Tag: Preaching

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

 

 

The 2nd Edition the MacArthur Study Bible has finally been released in Dr. MacArthur’s favorite translation, the New American Standard Bible. Like the NKJV, it has been added to the premier collection. (Note: Thomas Nelson provided this Bible to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review only an honest one and my opinions are my own.)

Disclosure: John MacArthur is my favorite Bible teacher and the MacArthur Study Bible is my favorite study Bible.

 

Additional Photos

Translation Choice

This particular edition of the MacArthur Study Bible is offered in the New American Standard Bible (NASB). NASB is considered, by many, to be the gold standard for Bible translation and study and I see now cause to disagree, with the lone exception of the NKJV.

NASB is fastidiously literal in the tradition of its predecessor, the American Standard version. Some say it has a bit of a wooden feel but I don’t really see that. It seems to flow rather well.

Cover and Binding

Like its NKJV cousin, this Bible has a milk chocolate colored cover in the same exquisite goatskin as the remainder of the Premier Collection. It is as silky, smooth, and soft as Ghirardelli Chocolate (my favorite) and, it is even more glorious feel than the NKJV; the NASB edition has a considerably more pronounced grain than the NKJV, the most pronounced grain in the Premier Collection as far as I can tell. The goatskin is easily equal to the famed goatskin covers of RL Allan and Sons and beggars anything that Cambridge produces. To say that this cover drips quality is a perfect exercise in the art of understatement; it would have to be Thomas Nelson’s magnum opus, a work of art worthy of the ultimate book man can get his hands on-flawless goatskin aged to perfection and surrounding the holy words of Scripture. I cannot imagine an edition of Sacred Scripture I could enjoy more.

A leather liner ensures the flexibility of the cover. There is a gold gilt line encasing the perimeter of the Bible and, in tiny, gold all caps, at the bottom of the page, we find the words “goatskin leather cover.”

The front of the Bible is totally blank and the spine has MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible , and Thomas Nelson stamped in soft gold lettering. I did not really comment on this with the NKJV edition but I really like the muted front cover. A blank front cover is less ostentatious than you will find on other Bibles. To be perfectly honest, I do wish it were available in black goatskin but I do enjoy the brown as well.

As with the rest of the Premier Collection, the binding is sewn allowing the Bible to lie flat irrespective of where the text is opened. Both the front and rear of the Bible contain overcast stitching to reinforce the sturdiness of the text Block. Believe it or not, the text block is not as tight as in its NKJV cousin. This actually feels more pleasant in the hand and it is also more pulpit friendly in that it lays flat just a touch easier than the NKJV Edition.

Paper, Typography, Ribbons

There are 3 satin ribbons, 3/8” wide and they are offered in red, baby blue and mahogany. For some, three is the ideal number, but is the minimum that I find acceptable. The general idea behind the three ribbons is that you will have one to mark your OT readings, one for NT, and the last one for Psalms and Proverbs. If this were a preaching Bible, I would insist on two more ribbons. However, what we are offered, here, is quite adequate to the task at hand.

The paper is a 39 gsms European Bible Paper. This Bible actually has thicker paper than its siblings in the Premier Collection and it feels very similar to the paper used in the Cambridge Concord Reference Bible. The edges of the paper have red under gold art gilding. The paper is quite opaque allowing almost no show through.

2k/Denmark has designed all of the fonts in the Comfort Print Family and they ply their trade impeccably in this Bible. The text of Scripture is 9-point and the notes are 8-point. I have to say that this is the easiest 9-point that I have ever tried to read.

Layout

The Scripture text is laid out in double column paragraph format. The notes, which are also in paragraph format, are laid out in a triple column format (extremely helpful given the addition of 5000 more expository notes). In between the text of Scripture and the Notes Section you will find the Complete NASB Reference System, comprised of 95,000 cross references, textual variants, and translator’s notes.

Helps

The shining stars of the MacArthur Study Bible are the helps provided. For 50 years, Dr. MacArthur has made it his mission to “unleash God’s truth, one verse at a time” and in the MacArthur Study Bible every tool a person could need to comprehend God’s Holy Truths is made available to the reader. Let us look at the helps provided…

25,000 Exegetical and Expository Notes on Scripture

While many study Bibles offer commentary on Scripture, the MacArthur Study Bible goes further. By adding 5,000 notes to the previous 20,000, the MacArthur Study Bible now rivals the ESV Study Bible as the most heavily annotated Bible available.

The notes that are provided draw out the meaning of Scripture (exegete) and explain said meaning (exposition). However, they do not stop there; these notes whet the appetite and draw the reader further into the Scripture. Several pastors both well-known (Steve Lawson) and not well known (me) consult the MacArthur Study Bible on a regular basis. I would go so far as to say that if a person desired to understand and teach the Bible to others, the MacArthur Study Bible would sufficiently stand on its own and need no other tools

Book Introductions

The MacArthur Study Bible’s introductions provide a wealth of information for the student. We are treated to the usual information such as author, circumstance of writing, audience, etc. The difference in the MacArthur Study Bible’s introductions is the Interpretive Challenges Section. Several books of the Bible are difficult to interpret (think Revelation if you don’t believe me) and the MacArthur Study Bible deals with those challenges head on by identifying the challenges and then addressing them in John MacArthur’s signature direct approach.

Overview of Theology

This section does not appear in any other Study Bible, including Crossway’s excellent Systematic Theology Study Bible or Ligonier’s Reformation Study Bible. I absolutely love this feature. It is a very succinct Systematic Theology, ideal to educate the new disciple or for a seasoned pastor to teach through. The closest comparison is found in the Ryrie Study Bible’s Survey of Christian Doctrine.

