The Crossway ESV Omega Thinline Reference Bible in Black Edge Lined Goatskin Leather. A Premium Bible at a Bargain Price.

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I know that not too many people are aware of the premium Bible market. For those that are, they appreciate the natural hide, edge lined covers, sewn bindings, premium papers, and aesthetics. The price can be the main prohibitive factor for someone seeking to buy their first premium Bible. The Bibles in the premium category usually start out at $150 to $250 price range. The suggested retail price of this Bible is $250. This Bible can be purchased from Christianbook.com for the dramatically discounted price of $169.99 and from evangelicalbible.com for even less at $149.99 Just let that sink in. You can get one of the best quality, best translations, from Crossway printed and bound by Jongbloed, the premiere Bible bindery for the price of a concert ticket.

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In the world of premium Bibles there isn’t much room for error or variance. If you want to publish a premium Bible, you go to Jongbloed of the Netherlands. When Crossway wanted to publish the Omega, they didn’t skimp. They also went to Jongbloed. There are numerous reasons why publishers utilize them for their premium editions. Paper choices, cover choices, binding methods, printing equipment and methods, overall professionalism and standards, you get the idea. Cambridge, Schuyler, Allan, all have made use of Jongbloed for their top notch Bibles.  The E.S.V. Omega Reference Bible in black, edge lined goatskin leather, is one of the best Bibles available today. It belongs in the premium Bible category.

I could go on and on about the great qualities of this edition, but instead I think it would be better if I just show you.  Without further delay, some high resolution pictures with comments.

The Omega was shipped from Crossway in a white box. It arrived undamaged.
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Inside the shipping package, was the Bible in it’s black, two piece, presentation box. Retain it for storage. The Omega is too flexible as an edge lined Bible for you to stand it on a bookshelf without a box.

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Inside the presentation box, the Omega is wrapped in two bands of paper to protect the page edges and keep it from shifting around during shipping.

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The black goatskin cover is perimeter stitched to the inner liner. It has a pleasing natural grain, and is very supple.  
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The inner cover/liner is also leather.  It has a gold perimeter line and the corners are finished well.  The hinge will take a bit to break in, but once you do it will last a long time.

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The spine is smyth sewn and very flexible.  You can see the signatures bend around it rather than the pages bending around a glued spine.  This is a, “must have” feature for a Bible.  They should all have sewn spines.  I wouldn’t even purchase a value line Bible without a sewn spine unless I had to.  The sewn spine is a major factor in how long the Bible will last and how well it will open and lay flat.

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As you can see from the pictures, the cover is supple and has a lovely textured grain to it.  It is a pleasure to hold.  The light weight and dimensions of the Omega equate to hours of easy reading, as well as long evenings of deep study.

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You can see the lovely grain of the leather in this close up picture.

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The corners of the cover are very well executed as are the corners of the text block. They have been rounded, as well as the spine. The page edges are beautifully art gilt. Also, take note of the use of four ribbon markers. That is almost unheard of. I know it is the first time I have heard of it, and I like it. The color of the ribbons is complimentary to the cover, and each other. I am actually using all four of them. I use one for my Old Testament reading, one for the proverbs and devotional reading, one for my New Testament reading, and one to mark where I am at in my study with a couple of my brothers in Christ.

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The gold and brown head and tail bands match the ribbons and inner liner.

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The spine is decorated with four raised hubs. It has, “Holy Bible” at the head, the ESV logo, “English Standard Version” above the foot, where the Crossway logo sits, all hot stamped into the goatskin leather.
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The text block is joined to the cover like all edge lined Bibles, by gluing the leather tab from the inner liner to the block and then covering it with a vinyl coated card paper.  This one is glued further up the paper to make it more durable.

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At the front you’ll find a presentation page and some family records pages.

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The Omega Heirloom Bible employs a 28gsm PDL paper that has a opacity rating of 79. The Omega uses a 10-pt. Lexicon font for the main text.

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With one page singled out and help up with light showing through from behind you can see how well the line matching was used.  It is exceedingly effective in reducing eye strain, and making this Bible a pleasure to read.  This coupled with the high quality print job that Jongbloed did makes this a most legible Bible.

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It is a double column, paragraph format layout with drop cap style numbers for the chapters.  The book titles appear at the top of the first page of each book.  Page numbers are placed at the top and justified to the center of the head.  The text is some of the boldest I’ve seen and is very sharp.  It contrasts well against the paper and also is a tremendous feature making the Omega a great Bible.

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To make space for the text, the cross references and notes are printed at the bottom of the page.  This layout is becoming more and more popular because of its effect on text real estate on the page.

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For you note takers who dare to write in such a lovely Bible 🙂 there is about a half inch margin available.  I don’t see much note taking going on here, but if you must…

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As you’ve come to expect on premium Bibles, the page edges are art gilt with red under gold.

