The perfect Bible… For me, that is. Let’s face it, perfection can be subjective, when it comes to Bibles. Everyone has different deal breakers and necessities, when it comes to features. I know for me, a glued binding is a deal breaker. It is the unpardonable sin amongst Bible publishers. They really need to just stop trying to save a buck and do it right. Of course that is my opinion. Many people don’t even know the difference between a sewn binding and a glued one. To them other features are more important. They might insist on having a specific study Bible.
There are three premier brands today that I know of, Cambridge Press, Schuyler(skyler), and R. L. Allan. I’ve done reviews of Cambridge Bibles. They have been very generous providing me with review copies. Schuyler does not provide gratis review copies and neither does R. L. Allan. I had to wait for a time when I could afford to purchase one. I had seen a Schuyler. Our Pastor at Church received one for his Ordination. His is an E.S.V. Quentel in green goatskin. Reviewing Bibles exposes you to the differences between materials, features, and manufacturing methods.
With the knowledge gained by reviewing so many Bibles, I knew the attributes I wanted. I knew that first of all, it must be as legible as possible. I’ve reviewed several Bibles that either used paper that isn’t opaque enough, old typesets with edges that are not sharp, small font, thin font, poorly inked and inconsistently printed font, and cheap paper that offers little contrast.
Second, it had to have a sewn binding. Without a sewn binding it would not be flexible enough to make it easy to read, and it would not be durable enough to last a lifetime.
Third, it had to have a high quality, edge lined, goatskin cover. This might not seem like a must, but if you have held one of these Bibles before, you would agree. It is durable, flexible, and the grain is tactilely pleasing.
Fourth, it had to be in the New American Standard Bible translation.(NASB) This is by far my favorite translation, to both read and study. If you haven’t read this translation, you should. It is a formal equivalent, and very accurate. This is the translation to read, if you have ever wanted to get as close to the original languages, without learning them yourself.
Fifth, I wanted a double column, verse format, with center column references. I know, I know, it is old fashioned of me, and I need to get with the times, but it is so much easier to find a verse, in a verse format Bible. I have the Cambridge Clarion. It is a single column, paragraph format Bible, with references on the outside of the page. People informed me that this is the easiest to just sit and read. Well, that might be so, IF your brain, and eyes haven’t been trained to read a double column, verse format, over the years. I tried to teach an old dog a new trick, and it just didn’t work out for me. So this was a necessary feature.
Sixth, was size. I wanted a Bible for reading out of in my chair. It couldn’t be too heavy or big. Arm fatigue is a real thing people. Perhaps I’m just getting old, but if you are holding a big Bible in your hands for an hour or so, it gets heavy. Plus they can be downright unwieldy. I despise fighting against a Bible or the cover while trying to read.
Finally, it had to have more than one, crumby, cheap, nasty, ribbon marker. I know it seems minor, but I like to follow Ligonier’s TableTalk reading plan. It has readings out of the Old and New Testaments, daily. For that, I need, at least two ribbons. I didn’t want a Bible with the cheap, thin, anemic, looking ribbons, that fold over, and get wrinkled either. I wanted some ribbons of substance that would lay flat and help me turn to the page, without tearing the paper or rubbing the gilt off of the page edges.
The only publisher to publish a Bible that met all of my demands is R. L. Allan formerly of Scotland, now located in London. Robert Allan established R. L. Allan’s in 1863. They are still making some of the finest Bibles in the world. In 2013 they moved to London. The NASB R1 R uses the Lockman Foundation’s NASB double column, verse format, reference Bible, typeset. The reason I didn’t purchase the Lockman Foundation produced Bible is quality. Lockman is printing and binding their Bibles in China. Although they are less expensive to purchase, they did not measure up to the standards that I set for my, “perfect Bible.” R. L. Allan’s NASB R1 R is printed and bound in the Netherlands by Jongbloed. Jongbloed is, in my estimation, the premier Bible printer and bindery in the world. Cambridge Press, and Schuyler, use Jongbloeds as well. It is no coincidence that the three Best Bible publishers use the same printer and bindery. They all use Jongbloeds because of their continued excellence.