I would advise that any study in the MacArthur Study Bible should begin here. Each subsection is well sourced with Scripture, succinct and logical. I can think of no better foundation for a new disciple than this Overview of Theology.

Maps and Charts

The maps and charts provided give contextual insight into the Scripture and provide aids for those who are visual learners. (It is always hard to comment on maps and charts because they are very plain and straightforward.)

 

Final Thoughts

If you had not guessed by now, I love the MacArthur Study Bible. I have multiple Editions: the NASB, NIV, ESV, 1st and 20th Anniversary Limited editions in NKJV, and digital copies on two different software platforms. By any stretch, the MacArthur Study Bible is my most oft reached for tool and it should be yours as well. If I were to find any negative in the MacArthur Study Bible, it would simply be nitpicking. As I have said, it is the Premier Study Bible and now in the Premier Collection it comes in a format worthy of the ultimate study Bible.

 

 

Giant Print Thin-line NKJV Review

Giant Print Thin-line NKJV Review

NKJV Giant Print Thin-line Bible Photos

 

Many is the Bible that has tried to unseat my Nelson 334 Personal Size Giant Print NKJV Reference Bible {I have tried to retire it four times but it just won’t quit} and today, I am reviewing the nearest contender to do just that, the Giant Print Thin-line NKJV. (Note: Thomas Nelson provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.)

 

The Translation

As you can tell from the title, this is offered in the New King  James Version. NKJV and I are the same age (both issued in 1982) though we have not been together that long. That being said it has been 13 years in service for me with  800 1 on 1 discipleship sessions, 300 Sunday school classes, 25 Sunday morning services, 3500 daily readings and 1 international trip. For as much as I have thought I enjoy other translations, NKJV is my go to translation.

 

Like its predecessor, the KJV, NKJV is a formal equivalence translation with the New Testament based on the Textus Receptus, the same manuscript which undergirds the New American Standard Bible. In fact, NKJV has only one rival for literalness, accuracy, and excellence for study, the NASB. I would put the NKJV at a 10th grade reading level- it isn’t difficult to comprehend but it is not a simplistic translation either.

 

The Cover & Binding.

This is the black leathersoft edition but, if you did not handle a true leather on a regular basis, you would never know that. Thomas Nelson even managed to add a grain to the imitation leather, a feat that is quite impressive when you stop to think about it; it is a touch you would not expect to find and it is a tactile delight. As far as imitation leathers go, this is the best I have ever handled. I will make a bold statement and say that the feel of this edition even surpasses that of Crossway, who has virtually defined the imitation leather market.

 

Thomas Nelson has returned to sewing the binding in their Bibles and I am glad to see that. A sewn binding ensures your Bible will last a lifetime. Not only is a sewn binding incredibly durable (Ask my model 334 if you do not believe me), it will lay flat virtually anywhere you open the Bible, a feature which comes in handy if placing the Bible on a lectern.

 

Layout and Font

The NKJV Text-block is laid out in a double column paragraph format in the new Comfort Print Font, which comes in at a 13-point measurement. I do wish it was in a verse by verse format but that is a little nitpicky.

 

With the deep rich coloration of the ink, it is very easy to read, so easy as a matter of fact, that I was able to swap out Bibles in the middle of a sermon and deploy this Bible when a smaller print verse by verse Bible became challenging to read. Among Bible publishers, Thomas Nelson has some of the best red ink you can find for your red-letter editions and this edition is no exception. The Giant Print Thin-line is beyond easy on the eyes and if you find yourself headed for bi-focals, as I am, you will find this Bible an excellent choice.

 

I specifically asked to review a thumb-indexed copy because Nelson handles thumb-indexing much better than most. Something that almost no one realizes is the fact that thumb-indexing is completed by hand so no two thumb-indexed Bibles are identical. The thumb indexing is just the right size and each tab covers about three books each.

 

Paper

The paper is a touch thin, most likely 28gsm, and fairly opaque; there is a bit of show through nowhere near as bad as with some of its competitors. Despite being fairly thin, the pages turn rather easily.

 

What about writing in this Bible?

If you use the correct writing implement, there should be no issue with writing or other marking in this Bible. For pencils, Prismacolor or Prang are preferred and for ball-point, Pilot or Zebra will provide you with the best writing experience. Realize, of course, that this is not a wide margin Bible so your ability to write in it might be somewhat limited unless you have really tiny handwriting.

 

Helps

This is a plain text Bible so the only helps you are given are the translator’s footnotes. As a teacher this does not bother me; I want the men and women who are in my audience to do the work of searching the Scriptures on their own rather than relying on someone else’s work as their primary source of understanding. The footnotes include textual variants and are as well annotated as the NASB or HCSB- you will find them most useful.

 

Use in Preaching/Comparison to the NKJV Preaching Bible

As I mentioned, I swapped this Bible onto my pulpit mid-sermon. The deep ebony of the black letters and the larger font made it very easy on the eyes and I had no issue quickly returning to the morning text as the verse numbers are rather bold for rapid locating.

 

The Giant Print Thin-line can easily hold its own against the NKJV Preaching Bible when in the pulpit. The font is a touch larger, compensating for not being in a verse by verse format, with the added benefit of thumb indexing, an option not available in the NKJV Preaching Bible.

 

Making it incredibly difficult to choose one or the other is the fact that each Bible offers a preferred feature, perhaps even two, that the other does not. The Preaching Bible is verse by verse with references at the bottom of the page while the Giant Print Thin-line offers the larger font and thumb-indexing, both of which make for faster text navigation.

