Tag: PRemium Bible

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition

 

 

Click Me for Photos

 

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

 

Translation Choice

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

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

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

 

Cover and Binding

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

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

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

Layout

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

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

 

Comfort Print Font and Paper

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

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

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

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

Which NRSV?

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

 

For use as a preaching Bible

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

 

Should you buy this Bible?

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

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

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

Large Print Wide Margin Text Only Bible from CBP

Large Print Wide Margin Text Only Bible from CBP

 

 

One of my favorite Bible formats, my preferred in fact, is a wide margin and, today, I am reviewing one of the best wide margin Bible available, the Large Print Wide Margin Text Bible from Church Bible Publishers {CBP}. (Disclosure: This Bible was not provided by CBP, neither did they solicit this review. This is on my own and at my own cost)

Bible Photos

A comment or two on Church Bible Publishers

Church Bible Publishers is based in Cadillac, Michigan and are owned and operated by a local church pastor and former missionary. If you follow them on social media, you will see that they still have a missionary zeal for getting the Word of God into the hands of the people.

 

ALL CBP Bibles are printed and bound in the United States, a rare feature in the realm of Bible Publishing. These Bibles tend to be much higher quality than their internationally printed counterparts, most if which tend to be printed in China. CBP has a video on YouTube showing actual production of CBP Bibles, including multiple quality checks along the way. One fact, when dealing with CBP, is that they hold the Bible in highest regard, no, they cherish the Bible. Each Bible is unique as is each reader of the Bible.

 

 

Translation

CBP is a dedicated King James Bible Publisher. In their case, I really appreciate this fact because it enables them to focus on the quality of the Bible they produce and give both the Bible itself and the reader the honor deserved.

 

Cover and Binding

This is a black lambskin cover with edge to edge synthetic leather lining. Generally, lambskin is the softest and most supple leather you can find. It is also a more tender leather and will need daily handling to prevent it from drying out.

 

CBP has ironed the lambskin so that it is very supple. I love a good grain on my Bible, especially pebble grain, but here that would be somehow disrespectful. There is a bit of sheen to it that will eventually turn into a nice patina, although I am not sure how obvious it would be since the Bible is black.

 

The liner, as I mentioned, is billed as synthetic but I have to say that does not impact the limpness or flexibility in the slightest. It most likely adds to the durability since lambskin is so delicate.

 

CBP sews all their Bibles, a testament to the quality they provide. The company is run by a group of local church pastors, if you had not already guessed from the name, and they know the demands placed on a pastor’s Bible hence the sewn binding. A sewn binding guarantees a lifetime of use and I wager the leather will need replaced long before the stitching.

 

Layout and Font

We have a 12-point font in a double column verse by verse format with 1.75 inch margins.  It is a pure text edition meaning there are no helps, not even translator’s footnotes. It is obvious that this format is designed for pulpit use or for the classroom.

 

CBP has given us one of the best red-letter editions available. The red is crisp and a deep rich cherry color. I tested the red under the brightest, most unforgiving light I could find, the Arizona Sun, and had absolutely no issues. You will, no doubt, have no issues under the lights on your platform.

 

Paper

This is around a 36 gsm white paper. It is fairly thick and makes for easy page turning. It is nicely opaque; I did not notice any bleed through with my pen.

 

For marking, I recommend that a colored pencil be your first choice; Prang is the brand I use. For ball-point pen I suggest Pilot Pen Company’s Better Retractable brand pen. Pilot gives, in my experience, the most consistent ink flow and does not leave the annoying pen impressions on the other side of the page.

 

Helps

The only study aid provided is a double column concordance. It seems to mirror the Cambridge Concordance and provides a fairly comprehensive index for study.

 

Compared to my other lambskin KJV

I have one other lambskin KJV (which I think was also done by CBP), a wide margin Classic KJV Study Bible, a special edition from the KJV Store. The leather feels identical, leading me to believe they are from the same source.

 

The look and feel of the paper is also very similar and the writing experience also seems to be the same.

 

I treat these as companions. The Classic Study Bible is by my bedside for evening reading and the Large Print Wide Margin is in my rotation for lesson prep.

 

As an Every Day Use Bible

This is not a small Bible, most large print Bibles are not. It runs a little on the heavy side at about 3.5 pounds, so frequent one-handed use may be impractical. All CBP Bibles are pulpit ready, their large print even more so, since as a teacher you should be using the largest font size possible in the classroom.

 

I have begun some markings but have not decided which categories of annotations I will add; generally I do word studies and sermon points. If I do it correctly, I can preach most, if not all texts, with nothing else than the marginal annotations.