My choices were limited right off the bat. There are literally no other publishers making the Bible I was after. I could have compromised on a couple of things like, cover material, or case bound instead of edge lined. Providentially, I didn’t have to compromise. It really is a blessing to be able to find a Bible just like I wanted. I feel so very blessed to be living in a country, during a time, like this. The Reformers went through much persecution to get us translations in our native tongues. There are people today, deprived of God’s word by law of their governments. So I don’t take the blessing lightly.
I received my order less than two weeks after I placed it. It arrived in a cardboard box. It was cushioned with bubble wrap and little foam puffs.
The Bible was in a two piece box. The box is covered with a woven blue material. I am keeping it to put my Bible in when I am not using it. It will sit by my chair safe and sound.
It was wrapped in paper inside the box.
It arrived undamaged from shipping. While unwrapping the Bible I was welcomed with the aroma of quality goatskin leather. Some Bibles smell like chemicals and adhesives. The cover is thicker than I expected. It is a rich crimson red. There are two channels around the perimeter of the cover.
It has a wide yapp, that is the overhang of the cover. It protects the page edges. The inside cover is lined with dark blue leather. There is a gilt line around the inside perimeter.
The edges of the cover are folded over and glued perfectly. The corners are nice, neat, and tight. The spine of the Bible is stamped in gold with, “Holy Bible” at the top, “New American Standard Bible” under that, and, “Allan” at the bottom.
It has white, head and tail bands, art-gilt page edges, and three lovely, navy blue ribbon markers.
In the front you’ll find the presentation page, family records pages for parents, children, marriages, grandchildren, and deaths. These are printed on heavier paper, but not so heavy as to inhibit the opening of the Bible. Then, there is the Title page, Publishers info,Foreward, and a list of the Books of the Bible.
As I mentioned earlier, the Bible is in a double column, verse format, with center column references. The center column is bordered by a single line on either side of it. The chapter numbers are bold and large. There are topic headings throughout. This is a black letter edition. Lockman has over 95,000 cross references in this luxurious publication from R. L. Allan.
The font is 10 point in size. It is one of the sharpest and uniformly printed Bibles I’ve seen. The black contrasts against the off-white Bible paper, making it very legible. The paper is beautiful and opaque.
The concordance in the back is large enough to be useful, but not so large as to bulk it up. There is 40 pages of lined writing paper in the back for notes. Lockman’s colored maps are retained, but printed on the same type of paper that is used in the front for the records pages, instead of the glossy paper that Lockman uses. There are 8 maps. The glossy paper tends to crack and tear, so I am glad to see that it was not used in this edition.
This is a pretty thin Bible. It measures 1″ thick. The text block is 9″ tall by 6 1/4″ the Bible when closed measures almost 10″ tall by 7″ across. It is very handy. Just the right size to contain all of my desired attributes, while not growing too large with undesired features.
Since this Bible has everything I could want in a Bible it is no surprise that I would think so highly of it. I can’t get over how satisfied I am with it. I am so happy with it that I mailed several of my other Bibles to friends. This one replaces about 5 others I was holding on to for various uses. I have taken some ribbing that was unexpected. It was brought to my attention that this should be called the, “Spiderman Bible” due to the red and blue colors. I thought that was amusing, but come one? If I’m going to associate it with a super hero it would be Superman not Spiderman lol. In all seriousness, this is probably the best Bible I’ve ever owned. That is saying a lot, because I’ve been sent some pretty good Bibles.
If you decide you need a premium Bible, you should purchase one from
evangelicalbible.com They are the best online retailer of premium Bibles.
47 thoughts on “The Best Bibles in the World! Yes, Premium Bibles are Still Being Made. R. L. Allan’s Readers NASB R1 R.”