 

For Every Day Carry

Tall and thin, the Giant Print Thin-line will easily fit into most briefcases/laptop bags. It clocks in at ¾”-1” and weighs around 1.5lbs. It is not a feature you often hear about in technical terms, but this Bible is incredibly well balanced. What I mean by that is that many of its competitors are a touch unwieldy for one handed use and a person who is peripatetic while using their Bible could easily drop the book. Not so here. I cannot go so far as to say that Nelson intentionally designed this for single handed use but I would encourage you to try using one handed and you can draw your own conclusion.

 

The overall design makes it very readable in most lighting situations. I gauge a Bible’s readability by using it with my bedside lamp which offers a muted white light for reading before sleeping and I will say I was delighted; many Bibles do not perform well in that setting because of issues with paper or font. With the Giant Print Thin-line, Thomas Nelson has a winner on its hands- it is very readable indeed.

 

Final Thoughts/Should you buy it?

I can easily recommend this Bible to anyone considering it. A number of solid use cases come to mind for this particular edition of the Scriptures; I use it under several of those scenarios. It would not be a regular visitor to my pulpit simply because I have been using a verse by verse format for nearly 25 years and that is not a habit I have any plans to break.

 

This Bible is incredibly affordable which does lend to an ability to use this Bible for gift giving (Many churches give a Bible to the newly baptized and this would be a great choice.) and also lends itself to being able to keep several copies on hand if one were in college/seminary.

 

I do not really envision any situation where you would be dissatisfied with this edition of the Scriptures. The only suggestion for improvement I might offer would be to offer it in a good quality leather but a good re-binder can easily replace the cover for you. If you buy the Giant Print Thin-line, you will be quite satisfied.

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

This morning we have a guest post from a colleague, Pastor Matt Bassford at Jackson Heights Church of Christ. Matt recently adopted the Christian Standard Bible as his preaching and teaching Bible and he has been gracious enough to share his thoughts. (More information can be found at Matt Bassford’s Blog

Why I Switched to the CSB

English-speaking Christians are blessed with a plethora of good translations of the Bible. Of course, translation is an art, not a science. There are no perfect translations, nor will there ever be.

However, practically every translation that we’re likely to encounter is more faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek texts we have than the Septuagint is to its Hebrew originals. If the Holy Spirit thought the Septuagint was good enough to incorporate into the New Testament, whatever we’ve got is good enough to get us to heaven!

Because we are so spoiled for choice, though, those of us who care about the Bible are likely to move from translation to translation, looking for one that is maybe a little bit more perfect than the rest. In my time as a preacher/Bible reviewer, I’ve preached and taught from at least 10 different translations, and at various times, I’ve used three translations (NASB, NKJV, and ESV) for my primary text.

A couple of months ago, though, I decided to try out a fourth translation for my every-day Bible—the Christian Standard Bible, or CSB. When I switched from NASB to ESV a few years ago, the CSB was a strong second-place finisher, and my occasional use of it ever since gradually swayed me to adopt it. Several factors played into this decision:

VOLUME QUALITY. My copy of the CSB is bound in edge-lined goatskin that Holman sent me as a promo copy in 2017 when they rolled the translation out. It’s true that I love edge-lined Bibles, and once you’ve gotten used to one, it’s tough to go back to paste-down.

However, it’s really the quality of the setting of the CSB that influenced me here. My CSB was set by 2K, a Danish shop that is world-famous for its Bible designs, and the quality shows. It’s better designed than the ESV I was using before. My CSB is prettier, easier to read, and has cross-references that are easier to use. As far as I’m concerned, anything that makes reading and studying the word more pleasant is well worth adopting!

STYLISTIC QUALITY. I love the English language and rejoice in good writing. As a result, I struggle to love translations that prioritize faithfulness to the words of the Greek (and sometimes even to Greek grammar) over making clear sense in English. Brethren often are fond of these translations (I think because they appear to remove human judgment from translation, though in truth they do not), but they often pose obstacles to our understanding. These obstacles can be surmounted in verse-by-verse study (as when the preacher reads a verse and then pauses to explain what it means in normal English), but they often make Bible reading difficult, especially for new Christians who don’t speak fluent NASB.

By contrast, the style of the CSB is accessible and lively. Instead of talking like Bible characters, speakers in the CSB sound like real people. For instance, in Luke 6:46 in the CSB, Jesus says, “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and don’t do the things I say?”

The CSB also is full of aptly phrased renderings. Consider the difference between Ruth 2:12 in the NASB (“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”) and the CSB (“May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”). The NASB undeniably sounds more Hebraic, with idioms like “your wages be full”, but it’s the CSB that sounds like good English. That’s important!

TEXTUAL FAITHFULNESS. It is, of course, possible for translators to take accessibility too far. Unlike most brethren, I’ve used the NLT extensively (I read the whole thing cover-to-cover a few years back), and though I like it for reading, I feel like the translators take too many liberties, especially in the New Testament, for the translation to be suitable for close study. When I’m reading from the NLT, there are a dozen places in the book of Romans alone where I stop and say, “Man; they sure booted that one!”

The translators of the CSB are much more careful. So far, at least, I feel that the translation sacrifices little in the way of nuance and faithfulness in exchange for great gains in style and clarity. Of course, there are CSB renderings that I don’t like, but there are renderings in every translation I don’t like. To this point, they are infelicities I can live with.

I also like the balance that the CSB has struck on gender equality. The translators generally render the Greek _adelphoi_ as “brothers and sisters” (unless the context makes it clear that only males are under discussion), and they replace “how blessed is the man” in Psalm 1:1 with “how blessed is the one”. However, the pronoun throughout Psalm 1 is “he”, and the translators preserve the singular “son of man” in Psalm 8:4 (compare “human beings” in the NIV). It remains to be seen whether the upcoming 2020 revision of the NASB will fare as well.

