When Hendrickson Bibles kindly sent me a review copy of the Fire Bible, my first impression was, “Huge!”
At 9” wide, over 11” long, and over 2” deep, this large print hardback study edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) should work exceptionally well on a pulpit or a study desk. Despite the unlikelihood of our carrying it to our Bible study groups or sit around reading it on our laps, it’s what I’ve been looking for – a large print Bible with large print footnotes, which require ample space.
Originally known as the Full Life Study Bible, this expanded edition includes study notes from the late Donald C. Stamps, a pastor and prolific writer who had a vision of a study Bible that would especially appeal to Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians. Although he did not live to see his work in print, the Fire Bible accomplishes his goal with study notes and articles of interest to most students of the Bible.
Those study helps include “Contents: Articles,” “God’s Plan of Salvation,” a cross-reference system, book introductions, theme finders, subject index, concordance, and more.
To give you an example of the articles, the one on “The Fear of the Lord” says, “By fearing God, we can avoid being trapped by the natural pull toward going our own way, defying God and giving in to the inviting ways of immoral behavior.”
But what does that fear mean? The article goes on to explain that the fear of the Lord “involves understanding several things about a believer’s relationship with God.” For instance, “we must recognize that God is loving, merciful and forgiving; but he also is holy, just and righteous.” Therefore, we’re “to be in awe of his holiness, to give him complete reverence and to honor him as the God of great glory, majesty, purity and power.”
Such high regard shows we can trust God to be wholly free of pettiness, mean-spiritedness, or any kind of evil. Nevertheless, “It is a sobering and absolute truth that God is constantly aware of our actions and motives, both good and bad, and that we will be held accountable for those actions….”
Thankfully, the Bible gives us the guidance needed to keep our actions in line with God’s will. Consider, for instance, Psalm 1:2, which tells us the “blessed” person meditates on God’s law days and night. As the footnote for that verse explains, “Those who desire to live with God’s blessing and favor meditate on God’s law (i.e., his Word) in order to shape their thinking, attitudes and actions in a positive way.” Yes!
As we read the Bible, again and again, God’s Word corrects and perfects our way of looking at things, freeing us from misconceptions and the darkened thoughts most of us receive from bad experiences. Although we can do nothing to change the past, we can ask for God’s healing over our memories and hurts, and we can re-form our skewed thinking by meditating on God’s Word.
How? The footnote on Psalm 1:2 goes on to suggest we consider the following questions:
“How might God’s Spirit be applying this verse to my present situation?
What is this passage teaching me about God’s character?
Is there a promise here for me to recognize and claim?
Is this passage revealing a particular sin I must try to avoid?
Is God giving a command I must obey?
How should this truth affect my relationship with other people?
Is my spirit in hamony with what the Holy Spirit is saying?
Is the passage expressing a truth about God, salvation, sin, the word or my personal behavior that I need to understand better with the Holy Spirit’s help?
Is there something in this passage I can thank or praise God for?
How can I grow closer to God in light of what he is showing me through his Word?”
In the New Testament, the first words in the Gospel of John let us know that God’s Word comes to us, fully embodied in Christ Jesus. “Also, the Word describes Jesus as the perfect revelation and representation of the Father’s nature and character…. That is to say, he is God in human form.”
By living among us and being part of our everyday lives, Jesus showed us The Way to the Father and The Way to live on earth. And, amazingly, Jesus showed His trust – God’s trust in us! In Matthew 5:13, for example, we are called “the salt of the earth.” Those words aren’t calling us to become the salt of the earth, but to accept the fact as Jesus sees it: “You are the salt of the earth.”
As we meditate on that verse and what it means in our lives, the footnotes provide these insights:
“Salt seasons and flavors food, just as Christians should enhance and favorably influence the people and society around them. Salt is a preservative, just as Christians and the church should resist moral corruption and decay, preserving a godly influence on the culture. In addition, salt has healing properties, just as Christ’s followers must help bring healing to people who are hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually. Salt also creates thirst, just as Christians – through their good example – should create spiritual thirst or desire in others to know more about God.”
May we, too, know more about God as we let God’s Word reshape our thoughts and lives.
Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer and lifelong student of God’s Word
Fire Bible, large print, hardcover
December 12, 2017
April 18, 2017
BookLook Bloggers sent me a copy of the large print KJV Thinline Bible in a colorful green hardback to review, and I really like the sturdy quality, double ribbon markers, words of Christ in red, and especially, the rounded, well-inked 10-point font that the publisher, Thomas Nelson, commissioned for their production of the King James Version of the Bible.
Although this edition does not have all of the books included in the original KJV (aka Apocryphal books), it does include clear, colored maps and "30 Days with Jesus" to take readers through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord.
As you probably know by now, I prefer quality leather covers for regular reading, but I requested this particular reader edition for several reasons:
• A sturdy hardback works best on the bookshelves in our Fellowship Hall as this won’t flop around like a paperback or get musty as quickly as some leather covers might.
• The easy-to-read font works well for church members who forget their study Bibles and/or their reading glasses.
• The attractive green cover brings to mind Christ as the Vine and we as the branches who have no spiritual life or power apart from Him.
• This thinline edition is easy to carry and makes an excellent choice for reading in a waiting room, on a train or plane, or anywhere you happen to be.
Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, is a poet-writer, reviewer who welcomes review copies of new editions and translations in 10-point type or larger, reader editions in premium leather, sturdy hardback study Bibles, Bible storybooks, children’s Bibles actually designed for children, and Bible resources such as a Bible dictionary, atlas, or encyclopedia. Send your review copy to Mary Sayler, P.O. Box 62, Lake Como, FL 32157.
KJV Thinline Bible, large print, cloth over board hardback
March 27, 2017
Although I’d previously reviewed The MacArthur Study Bible, which Crossway kindly sent, I welcomed a review copy of the newer large print edition, also from Crossway.
With an 11-point font for the ESV text (English Standard Version) and 9-point type for the study notes, this edition is easy on the eyes, which aids comprehension as does the wealth of in-text maps and drawings that help readers to envision what’s being read.
In addition, Dr. John MacArthur provided book introductions and almost 25,000 notes with pertinent information and insights based on his 40 years of biblical studies. In the Introduction to Leviticus, for example, we read:
“The most profitable study in Leviticus is that which yields truth in the understanding of sin, guilt, substitutionary death, and atonement by focusing on features that are not explained or illustrated elsewhere in OT Scripture. Later OT authors, and especially NT writers, build on the basic understanding of these matters provided in Leviticus. The sacrificial features of Leviticus point to their ultimate, one-time fulfillment in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.”
Then, a footnote to Leviticus 1:1-7:38 explains:
“This section provides laws pertaining to sacrifice. For the first time in Israel’s history, a well-defined set of sacrifices was given… to the people and the priests….”
However, a footnote for Hebrews 9:8 reminds us “The Levitical system did not provide any direct access into God’s presence for his people…. Nearness had to be provided by another way.”
That way, of course, was The Way of Christ Jesus, Whose “death was necessary for the fulfillment of the older covenant and the establishment of the new” (as stated in the footnote for Hebrews 9:13-22.)
In the back matter, an “Overview of Theology” discusses the uniqueness of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and the creation of mankind in God’s image but, corrupted by sin, in need of salvation, regeneration, and justification through the power of Christ and His righteousness.
The next article gives readers an “Index to Key Bible Doctrines” with major headings such as “The Holy Scriptures” and “God the Father” followed by numerous subheadings that lead you to Bible verses on those themes. For instance, under the heading “Last Things,” you’ll find scriptures on the antichrist, eternal death, final judgment, heaven, hell, resurrection from the dead, reward of believers, and second coming of Christ – the latter of which required two columns to list relevant verses.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for in that list of biblical doctrines, the topic has most likely been included in the concordance to follow.
Since this study edition may turn out to be an often-used favorite, the Smyth-sewn binding assures you of a book meant to last.
Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer, reviewer, and lifelong student of the Bible
The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV, hardback, large print
August 11, 2016
My review copy of the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, which Crossway kindly sent me to review, came in an attractive case matching the “summer garden” pattern on its hardback cover. The other option for this large print edition is a brown leather cover with closing strap as shown below.
