

Naturally we get a sewn binding. Zondervan left the binding a touch loose. This is to ensure ease of use one handed.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

As has been the case with its cousins in the Premier Collection, the NASB Large Print Thin-line Bible uses a crisp white paper. There is minor show through but nothing that will interfere with its use. If you are like me and enjoy marking in your Bible, I recommend colored pencil for marking in this Bible.

 

The Comfort Print Font Family really shines in this Bible. The verse by verse layout works out extremely well when paired with the 11-point font that Zondervan is offering. The red lettering is a little lighter than I had expected but it is still very well done and very easy to read.

 

In addition to being in a verse by verse format, we also have a double column setting. The double column setting makes it about 50-60% thinner than the most recognizable NASB Bible on the market, the Side Column Reference Bible.

 

The limited Translator’s Footnotes can be found at the bottom of the page.

 

For Everyday Carry

At around 1 inch thick, this is a great format for a daily use Bible. It should fit in most briefcases, backpacks, and purses without issue. I would say this Bible weighs in at 2 pounds or less so you should not experience any carry fatigue. The small, versatile format lends to a wide range of uses including personal study, one to one discipleship, or preaching.

 

As A Preaching Bible

An 11-point font is the smallest size that I would recommend for preaching and this particular Bible will do very well in the pulpit. As a text only Bible, there is nothing to distract from the text when preaching or if you are leading a responsive reading with your congregation.

 

Final Thoughts

NASB is one of the most important English Versions available and this is an excellent offering from Zondervan. Zondervan is the largest publishing partner that the NASB has and I have long wanted Zondervan to give us a broader selection of Bibles from which to choose; it is nice to see them finally doing so.

NIV Giant Print Thin-line Bible in Brown Buffalo Hide

NIV Giant Print Thin-line Bible in Brown Buffalo Hide

 

When I reviewed the NIV Giant Print Thin-line Reference Bible, I commented that I wished the Bible came in a higher-grade leather. Zondervan heard and answered my request, in a manner of speaking. Before we go too far into the review, I need to disclose that Zondervan sent me this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions, however, are my own- they did not ask for a favorable review just an honest one.

Click here for photos

 

Spoiler- this has replaced the Giant Print Thin-line as my preaching NIV.  Let’s find out why…

Cover and Binding

This is a brown buffalo leather and the leather was quite a surprise. I have two other Buffalo hide Bibles and they are rather stiff but this leather is quite supple and flexible. It is an ironed hide in a rich milk chocolate brown leather. My copy had a scent to it that reminded me of visiting relatives in Pennsylvania’s farm county- it was quite delightful.

I have reviewed several goatskin Bibles and I do love them but this leather I like better. Even though it is very flexible, this leather feels sturdier, like it will hold up better.

This Bible does have a sewn Binding. I have chosen to use this as a preaching Bible and, for that purpose, a sewn binding was absolutely essential, otherwise it would be useless within about 36 months.

Paper, Layout, Font

The paper is fairly crisp white. There is mild reflection in bright light but nothing that would irritating. I would say that the paper is sufficiently opaque for marking and, as I tend to do, I recommend the use of ball point pen for marking.

In some of the pictures, it looks like there is some show through (ghosting) but in person, there is not really much ghosting at all. It is really quite readable.

The text is laid out in double column paragraph format. Limited translators’ footnotes are at the bottom right corner of the page. The verse numbers are both large enough and dark enough to find with relative ease.

The Comfort Print font is extremely well done in this edition, perhaps better than its reference-based cousin. The black letter portion is a deeper richer ebony than you find in many of Zondervan’s other Bibles. The red letters really impress me, especially at this Bible’s price point. In far too many cases, red-letter Bibles turn pink but not so here. The red is very well done, consistent, deep, rich and most importantly, easily readable in the pulpit. In this instance the red letters are darker than in other Zondervan Bibles, a very deep red almost to the point of being dark cherry in color.

