Tag: Premier Collection

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

 

 

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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!

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

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For 24 years I have used and loved the New American Standard Bible. Now, my favorite NASB edtition has been released in incredible new packaging. Zondervan has brought the Side Column Reference Bible into the Premier Collection. (Pursuant to law, I disclose that this Bible was provided in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, I was not asked to give a positive review.)

The Translation:

For those that are new to the New American Standard Bible (NASB) let me open with a little information. NASB stands in the lineage of the most literal English Bible ever produced the Revised Bible, American Standard Version (1901). There have been incremental changes to make it more readable but it remains fastidiously literal, so much so that I have had seminary professors say that it could easily be used to cheat in Greek  class. Setting it apart from other translations, the NASB renders the Greek Aorist tense exceptionally well and also handles the Second Person, in English, nearly as well as the KJV which is remarkable since we rarely use the Second Person anymore. Regardless of your primary teaching translation, every Bible teacher should have a copy of the NASB.

The Format:

This is my preferred layout for preaching, single column verse-by-verse with side column references and wide margins. While I was still in my very early days as a Sunday School Teacher, I discovered the single column verse-by-verse layout and immediately fell in love.

Each verse begins on a new line with spacing at 1.5 lines. The margins are 1-inch wide. To the right of the text block you will find the references in a vertical column much the same as you would find in a center column edition. You don’t get much in the way of a gutter margin but that is not a problem for me. I tend toward being peripatetic when preaching and frequently read one handed.

Cover, Binding, Paper

Goatskin. I do not really need to say more but I will. The Premier Collection all include goatskin. Amazingly, the NASB Editions have the best feeling leather, with the exception of the 2nd Edition of the MacArthur study Bible. The grain is mildly pronounced and the leather is softer than cool whip. I was impressed with the NKJV Premier Collection Editions but the NASB Editions take 1st Prize. Of course the leather is black, the obvious choice for the solemn office of Pastor. There is an imitation leather edition as well, in brown. Of late, Zondervan has been putting out some very convincing imitations with their leathersoft Bibles.

The binding, as you would expect, is sewn. For some reason I still get asked why this is important so here are two reasons: 1) The Bible will lay flat anywhere you open it. 2) By sewing the Bible, it will last for a considerably long time. I have seen Bibles from the 1700’s that are still intact because of the sewn binding.

Post 2007, the SCR has had some challenges with the paper selected. I am happy to say that Zondervan has remedied that problem. There is minor show through but nowhere nearly as bad as in the 2013 and 2017 editions. It is a bit shiny and is bright white which provides a great contrast to the black ink. I am not sure of the gsm but the pages turn rather easily. It is thick enough that you will not have issues with writing.

Font

The font is listed at 10-point Comfort Print. It is a black letter text which reads very well. Subject headings and chapter numbers are in a deep cranberry which offsets the black of the text very well.

The font is the same as in Zondervan’s NASB Preachers Bible. The SCR is easier to read, however because of the layout.

Helps

95,000 Cross References

The NASB is one of the most heavily cross referenced Bibles on the market. To the best of my knowledge, only the Thompson Chain Reference and Westminster Reference Bibles are more heavily cross referenced. I have seen some gripes about the fact that the Translator’s Footnotes have not been provided. My answer to that gripe is this: those of us who use the NASB in lesson preparation should have enough facility with the original languages as to make them unnecessary. Also, there are a host of other NASB editions with the footnotes added so complaining about them being missing is really, in my estimation, looking for something to be dissatisfied with.

Introduction with Outline

Several Zondervan Bibles (Amplified and NIV) have a one page introduction with brief outline and that feature now finds its way into the NASB Side Column Reference Bible. The introductions are just a couple paragraphs but there is enough provided to give an overview of each book of the Bible.

Parables of Jesus & Miracles of Jesus

There are a couple other charts but these two are worth a call out. Each one is a single page pointing out significant miracles and parables which Jesus performed.

Dictionary/Concordance/Thesaurus

Laid out in three columns, the dictionary/concordance/thesaurus combines three of the most needful study tools into a single section of the Bible. Pastors from less developed regions who are able to get their hands on an SCR will find themselves very well resourced for the preaching of the word.