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There is a useful 41 page, 3 column concordance in the back of the Omega.  Make sure to take advantage of it.  It can be a helpful tool.

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You’ll find the obligatory maps from Crossway in the back.  Their’s are some of the best.

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With the sewn spine, and edge lined binding this Bible is nice and flexible.  Notice how well it drapes over my hand.

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Here it is compared to my R. L. Allan NASB Reader’s Edition.  The Omega is a bit shorter, thinner, and more narrow.  It is much easier for me to handle than the Allan.

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Below you’ll see on the left a page from the Omega, and on the right the Allan.  The Allan doesn’t use line matching.  Even though it is a great paper, there still is a bit of ghosting.  This makes the Omega the winner.

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Here we have the Thinline Heirloom, Omega, and Study Bible from Crossway.

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I think you’ll be very happy should you decide to purchase an Omega Reference Bible from Crossway.  I don’t think there are very many Bibles out there that are any better.  It is one of the best.  This Bible would make an excellent gift to a person graduating from seminary, a Preacher in your Church, or anyone who enjoys well built Bibles.  Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on my flickr page.

The search for that perfect Bible. What are the most common Bible features available today? (Part 1, Covers)

DSCN3175It is difficult to find that perfect Bible, but this is where many of us start out. When you finally decide to get a high quality Bible, you want to get all of the features you like in one edition. The problem is that rarely is there one Bible that will satisfy all of your requirements. In this article we are going to look at some of these features, a few of the pros and cons of the features, and a little basic Bible design and layout. Hopefully this will help you make an informed purchase, and keep you from having unrealistic expectations.

I know many people ooh and ah over floppy, natural hide, edge lined covers, but these aren’t always the best Bibles to have. There are also a bunch of folks who have no idea what the difference is between bonded leather, genuine leather, and calf skin leather. So, let’s start off by learning about covers. After all, it is the first part of the Bible a person sees and touches.

The least expensive covers are equivalent to those you’d find on a paperback book. Not much to know here. Some of the pros are that they are inexpensive to mass produce. Usually you find these covers on evangelism Bibles. Perhaps you’ve been handed a Bible with a paperback cover? They are only a couple of bucks to buy, and they get the job done. The biggest con is that they are not durable. They tear and dog-ear very easily.

Hardback covers are next. These types of covers are common and inexpensive like the paperback covers. Everyone should be familiar with them. They are a cardboard sheet known as a book board, that is underneath a paper, cloth, or hide cover. In the past these were often made out of wood. They provide rigidity to the text block so the book can be stored standing on its edge. They also support the pages while you hold them. One of the problems with a rigid board is that if you drop it on a corner it will deform and stay that way. If you do store it on a shelf, as you take off the shelf, and replace it on the shelf, the edge will become worn. Also the text blocks tend to pull away from the book boards over time and require repair.

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Synthetic covers are the next step up. They offer a wide range of appearances and styles. They are also inexpensive to make. They can be made to simulate leather or just about anything else you might cover a book with. They can be made with various designs in them making them very attractive compared to paperback and hardback Bibles. The covers don’t stand up to skin oils, sunlight, and other environmental hazards like being scratched or scraped when compared to the durability of a good quality hide cover. They also lack the smell and texture of real leather.

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Bonded leather used to be one of the most common inexpensive covers before the rise of synthetic covers. I would just like to say, there are no pros to bonded leather… Ok fine, maybe they were not as expensive as a genuine leather cover, but come on! They are basically leather sawdust and scraps, bonded together with adhesive and dye, and then they have a fake leather grain stamped into them. They are generally not very flexible either. They are more durable than paper or had back. They are even more scratch and scuff resistant than synthetic covers, but when the surface is compromised, the oils and salts from your skin will sink in and make the damage worse. It will swell, and flake apart where the crease or cut is. There is a new bonded leather called Cromwell bonded leather that is supposed to be a very durable, long lasting bonded leather. I’ve just never liked the feel or smell of the bonded leather covers.

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Now for the genuine leather covers, but wait, all is not as it seems! You might think that if it is labeled, “Genuine Leather” that it is cow leather, but you’d be wrong! Oh no my friends, don’t be deceived by this clever marketing. Many of the bibles sold in the $40-$80 range listed as genuine leather are actually… pig skin leather. Yep, pig skin leather is much less expensive than cowhide leather. It is split thinner, it is colored, and gets a grain stamped into it, and it is shiny like plastic, and not that flexible. These covers are pretty tough though. I have to give that to them. They don’t smell as good as cowhide leather either due to all the processing they go through. Because the pig skin is so tough they can use very very thin splits of it.