The layout is nearly identical to that of the Giant Print Thin-line Reference Bible but at half a point smaller on the font size, it does have slightly different pagination.

For Preaching

I have a few NIV, including the Premier Collection Large Print Thin-line (11-point font) which is a phenomenal choice for preaching. However, middle age and diabetes wear on my eyes, leading me to reach for the 13-point font size in the Giant Print.

This is a very versatile Bible. I tend to be peripatetic and this edition is very well balanced for one handed use. The Giant Print edition also works out well on the pulpit in that it does not add to eye strain when laid on the pulpit for reading.

 Compared to the NIV Preacher’s Bible

The NIV Preacher’s Bible is a great Bible for many and being keyed to the Pew and Worship Bible is nice BUT the NIV Giant Print Bible is, in my estimation, the superior Bible, simply by dint of the larger font. Both are offered in premium leather options and both are text only for utility in the pulpit so, for many people, either choice would be acceptable. That being said, I much prefer a larger font in the Bible I take to the pulpit.

Compared to the Large Print Thin-line

The layout in the Large Print Thin-line and the Giant Print Thin-line is virtually identical. The Giant print has about 300 more pages. The font sizes are 11-point in the large print vs 13-point for the Giant print. Either choice would be quite suitable for preaching.

Helps are not provided. Some of my colleagues will dislike this. I do not mind it. In the pulpit a text only Bible is preferable.

Final Thoughts

I am quite pleased with this Bible. For the price point, you get a very good value for the money. I wanted another high-grade leather option in the NIV, and I got it.

Zondervan called this the perfect every day carry Bible in giant print, a perfect exercise in understatement. This is the perfect Bible for preachers.

A special note to my pastor brethren: In the pulpit, one should have the largest font possible without forfeiting practicality. If you are preaching from NIV, this is an excellent choice.

 

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

 

 

Click Me for Photos

 

The Academic Standard Text of the English Bible has joined the Premier Collection and I am delighted. New Revised Standard Version (hereafter NRSV) has been finding its way into my studies more frequently as I endeavor to be more well-rounded in my studies and in bringing NRSV to the Premier Collection, Zondervan has offered an edition that is equally suitable to the desk and the pulpit. (Incidentally, Zondervan sent this Bible to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own as I was not asked for a positive review, just an honest one.)

Translation Choice

With Zondervan being the primary publisher of the NRSV, it makes sense that they would bring a spectacular offering to the Premier Collection…

NRSV is what we call an essentially literal translation, like its cousins ESV and NASB. There are some notable differences in the three, but by and large NRSV is pretty literal. It does tend more toward the mediating end of the translation spectrum because it is a little more free flowing. It is more formal equivalent than either the NIV or CSB, the dominant mediating translations on the market.

I have referred to the NRSV as the Academic Standard Bible for two reasons: 1. All of the general reference Study Bibles (the standard texts in most seminaries) and two because that is how it was presented to me. The Translation Committee included Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants and conservative Evangelicals. The NRSV has the broadest spectrum of thought in the realm of textual criticism.

Cover and Binding

If you have never handled a Bible in the Premier Collection, you are in for a real treat. To say the leather is a tactile delight is a beautiful exercise in understatement. There are very few Bibles anywhere which are more touchable than the Premier Collection. Previously, I had thought that Harper Collins had used their best leather on the NASB Bibles in the Premier Collection-I was incorrect. The NRSV has the most incredible goatskin that I have ever touched, even beating the leather used by Cambridge University Press, the leader in the Premium Bible Market.

The grain is nicely pronounced; it lights up every nerve ending in your fingertips. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I could sit and just run my fingers over the cover for hours on end. Naturally, as with all of its cousins in the Premier Collection, this is a leather lined cover, making the cover incredibly flexible but still sturdy.

