Snyder’s Soapbox Review of the, “E.S.V. Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set Cloth over Board with Permanent Slipcase.”

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I received this set from Crossway some time ago, and wanted to use it for a while before writing a review. This review will differ from my others in the lack of a listing of the physical attributes like, paper weight, cover material, binding, font size, and layout, as all of that information and more can be found here. The Reader’s Bible is unlike any other Bible I’ve reviewed. This one is a six volume set, intended for undistracted reading. That is not to say that other Bibles aren’t for reading. It is to say, that the focus of the layout, and construction was to be conducive to reading.  This is necessarily at the exclusion of other purposes. For instance, study, easy reference, citation, and so on, as there are no chapter or verse numbers, no footnotes or cross references. There is a chapter index in the back of each volume.  For older folks like myself, it is so different from Bibles we’ve used for such a long time, that it takes some getting used to. It isn’t a bad experience, just different.
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I am a slow reader, and tend to study as I go. Other people can speed through the Bible, and retain information. When I simply read the Bible, I have to remain very conscious of what I am reading, and be diligent to properly regard it. When I start to read sometimes I start to drift.  I find myself going back over the same section a few times, to make certain I have understood what I’ve read. With the Reader’s set, you can read without getting side-tracked by interesting cross references, or footnotes.
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The first thing you notice is the volumes are constructed as a quality hardback, cloth covered book. Each volume has a marker ribbon, sewn spine, heavy paper, and easy to read font. Then while reading you start to experience what Crossway intended. You have a smooth progression through large sections of scripture. As you read, you don’t make your decision on where to stop by chapter numbers, or section headings. Instead, you stop where it seems natural, usually at the end of an idea. As you read, you’ll also notice that your eyes don’t tire as easily due to the very thick paper, and font. (For all the stats follow the link in the first paragraph of the review.) With the longer sessions, you tend to cover more ground. I would not let my reading, exclude separate study of the Bible. Having the Reader’s Set does force you to make time for reading, and study. I think I need that in my daily routine. Separating the two activities does seem beneficial. DSCN6918
I think this set should hold up well, as long as they are cared for properly. I would be careful around moisture, as the pages are not coated, and would absorb water, finger oil, and dirt readily. Which brings me to my next suggestion, don’t eat, drink coffee, or have dirty hands when reading this set. You will stain the cover, mess up the pages, and make it look messy.
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My final thought, is that they are nice to have when you want to sit and read God’s word. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and even though the font isn’t large, it is easier to read. I like the feel of them. It is an awful lot like reading a hardback novel in certain ways.  
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You can view Crossway’s product page here. You can also read more about this specific sets production here.  Be sure to check out the rest of the pictures on my flikr page. 
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Crossway ESV Reader's Set in Cloth Covered Hardback

 

The Crossway, E.S.V. Men’s Devotional Bible, Not Your Typical Devotional Bible.

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If you’re like me, you steer clear of devotional Bibles.  I have found that most of them offer very little in the way of useful or relevant information.  Most of the time it is just happy, slappy, Osteenesque, self-help mumbo jumbo.  Rather than aiding, it usually distracts and is discouraging.  I wonder to myself, “Who could be helped by this nonsense?”  Seriously, who writes this twaddle?  It is not just men’s devotionals that suffer this malaise either.  Women have the same nonsense foisted upon them, perhaps even worse.

So imagine my curiosity when I heard that Crossway was going to make a devotional Bible.  We’ve come to trust them and the E.S.V. over the years.  One of the quickest ways you can incur my scrutiny is to exclaim, “Ahem, over here!  We have a devotional Bible for your consideration Sir!”  Oh, now that is cause for inspection isn’t it kids?  When they offered one for review, I gladly accepted.  I wanted to see for myself what works had been wrought under the cover of night…

I was delighted to see that it far excelled the usual fare.  No cotton candy, no fluff-n-stuff, no silly self help guru quotes, no Sarah Young extra-Biblical revelation, just sound exposition, and application.  The devotional articles explain the text.  They properly connect the heart and the head, as they engage both in a real, and valuable way.  

