Tag: Crossway

Literary Study Bible Review

Literary Study Bible Review

 

Of all the ways to study the Bible, considering it as literature is probably the most overlooked. Crossway has answered that for a second time by re-releasing the ESV Literary Study Bible. It comes back to us in a slightly smaller format but maintaining all of the study tools from the original version.

(Note: Crossway provided a copy of the ESV Literary Study Bible in hardcover free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review-my opinions are my own.

 

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From Crossway:

In order to understand the content of the Bible, readers first need to understand how the content is expressed. The literary forms and features of the Bible are a crucial part of understanding the Bible’s message—both for its original audience and for readers today. Compared to conventional study Bibles that answer the what of a passage, the ESV Literary Study Bible guides readers through the Bible text, showing how to read the passage. Combining over 1,200 insightful notes with the complete ESV Bible text, this volume highlights literary features such as genre, images, plot, setting, stylistic and rhetorical techniques, and artistry so readers can more richly understand the unity, flow, and profound depth of the biblical text. First published in 2007, the ESV Literary Study Bible has been refreshed with an all-new typesetting while retaining all the same content that helps readers discover and teach the message of the Bible embodied in its literary forms and features.

 

Reader Friendly Format

The Literary Study Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The layout very much resembles a novel; it is very close to the ESV Reader’s Bible but different enough to classify it differently.

 

The literary study Bible has an 8.5-point font. The updated edition is quite a bit darker than in the original, which makes it more readable. Both editions are black letter texts, a preference of mine as red letters can be quite distracting. One change that Crossway made I do not understand-they took away the wide margins.

 

Each book gets an introduction outlining the book at a glance, literary genres covered by the book, theological themes, literary inferences etc. Interspersed among the text, you will find study notes on items of literary note, around 1200 in all. These notes appear to be adaptations of the materials from Ryken’s Bible Handbook, which would make sense considering that Leland and Phillip Graham Ryken are the editors of the literary study Bible.

 

Let’s break down the format:

  1. Format.The ESV text is single-column, black text set in 8.5-point Veritasfont. The Veritas Font Family is quite a bit more readable than the Lexington Crossway normally uses.
  2. Introductions and overviews. Each book of Scripture receives a detailed introduction and content overviews. The overall literary genres and styles are summarized at the beginning. This section is where we are introduced to the particular literary contexts that are addressed in each book.
  3. Subsection prenotes.Before each subsection of Scripture (normally one chapter in OT and every half chapter in NT), the editors provide important literary notes and an overall snapshot of the upcoming content. These are like prenotes, compared to the footnotes common in study Bibles. These prenotes peak interest and drive the reader into the text. “This literary Bible is a guide to the Bible that pushes the reader into the text instead of providing mere summaries of the content that readily become substitutes for reading the Bible” (xvii). These chapter notes reinforce the literary styles mentioned in the book introductions, provide overviews of upcoming Scripture content, and function well in helping the reader chomp through large sections of Scripture in single settings.
  4. New reading plan. The daily readings include one section from each of the four categories: Psalms and Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch and the History of Israel; Chronicles and Prophets; and Gospels and Epistles. But four important books – the Psalms, Isaiah, Luke and Romans – are read twice annually (It could be argued and I do, that these 4 books are the most foundational to a well-rounded understanding of the Scripture). The readings through the OT are arranged chronologically, and the NT readings by author.

 

The Bible as Literature

From the introduction:

“To approach the Bible as literature as this literary Bible does is not like dessert — something pleasurable to add to more important aspects of the Bible. The literary approach is the first item on the agenda — the starting point for other approaches to the Bible. This has been a point of neglect among Bible readers and Bible scholars that this literary Bible aims to correct” (ix).”

 

Dr. Ryken goes to length explaining, including rebutting the idea that Literary Study Bible reduces the Bible to mere literature.

Dr. Ryken suggests  “meaning is conveyed through form, starting with language itself but moving beyond that to a whole range of literary forms and genres” and “There is no meaning without the form in which a piece of writing is expressed” (vii). Forms directly impact interpretation.” When you stop and think about it, this is precisely why we study Greek-styles and forms impact how we understand that Scripture.

 

Cover and Binding

The new edition of the Literary Study Bible is offered in a hardcover format with smythe-sewn binding. It is everything we have come to expect from Crossway.

 

The Bible Experience

The best literature invites us into the story. We see ourselves in the hero and are pulled into the action. The Literary Study Bible does this for us to a degree. The format invites us to consume large portions of the Scripture and “get lost” in the story.

Again quoting the introductory matter,

“The goal of literature is to prompt a reader to share or relive an experience. The truth that literature imparts is not simply ideas that are true but truthfulness to human experience. The implication for interpretation is that Bible readers, teachers, and expositors need to be active in re-creating experiences in their imagination, identifying the recognizable human experiences in a text (thereby building bridges to life in the modern world), and resisting the impulse immediately to reduce a biblical passage to a set of theological ideas” (xi).

 

I very much concur with Drs, Ryken; far too often we reduce study of the Bible to cold and impersonal facts. The Bible is described as a living book (Hebrews 4:12) and it draws us into it because the Bible is not only the story of God, it is also the story of the Redeemed.

 

A Use Case Scenario

The Literary Study Bible is suited to the classroom, ideally so. As we progress through our schooling, we are exposed to literature, how to understand it, and its impact on our lives. It happens that the Bible should be read in community and the Literary Study Bible lends itself to communal reading and study rather well.

 

Final Thoughts

The Literary Study Bible is a novel concept. I rather like it and happily recommend it to others.

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.

 

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.”