I certainly don’t insist that every Christian out there needs to switch to the CSB Right This Minute. It almost certainly is true that the Bible you’re using right now is get-you-to-heaven good (though if you struggle to adhere to a Bible-reading program, consider that your choice of translation and setting may be at fault). However, for those who are looking for another Bible or simply are curious, the CSB is well worth checking out.

NIV Preacher’s Bible Review

NIV Preacher’s Bible Review

 

 

Zondervan’s NIV Preacher’s Bible is the NIV that many pastors have been desirous of for a long time. Does it stack up? Before we answer that let me disclose that Zondervan provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

Preacher’s Bible Photos

 

We will go a little out of order in this review. Let’s begin:

Font

Sadly, the font is the area where I have to complain. While it is comfort print and would be fairly easy on the eyes for most people, it is rather small. Zondervan lists at 9.5 but I would put money on that being the font size with leading.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a “preacher’s Bible” has a font size smaller than 11-point. Your preaching Bible really ought to have as large a font as possible so that you are not needing to squint while trying to preach. Zondervan’s sister company, Thomas Nelson uses an 11.5-point font and a true 11.5 at that. It does make for a thicker Bible but I would call that a worthwhile trade off. Incidentally, the Preacher’s Bible has a cousin in the Large Print Thin-line which does have an 11-point font (in paragraph format).

I would like to point out that readability is helped out by line matching the text on both sides of the page.

Cover and Binding

This is without a doubt the best goatskin that Harper Collins (Zondervan’s Parent) has offered in the Premier Collection. The grain is very pronounced and quite delightful to the touch. We have an edge lined cover and a sewn binding.

It is a black goatskin that, I think, rivals current offerings from Cambridge. Harper Collins has really stepped up their game here. The goatskin is not quite on the level of R.L. Allan or Schuyler but you get very good quality for the price point.

Paper

This is a 36 gsm Indopaque paper. It is quite a bit higher gsm than in the NASB Preacher’s Bible that Zondervan offers. It is a crisp bright white, a considerable help to readability given the smallish font. The paper is nicely opaque and should hold up to annotations rather well. Always start with colored pencil or ball-point pen somewhere in the back of the Bible until you arrive at what works well for you.

Layout, Pagination, Intended Solution

Normally, I put the layout with the font but this is a unique NIV so the layout gets moved.

This is the only verse-by-verse layout offered in the NIV. Like the paper, this aids in readability to offset the smallish font. Verse numbers are set apart, as you will see  in the photos. They are more obvious than in the NASB cousin and makes it incredibly easy to find the verse that you are looking for.

Like what Zondervan did with the NASB Preacher’s Bible, the NIV Preacher’s Bible has the same pagination as the NIV Comfort Print Pew and Worship Bible- every page begins and ends with the same word in each Bible.

The Preacher’s Bible and Pew & Worship Bible offerings, in either translation solve a major problem for many pastors, myself included- having everyone on the same page, literally. In my younger days, I did not understand how few people had actually gotten inside a Bible and thought that pew Bibles were promoting laziness. These days, however, I realize just how many Christians are entirely unfamiliar with the Bible. The Preacher’s Bible paired with the Pew and Worship Bible allows the pastor to tell the congregation on which page to find the text for either the responsive reading or the day’s sermon.

Compared to my current NIV

Currently, I am using the Giant Print Reference Bible for preaching and will probably continue to do so given that it has a 13.5 font vs 9.5, even though it is a paragraph format. That is not to say that I will not use the Preacher’s Bible. It really is a very nice Bible and very helpful. More on usage in the next section.

The NIV Preacher’s Bible has the advantage on cover material, it is goatskin where the Giant Print Reference Bible is a bonded leather. It also has better paper. In truth, if it were easier to read, it would be the ideal NIV. Note: Most people will not have an issue reading the Preacher’s Bible, I just happen to be rather nearsighted.

Usage with distribution Bibles

We have two Bible distribution platforms at Abounding Grace Baptist Church, one of which distributes pew Bibles. We will be transitioning to distributing the Pew and Worship Bible along with placing them at the church. This will solve the issue of helping new disciples to learn the Bible. In so doing we will be able to tell parishioners where to find the day’s text.

For Carry

At less than an inch thick,  this Bible is very well suited to carry. It will easily fit into a laptop back, executive portfolio, or other such carrying item. The weight is negligible.

The Preacher’s Bible Compared with Large Print Thin-line

Overall, these two Premier Collection Bibles are fairly evenly matched. Aesthetically, the cover on the Preacher’s Bible is my preference. The Preacher’s Bible  has a much more pronounced grain and is more pleasing to the touch than the Large Print Thin-line, which is not to say that the Thin-line is not delightful to the touch, it just happens that enjoying a fairly pronounced grain is one of my quirky little oddities.

To my eyes (and your experience may be different), the Large Print Thin-line has the advantage in font size. Paragraph format is not my favorite format but it is what I am used to with the NIV and I confess the 11-point font is easier on my eyes.

Comparing with the NASB Preacher’s Bible

The two are nearly identical, not counting the translation. The NASB has a larger font by around half a point but that does not really affect readability of either. The big differentiator is the NIV makes the verses quite a bit more obvious and, if you own both, you may find verse navigation easier in the NIV.

Final Thoughts

The font is a problem for me. I hate complaining about a Bible but I did say I would give an honest review. I will overcome the font issue, for as long as possible, because it provides a solution for me as a pastor.

Overall, this is a really well-crafted Bible. Most pastors who preach from NIV will really benefit from this Bible. It is, after all, the NIV Bible that many, many pastors have wanted for a long time.