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Just under the premium category of covers are the calfsplit leather, French Morocco leather, and genuine cowhide leather covers. There is not a market standard on this so there is quite a bit of variance from publisher to publisher. For instance a cowhide leather cover from TBS feels like the French Morocco leather from Cambridge. Basically they take the section under the top grain and stamp a grain pattern into it. It is stiffer and more fibrous, but still smells like cowhide leather because it is. You get all of the great durability of a good cowhide leather cover at a lower price. Honestly this is probably the lowest quality leather I would want on a Bible. All of the others I mentioned before this I would not buy for myself. I expect a Bible to be something I can hand down to my kids and hopefully my grandkids. I won’t buy anything under this. I recommend shopping calfsplit/genuine cowhide and above. French Morocco leather doesn’t necessarily have to be from a cow either. It is also split thinner typically than calfsplit. Don’t get French Morocco mixed up with Moroccan either. Moroccan leather is much higher quality goatskins from Nigeria that are imported and finished in Europe.

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The next class of covers is the premium range. It includes top grain cowhide, calf hide, Vachetta calfskin, Buttero calfskin, and goatskin. There are other hides that are available from rebinders and are occasionally available from publishers. I am not going to address those as they are not commonly available from mass produced Bibles from major publishers.

The top grain cowhides can have natural grain, they can be ironed flat to reduce the grain, they are generally tough and supple, which is a good combination. Calfskin is even softer because it is taken from well, young cows. It is also a bit thinner. It isn’t as resistant to scratches and scuffs as the top grain cowhide. All of these leathers take color during processing very well.  Goatskin covers usually have a nicely pebbled grain to them making them aesthetically pleasing.  They can be dyed in a wide range of colors, are supple, durable, and more expensive.  You don’t get as many covers out of a goat hide.  Goats are smaller than cows 🙂   

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Keep in mind this is just about covers.  The next article will be about the difference between case bound and edge lined Bibles.  Thanks again for reading, and if you haven’t already make sure to follow my blog.  God bless!

How the C.S.B. Renders the Names of God.

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I recently had someone ask, “Did they censored out the tetragrammaton?” on one youtube.  Sometimes folks get hung up on using Hebrew wherever it can be used.  Sometimes folks would just like the Hebrew names of God used so they can tell better what is being said.  For some it is a matter of heresy.  For others it is more scholastic.  I honestly don’t know anything about the person who asked the question.  I have no idea where they stand on translation philosophy, but they did ask a common question.  Here is the answer I gave him;

“They didn’t, “censor” it out. They used a standard translation convention of, “LORD.” I am in favor of them translating it into English. They could render it, “Self existent one.” Here is how they chose to translate the following words; Elohim=God, YHWH=LORD, Adonai=Lord, Adonai YHWH=Lord GOD, YHWH Sabaoth=LORD of Armies, El Shaddai=God Almighty. It is interesting to understand that in the New Testament the Greek words used for God are kurios=Lord, or Theos=God. When Jesus makes some statements identifying Himself as the, “self existent one” He says, “ego eimi”, or “I am” in English. He is also called, “Xpistos” which means anointed. Christos would have been the same as Messiah in Hebrew. So in the Greek if God, inspiring men to write His word was using generic names for Himself, I don’t think we have to get to overly critical of the translators doing the same thing.”

We might want them to just render the Hebrew words into English if they have a direct translation, but if they do not perhaps the conventions they employ are sufficient.  I’m going to give you an example of the difficulties in trying to find direct correlations from ancient Hebrew into modern English.  Here is what the word, “Elohim” means;

[466] אֱלֹהִים ʼelōhîm 2,602x God (plural of majesty: plural in form but singular in meaning, with a focus on great power); gods (true grammatical plural); any person characterized by greatness or power: mighty one, great one, judge [430] See angel; God; judge. (MED)

The first part of elohim is a prefix, “el” which means power.  It is often used for, “god” in Hebrew.

How would you render that in English?  Is there one English word that means all of that?  Would you just leave the Hebrew word, and expect people to know what it means, or would you make some sort of translation convention?

Here is another example,

h7706. שַׁדַּי šaḏay; from 7703; the Almighty: — Almighty.
AV (48) – Almighty 48;
almighty, most powerfulShaddai, the Almighty (of God) (Olive Tree Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary)

It is often prefixed with,

h0410. אֵל ’êl; shortened from 352; strength; as adjective, mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity): — God (god), x goodly, x great, idol, might(-y one), power, strong. Compare names in “-el.”
AV (245) – God 213, god 16, power 4, mighty 5, goodly 1, great 1, idols 1, Immanuel + h6005 2, might 1, strong 1;
god, god-like one, mighty onemighty men, men of rank, mighty heroesangelsgod, false god, (demons, imaginations)God, the one true God, Jehovah
mighty things in naturestrength, power

When you add the two together for El Shaddai, we render it, “all sufficient one.”  Translation isn’t a neat, tidy, word for word affair all of the time.  There are concepts that don’ t have direct translations into English.  We have to do some studying on our parts to make sure we aren’t too quick to judge.