I was curious about the Allan goatskin leather bible. It’s unlikely I could use one due to some allergy I have to leather products, but thank you for reviewing this one. The thickness of the leather surprised me in the photos you took. It looks amazing. Congrats on finally getting your perfect bible.
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It is a thicker goatskin hide than what I’ve seen in the past from other Bibles. I am very pleased with it. I think the liner has something to do with the feel of the cover. It is leather as well.
Hi! I’m so glad I found your blog after reading this review on evangelicalBible.com. I have a couple of questions for you. First, does this Bible have line matching? It’s hard to tell from the pictures. Secondly, is the cover supple enough that with use, do you think it would curve more over the book block to protect the pages? It looks a bit stiff but it’s also brand new. 🙂 I’m torn between this one in red and the ESV NCR in brown. They’re both so beautiful and the translations are close enough together for me. Thanks for the great review!
No line matching on the NASB Readers from Allan. However, the paper looks better in real life than the pictures. They get, “enhanced” a bit by the camera, and or the website. The paper is pretty opaque. The cover has become more supple just in the couple weeks I’ve owned it. It is thicker than my clarion. It is also lined with leather instead of the synthetic material the clarion is lined with. I think it will last longer.
It does not have a full yapp. The yapp is not made to curve over the pages on this one. They are large enough to offer more protection than the conventional yapps seen on mass produced Bibles.
Firstly thanks for taking the time to wright this review. One of the issues with attending different churches for bible study or worship is that they tend to use different translations. My main Sunday church uses the TNIV (I am not really a fan of this, prefer something a bit more formal), another that I go to mid week uses the NRSV, my bible study group uses the ESV. We moved homes about 4 years ago and our old church used the NASB. Added to this there seams to be lots of websites and books telling us to use the KJV. So as you can imagine I have lots of bibles. But don’t have one that I use all the time and I feel that I end up studying the various translations rather than the word of God. I would really like to have one bible that I use all the time, highlight, underline in. It needs to be a fairly formal translation, not too large a book but something that I am going to want to use for years.
I recently bought an RL Allan Longprimer 52 and really like the colour and the format. However I am having issues with the text. When I read from it I keep missing parts of the text. Maybe its because the language is not familiar. I often find if I re read the same section in an ESV/NASB etc I notice things that I didn’t see in the KJV. Maybe I just need to give it a bit more time.
The Longprimer that I own is bright red with blue ribbons and very like the NASB version in this review. I have to say that I am very tempted to buy an Allan NASB, but not sure if I am ready to give up on the KJV just yet. I also have a LCBP Noteless bible which I have started to mark up and put my notes in. I have also added a few extra ribbon markers. For the cost its a great product, but there are not shipping outside the USA at the moment so to get this one a friend in the states had to buy it for me. Have it shipped to his address and then ship it on to me.
Anyway keep up the good work.
If you don’t mind me asking, what is your native language Alex? Perhaps I can help you find a Bible you’ll be happy with?
Hi Bob, Its English!
I won’t use the TNIV due to the agenda driven gender inclusive translation. I don’t mind the KJV, but in light of the critical text would rather use a modern version. I don’t like the way the ESV reads. That is just personal preference. So, I am left with the NASB, and it is my favorite. I could be an NASBonlyist lol. There aren’t any good reasonable arguments to be a KJVonlyist. They have to suspend reason and do some pretty bad arguing to support their pov. Allan makes a double column verse format called the reader and they make a side column single column verse format called the scr. Both are very good. You can get them from Lockman Foundation for much less, but they are printed on less opaque paper and are made i China. The covers are not goat skin either.
Thanks. I have ordered an Allan NASB double column reference.
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Hello Sir. Thank you for a great review. I just started to shop for a new Bible for my 14 year old daughter. I very quickly became overwhelmed by choice and price. I also discovered that i know very little about what makes a god, easy to read Bible. I don’t want to have super thin, see-thru paper, and i don’t want it filled with study notes and micro small print. I am 49, so i want a large print, and that will require even more thought into getting a “No Ghosting” Page.