I hope that Zondervan will release other verse-by-verse Bibles in the future. Verse-by-verse tends to be the most practical format for preaching and it has become clear that Zondervan has realized this fact. I hope they will expand their offerings, at the least for pastors if not for the entire market.

NIV Giant Print Reference Bible Review

NIV Giant Print Reference Bible Review

 

The New International Version is one of the two best-selling English Translations of the Bible and I have enjoyed reviewing a number of them. This time around I am reviewing the Giant Print Reference Bible with Comfort Print, which you may recall seeing in my pulpit. Note: Unlike other Bibles, Zondervan did not provide this Bible for review. It was acquired at my own expense.

Additional Pictures

 

Cover and Binding

When selecting this Bible, I opted for the Burgundy Bonded Leather edition as it was the highest quality cover that is available. It has a paste down liner, making it a little stiff. The stiffness is not too bad and, as all leathers do, it will soften up a bit over time. If you plan to make this a daily Bible, know that bonded leathers tend to need their covers replaced after 5-10 years, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the quality of the base leather used in the bonding process.

 

This Bible does have a sewn Binding. For the purposes that I have selected this Bible, 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. It features half-moon style thumb indexing. I realize that many dislike this feature but I find it almost necessary to my purposes. I did memorize the order of the books of the Bible way back in second grade but in the pulpit, indexing makes for faster access to the text needed. 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.

 

The text is laid out in double column paragraph format; translators footnotes are in a column 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. 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.

 

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 13.5 font size in the Giant Print.

 

It 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.

 

In many reference Bibles, the references can be found in center column and that is the format I am most used to. However, the end-of-verse reference format is far preferable to a center column format as the references are still available for rapid use but do not get in the way of the flow of reading the text.

 

Helps

The NIV Giant Print Reference Bible offers a limited scope of helps, a fact which I find refreshing. There are so many NIV Bibles, covering a wide range of needs, with multiple helps that it is quite a relief that we get the essential helps but not a ton more.

 

Cross-References

The cross-references are located following the verse, hence the moniker End-of-Verse references. The reference system in this particular Bible is a condensed version of the Zondervan Reference System, around 12,500 references or so. It is rare for me to use references in sermon prep though there have been situations where I had forgotten a passage I wanted to reference and seeing the reference jogged my memory.

 

Lined Notes Pages

Lined Notes Pages? I am delighted. The presence of lined notes pages begins to answer my wish that every Bible included them. We get about a half dozen pages, certainly not enough for sermon notes but more than adequate for more important notes like the Romans Road etc. If Zondervan would give me my way, they would release an edition of this Bible with 4-5 lined notes pages per book. Pastor’s write in our Bibles, why not have sufficient room.

 

Dictionary Concordance

A condensed version of John Kohlenberger’s excellent concordance is provided for us. Key terms are defined and then given the corresponding textual references for further study.

 

Final Thoughts

I am quite pleased with this Bible. For the price point, you get a very good value for the money. I would like it to have a higher grade leather but that is a niggling little detail easily corrected by a re-binder.

 

I would tweak a few things but they are more aesthetic than utilitarian. I realize that an NIV Preaching Bible is forthcoming in the near future (I am already committed to review) and I think it will be excellent but for preaching, the Giant Print NIV really knocks it out of the park. At its price-point, this Bible is well done and well worth the money.

 

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.

 

 

God’s Word Translation Wide Margin Bible Review

God’s Word Translation Wide Margin Bible Review

 

I love a good wide margin Bible and the one I am reviewing, here, is one of the best that I have seen at this price point. Before we go any further, I would like to point out that God’s Word to the Nations Missions Society provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review and I was not obligated to provide a positive review. My opinions are my own.

The Translation

I am opening the review by revisiting the translation first. God’s Word Translation (hereafter GW) is done in a style called Closest Natural Equivalent.  It is a type of meaning based translation that, as its name suggests, attempts to render the original languages into the closest English possible. If I had to put in a reading comprehension scale, I would say probably 4th to 6th grade.

As English has become one of the two most used languages on the planet, GW is uniquely placed among English translations of the Bible because of its ease of comprehension.  Many of my readers have English as a second or third language and when one of them asks me to recommend a Bible, GW is one of my top choices (I always give three recommendations so that the choice belongs to the reader.)

Comparatively speaking, GW is very close to NLT on the Dynamic Equivalence end of the spectrum. I have been pairing it side-by-side with my NKJV and the experience has been very enlightening. I would compare it this way: NKJV is like talking to my peers (NKJV and I are both 37 and somewhat academic) and GW is like telling the same story to an Elementary Grade Sunday School Class. I would not say that it has a commentary feel when read in parallel but it does feel more like having a conversation with “regular people” as opposed to my theologically trained peers.

GW is a translation you can know and trust. Its position in my ministry is evolving. Currently, I am using it with new believers but I foresee it taking a more active role in my pulpit ministry. In many cases it will provide an excellent supplement to my NKJV. As a matter of fact, I can easily see the God’s Word Translation becomming one of my three main translations.

I find myself liking this translation much more than expected. It’s like spending time with my niece; I always come away more energized and having loved the time we spent together.

The Paper and Margins

The paper in this Bible and the margins are the shining stars. The paper feels to be about 36gsm. However, I have been advised that it is 39gsm. This is important becasue you want a thicker paper in a Bible that is designed for journaling etc. The paper is fairly heavy and opaque but the pages are still very easy to turn. The paper is kind of an off-white, not as cream colored as what Crossway uses but not a bright white either. I took it out into the Arizona sun and had no issues reading off the page; the glare that I expected was not there and neither was there much see through.