The binding is, of course, sewn, BUT, it is not sewn as tightly as in the rest of the collection. It is almost as if Zondervan had designed this Bible for a peripatetic pastor. It is perfectly balanced for one handed use. Adding to the durability of the Bible, Zondervan has provided overcast stitching on the first and final signatures. This overcasting not only reinforces the binding, it also helps with laying flat in Genesis and Revelation.

Layout

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format with a couple surprises in the layout. Zondervan’s Complete Cross Reference System is placed in the outer margin and that margin, incidentally leaves 1 inch of space for annotations, symbols etc. Previous to receiving my copy, I had not been told that it was wide-margin (my preferred feature in a Bible geared toward study) and I was pleasantly surprised to find wide margins. Margin space has been my biggest complaint with the offerings for NRSV. For a Bible billed as the Academic Standard, wide-margins are essential and I am glad to see that Zondervan has finally added them.

In the footer, you will find the Translator’s Footnotes. Unlike its NASB cousin, the NRSV Single Column  Reference Bible includes the full set of Translator’s Footnotes. You may be asking why this is important and here is why, it is not always possible to go back to the Greek or Hebrew so having an insight as to why a particular choice was made is most helpful. As with all Zondervan Bibles, the Translator’s Footnotes include variant readings from the source text as well as textual variants from other original language manuscripts.

Comfort Print Font and Paper

Like the rest of the Premier Collection, this Bible is in Harper Collins’ Comfort Print Font. For reasons unknown to me, I find the NRSV’s Comfort Print the easiest to read followed by the NKJV Comfort Print Font (NKJV is published by Zondervan’s older sister, Nelson Bibles). Ironically I have not seen a comfort print from the 3rd Imprint under Harper Collins Christian Publishing, Harper Catholic Bibles though it is possible that is still in the works.

I was expecting a deep rich ebony for this black letter text and that is exactly what I got. It is no secret that I prefer a black letter text because I annotate in blue or red ink. Besides that, red letter can be a bit distracting in the pulpit, especially since it is, frequently inconsistent. 2k/Denmark plied their trade as master craftsmen and, in the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, gave us the most readable NRSV that I have set my eyes on. Though it is not billed as large print, it most certainly is large print at approximately 10.5-point font. To my surprise I had no issues with reading the text. (I wear bifocals and anything below a 12-point is a challenge). I did not experience the expected eye fatigue, a welcome relief since sermon prep requires I spend hours with any given text every week. I am pleased to say that the text did not stress my eyes at all.

The paper is a crisp white and very opaque, 38 gsm I believe. If you did not know, a higher number on the gsm indicates a heavier paper and one which will stand up better with underlying and annotations. There will be absolutely no issues annotating in pen, colored pencil, or standard pencil. Clearly Zondervan wants you to write in this Bible and, for that matter, so do I. There is no sight more beautiful than a heavily marked up Bible. You will enjoy marking up this Bible and making it your own.

There is another delightful surprise, one that would go unnoticed by a good many people. The edge gilting is purple under gold. Traditionally, the gilting it either red under gold or blue under silver. The purple under gold is a nod to whimsy {we don’t normally think of academicians as being fun_ but it also a nod to the majesty of the Scriptures. Purple is the color of royalty and, beloved, the Bible reigns over all othre books as King so it is proper and fitting that the color of royalty should be on the most regal of all books.

Which NRSV?

There are 3 Editions of the NRSV: The Protestant Canon, The Catholic Canon, and the Orthodox Canon. Each canon has a different number of accepted books and, for this Bible, Zondervan relied on the Protestant Canon. As it happens, the Protestant Canon is not in dispute which is to say that all 3 traditions will recognize and accept those 66 books. If you are Catholic or Orthodox and reading this article, I would encourage you to not be disappointed that the Protestant Canon was chosen. In doing so, Zondervan can actually get the Bible into the hands of more people since we all know and read those 66 books.