We are told in the Introduction that the goal was, “…for the heart to be strengthened by grace…” Hebrews 13:9.  You might wonder what that means in the context of a Men’s devotional Bible.  What it means is that the book introductions,  devotional articles, and supplemental articles, are theologically accurate and connected to the text you are reading.  All people have a theology.  

They perhaps don’t know it, but they do.  Theology is important.  Without accurately understanding who God is and who we are in relationship to Him, how would we know if we were worshipping the one true God or an idol we had constructed?  These articles accomplish the goal of strengthening the heart by grace, through facilitating our learning Biblical truths.  

The Bible I was sent arrived undamaged.  

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It was a hardback volume that is case bound.

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It included a dust jacket.  For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know how I feel about dust jackets.  (hint, I don’t like them.  Completely a personal preference thing.)  The spine is sewn to increase flexibility and durability.  This, in my opinion is a necessity.  Glued bindings on a book that is meant to be used extensively are a horrible idea.  Publishers that do that are only interested in selling cheap product to be replaced over and over.  If you had to transfer your notes, underlines, and highlights, every 6 months to a new Bible, you’d be perturbed.  Thanks to Crossway’s experience as a Bible publisher, they know better.  Usually when a publisher has work done in China the product quality begins to suffer.  It seems Crossway has been able to keep the quality control standard high, while having this Bible printed and bound in China.

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The hardback edition I was sent does not have any ribbon markers.  The cover matches the dust jacket in a satin finish, black color.  The only writing on the cover is on the spine where it says, “ESV Men’s Devotional Bible, Crossway” in gold print.

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The spine has been rounded.  There are understated black decorative head and tail bands.  The page corners themselves have not been rounded and there is no page edge gilt.

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The inside paper liner matches the cover in color.  There is one presentation page followed by a couple title pages and publishers information/copyright page.

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After that, there is the table of contents.

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An interesting print feature in this Bible is the use of gold colored text for things like, titles, headings, chapter headings, and page numbers.  It is and unassuming gold color, so it adds just the right amount of pop without glaringly drawing your attention away from the text.

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Drop caps are utilized at the beginning of each supplemental article. I found that this sets the article apart from the pages of Biblical text so you can spot them easily.  At the bottom of each devotion the page number of the next one is indicated.  Since there are 365, a person could use them as a daily reading plan and read from one to the next daily.

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The Biblical text is arranged in a double column, paragraph format, in black text.  The text of the Bible is consistently inked and printed in an 8.5 pt. Lexicon font.

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The devotionals are printed in a 7.5 pt. Gotham font.  The text is dark black and contrasts nicely against the bright white, 36 g.s.m. paper, with an opacity rating of 83.   Line matching was not employed however, the opacity of the paper is sufficient to limit the ghosting effect.

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There are no cross references and very limited footnotes.  This is not intended to be used as a reference Bible or study Bible.  It adheres to the title of Devotional Bible very strictly.  It far exceeds every devotional Bible I have ever read. The devotions are gospel focused and faithful to the truths of God.

I’ve included a list of the contributors.  As you can see, with men of God like these, sharing their hard won knowledge and wisdom with us, we can be edified and encouraged.

 

Devotion Contributors Article Contributors Article Title
Christopher Ash Thabiti Anyabwile A Man’s Inner Life
Alistair Begg Bryan Chapell The Message of the Bible
Jon Bloom Greg Gilbert Life in the Local Church
Mike Bullmore Dave Harvey Calling
Kevin Cawley Kelly Kapic Communion with God
Bryan Chapell Dave Kraft Leadership
Sam Crabtree Tom Nelson A Man’s Work
Andy Davis Ray Ortlund Fathering
Jason DeRouchie Michael Patton Doubt
Dan Doriani David Powlison A Man’s Identity
Zack Eswine Tim Savage Marriage
Greg Gilbert Ed Welch Pornography
Aaron Golstein Jared Wilson The Gospel and Daily Life
Graeme Goldsworthy
Jim Hamilton
John Hannah
Justin Holcomb
Paul House
Kent Hughes
Ryan Kelly
Julius Kim
Dave Kraft
Michael Lumpkin
Jason Meyer
Gary Millar
Paul Miller
Andy Naselli
Tom Nelson
Doug O’Donnell
Dane Ortlund
Rob Plummer
Mike Reeves
Phil Ryken
J.J. Seid
Jay Sklar
Colin Smith
Scotty Smith
Sam Storms
Brian Tabb
Eric Thoennes
Joe Thorn
Stephen Um
Miles Van Pelt
Jared Wilson
Todd Wilson
Fowler White
Bob Yarbrough

