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Maclaren Reference Bible Review

Maclaren Reference Bible Review

 

Maclaren Bible Photos

 

The Preaching Bible from Thomas Nelson has been updated/retired in favor of the Maclaren Reference Bible. The two Bibles are nearly identical so there will be some overlap in my review. Like the Preaching Bible, the Maclaren is offered in both KJV and NKJV.

Note: The Brown Bible in the photos is the Preaching Bible and the black is the Maclaren.

Disclaimer: Thomas Nelson provided one in KJV in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review- my opinions are my own.

Translation Choices

The Maclaren Reference Bible is available in both KJV and NKJV, the most conservative and faithful English translations available. The Maclaren Reference Bible takes one of the best preaching Bibles available, makes a few tweaks and adds new cover options designed to appeal to a much broader audience than the Preaching Bible did.

NKJV is my translation of choice for preaching and I will be ordering the thumb-indexed version as soon as it is available in the US.

Cover

There are several cover options available: Leathersoft/imitation leather (what I am reviewing), Genuine leather/cowhide, and Goatskin. The Genuine Leather Edition also has an option for thumb indexing.

In the Maclaren Reference Bible, Thomas Nelson has really stepped up their game with the imitation leather cover. When I frst touched it, I thought, for one brief second, that the box might have been mismarked. However, I have handled enough cowhide in my life to realize that it was, by far, the most convincing imitation leather that I had ever encountered.

The imitation leather cover has a vinyl paste down liner. The liner lends durability to the book. Doubtless, many will use the Maclaren as a main Bible and it will find itself being carried regularly  so a paste down liner and imitation leather cover are wise choices.

Page Layout

Nelson really hit a couple of my favorites with this layout. We get a double column, verse by verse format with the references at the foot of the page. This layout is my ideal format for a Bible, especially one that I will take into the pulpit.

Paper, Font and Margins

This paper is absolutely outstanding, possibly the best that I have ever seen in a Thomas Nelson Bible. I would estimate it at a 36-gsm paper. It is very opaque and this is, perhaps, the most important feature in a Bible other than the font used to display the text. You should not have any issues with a highlighter or ball-point pen to mark in this Bible.

The font is Nelson’s Comfort print and it is very easy on the eyes. The font is very crisp and dark. It works well for me in many lighting situations. Unlike most Bibles, I do not have to hold this one close to read from it when preaching, I can let it rest on the pulpit and still see with no issues.

This is not a wide margin edition and I cannot, for the life of me understand why it isn’t. So many pastors make annotations in their Bibles and with this paper, the Preaching Bible would be the perfect choice for note-making.

Pulpit Use

All of the Bibles that I review get real world usage before the review is written. I am very peripatetic while teaching and this Bible’s design makes it very easy walk around with it while teaching.

The only other Bible that has given me as much enjoyment to teach from is my beloved 334 from Nelson (it’s the thumb-indexed one in the photos).

For carry/Field Ministry

I carried this Bible, daily, for about a week. Being that it is essentially the Preaching Bible in a less expensive cover It is very bright in Arizona and I expected to have some challenges reading in direct sunlight but I did not experience any issues, much the same as the Preaching Bible.

What was added

On the Maclaren, Thomas Nelson added Maps. That and the various cover options were the only real change.

Final Thoughts

The Maclaren is essentially the ideal reading Bible. As it happens it is also the ideal Bible for preaching. Just like its predecessor, I find that I can read it without any issues in most situations.

Just like its predecessor, I love the Maclaren. As I mentioned earlier, the Genuine Leather Thumb-indexed NKJV will become my main teaching Bible as soon as it is available.

KJV Sovereign Reference Bible Review

KJV Sovereign Reference Bible Review

 

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When it comes to KJV Bibles, few players have more experience than Thomas Nelson, Cambridge and Holman are, perhaps, the only two. Lately, Thomas Nelson Bibles (hereafter Nelson) has been putting out some very nice Bibles and, now, they have put out what may well be the best KJV in its price class, the KJV Sovereign Reference Bible.

Before we go further, I want to disclose that Nelson sent this Bible to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review just an honest one.