For use as a preaching Bible

Many denominations use NRSV for their weekly liturgy and this would be a logical choice for preaching in those churches. I was surprised to find it be easy to use. There is nothing wrong with a single column; I just happen to not be used to it in the pulpit. The font size and lay out lead me to believe that this Bible is designed to be equally practical for the Expositor as well as the general reader. It is very easy to do what I did-sit in your favorite recliner with this Bible open and just read for a couple hours.

Should you buy this Bible?

Decide, first, if the NRSV will be a main translation that you will use. The Premier Collection is not inexpensive but it is worth every penny. Ergo, if NRSV is either your translation or choice or a major use translation, then yes, this is absolutely the NRSV to own.

If you are in seminary, using the NRSV is probably not even a question and I have a twofold recommendation for this particular Bible- get the edition that is not in the Premier Collection for your classwork and get the Premier Collection edition for your time in the Pulpit, your preaching Bible does not necessarily have to be your workhorse.

Final Thoughts

I must confess to a gripe- I am annoyed that there are no lined notes pages included in this or any other in the Premier Collection. The Premier Collection is the ideal choice for anyone who teaches the Bible, regardless of whether that is Sunday School, Preaching, Classroom or any other capacity and I cannot fathom a logical reason for the exclusion of notes pages.

Other than that, as I told my contacts at Zondervan, I can sum up my opinion of the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition, in a single sentence: Finally, an NRSV worth the money!

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

 

 

NIV Study Bible Photos (Click Me)

 

 

 

For nearly 40 years, the NIV Study Bible has been Zondervan’s flagship study resource for those using the New International Version of the Bible. In 2020, it has been revised and updated with 100 new articles and over 1,000 new study notes. Zondervan sent me a copy, in black bonded leather, free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

Translation:

New International Version, NIV for short, is the dominant English translation of the Bible for Anglophone Christians. The NIV is available in two types, Anglicised (published by Hodder and Stouhgton) and American Standard English edition published by Zondervan. These two families cover both sides of the English speaking world.

 

NIV is one of the two most recognizable mediating translations available. A mediating translation strives to strike a balance between Formal Equivalence (literal) and Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought). NIV’s most similar competitor, Christian Standard Bible, leans more toward the literal side of the spectrum while NIV leans more toward the easy to read thought for thought end of the spectrum.

 

NIV as A Preaching Bible

NIV is an excellent choice for preaching. The translation rates around 6th-7th grade on the Flesch-Kincaide scale. The language is sufficiently technical and sophisticated so as to appeal to the more academically inclined disciple but it is also sufficiently easy to read so as to appeal to those disciples who have English as a second or third language. When bringing an expository sermon, NIV requires fewer restatements and definitions than other English texts.

 

NIV for Study

Some of my colleagues do not consider NIV to be good for study but I cannot agree with them. I find that NIV eliminates some steps when approaching study. Just as in preach ing, when studying a text, the NIV requires less restatement and fewer definitions. Additionally there are a host of commentaries, hand-books, study Bibles, and dictionaries based on the NIV including the powerhouse NIV Application Commentary, the New American Commentary, Holman’s Old Testament and New Testament Commentary and the premier single volume resource on understanding the Bible, Halley’s Bible Handbook.

 

Why choose a study Bible?

The choice to use a study Bible is one of practicality. Most Bible teachers are limited in the number of resources that are available for use, often having only one Bible and few, if any, study aids, which makes the acquisition of a study Bible a very helpful choice.

 

Why the NIV Study Bible?

The NIV Study Bible feature set makes it an excellent choice for a study Bible

 

Cross-References

The most important feature for Bible Study is a good cross referencing system, since the fundamental rule of hermeneutics is that the Scripture interprets the Scripture. In the NIV Study Bible, Zondervan provides around 68,000 references.

 

Translator’s Footnotes

       NIV Study Bible includes the full complement of Translator’s Notes. These include textual variants,  alternate translations, etc. I would say that the footnotes are a large portion of what makes the NIV so Easy to use.