Don’t forget to check out the pictures on my flickr page.

Pick up your copy on Amazon or Christianbook

ISBN-13: 9781433548413

Dimensions: 8.38 X 5.38 (inches)

A Review of the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students Indexed Hardcover Edition.

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I found this Bible to be significantly thinned out compared to the regular Apologetics Study Bible.  This is targeted at teens and younger students.  You can read my review of the Apologetics Study Bible here. Keep in mind that this Bible is not the same as the Apologetics Study Bible, and it is intended for students.  It would make a great Bible for young people with questions that you perhaps are not equipped to answer.

Christian apologetics is the defense of the veracity of Christianity and its doctrines, by utilizing logic, reason, philosophy, and evidence.  So when you think of a Bible including the word, “apologetics” in its title you would assume that it is going to be focused on apologetic arguments.  This Bible does not do as comprehensive a job as the standard one, but for the intended audience, it is just what is needed, without getting bogged down.  There are several articles, and testimonies.  

One feature that is useful is the, “twisted scriptures” asides.  There are 60 of them throughout the Bible.  They take commonly misapplied scriptures, put them in the proper context, and explain the errors made with their application as well as the proper application.  This should be very helpful for kids who have been exposed to cults by their friends.  Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all of the other repugnant cults, spread such lies about the Bible, that it is common to hear them repeated, even by kids raised in a Christian home.  

Another nice feature is the, “bones & dirt” asides.  There are 50 of them placed all over the Bible.  They add archeological evidence as an apologetic aid.  Students can see physical evidence, coincide with the testimony of scripture.  This support can tip the scales towards belief and acceptance, when doubts are raised by their peers.  It also adds to their individual education.

My review copy arrived damaged.  It was packaged sufficiently.  The damage looked like a problem from the factory.  The end papers in the front as well as the presentation page, and the first pages of this Bible were deeply creased down the center.  This is probably a fluke, but if you did get a damaged Bible, Holman will be quick to replace it.
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Generally speaking, you should return it to the retailer.  The hardcover is pretty standard fare.  

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The spine is sewn for durability, and flexibility.  This ensures that it lays flat when opened.  Overcasting was also employed, ensuring durability.

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There is one very thin, and unintentional looking ribbon marker.  It just seems out of place.  Given their exceptional use of overcasting contrasted with this anemic ribbon, I’m at a loss. I’m kind of a stickler for ribbon markers.  All Bibles should come with 3 ribbon markers that are wide enough to not bite into the page edges when opening the Bible with them.  They should be thick enough to be durable.  They should be thin enough to not leave grooves in the pages from when the Bible is closed on them.  Finally they should not be folded haphazardly into the Bible from the factory.

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The paper is opaque enough and the font is 8 pt. in size.  I doubt young people will have trouble reading this black letter edition.  I do however, have some difficulty with the choice of font on the feature headings.  It looks very much like stylized scribbling.  The font is arranged in a double column format with notes and references at the bottom.  The book introductions and articles are well done.  They should be helpful to the young reader.

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I do not like the index tabs.  In my opinion they are not as easy to use as the crescent cut ones.  Your opinion may differ.  All in all it is a descent Bible for young people.  It is not sufficient to serve as a study Bible for a mature Christian.

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Here is a list of features it has.