Final Thoughts

Not one complaint. Not a single one. Since I was introduced to goatskin Bibles, I have wanted a copy of the SCR that was bound in goatskin.

I have loved the New American Standard Bible, as much as I have loved my New King James Version, and with the new SCR, I love it all over again in new ways. I had made the statement that the new SCR makes the choice between NASB and NKJV infinitely more difficult. It must be a tie. I had already possessed my ideal in NKJV and now I possess my ideal NASB.

NASB Church Pack (Preacher’s Bible and Pew/Worship Bible)

NASB Church Pack (Preacher’s Bible and Pew/Worship Bible)

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I love the Bible; if you have known me more than two minutes you know this. I also love the New American Standard Bible. On 2/20/2020, it will have been with me 24 years. So, when I heard that Zondervan Publishing has resolved one of my biggest complaints in the Bible world (There is not a suitable preaching Bible with a pew Bible counterpart), they had my attention.

They sent me, free of charge in exchange for an honest review, a combo pack of the NASB Preacher’s Bible and the Pew/Worship Bible. I was not required to give a positive review, just an honest one and I do have a gripe or two but none so severe as to color my opinion.

The Concept:

Many churches provide Pew/Worship Bibles for members of the congregation but the pastor has to have a copy re-bound so that it will stand up to the rigors of day to day pastoral use. This left a huge gap, which Zondervan has jumped into, feet first.

The concept is simple and so obvious that it really annoys me that no other publisher has done so: Release a Pastor’s Bible AND a pew Bible simultaneously with identical page numbers, page layout, and font family. Zondervan has done just that. As I said, it is such an obvious concept that other publishers have no excuse for not doing so. Many churches, mine included, often have people in attendance who have never seen the inside of a Bible or have an extremely limited experience with it. Ergo, being able to say, from the pulpit, turn to page ______ for the morning’s text would be most helpful.

This, then, will be a simultaneous review as a good portion of the review applies to both books.

 

The Font, Layout, and Pagination

We absolutely must talk about this first. Zondervan calls this Comfort Print and it lives up to its name. I was surprised at this for the pew Bible because some Comfort Print Editions (Looking at you, Biblical Theology Study Bible) are not all that comfortable to read.

The hardcover is listed at 9-point. It actually looks to be 8.5 to me; many publishers list font size that includes leading and that is probably the case here. The Preacher’s Bible is listed at 10-point but I think that is a bit of an under-sizing. It looks to be the same size as its NKJV Cousin, the Large Print Thin-line. Both are very easy to read.

Black letter text, as all preaching Bibles ought to have, is what Zondervan has on offer here. There is a delightful little surprise, though. Subject headings, chapter numbers, and verse numbers are all in red for the Preacher’s Bible.

The layout is double column verse-by-verse. Verse-by-verse is the ideal format for preaching, whether single column or double column. You will easily find the verse you are preaching. Also, each book starts on a new page for easier reading.

Since the Preacher’s Bible and the Pew Bible share a common DNA, we are given a text only edition. There are translator’s footnotes provided which include variant readings of the text.

Paper and Binding

The paper in both is a crisp white. The pew Bible is a little brighter than in the Preacher’s Bible but much brighter than in other pew Bibles. The paper is nicely opaque with almost no show through. You can, successfully, mark in either edition, preferably with colored pencil or ball-point pen. I almost never recommend a liquid highlighter but a gel should pose no issue. Note: I encourage you to have a take a copy program if you are going to encourage congregants to write in the Bible. I DO encourage you, most wonderful colleague, to encourage your congregation to mark in their Bibles.

The Pew Bible has a “premium hardcover,” which did arrive in a dust jacket; I presume most churches will remove the dust jacket before putting the Bible in the pew.

The Preacher’s Bible that I received is the black goatskin, but it is also available in brown imitation leather. It is leather lined with a fairly pronounced grain. I am glad to see that a lower price option is available for pastors on tighter budgets or will a modest book allowance.