I don’t think i can afford even one, premium Bible but would like to ask for a suggestion on more affordable Bibles please?
as far as translations go, I have had a big NIV study Bible for 20 years. Its a bit tattered. Our church uses the ESV. We have talked about changing to the ESV so we can follow along better at Church and Sunday school. I would like to ask about your comment about the NASB being more true to the original text. Could you show me a good link to study this please.
Sorry for the long reply, and many questions. thanks for the help.
Thanks for reading my reviews. I would be glad to point you in the right direction. Crossway makes many high quality, low priced Bibles. The ESV is my second favorite translation. In some areas I like it better. Overall, I like the NASB. That may change as a new revision of the NASB is coming in 2018. It sounds like you want a text Bible. Those don’t have any cross references or study notes in them, so the text can be larger. Crossway generally uses some of the most opaque, high quality paper, even in their inexpensive Bibles. Almost all of their bindings are sewn as well. I have a text version single column ESV with a synthetic cover, I bought for $6.00 brand new on Christianbook.com I use it at work on my breaks. I will post a link to a refined search result on Christianbook.com. It will take you to their page with the results that I refined for you and give you multiple Bibles to choose from that match your requirements. There are a couple of study Bibles on the resulting page, just disregard them. I will also include some links to specific Bibles I think you would like. https://www.christianbook.com/apps/easyfind?Ns=product.curr_sell_price&N=1014722+5401+4294777866+4294777865+4294862829+210404&Ne=5200+200900+210400+1000000+5300+10000&event=EBRN&Nso=0&Ntt=&no_show_cp=0&format=1014722&D=&category=Bibles&Nu=product.endeca_rollup&Ntk=
Journaling Bibles often have thicker paper. If you like to take notes in your Bible here is a good one. https://www.christianbook.com/esv-journaling-bible-large-print-black/9781433553172/pd/553171?event=EBRN
This one comes out at the beginning of March. https://www.christianbook.com/esv-personal-size-bible-imitation-leather/9781433554483/pd/55448X?event=EBRN
Here is a reference Bible you would like. https://www.christianbook.com/esv-reference-imitation-leather-cordovan-portfolio/9781433545580/pd/545581?event=EBRN
Here is a very nice NASB for the price. https://www.christianbook.com/nas-classic-reference-grain-leather-black/9780310931294/pd/93129?event=ESRCG
Oh also, very important, don’t get translations that are written for people with the idea that they will be simpler to read. It is always better to stay true to the word, and if you or the person reading it, don’t understand something, look it up to learn it. I hope that helps.
Thank you for the links Bob. There is some very nice options there. I forgot that i like the “Words of Jesus in Red” as well. I really like that to jump off the page at me.
I will look thru theses options and see what they look like. Thank you again.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Great review, and love the pictures at the end! Just a quick note–the NASB is a “formal equivalent” (as in stays close to the structure of the original text and language), not a “functional equivalent” (as in functions the same as the original text and language).
I don’t know how I overlooked that. Thanks for catching it. I am glad you liked the review. I must have had my thoughts somewhere else.
If I have one gripe with R L. Allan it is that a number of their book blocks are printed in China. R.L. Allan fans make excuses for the practice (“yes, it is from China, but it is high quality”), but I there is something about the practice of printing a premium Bible in China that just doesn’t sit well.
It is nice to see that this particular volume is printed and bound in the Netherlands. I have yet to determine the reason behind certain Allan text blocks being printed in China. My only thought would be that, perhaps, it comes down to using the original publisher’s current text blocks. Consistency would be better – it is somewhat disappointing for a publisher like Allan to farm out any printing at all to China.
Thank you so much for your review! I am just discovering premier Bibles and this review was SO helpful! It has almost consumed me trying to find which beautiful Bible I want to buy. I have decided to buy one Cambridge (Wide Margin and possibly a Pitt Minnion) and one Allan. My question is do you know if the red was a limited edition that you reviewed? I am having difficulty finding it. Thank you!