 

A little more about caring for this unique leather

I want to add a couple tips for caring for lambskin as it tends to be a more delicate leather.

  • Don’t wash your hands immediately before handling this Bible. The oils from your hands work into the leather keeping it rich and supple.
  • Use Lexol when cleaning the Bible cover. It removes dirt but still nourishes the leather and keeps it supple
  • Handle this Bible regularly if it is not your primary Bible. Remember that the natural oils in your skin will work into the leather. Each Bible will have a unique shine because of your natural oils.

 

The Price Point

CBP sells their Bibles at cost or as close to it as possible. This Bible will run you about $75-$85 before taxes and shipping, depending on if you have a coupon.

 

Should you buy this Bible

The Large Print Wide Margin Text Bible is for you if you are looking for an unadulterated text block with plenty of room for your annotations.

 

If you are a Bible Teacher, in any capacity, then you should consider this edition.

KJV Hallmark Reference Bible Review

KJV Hallmark Reference Bible Review

 

When it comes to KJV Bibles, Hendrickson has really hit it out of the park. The KJV Hallmark Reference Bible easily stacks up against the new Premier Collection KJV from Thomas Nelson or the Concord Reference Bible from Cambridge Publisher’s.

Note: Hendrickson-Rose Publishers sent this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Product Description from Hendrickson

Hendrickson Publishers is proud to introduce the Hendrickson Hallmark Reference Bible- Deluxe Hand-Bound Edition in Large Print in top-grain goatskin leather. Hand-bound with care, this premium quality Bible was crafted with excellence on a detailed level including spine hubs, beautiful foil stamping, gilded page edges, and three ribbon markers. This newest addition to the Hendrickson Bible line offers a new tier for customers looking for the very best.

Features:

  • Top-grain goatskin leather
  • Hand-bound lined-to-the-edge cover
  • Foil stamping
  • Spine hubs
  • Three ribbon markers
  • Gilded page edges
  • Presentation page
  • Full-color maps
  • 2-piece box
  • Verse references
  • Concordance
  • Red-letter text
  • 11.25-pt. font size

General Comments

I currently own a couple Hendrickson Bibles and I have always been satisfied with the quality of their products. They are a smaller publishing house, comparatively, but they have some of the most helpful resources available.

Layout:

This time we will start with the lay out. This is a double-column verse by verse reference Bible with end of verse references. Typically, I prefer center-column references, mostly out of habit but Hendrickson could easily convert me to the end of verse reference model.

The layout is very clean-the page is not busy at all. Regrettably there is not a lot of margin to work with but in a “hand size” Bible, there are some compromises that need to be made.

There is a school of thought that says single column format is the best; for reading they are quite correct. For preaching, I prefer a double column verse by verse and this fits in that category nicely.

Cover and Binding

I have handled several of Hendrickson’s leather Bibles, my favorite being the NIV Minister’s Bible Deluxe Edition in Morocco leather. The goatskin that Hendrickson chose is absolutely spectacular. It has what may be the most pronounced grain I have encountered on a leather Bible. I believe the technical term is pebble grain, especially considering that the grain feels like a softer version of the pebbles at the bottom of a fish tank. The liner seems to be synthetic but I can’t bring myself to complain about that. In this size Bible, I want the cover to be a little stiffer so a synthetic liner is the right choice, more flexible than paste-down but not as floppy as leather lined.

Naturally in a quality Bible we get a sewn binding. The text block lays flat virtually anywhere you open the book and I expect no less from a premium Bible.

Paper

I have not seen paper like this in any other Hendrickson Bible. Ordinarily my major complaint is that the paper they chose is too thin but not in this case. It is sufficiently thick that you will not experience much bleed through with a highlighter, if any at all.

A ball-point pen will not pose any issues at all for marking in this Bible.

The paper is a little on the heavier side so the Bible feels very substantial in your hand even though it is very lightweight over all. I commend Hendrickson on this paper choice; they clearly had the pastor in mind when designing this Bible.

Font and Ink Coloration

Normally red-letter editions are not a choice I make since the red ink tends to be wildly variant in quality and opacity. Sometimes you get something pinkish and sometimes you get something so faded that you can barely see it. However, the red letters are very well done with a consistent, deep red with rich color saturation throughout the text.

The black letters actually seem more rich and ebony than in other Bibles. This has to be a phenomenon of the paper. It reminds me, very much, of the black coloration that you get in a Cambridge Bible. It really is exquisite.