A Thinline Bible that Will Outlast You, the Crossway E.S.V. Thinline Bible , Heirloom Edition in Brown Cowhide Edge Lined Leather.

 

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I’ve handled quite a few different edge lined Bibles over the years.  Most of them have used something other than the same leather that was on the outside of the the Bible.  They use bonded leather, or some kind of synthetic polyurethane material.  The bonded leather concerns me because it is basically made from leather sawdust and glue.  The inner liner is also what makes the hinge on an edge lined Bible.  The repetitive opening and closing, over a long period of time, might cause the bonded leather to come apart.  The synthetics could stretch out of shape, or deteriorate at a different rate than the natural materials.

This Bible uses top grain cowhide leather for both the inner and outer cover.  Using the same materials ensures a uniform wear throughout.  The leather that Crossway chose for this Bible is not soft.  It doesn’t feel like it will snag and scratch easily like some of the goatskin leather covers.  What is the purpose of the cover after all?  It is to protect the text block and provide structure.  The cover on this Bible is very flexible, don’t get me wrong, but if you are looking for something soft like garment leather, you are looking in the wrong place.

The size of this Bible is another subjective quality.  Everyone has their own favorite size of Bible to read from.  I personally like smaller, personal sized Bibles, but I loathe the small font in most of them.  This Thinline is truly a Thinline Bible.  It measures in at approximately 3/4″ thick.
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This fact necessitates thinner paper and smaller font.  In most Bibles that translates to readability issues.  Not so much in this one.  Since Crossway always uses impeccable paper, and they employed an 8 pt. font, this Bible is very legible.

The size of this Heirloom Thinline lends itself to being held in several different ways to suite your comfort.  I prefer to fold one side over and hold it in one hand.  Other people might hold it at the bottom center.  While others might prefer to hold it in both hands, or rest it on the table.  Since the binding is sewn it will lay flat.

The hinge plays a big part in how the Bible opens and lays when being read.  On top of having a sewn spine, Crossway didn’t go hog wild with the binding tape.  Many of your lower priced premium Bibles that are edge lined, employ a lot of binding tape, that is thick and covered in adhesive.  They use it along the hinge of the Bible to join the cover and text block.  Sometimes they use way too much, or too thick of a binding tape that actually makes what should be a very flexible Bible into a very awkward one.  The rest of the cover and text block could be nice and flexible, but the inch or inch and a half or so, right at the hinge is all rigid and thick.  It pretty much negates the purpose of doing an edge lined binding.  They might as well simply just have done a case bound Bible instead.

Since Crossway did the right thing here by not using too thick a gooey binding tape in the hinge, and instead used the real leather liner, they avoid problems with adhesion and can make a nice durable and flexible hinge.(albeit not so flexible right out of the box)  The hinge will take a bit of breaking in, because it is made of leather, but it should last much longer.
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The leather hinge might take a bit more work, but that is why you pay a premium price.  This Bible is made to outlast you.  Many Bibles come with a lifetime warranty, and the publishers never expect you to use them, while fully expecting the Bible to fall apart in a few years.  The Heirloom Thinline ESV from Crossway will not.  It is called, “Heirloom” for a reason.  It will hold up and become a family heirloom.  I love the idea of having a Bible passed down to me or one that I can pass down to my children.  There is a tremendous sense of a family Christian heritage that can be gifted to the next generations.  All it takes on our part is an effort to do better, to make better Bibles, and to show our kids how much God’s word really means to us.(You don’t have to have a premium Bible to do that so don’t feel bad if you can’t justify the expenditure.  Crossway makes durable Bibles in all price ranges.)

The ESV Heirloom Thinline Bible in brown calfskin leather arrived at my home in perfect condition.  It was packaged in a white cardboard box for shipping.

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Inside the shipping box, the Bible was inside a black, two piece, presentation box, that should be retained for storage, should you ever put this Bible away for a while.
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The Heirloom is also wrapped in paper. I believe that was done to protect it, as the hide cover is more flexible and has a larger yap than other Bibles.
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Another nice feature is the perimeter stitching of the cover. Some people don’t like this, but I do. I like to know there is more than just glue holding the cover together.
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It is evident when you examine the inside cover at the corners that Crossway did an excellent job paring the leather down thin enough to make a nice corner. The perimeter stitching can also be seen well from the inside.
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There is also an attractive looking gold gilt line around the perimeter of the inner cover.
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Usually on thin Bibles they don’t bother rounding the spine. On the Heirloom it appears they rounded the spine and the page corners. I think that shows a bit more attention to quality. So does the art gilt page edges. Extra attention to details and added features are what we’ve come to expect from Crossway’s premium models.
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The front and back, outside covers are blank. The inside back cover has, “calfskin leather” printed on it at the bottom.
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The spine is decorated with 6 spine hub lines, and the words, “Holy Bible” at the head, “ESV” under that, the ESV logo towards the middle, “English Standard Version” and then the Crossway logo at the tail, in gold stamping.
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When you open the Bible up, you’ll notice there is a page that is glued part of the way up.  That is to keep the text block and cover from falling apart.