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It may just be out of stock. They make limited runs. R. L. Allan is a small operation.
can you help? I just ordered an NASV “widish” margin side-column ref bible and am a little disappointed. The font is ok, but I would rather larger font and also the bleed through is pretty bad. So here is what I need, a large font, wide margin, quality paper NASV bible. any suggestions? Graham
If you don’t mind, could you tell me which Bible you already ordered that you are not happy with? Who is the publisher? Was it a Lockman Foundation Bible? Was it Zondervan? When you say NASV do you really mean NASB? I’m not trying to pick nits, I just need the info so I don’t recommend something you aren’t going to like. I also need to know about how much you want to spend, whether or not you like verse format or paragraph format, single column or double column, and so forth.
Would it be better if it were tied to study notes?
Where in Houston can I see and feel a high end Bible such as this. I hate online ordering anything. I don’t know exactly what I’m getting and I like to buy it and take it home.
Catalog ordering is a very ineffective way of buying anything.
I don’t believe there are any retail stores in America that carry this Bible. As far as I know, evangelicalbible.com is the only American company to sell them, and they are online only.
If you want a study Bible, buy a study Bible. This is a reference Bible. The, “John Macarthur Study Bible” is a great choice.
Can you tell me where I can get a calfskin or goatskin , large print ( would love a giant print ) easy read Bible. Which is the easiest reading , NIV, NASB ( which I’m not familiar with at all) or NLT , etc. I just want a Bible I can open and easily read and understand. Thank you. Robyn
First you need to decide what translation you’d like. I don’t think the NASB is difficult to read, but other people do. The NASB is the best formal translation in my opinion. Others prefer the ESV. I think the NLT is too dumbed down. I don’t like the dynamic translations like the NIV or the NLT. There aren’t any premium giant print Bibles that I know of. There are a few large print editions. The best place to shop for them is http://www.evangelicalbible.com
Sorry, but I don’t give Bibles away, over the internet, to people I don’t know. I’ve given most of the Bibles away that I’ve received. I have some left that I gift to people I know personally.
Correction: printed by the Dutch, sent to London for the binding.
At the time of the composition of the article, it was all done by Jongbloed. Since then the binding has moved.
Thank you so much for this review. I actually found this site because I was looking for some specific things, notably a quality binding. I am hoping you can help me. I have several Bibles, but the bindings are coming apart (Ryrie Study, NLT Study by Tyndale, etc.). What I am looking for, ideally, is a “Workhorse” Bible that is sturdy and can roll with me, while not costing a small (or large) fortune. To that end, I am thinking:
– Sewn Binding
– Legible, with a slightly larger print size (getting older…dang)
– NIV (preferred) with Red Letter
– Heavier paper, wider margins, as I like to write, underline, and highlight (Journaling Bible?)
– Reference (but also open to a Study Bible)
– Double column
– Ribbon or two would be nice to have
– Cover: hardcover (I have a Bible Cover) or leather (though I hate the polyurethane/bonded/crummy leathers).
Any help or insight would be great – THANKS!
It is good to know what features you want in a Bible. I stopped using the NIV after the 2011 update. I currently only use formal equivalent translations like the NASB, or ESV. If you really want an NIV, I would go to evangelicalbible.com This would be the one I would get if I was ok with spending around $155 https://evangelicalbible.com/product/cambridge-niv-wide-margin-ref-bible-black-calfsplit-leather/ Here is a link to some pictures https://www.facebook.com/pg/evbible/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10152494079688264 This is the one I would get if you could do without the wide margins https://evangelicalbible.com/product/schuyler-quentel-niv-black-calfskin-bible/ It is going for a bit less. If you want to spend under $100 here a couple more options, https://www.christianbook.com/niv-thinline-reference-premium-leather-calfskin/9780310449713/pd/449713?event=EBRN This one is an NASB, but I would really consider it, https://evangelicalbible.com/product/lockman-nasb-side-column-ref-wide-margin-black-g-l/
Thank you so much for the quick and thoughtful reply. I am wondering if there is one you might recommend that would have an area to take notes/journaling, like this: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/niv-journal-the-word-bible-large-print-leathersoft-brown-P006133040
I like the idea of having wide margins to keep my thoughts, but worry about ink bleeding through.