The Elephant in the Room

Let’s just deal with this now…The Sovereign Reference Bible bears a striking similarity with the flagship of KJV Reference Bibles, the Schuyler Canterbury. There are those who accuse Thomas Nelson of copycatting the Schuyler but I think that is a little disingenuous. Where most people see a copycat, I see an homage. It is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery and if that is true, Schuyler Bibles ought to be very flattered. Schuyler has put out an incredible product (I know because I have it) but at a price point that is out of reach of a good many Christians, most of whom will have only one Bible for most of their lives. The Sovereign Reference Bible has similar design cues but they are in fact, rather different Bibles. I will highlight some of those differences as we go.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the black genuine leather edition and one of my several contacts at Nelson has informed me that the “genuine leather” is actually cowhide. I have handled enough leathers over the years that my initial assumption was “this must be cowhide” and I was right. There is a very pronounced pebble grain on the cover of the Bible. The grain makes the Bible a delight to hold which also makes one more inclined to read the Bible. I was surprised that we have an edge lined cover. I had expected a paste down liner and was glad to find otherwise.

The text block has a smythe sewn binding. The Sovereign in sewn a little tighter than most other Bibles. The tighter sewing makes the Bible feel more sturdy. The tightly sewn binding will require a little break in for the Bible to lay flat in Genesis and Revelation but rest assured it will happen.

Paper

The paper is one of the most obvious differences between the Sovereign Reference Bible and the Canterbury. It is a darker paper and just a bit thicker. It has a somewhat linen feel to it

Marking in the Sovereign Reference Bible should not be an issue regardless of what you choose to use as a writing instrument. I am partial to Prismacolor brand of colored pencils.

Layout and Font

The font is 9-point in Comfort Print. It is elevated by red ornamental drop caps fir the first letter of each chapter. They are quite beautiful and, incidentally, the reason people feel this Bible copycats the Canterbury. In both Bibles, I love the ornamental drop-cap feature. The KJV is steeped in elegance, majesty, and shows off the beauty of the English language in ways other works cannot and the ornamental dop caps highlights that elegance.

The Sovereign is laid out in a double column verse by verse format with references in the footer and book introductions in the header of the text. Subject headings are provided in a bright red font.

The Black Letter text portions are the darkest font that I can recall seeing recently. It calls to mind the Brevier Blackface Bible from R. L. Allan

The NT is a red letter edition which ought to be self-explanatory. The red is very nicely done, a deep rich red, almost cranberry in color. It is very easy on the eyes.

Helps

Cross References

Thomas Nelson’s complete reference system offers 72,000 time tested references, a clear advantage over the Canterbury. For decades pastors, myself included, have relied on Nelson’s Comprehensive Reference System for sermon preparation and understanding the Bible.

Concordance

The comprehensive Topical Concordance is another of Nelson’s best features.  This is not as in-depth as the Cyclopedic Concordance that Nelson includes in the Open Bible but, to the best of my knowledge, this is the most comprehensive Concordance available outside of two specialty Bibles. It is an incredibly valuable tool.

Introductions

Each book of the Bible gets a one paragraph introduction. The introduction offers basic background information on each book of the Bible.

Miracles of Jesus Reading Plan

The Miracles of Jesus Reading Plan offers 37 miracles that prove the deity and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Parables of Jesus Reading Plan

The Parables of Jesus Reading Plan presents us with 39 lessons that Jesus teaches about Kingdom Life and being His Disciple.

Full Bible Reading Plan

The Full Bible Reading Plans give us a Morning and Evening reading to guide us through the entirelty of Scripture in a year.

As a Preaching Bible

For almost everyone that takes this Bible into the pulpit, this is an excellent choice. I have a single gripe about the Sovereign Reference Bible and it is here-I would find it easier for preaching if the font were 10-point. Otherwise, it is an almost ideal choice. The paper and font perform extremely well in most instances.

As an Every Day Carry Bible

Being a “personal size/hand size” Bible makes this unit ideal for carry. It is a little thick for my usual briefcase but that is easily correctable. You should have no problems carrying the Sovereign on a day to day basis.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I find the this Bible to be quite nice. I wish the font were a little bigger but it is not a deal breaker for me. I think most people who own this Bible will find it to be quite enjoyable.