I prefer the easy-on-the-eyes font found in both editions over the smaller type most Bible publishers use today, but, despite its current labeling, I’d wouldn’t call 9.5 point “large print.” Basically, it’s the text size of my older Bibles when “large print” was at least 12-point type with the standard size around 9 or 10.
The purpose of this single-column edition, though, is to give us a place to make notes to ourselves in the margins, which run an ample two inches on the outside edge of each page. Writing small will be necessary, however, as the lines allow a little over half the space of college rule.
Since I already have a hard-to-find leather-bound Bible with a 10-point font and wide margins all around, I’ll probably continue to use that for making notes before and during my Bible study class, but this journaling Bible makes me want to take another approach. When I first opened my copy, for example, I felt drawn to write haiku or aahcoo in the space beside the scriptures that evoked a poem. Or, I thought of claiming Bible prayers by writing down the date and the name of a person or event that came to mind upon reading. Or, I might jot down thoughts or insights relevant to the adjacent text.
You’ll probably think of other uses that haven’t occurred to me. Regardless, if you don’t have a wide margin Bible and would like to carry on a conversation with an accurate translations of God’s Word, this edition from Crossway makes a fine choice.
Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016, poet-writer reviewer
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, large print in summer garden hardback
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, large print in brown leather with strap
June 2, 2016
Praise God! Crossway has just published the Holy Bible, Large Print, English Standard Version (ESV), and as I can readily see from the copy the publisher kindly sent me to review, I can readily see!
With a highly readable 11-point font, this new edition provides welcome relief from the prevailing 8-point type found in too many Bibles, including those for young children, who much prefer this size or larger, as I do. For general readers, 9 to 10-point type might be fine, but anything less than that or larger than 14 seems to be out of touch with what most people want or need.
Besides encouraging us to read without eye strain, this reader edition also includes color maps and a 10,000-entry concordance to aid Bible study – alone or in a group. The page layout with its double-column paragraph format also assists comprehension, whereas either flap on the dust jacket can become an immediately accessible “bookmark” in lieu of fraying ribbons.
In case you haven’t yet read the ESV, this translation has been lauded for being accurate but readable – and familiar too. For instance, The Translation Oversight Committee opted to retain the word, “Behold!” which often occurs in both testaments because, as the Preface informs us, this one-of-a-kind attention getter “helps us read more carefully.”
Also in the Preface, the “Special Notes in the ESV Bible” explain the infrequent footnotes added for clarification. For example, the first note in this edition says, “The Hebrew word used here for man includes both men and women (see 1:27) and refers to the entire human race.” Similarly, “The note on Romans 8:14 shows you that ‘sons’ also includes ‘daughters’.”
Footnoted or not, this edition – like the content of the Bible in any language – welcomes all who come to read and heed God’s word.
by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016
Holy Bible, ESV, large print, hardback
April 15, 2016
Some time ago, I posted a review of one of my most literal and beautifully produced leather Bibles in the “NASB wide-margin Bible in goatskin” – a Cambridge University Press edition now covered in a sturdy split-calf leather that’s shown on the review since Amazon no longer carries my particular goatskin edition.
Meanwhile, my copy has become my cache for thoughts that come as I read and insights that arise in my Bible study group at church. Studying for that discussion of God’s word, I also find interesting notes and comments that put a passage into its intended context while showing the Bible’s relevancy today. So, I pencil (never ink!) those notes into the wide margins.
Since I’ve been doing this for several years, most of the pages have some type of response to the scriptures read. Therefore, I began taking that Bible to my study group, instead of carrying one or more of my typically heavy study Bibles. Not only is this less cumbersome, but I can add new comments during our discussion and also have my own notes ready to share.
Recently, however, some changes occurred: 1.) I now have trouble seeing type smaller than 11 points, and this lovely edition has only around an 8-point font. 2.) The NASB (New American Standard Bible) has been updated. 3.) I'm praying my children will want to read my personal responses to God’s word. 4.) I have more than one child!
When I began an Internet search for a large print leather Bible with sewn pages and wide margins, I found that few existed. I also realized that most contemporary editions of the Bible will continue to be updated, often losing a precise word by substituting a fresh phrase that readers today will understand. But what about readers tomorrow?
