Bible Reviews

Review of the HCSB Study Bible, in Black Deluxe Leather

First I’d like to start out by saying that study Bibles in general have some benefits and some drawbacks. One of the great advantages is that you have a set of commentaries with your Bible to be carried with you wherever you go.  One of the obvious drawbacks is that all those notes and features add to the bulk of the Bible making it heavier and bigger.  The size and weight isn’t the major drawback.  Most people expect that when they are shopping for a study Bible.  The major drawback of course comes into play when you ask, “Who wrote my commentary?” For instance if your theology is very liberal and intolerably inaccurate then you would absolutely hate the, “MacArthur Study Bible.”  You would probably love a study Bible caters to your liberal theology.  The downfall of having a study Bible with just one mans commentary is that you just get his point of view, and if he is a false teacher you get more false teachings. The benefit is if he is a good teacher, you get very focused and direct answers to difficult passages.

When you have a study Bible where hundreds of theologians were utilized for the commentaries, you end up with what could be a mixed bag of theologies. Unless, that study Bible is put out by an organization or denomination with set doctrine, then they would make an attempt to have the commentaries conform with their doctrines.

Well what if the denomination has a split opinion about some doctrines, like oh, I don’t know… perhaps the Southern Baptist Convention? You guessed it, you’ll have some Reformed doctrines and some Arminian doctrines espoused. I’m not knocking the SBC, after all I’m a member. I’m not knocking this study Bible either. So far I quite enjoy it. I think it is kind of a, “Jack of all trades, master of none” study Bible. I don’t mean to imply a lack of direction or focus on the part of the publishers.  I think that this study Bible will fit a very large cross section of evangelical Protestantism.  This can frustrate some or be refreshing to others. Like I said just a bit ago, I am enjoying it. I myself am in the Reformed camp when it comes to soteriology, but I am not the type of person who cries heretic when I see an Arminian walking down the street. With that all out of the way, we’ll start by taking a look at the construction of this Bible.

The most important physical feature of this Bible is the sewn binding.  I verified with Holman that in fact, this does have a sewn binding.  You can see here how the binding bends in the spine wherever it is opened.  A sewn binding bends and the Bible can open flat because the pages don’t have to bend around a fixed glued point.  The pages are also set up in journals and stacked before they are sewn to binding straps (tape)


With this method of binding comes some added expense to the consumer, but in my opinion it is well worth it for durability and usability.  The pages don’t fall out of the front or back of the Bible as easily with a sewn binding.

The leather they use here is supple with a good grain.


It just drapes over your hand.


Here you can see it rolled up on itself.


I don’t usually treat Bibles like this, but I wanted you to get an idea of how well bound this one is.  Most large study Bibles will fall apart if you do this with them.  Because of the sewn binding and the quality cover this Bible is going to last a long time.  It has a lifetime warranty from Holman.


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The inside cover does not appear to be lined at first glance, but upon closer inspection you can see that it is lined with some very flexible material that doesn’t crease like the normal vinyl and card paper you typically see.  I like that feature a lot.  It makes the outer cover that much more enjoyable.

The Bible has two ribbon markers.  One is kind of a gold color and the other is black.  They used good heavy ribbons instead of the thin cheap ones that fold up and crease.


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Another part of the binding process I truly appreciate is the first page being glued in further up and away from the gutter, keeping it more securely locked into the cover.

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As you can see the pages are edge gild.  The spine is gild as well.

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If you are like me you may be curious as to what exactly makes those pages so shiny.  I always thought it was gold leaf.  I e-mailed Holman and they referred me to their expert.  He told me that it is actually a gold colored foil made from colored aluminum particles.  The page edges get sanded and then the foil is rolled on.  The heat that is generated by the sanding process makes the inks that are printed on the pages sticky.  So that is why the pages stick together.  Here is a link to a video that they sent me showing how the machine works;

When I received the Bible it was packaged in a retail box.  It got banged around a bit during shipping and one of the corners of the cover was a bit bent.

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This Bible is a double column format with center column references.  It is a black text edition.  The font looks to be a 9 pt. font.  It is printed clearly with good contrast.  The ghosting is minimal even though the pages are very thin.  This Bible is made here in the U.S.

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I think the blue headings and chapter numbers are a nice touch.  The reference chapter and verse numbers are also in blue.  It seems to make them easier to locate for me.  You can also see there is a colored band separating the text from the study notes at the bottom of the page.  The inside of this band is utilized for more references.  It is all quite readable and there is a plethora of information.

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In the picture above you can see one of the word study boxes in the lower left of the page.


In the picture above you can see one of the colored maps that is spread throughout this Bible in addition to the typical maps at the back.


These closeup pictures should give you an idea of how clearly the text is printed.

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The page margins are pretty good sized as you can see in the picture below.  They look to be about 9/16ths of an inch.


I can’t get over how many full colored features this Bible has.  It is chocked full of stuff.  This could be distracting if you are just wanting to read, but if you are studying it could add a number of side studies to your use.

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I know that there are people out there like me who like to see as much as they can before they plunk a chunk of change down on a purchase so I’ve included a photo gallery at the bottom of this review so you can see the features for yourself.  There are book introductions, outlines, topical concordance, presentation pages, records pages, lined not pages, one and three year reading plans, word studies, essays, and on and on and on.  This isn’t a cheap Bible.  It is a good value for all of the features and the quality binding.  You are getting what you paid for here.  I hope you enjoyed the review.

Here is a link to this Bibles page on where it can be purchased.

You can also purchase it on Amazon.

This list of features comes from the page for this Bible.  I noticed that some of the features listed there were different from the ones listed on the Holman site.  I think the list might be more up to date.

Top-quality black cowhide binding
Online access to the HCSB Study Bible and Bible study resources
408 word studies
More than 100 photographs
59 timelines
59 maps
24 articles on practical and theological issues
Feature-length article on how to reaed and study the Bible
16 illustrations/reconstructions
15 charts
Four-color presentation pages
Two-column text setting
Center column references
One-year Bible reading plan
Topical subheads
Black letter text
Gold page edges
Lined pages for personal notes
Presentation page
Two ribbon markers
9.75″ x 7.00″ x 2.00″

The following information is from Holmans site.

Format: Cowhide Leather
Number of Pages: 2304
Vendor: Holman Bible Publishers
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 9.75 X 7.25 X 2.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1586404571
ISBN-13: 9781586404574
Availability: In Stock
References: Center Column
Text Layout: Double Column
Text Color: Black Letter

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