As a Preaching and Carry Bible

In the pulpit I use 2 translations simultaneously, KJV and NLT and I preached from this Bible three times in during my review period. It is so easy on the eyes and practical that it rivals the Premier Collection KJV from Nelson for the perfect preaching Bible.

The “hand size” format makes this Bible, essentially, the perfect every day carry Bible. The font is large enough for easy use and yet the Bible is small enough for your purse or laptop bag.

Compared to Zondervan

The Hallmark Reference Bible really holds its own against the other newcomer to the premium Bible market, the Premier Collection Giant Print KJV Reference Bible. In fact, if the KJV is your preferred translation, either one is near perfect. My experience has been this, Hallmark Reference for Carry and 1 to 1 ministry with the Premier Collection as my study text.

Final Thoughts

Hendrickson really knocked it out of the park. My only complaint is that I have nothing to complain about. There is nothing about this Bible that leaves one wanting. For the “hand size” Bible class, this is just about perfect.

Im surprised at what Hendrickson has been able to achieve in the Hallmark Reference Bible, not because I did not expect quality from Hendrickson but because of the price-point. You can get this Bible for below $175.00.

NLT Select Reference Bible

NLT Select Reference Bible

This review was from 2015 but was “lost” as a result of a server failure. It has been recovered and is being shared again for your enjoyment.

 

 

NLT Select Reference Bible Review

On a recent trip to the Philippines, I was invited to take another look at the NLT. While there, the opportunity to review the Tyndale NLT Select Reference Bible was opened to me. The experience of both was, to put it mildly, a most unexpected pleasure.

(A quick disclosure and we will get into the review: Tyndale House Publishers provided a black goatskin NLT Select Reference Bible at no charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to provide positive feedback.)

Let’s begin with some official remarks from Tyndale House Publishers:

“The New Living Translation is an authoritative Bible translation rendered faithfully into today’s English from the ancient texts by 90 leading Bible scholars. The NLT’s scholarship and clarity breathe life into even the most difficult-to-understand Bible passages—but even more powerful are stories of how people’s lives are changing as the words speak directly to their hearts.

The NLT translators set out to render the message of the original texts of Scripture into clear, contemporary English. The result was a Bible that is faithful to the ancient texts and eminently readable.”

Now the official product description which can be found at http://www.tyndale.com/Tyndale-Select-NLT-Select-Reference-Edition/9781496404749#.VkAXaYSMCCQ

 

Tyndale Select Bibles are the highest quality bindings available in the New Living Translation. Select Reference Editions are the premier Bibles in the Tyndale Select line. Select Reference Editions deliver God’s enduring word in a fresh, yet timeless, reading experience. Each full-grain leather Bible is meticulously handcrafted with excellence, and Smyth-sewn with the greatest of care to ensure durability, flexibility, and a lay-flat binding.

Handsome editions are available in black or brown full-grain goatskin leather. Goatskin leather covers are edge-lined to maximize the suppleness for a luxuriously soft leather Bible that is a pleasure to hold. Other premium features of the goatskin leather edition include perimeter stitching, two ribbon markers, a gold foil frame around the inside cover, and luxurious art-gilded page edges, revealing red under gold gilding.

The attractive single-column interior of the Select Reference Edition makes this Bible enjoyable to read. The line-over-line setting and top-quality paper maximizes the brightness of the page and minimizes show-through for optimal readability. Other premium interior features include the generous 8.75 font, spacious margins, and over 40,000 cross references. Printed, bound, and meticulously handcrafted at Jongbloed’s premier bindery in the Netherlands, Select Reference Editions are Tyndale’s finest-quality Bibles available in the New Living Translation

Now on to my review:

The Translation

The New Living Translation is, technically, classified as a Dynamic Equivalence Translation but in more common language we would call it a meaning based translation. Much to my surprise, I find myself liking meaning based translations more and more as I grow in ministry.

The NLT was originally intended to be an update to Ken Taylor’s Living Bible Paraphrase of the American Standard Version. However, Tyndale House felt a new translation would be better. (You can read all the details at the Tyndale website). It is translated at a middle school reading level there by making comprehension of the Bible more accessible to a wide audience.

Many of my “conservative” colleagues do not seem to like the NLT, not that I understand why. I can think of nearly a dozen people whose first time reading the entire Bible was in the NLT; I think that is part of the reason for my growing fondness of the NLT. NLT actually holds a special place in my heart because it is the Bible Christ used to draw my wife unto Himself for redemption.

Cover Material

This Bible is available in both goatskin and calfskin, both of which will last you a lifetime. A reader had asked, with regard to another Bible, if goatskin is better than calfskin. Technically speaking, the answer to that would be yes. However, in choosing a Bible, either one is considered to be a premium cover material.