  • Two-color design-intensive layout on every page for the visual generation
  • Study notes providing evidence of the reliability and truthfulness of Scripture
  • 120 articles by leading Christian thinkers dealing with life’s ultimate questions
  • 50 “Notable Quotes” from influential people throughout history
  • 25 “Tactics” against common anti-Christian arguments
  • Twenty “Personal Stories” of how God has worked in real lives
  • 20 “Top Five” lists to help remember key apologetics topics
  • Bullet notes explaining Bible terms
  • Book introductions for each book of the Bible
  • Presentation page
  • Ribbon marker
  • Thumb-indexed page edges
  • 8-point text size
  • 9.25″ x 7.00″ x 1.25″

9.0 X 6.75 X 1.5 (inches)

ISBN-13: 9781433616976

Please don’t forget to look at the pictures I took of this Bible here on my flickr page.

A Review of the NKJV Foundation Study Bible, in Hardcover

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The Bible was shipped to me free in return for an honest review. It arrived undamaged and in generally good condition except for a bent corner. It is a hardcover with a dustjacket. It is case bound, and smyth-sewn. It is produced in China and does not seem to suffer major quality problems that you might find in other Chinese made Bibles. I have a general dislike of dustjackets and remove them.

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The spine is rounded, there are plain jane, white, head and tail bands. There are no ribbon markers.

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The paper is sufficiently white and opaque.

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This is a value edition in my opinion. It is nothing spectacular. The price is very low and affordable. The font seems smallish at about 8 point. The notes are even smaller. There are book introductions at the start of each book. It is laid out in a double column, verse format, red letter edition with center column references and notes at the bottom of the page. It is a pretty typical layout, so no surprises there. I actually like the layout.

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At 8 ¾” by 5 ½” by about 1 ½” this is not a large study Bible. Matter of opinion, I wouldn’t call it a study Bible. I would call it an enhanced reference Bible. The notes are very basic and limited. I understand the intended audience is immature Christians. I believe they would be better served from a true study Bible. This would be good for a person who wants a smaller hardcover reference Bible with a bit more in the way of notes. If you want a study Bible, get a MacArthur Study Bible, or an ESV Study Bible. There is a concordance and some maps in the back of this Bible. The maps are printed on a matte paper and should hold up better than the high gloss ones of yesterday. So to sum up, I would recommend this to someone looking for an inexpensive reference Bible with some extra notes. I wouldn’t recommend this for someone to use as a serious study aid. This would be a good Bible to give away to people.

Take a look at the pictures here on my Flickr page.

ISBN-13: 9780718034320

Finally, a Wide Margin Bible with Ruled Lines in the Margins! The Holman NKJV Wide Margin Journaling Bible in Two Tone Bonded Leather.

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I don’t know how many of you have shared my lament over wide margins with no ruled lines, but I can imagine it is a common want, hence stencils being recommended to scribe the lines ourselves. I am so glad to see Holman pick up the idea from Crossway, and put it to use with the different translations available to them. I remember having many conversations with people about how it would be great if someone would make a wide margin with ruled lines. It was one of my gripes. It seemed like such a simple and obvious improvement to me. I actually refrained from purchasing wide margin Bibles because of the lack of ruled lines. The 1 3/4” margins are filled with wonderful ruled lines that match the lines of text so you can put your notes and cross references right next to the text that they are about. Of course, if you want you can write in front of the line and get about 2 inches out of the margin.

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My handwriting is very difficult to read and tends to slope. It lacks uniformity in spacing between the letters and lines. I NEED ruled lines to write on. I know that my sloppy brethren are out there and enthused. I also know there are a select, rare, few, who are endowed with the gift of lovely handwriting. If you find yourself in that crowd, God has smiled upon you, but for me and my illegible brethren, “Vive la ligne!”

When you open the cover on this Bible you’ll see that the end pages are decorated. It is a case bound Bible.

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In the front you have, God’s Plan For salvation, Presentation page, Preface to the New King James Version, and the copyright/publisher page.

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In the Bible you’ll find one ribbon marker that matches the color scheme of the cover.

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In the back there is a fifty page concordance, eight full color maps, and a Bible reading plan.