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In the front of this Bible is a Presentation page,

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Marriages, Births/Adoptions,

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and Deaths.

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On the copyright page you’ll notice that this Bible is not printed in China. It is printed in the Netherlands, by Jongbloed. (not indicated, but verified.)  Jongbloed is the premier Bible bindery and printer.  They are the the people you go to if you want to print a top notch premium Bible.  That is why Crossway used them to print their Heirloom Thinline.  This is the 2011 ESV. After that you’ll notice a Table of Contents, List of the books in alphabetical order, Preface, and Features section.

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The Books of the Bible begin with the name of the book in bold large print at the head of the page aligned to the center. The text is laid out in a double column, paragraph format, with foot notes. The section headings are also in bold. The chapter numbers are in drop cap to set them apart. Page numbers are found at the top, center part of the page.

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The Heirloom Thinline also comes with head and tail bands, and two ribbon markers that match the color of the cover.

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This Bible is a black letter edition with 8 pt. Lexicon font.  It is printed uniformly with sharp contrast against the 28 g.s.m. PDL Indopaque European Bible paper.  The paper has an opacity rating of 79 which is pretty good considering the weight of the paper.
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In the back you’ll find, Weights and Measures, Abbreviations, Concordance, and Maps. The concordance is a three column format and pretty decent for a thinline edition.

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In the back there are 8 color maps.

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Here are some pictures highlighting the flexibility of this Bible.

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There is no reason this Bible should wear out in your lifetime, but if it does fail due to materials or workmanship, it has a lifetime warranty from Crossway.  I doubt you’ll have to use it.  This is a high quality, premium Bible.  The cover is flexible and so is the text block, due to the sewn spine.  Whether you are holding it, or reading it while it lays on a desk or table you won’t have to fight against the cover. (after the hinge is broken in.)  It is comfortable to hold due to it’s size and weight.  The font is big enough to read without undue eyestrain.  The opacity of the paper aids in the legibility as well.  The bottom line, if you are looking for a high quality, edge lined, thinline Bible look no more.  You can pick up a copy direct from Crossway, or purchase one from any of these online retailers, Amazon, Christianbook, or Evangelicalbible.  Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on my Flickr page.

ISBN-13: 9781433541602

 

 

A Review of the TBS Compact Westminster Reference Bible, Reformation Commemorative Edition in Brown Meriva Calfskin.

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Trinitarian Bible Society really hit it out of the park on this one folks.  It is by far, one of my most favorite personal size reference Bibles, regardless of all the different translations out there.  This is a Reformation Commemorative edition.  It is in celebration of the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. (1517-2017) It utilizes a compact version of the Westminster Reference Bible typesetting, including notes, and layout.  I loved the full size Westminster Reference Bible from TBS.  You can read my review of that Bible here.

As usual, T.B.S. did a wonderful job of packaging the Bible for shipping.  It was well protected.  The retail/presentation box is a clamshell, one piece design.  It is decorated with a picture of Wittenberg Market Square, home to St. Mary’s, where Luther posted his 95 Thesis demarking the start of the Reformation.

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This wonderful little Bible is about the same size as a Clarion, but a bit more narrow.  It is 6.5″x4.5″ and the Clarion is 7″x5″.  The T.B.S. is about 1.2″ thick and the Clarion is 1.5″ thick.  So if you have handled a Clarion you can get an idea of the size of this Bible.  I find it to be a bit easier to hold as it is slightly more narrow.

The paper looks similar to the Clarion as well.  This is not a surprise as Jongbloed produces both of these Bibles.  There is some slight page curling.  To me that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It makes it easier to turn the pages.  Some people really hate page curling, not a big deal to me unless it is extreme.  According to T.B.S. the paper is 32 g.s.m.  That is pretty heavy and thick compared to many similarly sized Bibles.  The paper has a smooth texture to it.  The pages are combined into signatures and smyth-sewn into the spine.

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I am impressed with all of the aspects of this Bible.  The printing, binding, paper, cover, and references are all terrific!  The only drawback is the smallish 7.3 pt. font.  The references are 4.5 pt.  That being said, since Jongbloed did such an exemplary job with the printing, the text isn’t that hard to read.  The type is clear, sharp, and boldly printed on the off white paper.  This makes it easier for the old eyes to focus on.  If you have bad eyesight this is NOT the Bible for you.  Keep in mind that while it is of the highest quality, the font is still on the small side for many people.