The NIV Open Bibles

The NIV Open Bibles

 

Following the 2019 and relaunch of the NKJV and KJV Editions of The Open Bible, Thomas Nelson has FINALLY released the NIV Edition of the Open Bible, an edition that I have been waiting 20 years for and some have been waiting nearly 40 years to launch

 

Pictures of the Open Bible

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Disclaimer:  Thomas Nelson sent one black imitation leather with thumb indexing free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Some information from Thomas Nelson

Product Description

The Open Bible is a great way to explore Scripture with the tools and helpful information that you need to understand it better. It features an easy-to-use topical index of over 8,000 names, places, concepts, events and doctrines. It also includes book introductions and outlines to with information on the historical context and themes of each book in the Bible. The Open Bible is sure to help you glean more from God’s Word.

Features include:

  • Topical index with 8,000 plus names, places, concepts, events, and doctrines
  • Book introductions and outlines provide historical context and themes of each book in the Bible
  • References include both verse and page number
  • Visual Survey of the Bible
  • 9-point print size

 

Layout

We will start with the biggest change first…The layout has always been a double column verse by verse format and that has not changed. Happily, in the NIV Edition, Nelson returned to not having a center column full of references.

There are 3 types of notes, each of which is laid out differently. Translators footnotes are found at the bottom of the right column. References, separated by a solid black line, are located at the bottom of the page, similar to what you will find in the NKJV Preaching Bible, except when there is a section of expositional notes. When expositional notes are provided, the references are placed into a box above the notes.

My review copy includes Nelson’s readily identifiable half-moon thumb indexing tabs.

Cover, Ribbons and Binding

I’m reviewing the imitation leather one but there are also genuine leather and hardcover versions available as well. The text block appears to be sewn as the Bible does not have any issues lying flat where I open it. There is some cockling (that popcorn sound) when you open the book. The cockling sound is a little irritating but it is not overly terrible. Like the NKJV, the cockling sound will go away with more use. We receive two ribbon markers for your daily OT and NT reading.

Font

We have Nelson’s Comfort Print series in 9-point font. The Open Bible is a red-letter edition and the red is really well done. Different publishers will often have trouble with the red lettering but Nelson executed quite nicely; The red letters are deep and rich.  For most people the font should be very easy to read.

The NIV Edition is, to my eyes, more readable than its NKJV cousin, even though it is not verse by verse like its counterpart. With the center column removed, the page looks less busy and if, like me, you need glasses, you will find this much easier to read.

Biblical Cyclopedic Index, now called The Topical Index

This is the standout feature of the Open Bible but it had been renamed for 2019 and is now called the Topical Index. There are 8000 entries cataloguing various topics in scripture. I have always found this to be most useful. It is very similar to the indexing that Kirkbride does with the Thompson but its keyed to NIV Reference System.

I would argue that this is one of the most important features in the NIV Open Bible. Many teachers lack resources for lesson preparation and this Topical Index easily provides a lifetime of lesson preparation material

Paper

The paper is surprising. It is fairly heavy (maybe 30-34 gsms) and quite opaque. This would work really well with colored pencils or with very fine tipped liquid highlighters.

We have similar paper in the NIV and NKJV editions BUT the paper is much less ostentatiously white in the NIV. That, coupled with the darker black in the NIV font makes readability much less of a chore.

Christ in the Scripture

Each book introduction includes a section showing how that book portrays Christ and shows Him throughout the whole of Redemptive History.

Survey

Each introduction also includes a brief survey of the book to be studied. The survey provides an overall summary of the book to be studied.

Exegetical and Expository Notes

Unlike most Study Bibles, the notes in the Open Bible are not commentary but exegetical and expositional in nature. The notes give you a solid foundation for your exegesis of Scripture.

Additional Helps 

The Front and Back Matter includes the Following Articles and Charts

How to Study the Bible

Christian’s Guide to the New Life

Guide to Christian Workers

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Harmony of the Gospels

Laws of the Bible

Miracles of Jesus

Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Christ.

Parables of Jesus

As a Preaching Bible

The Open Bible’s size leaves it ideally suited to preaching ministry, it is challenging for my bifocals and I. A pastor who is not visually impaired should not have any issues. 