Both Bibles have a sewn binding. It is obvious to sew the binding in a premium leather Bible, not so much in a Pew Bible but I am glad to see Zondervan include it. It will doubtlessly get knocked around in the pew. If you are like me and like to keep some Bibles on hand for giveaway, it will get knocked around in your bag as well. In both cases, the sewn binding assures that the Bible will survive years of rough and tumble use.

My Gripes

Neither Bible is indexed. I understand that you don’t need to index a pew Bible if you plan to tell the congregation which page to turn to, but I do find it useful for the pastor to have a thumb index so it is not necessary to write down every page number.

My second gripe made me scratch my head a little. There are no congregational/responsive readings included. This feature has been a hallmark of pew Bibles from days gone by. Many churches, Abounding Grace being one of them, feature a responsive reading on Sunday mornings and it would be fairly nice to have readings already provided for everyone to read together.

My last gripe is a frequent one, I wish the Preacher’s Bible had wide margins. Almost every pastor I know of writes in their Bible. Zondervan could do like Cambridge and use a wider footprint in order to have a wide margin which still has the same pagination as the pew Bible.

None of these gripes is enough to make me dislike the Bible.

Real world use

I have gotten so many responses to some teaser photos that I shared that I was not able to wait to use the Preacher’s Bible on Sunday before writing the review. I took in into a counseling session and found that I had no issues using it. I was able to find the text rapidly and, even with some ocular challenges, had no trouble reading the page.

Final Thoughts

Given the combination, I am having a hard time envisioning not opting to use it, unless of course Zondervan’s “Big Sister” decides to do the same with the NKJV Preaching Bible.

For 24 years, NASB has been one of the two translations that are with me every day. I carry multiple translations but no matter which editions are in my rotation, NASB and NKJV are always with me. NASB is one of the two most fastidiously literal translations available and you will not regret its usage.

Note: Either product can be a stand-alone. I do not recommend that, though. The Preacher’s Bible and the Pew/Worship Bible are designed to be used together and that is how you will get the best results.

NKJV Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible, Premier Collection

NKJV Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible, Premier Collection

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The Premier Collection from Harper Collins Christian Publishing’s Zondervan and Thomas Nelson brands boast some of the most impressive Bibles you can find at prices near impossible to believe. I have reviewed several  volumes in the Premier Collection and find myself being more and more impressed. This time I am reviewing the Premier Collection’s Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible (Thomas Nelson provided a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review) in black goatskin.

I will just go ahead and spoil the surprise now – The Premier Collection Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible represents the pinnacle of what is available in the New King James Version. It is equal to, if not better than, the NKJV offerings from Cambridge Bibles.

Features include:

  • Complete text of the trusted New King James Version
  • Verse-style Scripture format
  • Premium goatskin leather cover
  • Raised spine hubs
  • Smyth-sewn and edge-lined construction for flexibility
  • Art gilding on page edges
  • Gilt line stamped and perimeter stitching
  • Exclusive Thomas Nelson NKJV Comfort Print®typeface
  • Three double-faced satin ribbon markers, each 3/8-inch wide
  • Premium European Bible paper, 36 gsm
  • Line matched text
  • Complete cross-reference system
  • Easy-to-read 10-point print size

The Cover and Binding

Of all the editions of the Premier Collection, this has the finest goatskin available. It is, actually, softer than the buttery soft goatskin of the MacArthur Study Bible. It is an ironed goatskin; you can actually see the grain on the skin but it is very soft and smooth to the touch. The lining is edge lined with a leather liner. I would swear it was a calfskin liner but there are a number of ultra-soft leathers which could easily be the material lining the Bible cover.

As it should be, the front cover is not profaned by the profanity of any stamping- regal, scholarly, subtle; it is the ideal for the front cover of a premium Bible. 5 raised ribs adorn the muted gold of Holy Bible , New King James Version, and Thomas Nelson on the spine.

The sewn binding is over-sewn in Genesis and Revelation. This is done so that the Bible will lay flay anywhere that it is opened. Nonpremium version are not over-sewn and will require a bit of uses to get the text all the way flat.