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If you are not familiar with the Westminster Reference edition, it is a black letter, dual column, verse format Bible with the cross references in the gutter and margin of the page.  There is a vertical line bordering the dual column text from the references.  The Book and Chapter numbers are at the top outside corner of the pages, with the page numbers on the bottom outside corners.  New paragraphs are denoted with a pilcrow.  One of the most helpful features of the Westminster is that the archaic words are marked with an asterisk in the text.  If you look in the margin for the asterisk, you will find the word and a modern word or short definition that explains it.

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This edition is covered in a supple brown Meriva calfskin leather.  It has a slight natural grain, that is soft to the touch.  This Bible is case bound with standard vinyl covered paper that is brown, to match the leather cover.  The corners are well done, as you would expect from Jongbloed.  T.B.S. made the right decision having them do the job.  The spine of the Bible is ornamented with, “Holy Bible” at the head, “1517-2017 Reformation Commemorative Edition” in the middle, and the T.B.S. logo at the foot.  The front cover has, “HOLY BIBLE” at the top and, “The just shall live by faith” offset to the bottom right corner.  The page edges are gold gilt.  There are four ribbon markers.  Two are brown like the cover.  They are first.  The last two are gold colored.  The decorative head and tail bands match the ribbon colors of brown and gold.

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In the front of this Bible you’ll find a Gift presentation page and The Epistle Dedicatory.  After the presentation page is a short history of the Reformation, and Bible translations that came out of it.  There is also a section on how to utilize the features of this Bible.  In the back you won’t find a concordance, but there is a table of weights and measures, a word list, and two year daily reading plan.  After those features you’ll find some usefull colored maps as well as several pages of blank paper for notes.

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If you are a fan of the KJV, and are looking for a high quality, personal sized compact reference Bible look no further.  You can’t go wrong with this Bible for the price.  I’ve rarely seen this quality of work done for less than $100.00, but you can purchase this Bible from T.B.S. for $64.00  That is an amazing deal in this reviewer’s opinion.  If you’d like to have it for even less, you can order it from Reformation Heritage Books for $44.00, but remember that T.B.S. uses the money they make to provide Bibles to people all over the world who can’t otherwise get them.  Make sure to check out the pictures I took of this Bible on my Flickr page.

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Here is an excerpt from the product page on the T.B.S. site;

Reformation Compact Westminster Reference Bible Brown premium leather

Reformation Compact Westminster Reference Bible, premium brown leather. This Bible contains over two hundred thousand cross-references, information regarding the Reformation and also features 8 full-colour maps, with presentation box.

Features:
Genuine leather cover
Gift presentation box
Good clear print
Cross references
Black text throughout
Quality sewn binding
Four marker ribbons
Bible paper
Gilt page edges
Semi-yapp page protection
Decorative head & tail bands

Additional Contents:
Gift presentation page
The Epistle Dedicatory
List of pronunciation of words and proper names
References
Word list on page
Tables of weights and measures
Daily Bible reading plan
Colour maps

Page Size: 6.5″ x 4.6″
Thickness: 1.2″
Print Size: 7.3 point

Product Code: 60UCB/BR

ISBN 13: 9781862284470

A Review of Holman’s CSB (Christian Standard Bible) Large Print UltraThin Reference Bible, in Black Goatskin Leather.

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I know many of you are waiting out there to see what this revision of the H.C.S.B. is all about.  It isn’t a formal equivalent, it isn’t a dynamic equivalent.  F.Y.I. Holman calls it an optimal translation.  Here is an excerpt from their site, “The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a highly trustworthy, faithful translation that is proven to be the optimal blend of accuracy and readability. It’s as literal to the original as possible without sacrificing clarity. The CSB is poised to become the translation that pastors rely on and Bible readers turn to again and again to read and to share with others.”

If you are like me, you might be wondering what is the difference between the two.  Here is another excerpt from their site, ” The Christian Standard Bible is a revision of the HCSB, updating translation and word choices in order to optimize both fidelity to the original languages and clarity for a modern audience. The Translation Oversight Committee, co-chaired by Drs. Tom Schreiner and David Allen, incorporated advances in biblical scholarship and input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers to sharpen both accuracy and readability.”