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This Bible is just the right size to offer legible sized font while maintaining a manageable size to keep open on your lap and write in during Church. It measures 8.50″ x 6.50″ x 1.50″

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I for one am very pleased with this new Bible and not just because the lines. The paper on this thing is great. It is kind of an off white or cream color. It is a bit heavier and opaque. There is less ghosting than on most Bibles in this price range. Line matching was employed during the printing. This is when text on the opposite side of the page is printed directly behind the text on the other side of the page.

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The layout was done by 2K/Denmark. The Bible was printed and bound in South Korea.

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The font looks to be 8 pt in size and it is printed uniformly and sharp contrasting very well against the off white paper. It is one of the easiest on the eyes to look at since the pages are not a bright glaring white or a super thin translucent mess. The text is in a single column paragraph format red letter edition. There are no cross references. You are responsible for that my friends.

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There is a page of ruled paper at the end of every book. It is arranged in two blank columns for you to use as indexes of your references, notes, or whatever you like. It is up to you.

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I’ve written in this Bible with wet highlighters, fountain pen, fine tip ball point pen, and pencil. Of course the highlighters bled through a little bit depending on how long I left the marker in contact with the paper. The fountain pen I used is a Lamy with a broad tip nib. It lays down a lot of ink in bold dark lines. It does show through the paper. When I used a fine tip ball point pen it shows through, but not nearly as bad as the broad tip fountain pen.
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The Bible was shipped in a cardboard box and padded with paper. The paper was all at one corner and the Bible was at the opposite corner.
I was in a retail sleeve instead of a box. It arrived with some damage to the spine towards the bottom and back of the Bible. I think this was incurred during shipping. I don’t believe it was Holman’s fault. If I had purchased this Bible and it arrived damaged the retailer or Holman would have replaced it under warranty. Due to the damage I was able to see that the maps are held to each other with binding tape as well as being sewn into the binding. This will make for a very sturdy Bible. Frankly, as good as this thing is built, I’m surprised it got damaged at all. It must have taken a pretty hard bump. The retail sleeve type packaging had all of the expected information on it.

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The Bible I received was black smooth textured bonded leather over the spine and a saddle brown colored more textured bonded leather over the rest of the cover. The cover is perimeter stitched in white thread. It is an attractive Bible.

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The Bible is a hardback of sorts with very thin book boards. They wanted to make sure you had a portable desk so you could write straight on your super cool ruled lines. I don’t want to hear anyone asking for this in a flexible edge lined calfskin leather cover. That would make it more difficult to use. This Bible is all about being used. I haven’t even mentioned the sewn binding with overcasting. Whoops, I guess I just did. The sewn binding on this is great. The signatures are just the right size. The sewn binding makes the spine very flexible so that the Bible lays open quite well. For a journaling Bible it is important for it to lay open and flat. That makes it so much easier to write in and increase the longevity of the Bible.

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Overcasting is when several of the pages from the front signature are sewn to several of the pages of the signature behind it through the spine. This is done to reinforce the book. It can also be done to the back of the book. However, I didn’t see that in this one. The overcasting appears just in the front that I could see.

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If you like the design that Crossway came out with, but you wanted to use the KJV, NKJV, or NIV instead of the ESV and wanted to spend a bit less while still getting a very well made journaling wide margin this is the Bible for you. It fills a real niche and should become a favorite for many years to come. I think it will be a big hit for Holman.

Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on my flickr page.

ISBN-13: 9781433691584

You want it both ways? So does Thomas Nelson. My Review of the Thomas Nelson Full Color Hardcover 2nd Edition Study Bible.

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First I’m going to address the physical attributes of this Bible and its features with minimal critiques and then I will flesh out my opinions of the essays and notes included in this Bible. Keep in mind that part of the review is highly subjective depending on your theological position.

The Bible arrived sufficiently packaged in a cardboard box.

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It is a pretty big Bible as most study Bibles tend to be.  It measures approximately nine and half by six and three quarters by two inches and weighs a little less than four pounds.  It sells for about thirty three dollars on most internet retail sites.  The Bible has a dust jacket.

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I don’t like dust jackets.  They always get in the way.  Some people like to use them to mark their place, but I’d rather have some good quality ribbon markers.  This one only comes with a single brown ribbon marker.