The margins are 1.5” and among the best that I have encountered in a wide margin Bible. My regular readers will know that I love a wide margin Bible and even had my favorite wide margin rebound in Bison Leather. Most Bible publishers consider a 1” margin to be wide but I don’t go less than 1.25” to call it a wide margin Bible so the margin size, here, makes it very easy to recommend the GW wide margin Bible to someone who wishes to get into Bible journaling. There is not really an inner margin (gutter) which I don’t consider an issue since I never write in the gutter anywhere.

In point of fact, I consider a wide margin to be the best format for a Bible. In a wide margin you have a true study Bible as you make a record of your studies and grow in your walk with the Lord.

The Cover, Font, Layout, and Binding

The GW wide margin is offered in a type of imitation leather called duravella. Much like trutone, it is a polymer based imitation leather that will easily hold up for 20 years or so. Depending on your usage it may last longer or you can follow some of my colleagues and rebind it in a more premium leather.

It is a sewn Binding which surprised me considering the price point. Sewing the binding matters because it ensures the Bible will last through years of use.

The layout is a line-matched single column paragraph format in a 10.5-point font. It is totally black letter, which in the case of a wide margin Bible is to be preferred. Many, myself included, annotate in red ink and a red letter Bible would most probably be a distraction. I would say, without reservation, that Crossway has found a rival in the typography department. Single-column paragraph format is not generally a favorite of mine due to visual acuity issues but this Bible is very easy on the eyes and a delight to read.

Would I Change Anything

There are a couple things I would add but they are mostly niggling details. I would like to see, at least, a second ribbon or, preferably, three ribbons total. The ribbons are frequently used to mark your place in a reading plan so I think we should always have at least three ribbons in a Bible.

The other addition that I would make is less niggling but I am not really certain how others would feel about it…I would like to see lined notes pages. I would, personally, prefer a couple lined pages with each book of the Bible and if not there, some at the end of the book itself. A Bible that is so clearly designed for note taking really demands that there be as much space as possible for doing just that.

How to Use

First and foremost, for pastors and other teachers, I would put lesson notes in the margins. Since we cannot always have lesson notes with us (I frequently find myself teaching with no advance notice) it is a definite plus to have teaching notes in the margins. As it happens, I like to place small word studies and key phrases in the margins of my Bibles.

For my non pastor friends, I recommend annotating points from sermons that you wish to remember. Symbols are often helpful and some even make drawings/charts to help remember.

As a Carry Bible

Some wide margin Bibles do not really lend themselves to being an Every Day Carry Bible. Thankfully, that is not the case with the GW wide margin Bible. At 6” x 9” it is fairly portable. I am pleasantly surprised, not by the portability of the Bible but at its readability. Normally, you do not get such a readable layout in this size of a Bible.

It’s fairly lightweight, maybe 32oz but I am not 100% certain. It is extremely easy to use one-handed. If you were so inclined, you would not have any issue using this as your main Bible.

Writing in the GW Wide Margin

I wrote in 2 places, for the review, and with 2 different pens. I do not, as a general rule, use a fountain pen to write in a Bible but I used a Pelikan m600 Souveran fountain pen with Diamine Imperial Purple ink on the presentation page. There was moderate show through but it is not in an area which will impact enjoyment of the Bible.

For the other writing, I used my normal Bible writing implement, a Uniball Jetstream. The Uniball did not leave any show through and I was rather impressed with that fact.

Many of my friends and colleagues use colored pencil for their marking and color coding, I recommend Prang as a 1st choice and Crayola as a 2nd choice, and the paper seems to be quite ideally suited to that.

I cannot recommend use of a Pigma Micron Archival Pen this time around. It is virtually guaranteed to bleed through

Final Thoughts

Overall I am much more pleased than I had expected. Considering a price point below $75, I had not expected the quality of paper that we are presented with. I am happy to say that I was wrong. The font and margins were in line with my expectations.

I would have to say, this is the perfect choice for 2020: a new format in a new translation that you may not have considered before. You may or may not make it your primary translation, but you should definitely use it. I think you may find the Bible speaking to your heart in new and exciting ways.

Oxford NRSV Text Edition

Oxford NRSV Text Edition

Order from Christian Book Distributors 

 

This being the 30th Anniversary of the New Revised Standard Version, it seemed like a good idea to review another one. (This Bible was acquired at my own expense and the review was not solicited by Oxford University Press.)

I am reviewing Oxford’s Standard Text Edition in black genuine leather with two ribbon markers.

Translation

The New Revised Standard Version is one of the two commercially available updates to the Revised Standard Version, the other being the English Standard Version. NRSV is a more ecumenical text offering the Protestant Canon, Protestant Canon with Apocrypha, and the Catholic Canonical Edition. The NRSV Translation Committee boasts members of the Evangelical, Jewish, Mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Communities. Having Jewish Rabbi’s on the Committee, NRSV offers one of the most accurate English Renderings of the Old Testament (In most NRSV this is listed as “The Hebrew Scriptures commonly called the Old Testament). NRSV is the translation that powers the top three Academic/General Reference Bibles: New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Interpreter’s Bible, and the Harper Collins Study Bible and it is the standard English translation at Mainline Protestant Seminaries.

There is some measure of controversy regarding gender language in the NRSV; I do have an opinion on this issue but this is not the forum to discuss that. As a general rule, I find the NRSV to be a good general use translation, it features heavily in my Old Testament Studies. I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusion as to the translation itself, though I assume that if you are reading this, you are amenable enough to the translation to be interested in editions that are available.

General Format

This Bible would fall into the hand-sized category. It measures 8.75 X 6.0 X 1.25 inches. It is a quarter of an inch smaller than the medium or standard size bible (6 x 9 x 1.25). It most certainly fits into to the thin-line category and is very briefcase friendly. By and large, I find this format to be very practical but you do have to be careful of font size as some hand size Bibles can have a font size that is rather small.