Overall Thoughts

The Open Bible is a Bible which I have enjoyed regularly in the past. Overall it will be something I will continue to enjoy.

I am quite glad to see that my dissatisfactions have been addressed. It has been worth waiting 20 years for an NIV Edition.

 

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition de

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition de

 

 

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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) are offered in NRSV and two because that is how it was presented to me. The Translation Committee included Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants and conservative Evangelicals. The NRSV has the broadest spectrum of thought in the realm of textual criticism.

Cover and Binding

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

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

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

Layout

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

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

Comfort Print Font and Paper

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

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

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

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

Which NRSV?

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

For use as a preaching Bible

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

Should you buy this Bible?

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

 

 

NIV Study Bible Photos (Click Me)

 

 

 

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

 

Translation:

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

 

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

 

NIV as A Preaching Bible

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

 

NIV for Study

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

 

Why choose a study Bible?

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

 

Why the NIV Study Bible?

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

 

Cross-References

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

 

Translator’s Footnotes

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

 

Exegetical Study Notes

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

 

Introductions and Outlines

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

 

Full color Maps and Charts

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

 

Kholenberger’s Full Concordance

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

 

       Index to Study Notes

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

 

Expository Essays

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

 

Paper, Layout, Font and Binding

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

 

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

 

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

 

How do I use the NIV Study Bible?

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

 

Who should buy the NIV Study Bible?

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

 

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

 

 

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 no 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.

 

 

CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible Reviw

CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible Reviw

 

Anyone who knows me will know that a verse by verse format is my preferred format for a Bible. Single column verse by verse is my ultimate but double column works just as well. In this article, we are reviewing the CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible, which Holman Bible Publishers was good enough to send me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

Click me for photos

 

A Fun Fact to Start:

A.J. Holman is the oldest Bible publisher in the U.S. They beat out Thomas Nelson by just a couple years. With over 200 years publishing, they are one of the oldest Bible publishers still in operation (Cambridge University Press is still the oldest with nearly 500 years of experience.) Nowadays AJ Holman Company is the H in B&H publishing or Broadman and Holman if you like to use the formal name.

The Translation

This Bible is in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Previous to licensing to AMG for the excellent Keyword Bible, which I also reviewed, Holman was the exclusive publisher.

CSB is a mediating translation of the Bible, though Holman calls this Optimal Equivalence (OE). An OE translation strives to give the best balance between fastidiously literal (think NASB) or free flowing and meaning based (think NLT) . It is fastidiously literal where it needs to be and very free flowing where it needs to be. It reads, and sounds, fairly close to the NIV with the major distinction being that the Christian Standard Bible leans more toward the literal end of the translation spectrum than does the NIV. Both translations are on a middle school comprehension level; if you like to be technical, I would rate it as 8th Grade on the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Matrix. Most of parishioners will not have any comprehension issues with the CSB but the younger crowd will, naturally, need to grow into it.

Is it a scholarly translation? Well, that depends on what you mean by scholarly. It is not ecumenical and most definitely is not liberal. It is very well suited for discipleship and study. Here are just a few of the Bible teachers, seminary presidents, and university faculty who endorse/approve of the CSB: Dr. Danny Akin, Dr. Ed Hindson, Dr. Tony Evans, Allistair Begg, Robby Gallaty, Dr. David Dockery, Dr. Gary Coombs, Pastor Matthew Bassford, Pastor and Theologian Kofi Adu-Boahen, and me, Pastor Matthew Sherro. Do not forget that a major and extremely conservative publishing house, AMG, has licensed the CSB for their Keyword Study Bible.

All that to say…In the pulpit, in the classroom, or in your living room, you can trust that the CSB is a faithful and accurate translation. You can build your teachings and devotions on the CSB without worry.

Cover and Binding

There are two options available, brown bonded leather (which I am reviewing) and black goatskin. The bonded leather has a paste down lining with a bit of a pebbled grain. To the touch, this is a higher quality of bonded leather than what other publishers are using so I do not think it will wear out quite as fast.

Most Bible publishers have gone back to sewing their text blocks which is outstanding. Now if they would just print and bind in the U.S.A. There are publishers who do and yet keep the prices affordable but I digress… The sewn binding ensures the text block will hold up well over the years.