Why do you like NASB or ESV over, say, NIV?
Well, I’ve never reviewed that one. I don’t get Zondervan Bibles unless I buy them myself. They don’t send me any for review. You would have to do some checking to see if it is sewn. A sewn binding is the number one feature you can get for longevity. I like the NASB because it is in my opinion the most accurate translation. It employs the formal equivalence philosophy for translation as opposed to the dynamic equivalence. Basically it means that experts in Koine Greek, Aramaic, and ancient Hebrew try to render each word in its modern English equivalent. The dynamic philosophy uses some language experts, and theologians to read a section of scripture, and figure out how to say it best in English by rearranging the sentence, using a more common phrase instead of one word, and paraphrasing more or less.
Looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, can you help?
Smyth-sewn, premium leather (Bonded is simply glued and falls apart)
KJV (Most accurate period, w/majority text)
Red Ltr (Makes it clearer that Jesus IS speaking – wish The Fathers was in Dark Purple :<)
Giant Print (14 or bigger) (Minimum for us older people)
Reference, study (I am not just “reading”)
Prefer 2 column with wide margin (A must for notes and is also easier to read)
THIS Bible WOULD sell… I already have friends that if I find one are VERY likely to purchase
Plus I would buy as gifts also.
Thank you for your time and efforts
This Bible has all the features I want, with one exception- thumb indexing.
I can (and do) use Bibles without it, but indexing just makes it so much faster.
I have a red leather bound (top cowhide) Nelson NASB that I got around 1983, but is getting pretty worn. It is also irritating (and kind of stupid) the way it converts to King Jameseth language when there is a prayer, so I am looking to update it with a revised NASB.
Your review is sending me in the right direction. Thank you.
Thanks for this article, Bob. I am wondering if there are any NASB Bibles that are published and/or printed outside of China? It’s 2020 now, and I’ve concretely decided to not purchase Bibles anymore that are printed/published in China. It seems about everyone has moved printing or full production to China. I’m aware of Allan, Cambridge and Schuyler; beautiful, non-Chinese Bibles at very high prices. For an ordinary person struggling to feed a family and pay all the bills and responsibly save a little for the future, is it impossible to find a non-luxury NASB Bible not printed/produced in China? Thanks for any information, and blessings on you and your work.
This hardcover NASB is printed and bound in the USA. https://www.christianbook.com/nasb-charles-stanley-principles-study-bible/9781418550325/pd/550325?event=AFF&p=1023472
Do you know of any single-column NASB Bibles that contain the words of Christ in red? I would also be okay with a side-column reference Bible, but words of Christ in red are very much so preferred by me.
Good day to you Bob. This review literally speak my mind out. Every single criteria of your “perfect bible” mentioned in this review matches my “dream bible”. However as I have tried browsing through evangelical website as you have suggested I am afraid this particular bible that you reviewed is no longer in production as I can only see KJV and ESV in Allan lineup. Can you confirm this?
It is not available. I would recommend the ESV Readers as well.
Any particular reason that the Amplified Bile is never mentioned. I went from the KJV straight to the Amplified and love it.
I’m not a fan of the Amplified Bible because there is quite a bit more interpretation inline along with the text that I don’t always agree with. If you would like my recommendation for an expanded translation I’d go with Kenneth S. Wuest’s New Testament that he brought out some more of the meaning that is lost when you translate from Koine Greek to English. I think he did a better job. The Amplified is fine as perhaps a reference tool once in a while, but I’d stick with formal translations with footnotes, and cross references. Some formal equivalence translations that are exemplary are the Legacy Standard Bible (LSB) the English Standard Version (ESV)and the 1995 New American Standard Bible (1995 NASB) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0802808824?tag=bravesoftwa04-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1&language=en_US