Layout, Font, Paper

Let’s start with the incredible paper. It is 36 GSM European Bible Paper. I was impressed with writing  in this Bible- I tend to be heavy handed which can cause issues of ghosting/see through although it was less of a problem in this Bible. I will make a marking recommendation, though. I would suggest use of colored pencils as they will provide optimal marking without need of worrying about bleeding through the page.

This is a red letter edition, a spectacularly well done red letter edition. Many times a red letter edition will fading or pinkish text but there is no such issue here. Even though red letter editions are not something I am enthusiastic about, Nelson is doing their best to convert me and they are succeeding nicely.

The layout is what many  of us “older” Christians are familiar with. It is double column, verse by verse, with center column references. Just like its KJV cousin in the Premier Collection, it eliminates the harsh black lines that separate the reference column. Also like the Premier KJV, the Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible has chapter headings, verse and chapter numbers in a soft red. I find this feature makes it more pleasing to the eye.

Helps

References

Thomas Nelson states they have included the complete NKJV Reference System, which would total somewhere between 72,000 and 90,000 references. Both the center column and the footer include translator footnotes and textual variants.

Introductions

Each book includes a 1-2 paragraph introduction. Thy are brief introductions on the content and background for the book.

NKJV Concordance

Thomas Nelson provides a concise concordance to the NKJV. There is not anything new to say so I will not provide additional comment except to say that I really wish Nelson would add their  excellent Biblical Cyclopedic Index to the Premier Collection.

For Carry, Personal Use, and 1-to-1 Ministry

The Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible is very close in size to the NKJV Preaching Bible and it slips into a briefcase nicely. It is very easy on the eyes. It is very easy to have someone look on with you while reading in a personal discipleship setting.

During my carry times, I have had this Bible in multiple lighting environments and overall, it has worked out really well, with no issues in any particular lighting.

As I have done with other review Bibles, I left it to sit on the desk at my secular job to gauge the reaction of the public to this Bible. A couple clients thought that it was a very premium journal but one client did recognize it as a Bible and it opened a brief discussion. The reactions of my clients were positive, which does not surprise me as this Bible is designed to turn heads. As a pastor, I want my Bible to be the center of attention. At least twice in every sermon, I hold up my Bible for my online audience to see that there really is a Bible in my hands and the Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible is exquisite as the center of attention. It is as much a distinguished gentlemen as it is an attention grabber.

Use in the Study

Like me, most pastors are bi-vocational as are most Sunday School Teachers and both groups may find themselves with limited tools and, most likely, only one physical copy of the Bible. Therefore it is needful to mention the utility of the Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible. One of the foundational truths we learned in the Protestant Reformation is that the Scripture interprets the Scripture; the reference system that Nelson has provided do not simply give you a foundation for study and lesson prep but they actually take you to the top of the intermediate level and could even take you into advanced study depending on the tools it is paired with.

I have hand written some notes in this Bible and have not experienced any bleed through. I wrote in ball-point pen; for Bible annotations I use and recommend Pilot Company’s Better Retractable brand of ball-point pen. I had suggested, earlier, the use of colored pencils to mark so I would like to suggest two brands. Prang are my preferred as they have a very soft tip and do not tend to tear the pages. I also use Crayola for the deep rich color they provide.

 As a Preaching Bible

It has no rival. I still had to take my glasses off to read, due to some visual changes, but the text was crisp and clear. The shadowing that I normally see around the letters on the text were nonexistent. I did not notice any glare at all while reading form the text. Often times “Bible paper” is challenging to turn but the pages turned with ease and gave a wonderful sound when turning pages.

In many Bibles, finding your verse number can be a challenge, even in verse by verse formats so putting verse numbers in red was absolutely genius. The red is very easy on the eyes and provides an excellent offset to the black for easily finding the verse you are looking for. The three ribbons were helpful in marking our my major texts for the lesson; I really wish there were five ribbons but that is nitpicking and I can have a bookbinder add in two more at a later time.