Layout, Paper, and Font

The layout is double column verse by verse with each verse beginning on a new line. The Bible looks to be line matched which lends to the readability of the text. Verse numbers are in cranberry red to aid in finding the number.

Why is verse by verse important? Verse by Verse is the ideal format for those who preach and teach. Each verse begins on a new line making it much easier to locate the verse which you will use for preaching.

The font was designed by 2k/Denmark. Many Bible publishers have been using them and a single glance is all that is necessary to understand why. Their fonts are the perfect blend of utility and aesthetics. This Bible is no exception, in my estimation, it is the most reader friendly font offered in a Holman Bible. Of course this is a black letter edition, however, the chapter headings, verse numbers, and page navigation are all in cranberry to make navigating the text easier.

The paper is soft white, far more muted than in other Bibles, and, so, is very easy on the eyes. Being gloriously opaque does not hurt that Bibles cause at all.  Sometimes Bible paper can reflect the dazzling brightness of the sun into your eyes if reading outside. Thankfully this does not happen here.

It is a wide-margin edition, hitting two of my sweet spots in Bible design. Margins measure approximately 1.1 inches wide. I am using this Bible in conjunction with the Bible from AMG so I have not decided, yet, if I will write in this one as well. I do like the option and may add some mini word studies which I would not want to forget in the pulpit. It is not a journaling Bible, the margins are too small for that. Rather, it is clear to me that Holman desired to give the Bible teacher his best tool possible.

Helps

Footnotes

Holman is well noted for having the most translation footnotes in a mainstream translation at around 30,000 annotations depending on edition. The NET does have twice as many but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of pastors I know who are in possession of an NET Bible full notes edition (I actually have it on 3 different software platforms but I am a huge nerd.)

It looks as though we get the full body of footnotes and I am delighted to see that. We are treated to alternate translations, manuscript variants, etc. Got a question about the text? Look at the bottom of the page and chances are the translators have provided it for you.

References

There are around 63,000 organic references in the Scriptures (One verse illuminates another without being part of a topical chain.) and Holman gave us all of them. On each page, they can be found at the bottom of the right hand column. I have grown to prefer this as it prevents the flow of the text from being interrupted.

Full Concordance

Holman has provided a full concordance (though not an exhaustive one). It runs to 75 pages with 3 columns of entries per page. Sufficient content is provided to teach on just about any topic you can imagine.

Actual Use Scenario

I am pairing this with AMG’s Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible with the latter for study and this for preaching and teaching. I have told a number of colleagues that if there were a verse by verse CSB available, I would use it more and I aim to make good on that promise. I have also made the statement that this is what the CSB Pastor’s Bible ought to have been in the first place. Allegedly most pastors want a single column paragraph Bible for preaching, but I have not met a single one who shares that sentiment. The CSB Verse by Verse is the ideal CSB Preaching Bible and Holman should change the name and call it exactly that, the CSB Preaching Bible.

Should you buy it?

For CSB users, this is one of two must haves. If you have been paying attention, you have already deduced the other. I will go a step further…If you preach from CSB, don’t take any other Bible into the pulpit than this.

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

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Additional Photos

 

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.

NKJV Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible, Premier Collection

NKJV Classic Verse by Verse Reference Bible, Premier Collection

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Additional Photos

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.

 

 

NASB Giant Print Reference Bible Review

NASB Giant Print Reference Bible Review

 

 

This review features a Bible that has been on the market for a while but is still a great seller and worth a review, the NASB Giant Print Reference Bible. (Note: This Bible was a gift during Christmas 2018. The Lockman Foundation was not involved in this review choice. The opinions offered here are my own.) I am reviewing the black imitation leather thumb indexed edition. It is also available in hardcover, burgundy genuine leather and black genuine leather.

Features

  • NASB 1995 Updated Text
  • 14-point font size
  • Double Column-Verse by Verse layout
  • 13,000 End of Verse/End of paragraph cross-references
  • Thumb indexing
  • Bible book introductions (located after Biblical Text)
  • Full NASB Dictionary-Concordance-Thesaurus
  • Translator’s Footnotes with translation variants
  • Sewn binding

Cover and Binding

The edition I am reviewing is the Black Imitation Leather. Lockman calls this Leatherflex; much like the TruTone from Crossway, it is a polymer based imitation leather designed to give you durability without the added cost. This particular Bible is soft and smooth but the imitation on the leather is not as convincing as on other Bibles. There is a paste down liner to provide a little extra stiffness in your hand to ensure that it remains steady during one handed use.