The main reasons I didn’t use the H.C.S.B. for my reading and study, is that it seemed obvious when the translation switched between the two translation philosophies.  It was a continuity and flow problem.  I’m glad to say, that seems to have been dealt with in this revision.  The C.S.B. reads much better.  It is more of a seamless blend of the philosophies.  As far as being an optimal translation…  I guess that depends on your opinion.  I’ve not needed to have a dynamic equivalent, nor have I needed to have sections of the Bible to be translated as a dynamic equivalent.  I’m a man of average intelligence.  I have a basic education.  If I come across a difficult passage, I read it again.  If I don’t know the meaning of a word, I look it up.  I think we should endeavor to become better students, rather than changing our translation philosophy to make the Bible simpler.

That being said, if I had to pick a Bible that wasn’t strictly a formal equivalent translation, this would be it.  For years I have sat by and watched the N.I.V. become a gender neutral mess.  The N.L.T. in my opinion is so dumbed down, it has lost the majesty of God’s word.  Don’t even get me started on The Message, Passion, or the Voice.  As far as I am concerned, if you have a copy of the Voice, you should burn it so no one else can be poisoned by it’s lies. (I have some pretty strong opinions.)  So what’s a person supposed to do if they want a translation that is a bit more accessible than the N.A.S.B. you might ask?  In my opinion, get a C.S.B.  It is everything the NIV used to be.  It is accurate, and accessible.  It stays true to the intent of the author (God) and retains the gender contexts of the Hebrew and Greek texts without imposing a cultural hermeneutic on them.

I hope you’ll give it a try.  Let’s take a look at the physical attributes of the Bible I was sent for review.  Keep in mind that it is an advance copy, so some details might be different by the time this actually is published and sold.

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The Bible arrived packaged in a padded envelope.  The envelope had some tears in it by the time it made it to me.  The retail, two piece box also had a dent in it.  The Bible inside was undamaged and received in new condition.

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This Bible is covered in an extremely soft and smooth goatskin leather.  The grain is very understated.  I’ve heard others refer to the goatskin as garment grade.  I don’t know how true that is, but I could see how that would be so.

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The inner liner is a type of bonded leather.  I’m not sure if it is Cromwell or not.  I asked someone from Holman.  When I find out I’ll post an update.  Since this is an edge lined volume, it is very flexible and floppy.  The cover can be rolled up.

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This is an edge lined binding.  The bonded leather is  glued to the text block, and then a piece of vinyl covered paper is glued over that.  There is a piece of binding tape that reinforces the hinge.  This is good and bad.  It is good because it will make the binding more durable.  It is bad, because it hinders the ability of the Bible to be opened flat in the first few pages and the last few pages.  Sometimes you’ll see a more narrow strip of binding tape, that allows the first pages to open more easily. Some don’t even use the tape. With a bonded leather inner liner it is good that they did. This is still an extremely flexible and floppy Bible.

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One feature I hope they keep in the production model is the perimeter stitching in red.  I think it makes a striking addition to the aesthetic appeal of this Bible.  The stitching on the front is colored black.  On the inside it is red.

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I think the silver page edge gilt was the right decision instead of gold, considering the bold red thread and smooth black cover.  They work together. The head and foot bands are a brown color, and don’t really pop. It is easy to miss them. I would recommend red and black colored for the bands to go along with the color scheme.
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The spine is also ornamented with three spine hubs, and the words, “Holy Bible, Christian Standard Bible, and Holman” hot stamped in silver letters.  The area close to the head is left empty.  As one of my fellow reviewers mentioned, it seems a bit unbalanced.  We will see what they do with it in the final version they bring to market.

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Even though this Bible is printed in China, the quality of the paper and printing is very good.
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I found the 9.5 pt Bible Serif font to be inked uniformly, having sharp, clean edges, and contrasting nicely with the white paper.  The paper was opaque and line matching was employed. (line matching is when the text on the back side of the page is printed directly over the font on the front side of the page, so there is no background noise bleeding through the paper, otherwise known as text ghosting.)  The paper is 30 g.s.m. and rates a very good opacity of 84 with a brightness of 83.  This black letter edition is a double column layout, with center column references.  It will be familiar to Bible readers. 2K/DENMARK did fine work with the font and layout.  See for yourself how good it is.
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Here is a single page backlit so you can see how opaque it is.
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There is about a half inch in the margin for limited note taking.

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There are two above average ribbon markers.  The one for the Old Testament is black and the one for the New Testament is red.

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Did I mention how flexible this Bible is?  Due to the sewn spine and edge lined binding this thing is super supple, for my alliteration fans.  It does open nice and flat, it also can be easy to hold onto with how it can be bent.  Take a look.

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Among the features I already mentioned, here is a list from Holman’s product page, “…Features include: Smyth-sewn binding, Presentation page, Two-column text, Center-column cross-references, Topical subheadings, Black letter text, 9.5-point type, Concordance, Full-color maps, and more…”  I really like the maps 🙂

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Here is a picture of their robust cross reference system.

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Weights and measures.

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A respectable and useful concordance.

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and some well done maps.