Font, Layout, Paper

The font is 8.0 but it is one of the more readable 8-point fonts that are available. This is a black letter text, as most NRSV Bibles are, and the black is a deep rich ebony, which is crisp and uniform throughout. Translation notes are also in black, and they are plentiful. They are in a 6-point font so there is a potential of difficulty for near sighted people like me.

The Scripture is laid out in a double column paragraph format. I do prefer a verse-by-verse format but Oxford executes the Biblical layout very well. Verse numbers are a little smallish but this Bible does something interesting with subject headings; they are actually in the footer.

The paper is not listed as India Paper, but it feels very similar to the India Paper that Cambridge uses and it is not entirely illogical to think that this is India Paper. It is very soft, thin but not annoyingly so, and a fairly crisp white gold gilding on the edges. There are tiny instances of show through, especially in the poetry books, but it is very minimal.

Cover, Binding, Ribbons

The cover is black pigskin (Standard as genuine leather). The cover is full grain and very pleasing to the touch, The liner is paste down, which annoys me; I think only bonded leather should include a paste down liner. Genuine leather is the baseline for deluxe/premium Bibles and really ought to include an edge-to-edge leather liner.

Naturally, Oxford has sewn the binding. This Bible is very clearly intended as a daily use Bible and the sewn binding ensures that it will last a lifetime. As it happens, the cover will need to be replaced long before the binding gives out. The binding is sewn very tightly and will require a couple of weeks of use before it will lay flat in Genesis or Revelation, but after a couple weeks of continuous use, it will lay flat in any scripture portion.

There are two yellow silk ribbons provided.  One will mark your Old Testament readings and your New Testament Readings. Clearly it will not be enough if you use this Bible for preaching or teaching, but you can have additional ribbons added by a competent re-binder.

Helps

There are not very many helps; I do not really find that to be a problem. Oxford provides what they refer to as a Select Concordance; it is abbreviated but not inadequate. You will find more than enough subjects for lesson prep.

There are also a few thousand translator’s footnotes. These include textual variants and alternate English readings. I really enjoy translator’s footnotes as they tend to give you an insight into the minds of the committee members.

For Preaching and Carry

The compact size of this Bible makes it ideal for every day carry. It is certainly light enough to prevent you from getting tired arms if using in for one handed carry.

As a preaching Bible, your results will vary. For me, I cannot leave it rest on the pulpit while I preach, I have to hold it. I have a tendency to be peripatetic while I am teaching and the size definitely lends itself to walking and talking. The layout is very well suited to preaching and teaching. I wish the margins were large enough to make some annotations but I won’t quibble over petty details.

Who Should Buy

The NRSV is best suited to those in seminary or to those in mainline protestant denominations (I frequently find NRSV in United Methodist Churches and Lutheran Churches.) This particular edition of the NRSV is very well suited to the teacher on the go.

 

 

 

 

NRSV Large Print Thinline Review

NRSV Large Print Thinline Review

In this review we are looking at the new Comfort Print Edition of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible ant the Large Print Thin-line Edition.

Note: Zondervan provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.

Comfort Print Font:

The new font style from Zondervan and 2k/Denmark is really the stand out feature of this Bible. It is an 11-point font, very similar to its NIV cousin. It is extremely easy to read in any light setting, which is very helpful for me. I frequently reference the NRSV Old Testament and think it is very well done.

I find this format much easier to read than other editions of the NRSV. Most of the editions that are on the market, today, have rather smallish font size, usually 8-point, so the Comfort print makes it far superior to other editions that are available. 

Cover and Binding

The edition that I am reviewing Is a black leathersoft, which is an imitation leather. Imitation leathers have come quite far thanks to Tyndale and Crossway and Zondervan has really capitalized on the product evolution to bring us an excellent cover. I would estimate that this cover will last probably 10 years without needing a re-bind. It is a very convincing imitation leather and many will not even know that it is an imitation unless you tell them.

The Binding is sewn, which is a major step up in quality for Zondervan as many of their Bibles have an adhesive binding. The sewn binding allows this Bible to lay flat at any section of the Bible. It also makes the Bible flexible enough to be held one handed.

Format/Page Layout and Paper

We are given a double column paragraph format in a text only style. Translator’s footnotes have been placed at the bottom of the page  for easy access. The text-only format clearly marks this out as a reading Bible as opposed to a study-reference edition.

The paper is soft white but fairly opaque. There is very minimal see through or ghosting as it is commonly called. Outside in direct sunlight there is a bit of glare but in normal lighting you don’t have this issue. The paper is heavy enough that you will be able to mark the text; if you do mark I recommend a colored pencil or ball point pen.

As a Teaching Bible

Overall, if NRSV is your translation of choice, this is a Bible you want to take into your pulpit. It is a black letter text with no distractions on the page. Verse numbers are well marked out  for you to have an easy time finding your place in the text.

The Thin-line format is about 1-inch thick so that it will fit nicely in most laptop bags or briefcases.

Final Thoughts

I really appreciate this edition. I like to reference the NRSV Old Testament and this edition is my favorite NRSV that is available. I would like to see this arrive in the Premier Collection butt I am not sure how practical that might be for Zondervan as I am not sure how many use the NRSV as the main Bible.