As mentioned earlier, the edition being reviewed, here, is the black goatskin. I have read the reviews from several colleagues and have not seen mention of what kind of goatskin we are using. I will assume (dangerous, I know) that we are being treated to highland goatskin since this is bound by the master craftsmen at Royal Jongbloed in the Netherlands. It is as glorious to the touch as anything I have ever felt. There is a pronounced grain, meaning you can feel the “bumps” in the skin which I much prefer to ironed hides.

Binding

The binding is hand bound and smyth sewn so that the book itself lays flat when opened to any section. Jongbloed has a distinctive spine hinge that is a little stiff when the book first comes out of the box. A number of my colleagues do not like this feature but I, actually, think it makes the Bible a little more special. There is a feeling, when you take a Jongbloed bound Bible out of the box for the first time, that this Bible was crafted just for you by a master artisan and when you get to “break it in” it makes the experience all the more personal. To be sure, the spine loosens up rather quickly and the stiffness becomes no bother.

Why Cover and Binding Matters

For most of my readers, and indeed Christians all over the world, all that they have available is a single Bible, and said Bible might well be the only Bible they have for their entire life and ministry. Cover and Binding should be in your top two deciding factors because they determine how long you will be able to utilize your Bible. As an example, I have a Bible that has been in my family for over 50 years and aside from some scuffs where the Bible was dropped, it is as good today as it was the day it came out of the box. For lifelong use, you want to choose a sewn binding and the highest quality leather that you can find.

What comes in the box?

Aside from the glorious Bible, which is protectively wrapped in black paper, you will find a double sided insert from Tyndale. One one side, there are Bible Care Instructions. This seems like such an obvious inclusion, but you would be surprised at just how many Bibles do not come with this in the box and, as a consequence, how many people damage the spine on their Bibles. On the second side is a little snippet about the design and then the guarantee information. Like all premium Bibles, this is guaranteed for life against failure due to a defective manufacturing process.

The Text Block

Layout

This is a single column paragraph format of which I am, normally, not a fan. However, this time it really works. With no disrespect intend to the Sacred Writ, this feels more like a normal piece of literature. You can easily get lost in the moment while doing your daily reading and take in much larger chunks of the Bible.

References are in the outer margin and I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I am glad to see that the placement was carefully thought out so that the text is not broken up. On the other hand, this is one Bible that screams for a margin wide enough to notate.

The inner margin, often called the gutter, is better in this Bible than in most of the other Bibles on the market today. It is sufficiently large enough to not have the text block curl into it which would cause difficulty reading.

Font, Coloration, Readability

This is the only area where I have a gripe, but it is a legitimate one. The 8.75 font size will be difficult for some to read. I have found that a 9-9.5 font size is the sweet spot. While I can easily read this Bible in most circumstances, a low light setting, such as the one on my bedside table can pose problems.

This is a complete black letter text. I know that red-letter editions have their fans but I do not mind a black letter text. The choice to go completely black letter ensures that if you were to take this into the pulpit you would have an easier time reading it and it also ensures that if you use other colors to annotate, you will have distinctive coloration for your eyes to fixate on.

Paper

The paper is, from what I have read, Indopaque paper with 28gsm and 79% opacity. In English, that simply means that you don’t have that pesky ghosting effect nor will you have bleed through.

In daily use

This Bible has been with me every day since it arrived approximately two and a half weeks ago. It has gone into and out of my laptop bag several times a day, come to church with me, done my daily reading before bed, done some supplemental reading on my lunch break and even found its way into conversations with others.

The NLT Select Reference Bible was quite a surprise to me; with the exception of wide margins, it brought everything I could want into a Bible. There are 40,000 cross references (Scripture interprets Scripture) a 119-page concordance/dictionary combo for study aids, and the NLT itself.

Overall thoughts

I have a confession to make: I did not expect to like this Bible. Sure it is a premium edition and it hits on all my key points. However, previous to my trip to the Philippines, I had more or less dismissed the NLT off hand as being more of a paraphrase. Then, while overseas, reality came along and slapped the taste out of my mouth. I read the NLT again (like it was the first time) and I got excited. Yes, it’s translated to be easy to read but that is part of its charm. You get a very easy to understand translation that doesn’t just invite you to read the Bible but instead invites you to fall in love with the Bible all over again.

Had Tyndale asked my opinion in advance, I might have suggested verse-by-verse for the layout but that might then cause it to lose its attractiveness. I would sum up my thoughts this way: NLT, read it again for the first time.