Crossway sent me this beautiful Bible for review. It is a wonderful value. You get so many great features with this Bible. It is also a good multipurpose Bible. Initially I thought the font might be too small for Pastors to use it from the pulpit, but I was wrong. The verse format layout, terrific paper, and crisp clean print, make it well suited to serve as a preaching Bible. It is a reference Bible, so it also lends itself to study. The references and notes are out of the way at the bottom, so it also works good for reading. If you are in the market for a new Bible to fill a few roles, keep reading. I think you’ll be as impressed with this edition as I am.
The ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible was packaged in a small white cardboard box.
The Bible itself was inside the retail clamshell box. Keep the box for storage. This is not a Bible to be stood up on edge like a hardback book. The Bible arrived undamaged from Crossway. Inside the packaging the Bible was wrapped in clear plastic.
Once removed, I was able to begin assessing the top grain leather. It had a very supple feel to it. It was nice and soft. There is also a perimeter groove on the cover.
The inside liner seemed to be a bit different than the outside cover. I e-mailed Crossway and asked them about it. They informed me that it is Cromwell® bonded leather. For those of you who are balking at that, keep in mind that Cromwell® bonded leather is not the same as the low grade bonded leather you are used to seeing in the past. It is a far superior product and should last as long as the top grain leather cover, if not longer. One of the bonuses of using this material as a liner is that it can be had in thin sheets. This makes it possible for the bindery to get the cover mated to the liner with more precision and less bulges on the corners.
This, being an edge-lined Bible, it is important to not use a heavier material that would reduce the supple feel of the cover.
In my opinion, it was implemented quite well. For the price, I would definitely recommend purchasing this edition over the ones with genuine leather or synthetic covers if you can afford the extra money.
In the front you’ll find a Presentation Page, Publisher’s Page, Table of Contents, Books of the Bible in Alphabetical Order, Preface, and an Explanation of Features.
The spine is ornamented with four spine hubs, and gold lettering.
The page edges are gold gilt and the corners are rounded. There are also decorative gold and black, head and tail bands.There are two black ribbons that are decent quality.
They are thicker than some less expensive ribbons. For me two ribbons or more is a must. Three ribbons is perfect in my opinion. You get one for the Old Testament reading, one for devotional reading of Proverbs, and one for the New Testament. Of course, two will suffice, and is certainly better than only one. Four just seems supernumerary to me.
Of course where this Bible shines is the paper and print. Crossway has done a good job utilizing superior paper compared to their competitors. Rarely do you find Bibles in this niche with paper of the same weight and opacity. Crossway is employing a 36 g.s.m. Apple Thin Opaque paper. Keep in mind that many of their competitors call 28 g.s.m. paper top notch. The print in this black letter edition is sharp and uniform throughout. I haven’t run into any areas where the print fades or is smudged. The font is 9 pt. in size and is Lexicon face. At first glance it seems larger than it is, in my opinion. I think that is due to the opaque paper, print, and line spacing, making it very legible. It is easy on the eyes.
Preaching from the pulpit and looking down at a 9 pt. font in another Bible with lesser paper and more ghosting would be a bad idea, but with this Bible you could easily do it. There is also a generous outside margin for some limited note taking.
The drawback of course is that some of the type gets lost in the gutter.
In some regards, like the paper and print, I would rate this Bible up there with the premium ones. Due to the lack of some of the more ornate features, like art gilt page edges, better ribbons, gilt perimeter lines, and better leather for the inside liner I can’t call it a premium Bible. Of course the price on this edition more than makes up for what little quibbles I might have. I’ve paid over $200 for an Allan. This Bible can be had for a bit over $80. That makes it an outstanding value. The suggested retail is $149.99. Some publishers list a suggested retail that I would never pay. This Bible is worth the suggested retail. On some retail sites it can be found for as little as $84.99. Other than the gutter complaint, the layout is great. You get a double column, verse format, with approximately 80,000 cross references located at the bottom of the pages. You also get a 76 page 3 column concordance, and 8 color maps in the back.
At the start of each book is a brief introduction. I personally love well written book introductions.
You also get a smyth-sewn spine with this edge-lined Bible adding to the durability and flexibility.
You would be hard pressed to find a Bible with all of these features even in a higher price range. In my opinion, Crossway has hit the ball out of the park with this edition and set the standard for their competitors in the $80 to $150 range.
Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible on my Flickr page.