 

Exegetical Study Notes

       Where many study Bibles contain what amounts to commentary, the NIV Study Bible has somewhere in the neughborhood of 25,000 exegetical study notes. The notes include explanations of the text, some cultural and historical background, alternate interpretations of the text , all of which is geared toward drawing out the meaning of the Scripture.

 

Introductions and Outlines

       The Introductions and Outlines in the NIV Study Bible are a little more in depth than in other study Bibles. Each introduction contains a detailed outline of the content of the book. Author, date of writing, purposes & emphases, and a timeline are all included. There is a small box containing “A Quick Look” at the book which highlights the theme, original audience, author, and approximate date of writing

 

Full color Maps and Charts

       Recognizing the needs of visual learners, Zondervan has included around 350 maps, charts, and photographs designed to make the world of the Bible come alive to your mind so you can behold the wondrous things in the Word of God.

 

Kholenberger’s Full Concordance

The complete NIV Concordance, created by John R. Kholenberger III is included. This topical study resource includes 4500-5000 entries with explanations and references.

 

       Index to Study Notes

There is a separate index to the study notes. This index is a topical breakdown of concepts addressed in the study notes, essays and articles to aid in understanding what the Bible has to say on a particular topic.

 

Expository Essays

There are over 100 expository essays included with the NIV Study Bible. These essays provide a more in-depth look at certain important concepts in our study of the Scripture.

 

Paper, Layout, Font and Binding

The paper is a crisp white which makes the red lettering very easy to see. Zondervan gives us a 9-point comfort print font. I, personally find the font a touch small BUT given the amount of content, a larger font would make this volume qite unwieldy.

 

Both the text and study notes are laid out in a double column paragraph format. The columns of Scripture Text are separated byt the center column references and the notes are separated from the Scripture by a bold black line.

 

The binding is sewn to ensure that it can stand up to the rigors of daily use.

 

How do I use the NIV Study Bible?

I am often asked if I regularly use the Bibles that I review and the answer to that is yes. I actually have a particular order in which I use resources, for a very specific reason, and the NIV Study Bible is used twice in lesson prep-it is my third and last resource. I start with the Teacher’s Study Bible and Halley’s Bible Handbook because I want to make sure that I have gotten a good handle on the minimum needed to understand the text. I turn to the NIV Study Bible, next, so that I can look for specific concepts that need a deep dive. Following this are commentaries and lexicons. Lastly I turn to my Study Bibles to compare what I have learned from the text to what other scholas have found with regard to the meaning and explanation of the text.

 

Who should buy the NIV Study Bible?

It is true that NIV Study Bible is for everyone but there is a particular group that I feel would benefit from the NIV Study Bible more so than others, Sunday School Teachers/Small Group Leaders. These wonderful saints serve Christ’s church faithfully, often without the benefit of Bible College and/or Seminary training. For them, a feature enriched study Bible is going to be very helpful.

 

Final Thoughts

I got my first NIV Study Bible in 1996 as a gift celebrating my baptism. In 1996, I began teaching Sunday School and  the NIV Study Bible informed my lessons. In 2005, I upgraded to the 10thanniversary edition. Later I upgraded to the full color edition. Currently, I use the digital version on OliveTree Bible Software. NIV Study Bible has proven a faithful and reliable companion.

 

NIV Study Bible gives you a full library of study materials. You can trust that, when you choose NIV Study Bible, you are choosing a resource that will help you to understand the Scriptures. This is a Bible worth your investment.

 

 

ESV with Creeds and Confessions Review

ESV with Creeds and Confessions Review

 

 

Additional Photos

 

The Crossway ESV with Creeds and Confessions is everything I have come to expect from Crossway, who, incidentally, sent me a copy in black trutone free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, just an honest one.