Lockman provides a sewn Binding for this edition making it clear that even in the budget model, they intend for you to have a lifetime of use. (A sewn Binding can easily last 100 years or more where a glued binding will maybe last 25 years and that’s with a very premium adhesive.)

Overall, I am satisfied with the imitation leather. I have been using it more than anticipated and will eventually have it rebound in a more premium cover.

NASB 1995 Updated Text

Long considered the most literal translation available, NASB95 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors the ASV and the 1977 NASB and gives us a fastidiously literal translation.

The NAS95 text is considered to be more readable than the 1977 edition but I must confess that I prefer the way the 1977 edition handles the 2nd person in English. I have had a seminary professor, with 50 years of teaching Greek tell me that the NASB is so literal in translating the Nestle-Aland Greek Text that one could probably use the NAS to cheat in Greek Class (not recommended). All in all, when you choose to study in NASB, you are getting one of the two most reliable and fastidiously literal translations on the market, the other being NKJV). While I use many translations for many reasons, NASB has for the last 22 years, been one of my top two choices. I cannot say enough good things about how the NAS handles the text. If there were one drawback, it would be that the text feels very academic as opposed to feeling liturgical like the ESV. That being said, for the serious expositor, NASB must be on your shelf.

Paper and  Font

The paper was a surprise and a very pleasant one at that. There is almost no see through, also called ghosting. It is a crisp white, generously opaque but not overly thick. Pages turn easily and give you that beautiful sound that I love to hear when standing in the pulpit and inviting the congregation to “turn with us” to the text for the week,

At 14-point, the text block is the easiest that I have ever preached. You can easily lay it on a standard height pulpit and have no issues reading the text. I happen to walk a bit while preaching and this particular font works really well for someone who likes to walk and teach.

This is a red letter edition which is really done quite well. Several publishers have issues with their red fonts where the font fades, turns pink, etc. Lockman did this red letter edition incredibly well. It is a deep rich cranberry color and there are absolutely zero issues with the red ink in the pulpit. Even in the unforgiving Arizona sun, I had no issues reading this text in the outdoors.

As a Preaching Bible

I still have other features to comment on, but I felt this would be the best place to address this. The NASB is available in the monstrous NASB Preacher’s Bible from Steadfast Bibles and it is great for preaching but lacks the utility and portability that the NASB Giant Print Reference Bible offers. The Giant Print Reference Bible is large enough to use in virtually any teaching environment but at 1/3 of the weight of its juggernaut cousin, the Giant Print Reference Bible is, in my opinion, the ideal NASB Preaching Bible.

Text Layout and Helps

I realize that there are many who disagree with me, but I have found that a verse by verse format is the best for preaching. In the Giant Print Reference Bible, we are presented a two-column layout in verse by verse format, each verse beginning on a new line.

In total, the NAS Family offers 95,000 cross references. In this Bible, however, only the most commonly used references are provided, bringing our total down to 13,000 references. The references are placed at the end of the verse or end of the paragraph so as not to disrupt the flow of the text

The dictionary-concordance-thesaurus is a brilliant combination of 3 tools. Each word is defined, referenced in the Bible text and alternate translations are offered.

The thumb-indexing is really done quite well. Even though I have long had the 66 books and their order memorized, I sometimes want rapid access to the particular book that I need and not having to page through the Bible is very useful.

The book introductions are 1-2 paragraphs for each book providing a solid overview of the book.

Final Thoughts and Should You Buy It

Overall, I am very pleased with this text edition. It is very well put together and, clearly, has in mind a reader who does not want a lot of distractions in the Bible they are using.

Lockman makes Bibles so well that it is hard for me to imagine a scenario where I would not recommend their Bibles and this is no exception. This Bible is well suited to anyone who uses it, but especially to those who teach. Should you buy it? Yes, and most especially if you teach the Bible with any regularity.