When I posted “Judging the cover on The Book” last year, I mentioned goatskin as the Bible cover of choice and, since then, have found lambskin to be even softer. Either will last longer than the reader, but goatskin has usually been the easier of the two to find. Since both cost more than most editions, however, you might wonder why anyone would want the extra cost.
Besides the fact that the Word of God is priceless, most Bible lovers want a Bible that will endure for years. If you also like to carry on conversations with your Bible, as I do, you’ll want ample margins and an erasable pencil for responding as you read.
A big point to consider before you make an expensive choice is the translation itself. When I just want to read, I like to curl up with an easy-to-read contemporary translation (not paraphrase!) such as the New Living Translation (NLT), Good News Bible, or other thought-by-thought translation mentioned in the posting, “Which Bible would Jesus choose?” Or, if I want to research a topic or study a book of the Bible in depth, I’ll keep my ESV Study Bible, Archaeological Study Bible, or Life Application Study Bible close beside me and, most likely, borrow my husband’s NIV Study Bible too.
But when it comes to reading and responding to a Bible, I want a lap-friendly reader edition with wide margins, a top quality cover, and an accurate word-for-word translation.
For overall accuracy, the main choices include Amplified, Douay-Rheims, English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), New American Bible (NAB), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and New King James Version (NKJV.) Any of those work well for a long-term relationship, but most do not come in a wide-margin edition with high quality leather cover, except for KJV, which I love but often miss what’s said.
I’m dismayed to say that the overall quality of Bibles seems to be declining. Many of the newer editions seem more like give-away or throw-away items with cheap paper, glued pages, and short-lived covers that cost more than they’re worth simply because they’re faddish or cute. But, when I ordered the NASB shown below, I discovered an edition of the very highest quality.
Within the two-column text, the cross-references in the center of the page provide help for looking up a subject or following a biblical train-of-thought, and an A to Z topical concordance at the back of the book eases that search too.
Since footnotes appear only as needed, this reader’s edition encourages me to keep on reading as I would any good book. The font is somewhat on the small side but very readable, and I like the writing space all around – even at the bottom of the page.
If that’s not enough for the thoughts, insights, and responses God gives to you as you read, you’ll be glad to know that a bunch of lined pages at the back of the book have your note-keeping in mind.
©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler
NASB wide-margin Bible in top quality leather [Note: Sorry! My copy described above is no longer available on Amazon, but I found the same edition in split-cowhide which has recently become my favorite.]