This is the best edition of the NRSV currently available. If NRSV is your translation of choice, this is the Bible you need to own.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pastor’s Quad: Brief Comparison of the Preaching Bibles

The Pastor’s Quad: Brief Comparison of the Preaching Bibles

There are 4 Bibles chomping at the bit to be your new preaching Bible. I have reviewed them individually and today I want to compare them for you. They are ESV Preaching Bible (Crossway), CSB Pastor’s Bible (Holman), The Preaching Bible, NKJV and KJV (Thomas Nelson), and The Preacher’s Bible (GTY/Steadfast Bibles)

Let’s dive in…

ESV Preaching Bible

Translation English Standard Version

Cover and Binding Pebble grain goatskin, leather edge-lined

Font 10-point

Margins 1.25”

Format Single Column Paragraph

Stand Out Feature(s) Most liturgical sounding of the 4. Bolded verse numbers for ready references. 36 gsm paper, ideal for writing.

Drawbacks None

Well known pastors who use ESV John Piper, Allistair Begg

Why should you choose this Bible? The experience of using this Bible is unlike any other I have ever used (see my review). The translation coupled with generous margins and very heavy grade paper makes this a perfect choice for the Reformed or Reformed leaning Expositor.

Aside from the translation, I would say the paper is the top reason to choose this Bible. Many pastors, especially those of us who lean reformed, have a tendency to make marginal annotations (pictures, word study, cross references) and this paper is quite nice for doing just that. {Note: Alaways test your writing instrument on a page in the back first}

Nelson Preaching Bible

Translation King James and New King James Version

Cover and Binding Ironed Calfskin, leather edge lined

Font 11-point

Margins Non-existent

 Format: Double column, verse by verse

Stand Out Feature(s) Only Bible in the group that offers references

Drawbacks Tiny margins

Well known pastors who use NKJV Phillip DeCourcy, David Jeremiah, the late R.C. Sproul, Voddie Baucham, Mike MacIntosh

Why should you choose this Bible? Thomas Nelson has been producing KJV Bibles for nearly half the time the KJV has existed and, in honoring that legacy, also produce the New King James. These are the only Bibles in the group that offer the original translation (NKJV, which to date has not been revised/updated/or otherwise tinkered with). Nelson has the utmost in quality offered here and if you are looking for the most conservative of the translations available, these are it.

NKJV and I are the same age, both having entered the world in 1982 and we have a special connection. It has been with me so often that I had not even realized it was my go to Bible; I thought I was the NASB guy. That, though, is your ultimate goal in choosing your Bible- it needs to be so comfortable and so familiar that it is not just a tool in your hand but it is an extension of you. 

 

CSB Pastor’s Bible

Translation Christian Standard Bible

Cover and Binding Ironed goatskin with paste down liner

Font 10.5-point font

Margins 1”

Format Single column, paragraph

Stand Out Feature(s) Pastoral helps section for various services. Old Testament quotations in bold print.

Drawbacks Thin paper. Paste-down liners are less than flexible. Newest translation in the group.

Well known pastors who use CSB  Ed Hindson, JD Greear, Robby Gallaty, David Platt, Professor David Dockery

Why should you choose this Bible? CSB is almost a perfect blend of literal and readable. It offers and excellent balance of academic and devotional reading. This is ideally suited for age diverse congregations or congregations whose members primarily have English as a second language.

 CSB is growing at an extremely rapid pace. Formerly the Holman Christian Standard Bible, it is in its 3rd iteration and has been very well received by many. A number of smaller churces use the CSB as their main teaching Bible. The age of this tranlation seems like a problem at first, but when you read it you will see that it is sound, accurate and readable. If it were possible for the fastidiously literal NASB and the incredibly readable NIV to produce offspring it would be the CSB.

The Preacher’s Bible

Translation New American Standard Bible (1995 Updated Edition)

Cover and Binding Pebble grain goatskin, leather edge lined

Font 11-point

Margins 1.5”

Format single column, verse by verse

Stand Out Feature(s) 65 gsm paper, heaviest currently available in a Bible. Designed by John MacArthur, largest margins of the 4.

Drawbacks Largest Bible currently in production weighing in at nearly 5 pounds.

Well known pastors using NASB John MacArthur, Charles Swindoll, Steve Lawson, HB Charles, Charles Stanley

Why should you choose this Bible? The Preacher’s Bible carries the heaviest paper on the market, virtually guaranteeing no bleed through. With the largest margins in the group and generous spacing between lines, this is the ideal choice for the pastor who loves to write notes in the margins.

This is a juggernaut of a Bible and it isn’t easy to carry. This Bible is for you if you want to keep it on your desk, you pulpit, and not many other places. I am actually using this not as a preaching Bible but to create a Family Legacy Bible. Notes and passages marked from 3 generations of my family are being transferred/recorded here so that if the Lord tarries, I will leave it behind to the pastor who steps into my place when I pass and I will leave him a robust legacy of a strong faith. 

Is there a clear winner?

I am forced to declare a tie between Nelson and Crossway. Crossway looked deep into my soul and created the perfect Bible BUT I have realized that over 80% of my lessons over the last 22 years have been from NKJV (My most heavily marked up and used Bible is NKJV). Habit, more than anthing else, will keep the Nelson Preaching Bible in my briefcase and on my pulpit. Aesthetic appreciation will keep the ESV Preaching Bible right next to the Nelson in my briefcase and on my pulpit. Why choose? Both are perfect in their own right.

The truth of the matter is this: When you choose your preaching Bible, the translation should be your primary choice. It needs to be faithul to the original languages and as acccurate as possible. The choices represented here offer the best English translations available. Beyond that, for a Bible that you will take into the pulpit, less really is more. Your essentials are a large enough font to read from without eye strain and as few distractions in the text as possible. I happen to be peripatetic at times so I also look to be able to carry the Bible in one hand as I move about behind the pulpit. 

I commend to you any of the 4, but especially the Crossway or the Nelson. I would encourage you to try both. Be advised, both Bibles are so excellent that you may find yourself in the same boat as me and not able to choose.