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If you are in the market for a large print ultrathin reference Bible, I encourage you to give this one a look.  It has all of the features you could want.  It uses a translation that will speed you along in your studies.  It comes in at a reasonable price for the top line model and a very good value for the other editions.  You’d be hardpressed to find another one in this segment of the market with all of these features for this price.  I believe Holman has this edition set to sell for about $139.00 but I am sure sites like Christianbook.com will sell it at a deep discount.  Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible on my flickr site.  You can read more about the CSB translation on their site, www.csbible.com  You could also purchase a copy on Amazon.

 

ISBN: 9781462743223

Review of the Zondervan NASB Classic Reference Bible in Black Genuine Top Grain Leather ISBN-13:9780310931294

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I had to buy this one folks because Zondervan doesn’t send me free ones.  I hope you appreciate it. 🙂   I was looking for an Ultrathin to replace my black Lockman NASB in genuine leather.  I came across this one from Zondervan.  Now, it is not marketed as an Ultrathin, but it is almost exactly the same dimensions as my Lockman.  The Lockman I reviewed here is burgundy, but it is the same as my black one that I kept in my lunchbox for a few years until I wore it out.  I really loved the size, layout, cover material, binding, and of course the NASB translation, but it had thin paper.  I was hoping that I would love this Zondervan as well, but there are a couple of areas where it falls down.  First, the cover material is advertised as, “top grain leather.”  It may be top grain leather, but not from a cow.  I don’t know, but it looks and feels like the cheap pigskin leather marketed as, “genuine leather” on less expensive Bibles.  Pigskin leather is shiny, and usually has a grain stamped into it.  The binding tape they used for this Bible also fights against you.  It should loosen up a bit as it gets broken in.  Combine that with the cover material, and it is kind of a let down considering the price.  It is also not as supple, or flexible as top grain cowhide leather.  I really like Vachetta calfskin leather.  It is so soft to the touch, it makes you want to pick up and hold your Bible.  Here is a review I did of a Cambridge Cameo in Vachetta.  The Zondervan borders on false advertising, and relies on the consumer’s ignorance, as well as a lack of industry standards.

The Zondervan does have a sewn spine.
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This is a necessity as far as I’m concerned.  I won’t purchase Bibles with glued bindings.  I think we should respect that we aren’t purchasing just some book.  We are purchasing a copy of God’s word, to be studied and daily utilized.  The amount of wear and tear daily use, along with travel, will cause is incomparable to a novel.  So why in the world would publishers think it acceptable to print Bibles as if they are some story book?  Well, we all know the answer to that, money $$$.

While this Bible isn’t extremely expensive.  The cover is made from a genuine hide of some kind.

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I have had this Bible for a little while now.  The cover is softening up a bit.  The binding is also getting broken in.   It lays flat now when I put it on the table to read from it.
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There is a presentation page in the front.
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The standard notes from Lockman about the NASB translation are present as well.    This Bible is printed in China according to the publisher’s information in the front.
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The page edges are gold gilt, with rounded corners and a rounded spine.  The pages are printed well.  It would be a bit better if they had utilized a bolder font.  As it is, the text is clearly printed and uniform.
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It is laid out in a double column, verse format, with center column references, and footnotes.  There are pilcrows, or paragraph markers noting the start of new paragraphs.  This is a helpful feature when you are using a verse format Bible like this one.
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The paper is acceptably opaque.  Ghosting is not bad considering this is a less expensive Bible.  The ghosting on this Zondervan is not near as bad as it is on the Lockman.  So in that category it is a win for the Zondervan.
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The Zondervan is on the right, with the Lockman on the left.

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The words of Christ are in red, making this a red letter edition.  The red is not too bright.
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The Lockman is lacking something this Zondervan has, brief book introductions.  They might not seem that important, but they are a welcomed addition to any reference Bible. You get an introduction and concise outline. The introduction consists of, title and background, author and date of writing, and the theme and message.
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This Bible also includes decorative head and tail bands, decorative gilt line around the perimeter of the inside cover, a perimeter groove on the outside cover, and one black ribbon marker.
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In the back of the Bible we have a useful double column concordance, Promises from the Bible, Perspectives from the Bible, and 8 color maps.

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Overall, this is a great little Bible. If you are after a verse format, ultrathin reference Bible in NASB with a leather cover, this has got you covered. There are more expensive Bibles. There are better built Bibles, but this one is in the sweet spot. It is better than your regular cheap bargain bin Bibles, and better than the value line Bibles. This would make a great gift for the Christian on the go, who wants a full reference Bible in a thin package. You can pick one up on Amazon.com, or Christianbook.com  You can read more about it on Zondervan’s product page.  If you would like, go to my flickr page and look at all the pictures of this Bible.  As always, thanks for reading and have a great Christmas.