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The hardcover itself is nice enough.  It has kind of a brown marbled look.  It is made in China, but seems to be well manufactured despite that fact.

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The binding is sewn.  The Bible opens and lays flat right out of the box.

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I expect if it is treated well it should last a long time.  It does have a lifetime warranty.

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It comes with a free download that I found quite useless.  It is not a download of the entire Bible.  Crossway gives you access to their study Bible online when you purchase theirs.   It is laid out really well and makes good use of the full color printing.  It is a double column paragraph format with references in the center column and notes at the bottom of the page.

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Each chapter has a book introduction and outline.  There are full color features like maps, word studies, essays, and photos dispersed throughout.

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The impression I got from reading some of the articles and notes is that this is a Bible for the masses. If you are Reformed, you’ll probably want about half of the notes removed.  If you are Arminian you’ll probably want about half of the notes removed.  If you don’t know what either of those are, you’ll probably love this study Bible.  That is just the impression that I got.  It could be that I am being overly sensitive.  Most people will find the notes well balanced between the two predominate theological positions.

An example of that is the language used in the explanation of women’s roles in the Church. It goes to extreme lengths to be sensitive to readers who might not agree with the biblical position and then briefly states the biblical position and then tries to scoot past in hopes of nobody noticing.  This technique usually pleases nobody and only confuses neophytes.  Of course if you wanted a study Bible that was more aligned with your position I imagine you could find one.  I like the MacArthur Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, and the Reformation Study Bible.  When you get a bunch of theologians from different tents within the camp of Christianity together to contribute to a study Bible, you end up with the modern study Bible.  It isn’t supposed to be a systematized theological work.

I actually would recommend the Holman NKJV Study Bible over the Thomas Nelson. You can read my review of it here.  I think the entirety of it is a little more honest and direct.  Think NonDenom vs SBC…  I think that sums it up.

 

 

 

ISBN: 0529114380

ISBN-13: 9780529114389

I received this Bible from the publisher gratis for the purpose of review and am under no obligation to render a positive review.

Review of the Lockman Foundation, NASB, Topical, Reference Bible, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition.

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This edition is just the right size to carry around. The hardcover reduces the cost and also improves the durability in my opinion compared to some synthetic covers. The hardcover also helps if you want to sit in a chair and read instead of at a table. The hardcover keeps the pages from flopping around while you are reading.

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The sewn binding ensures that this Bible opens beyond flat when held and lays flat on a table or desk right out of the box. You won’t be fighting against the cover of this Bible while reading it, matter of fact, it helps you.

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The nine point font makes this easy on the eyes. It is clearly printed against a white paper giving you good contrast. This edition does have the words of Christ in Red. The red might not be as bright as some other publishers use, but this seems less intrusive to my eyes. The binding is sewn as I mentioned earlier. Between the binding and the spine being rounded this Bible opens up very well.

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I wouldn’t let the fact that this Bible was made in China stop you from buying it.

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It is a little jewel. 255 pages of topics at the front of this Bible in alphabetical order make it easy to look up most of the things a person might want to look up.

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After the 255 pages of topics you have a full Old and New Testament Bible.

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It is in double column format with center column references. The text is in paragraph format. After the Bible we have 210 pages of dictionary/concordance/thesaurus and after that, Genealogy of Jesus, God’s Promises, Miracles of Jesus, Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, Parables of Jesus, Titles of Jesus, Introductions to the books of the Bible, a year Bible reading plan, and maps at the end. The maps are printed on a glossy paper like the presentation, and records pages at the beginning of the Bible.

Contains over 20,000 topics and sub-topics cross referenced to over 50,000 verses. Topics were researched and prepared by Biblical scholars, and include contemporary topics relevant to today’s issues.
Also includes a 4,200 entry dictionary—concordance—thesaurus and over 95,000 center-column cross-references to enrich your reading. ISBN-13: 9781581351477

Disclaimer, I received this Bible free from the publisher for review purposes. I am in no way obliged to write a positive review.