Compared to the NKJV Preaching Bible

The Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible and the NKJV Preaching Bible share similar features but even the similarities are distinctively different enough to make one preferable to the other. While both are double column verse by verse layouts, the Preaching Bible is very similar, in layout, to the ESV Verse by Verse Reference Bible and the Classic Verse by Verse retains more of a traditional format with its center column references. The cover materials, goatskin on the Classic Verse by Verse and calfskin on the Preaching Bible, put both solidly into the Deluxe/Premium Bible Category. Both have excellent, highly opaque paper and the satin ribbons on both are exquisite.

I find myself preferring the Premier Collection’s Classic Verse by Verse reference Bible but that is entirely aesthetic as there is no utilitarian difference between the two Bibles.

Would I change anything

There are two additions that I would make, if Nelson were to take my counsel. First, I would add wide margins, lined notes pages, or both. Any cost addition would be negligible for adding notes pages and this Bible really needs to have a place for some annotations.

I would also add the Biblical Cyclopedic Index that Thomas Nelson uses in the Open Bible. I find it much more useful than a traditional concordance

Buying Advice

Pastor Appreciation month having just passed, I would, first, recommend this Bible as a gift for the pastor (Christmas is coming and at some point in the year, he will have a birthday.) I am very passionate, and perhaps a little biased, about a pastor having a Bible that will outlast him. True, there are rebinders, but the pastor really ought to have a high quality Bible that will last him a lifetime. (Lest anyone should ask, I have provided premium Bibles as gifts for the three pastors who have most influenced my ministry and also serve as mentors)

I would also recommend this for the seminary student as a graduation gift. It would make an excellent reward for a job well done in learning the craft of sermon preparation.

The price point is sufficiently low as to make it accessible to anyone who enjoys the New King James Version.

Final Thoughts

In the New King James Version, it would be hard to top this Bible, unless of course they add wide margins to this exact format. I am a bit of a traditionalist so I prefer this format to the NKJV Preaching Bible. Your Bible should be a delight in every way since it is the foundation for your relationship with the Lord and this is most certainly a delight in every conceivable way.

 

 

MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition, Premier Collection

MacArthur Study Bible, 2nd Edition, Premier Collection

 

The premier study bible has been updated after 20 years and two million copies sold and, to celebrate, Thomas Nelson has added it 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.)

Translation Choice

The 1st Edition, the 20th Anniversary Special Edition, and now the 2nd Edition all come in the New King James version. The Late R.C. Sproul, David Jeremiah, and Dr. Gary Coombs (president of Southern California Seminary) all love and prefer the NKJV, as do I. It is one of my two most heavily used translations (more than 1200 lessons in 23 years). It is fastidiously literal with the New Testament based on the venerable Textus Receptus, and the Old Testament drawing from the Stuttgart edition of the Biblia Hebraica. NKJV is heavily footnoted with references to textual variants as well as alternate translations being offered.

In terms of choice for study, the NKJV has only one true rival, the New American Standard Bible and, happily, the MacArthur Study Bible will soon enough be released in the NASB.

Cover and Binding

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, perhaps even more touchable than any other goatskin Bible that I own. The goatskin easily rivals Cambridge Bibles  and sits on a level nearly equal to the famed goatskin covers of RL Allan and Sons. To say that this cover drips quality is a perfect exercise in the art of understatement; it is a masterpiece, 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.

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 King James Version, and Thomas Nelson stamped in soft gold lettering.

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.

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 Thomas Nelson Complete Reference System, comprised of 72,000 cross references 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.)

Thomas Nelson’s Concordance of the New King James Version

As I said above, the NKJV is one of the two most fastidiously literal English translations available and is very well suited to study. To that end, Thomas Nelson provides one of the most detailed concordances that is available in a Study Bible. I would love to see Nelson import their Biblical Cyclopedic Index into the MacArthur Study Bible, but in doing so they would obliterate any need for any of their other excellent resources. I digress…

The Concordance provides breadth and depth to each word or topic being studied. A person could, literally, spend their entire life studying the words and topics in the concordance and only barely scratch the surface of the Bible’s truth.

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.