Initially, I was actually surprised to find that this particular Bible did not blow me away. It is not a Bible that I dislike. It’s everything I have come to expect, sewn binding, good paper, etc. I like it and I enjoy using it but I don’t feel the same excitement that I get when I reach for other Crossway products such as my Literary Study Bible, Systematic Theology Bible, or the ESV Preaching Bible. HOWEVER, with more and more use the ESV with Creeds and Confessions has grown on me, so much so that I have recommended it several times to Christians who are new to what is commonly called Calvinism and are looking for a new Bible.

This Bible is very reserved, muted even. This does not surprise me as the most conservative Calvinists lean puritan and do not want a “flashy” Bible to take into the pulpit.

General Format

Essentially, the ESV with Creeds and Confessions is a large print ESV Bible, the back of which has the Reformed/Evangelical Confessions of Faith coupled with the Ancient Ecumenical Creeds. The font and layout are incredibly well done although it was not the layout I expected. (See next section)

What I Would Change

The original ESV with Creeds and Confessions was done by Schuyler Bibles a few years ago-it was an enlarged version of the New Classic Reference Edition with the Creeds and Confessions added in. I actually would have returned to that format. I would also move the Creeds and Confessions to locate them either in the front matter or between the testaments.  I would also add some lined notes pages. One could argue that this Bible is geared toward pastors and seminary professors so the lack of notes pages puzzles me. I would also remove the concordance, it seems a trifle unnecessary here-most of the people who would be picking up this particular Bible will most assuredly have plenty of other resources for in-depth topical study of the Bible.

Cover and Binding

The cover and binding are not unusual for Crossway. (I have the black trutone, which is Crossway’s polymer based imitation leather and includes a sewn binding. ) The TruTone Imitation Leather continues to get more and more convincing as Crossway continues to hone their craft.

It may surprise you to learn that, in many cases, I recommend Crossway’s TruTone before I recommend a genuine leather. I know a number of pastors who are on the go rather frequently and you don’t always want a more premium leather in your every -day carry Bible.

Paper, Layout, Font

Again there is nothing unusual here. The paper is bright white which works well with the black letter text. The text is laid out in double column paragraph format, approximately 12-point font. Crossway uses the Lexicon font family and continues to do so.

I think the Lexicon Font Family is more readable than most other Bible fonts on the market. I wear bifocals and frequently find ESV Bibles easier to read than other Bibles of similar size and font types.

The Creeds and Confessions

13 historic creeds and confessions are placed in the back, including the Apostles Creed (ca. 200–400), the Nicene Creed (325), the Athanasian Creed (381), the Chalcedonian Definition (451), the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Articles of Religion (1563), the Canons of Dort (1618–19), the Westminster Confession (1646), the London Baptist Confession (1689), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Westminster Larger Catechism (1647), and the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) Introductions to each of the 13 creeds and confessions written by historian Chad Van Dixhoorn were included.

First and foremost, I am a Baptist so seeing the London Baptist Confession is major for me. There is a bias (No way around it) in the Reformed Community which suggests that Baptists are not really reformed. This is grossly inaccurate and pejorative so seeing the LBC included was a major win for us.

You will also note that the 3 Forms of Unity are included. The Three Forms of Unity is a collective name for the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Heidelberg Catechism, which reflect the doctrinal concerns of continental Calvinism and are accepted as official statements of doctrine by many of the Reformed churches. In short, these are foundational documents to Reformed Theology.

Our Anglican Brethren will also be glad to see that the 39 Articles of Religion are included as well. Many do not often think of the Anglicans as being reformed but they were an integral part of the Reformation in the United Kingdom.

Final Thoughts

The ESV with Creeds and Confessions is perfect for the modern day puritan. You will find it to be a very well made Bible but that is what defines Crossway- incredibly well made Bibles at very affordable price points.

My niggling little gripes aside, the ESV with Creeds and Confessions is a prime example of what makes Crossway the first choice in Bible for a host of people, especially the “Reformed Pastor.”