As God-incidence would have it, the only 11-point font I found in a leather-covered Bible with wide margins is the King James Version (KJV) published by Hendrickson Bibles – a perfect choice for now and, hopefully, for ages to come!
Since I also plan to use this edition in my Bible study group, I welcome such “Special Features” as a concordance and color maps. In addition, the back matter includes:
Key Bible Promises
Harmony of the Gospels
Miracles of the Old Testament
Parables of the Old Testament
Miracles of the New Testament
Parables of the New Testament
Old Testament Prophecies of the Passion
Although I wish the cover were split cowhide, this genuine leather is supple and sturdy with sewn pages to last a lifetime and, Lord willing, long beyond.
Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, lifelong Bible lover, Bible reviewer, and blogger for The Word Center and Praise Poems, © 2016
KJV wide margin large print Bible, genuine leather cover, sewn pages
August 21, 2015
Unlike many study Bibles, the Catholic Scripture Study International (CSSI) Bible places its informative charts, maps, and “Faith Facts” in glossy page inserts, rather than footnotes throughout the large print text. This gives you a distraction-free reader edition of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) – beloved by Catholic and non-Catholic Christians from all denominations.
Published by Saint Benedict Press and distributed by Tan Books, who kindly sent me a review copy, the CSSI Bible includes the deuterocanonical books often referred to as the apocryphal books of the Old Testament.
I purposefully said Old Testament rather than Jewish Bible or Hebrew Testament since these books, initially accepted by Jews and Christians alike, have been excluded from Jewish Bibles because they were in Greek, not Hebrew.
However, modern scholarship and findings near the Dead Sea show that the Pharisee community did not accept the Septuagint or Greek Bible, whereas early Jewish Christians (such as the apostles) did. Therefore, more and more Protestants want a Bible with the Apocrypha, which means “hidden” and which Catholics aptly call “deuterocanonical,” meaning outside the Jewish not Christian canon – books originally included, too, in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
Besides the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, what makes this edition uniquely “Catholic” are those glossy inserts, beginning with a “Catholic Apologetics” list of such topics as “Apostolic Succession” followed by relevant Bible verses .
In addition, you’ll find “Faith Fact” page inserts on topics such as “The Biblical Origins of the Mass,” genuflecting, “Signs and Symbols,” and “Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.”
In the latter, for instance, we learn that “no one taught that the presence of Christ was only symbolic until Ratramnus (d.868) and, more notably, Berengarius of Tours (d. 1088).” However, “The Church firmly rejected the teachings of both.” This belief of receiving Christ Himself through the bread and wine is affirmed by each individual partaker of the Eucharist who then receives the elements with a verbal “amen.”
Any Christian who would like to become better acquainted with the Roman Catholic Church will appreciate this highly recommended edition, which came to me in a nice quality bonded leather as shown below but which Amazon erroneously referred to as imitation leather.
Following each testament, a section of “Explanatory Notes” come in a smaller font than the large print used for the biblical text, but, with ample ink, the two appendixes are clear, readable, and informative. For example, the first note states:
“1:1-2:4a: The aim of this narrative is not to present a scientific picture but to teach religious truth, especially the dependence of all creation on God and its consecration to him through the homage rendered by man, who is the climax of creation. Hence its strong liturgical character and the concluding emphasis on the sabbath. It serves as a prologue to the whole of the Old Testament.”
Regarding that “whole,” I’m delighted to have the deuterocanonical books in the RSV translation as it and the KJV are ones with which I and other Christians from diverse denominations are most familiar, especially when it comes to hymn lyrics and memorization of Bible verses. If I want to follow a 3-year cycle of readings, I can follow the “Calendar of Readings” at the back of the book, but I suspect I’ll be eager to read this poetically beautiful text straight through.
©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, a lifelong student of the Bible, is a freelance and assignment writer, who likes to write Bible-based poems and manuscripts.
Catholic Scripture Study International Bible, RSV, CE, bonded leather (which I confirmed by checking the ISBN number of my review copy with this one advertised on Amazon
March 17, 2015
When the B&H Publishing group kindly sent me review copies of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the first thing I noticed was the packaging! Yes, the packaging. In all my decades of buying Bibles and now of receiving them for my review on the Bible Reviewer blog, I’ve never seen an edition treated with such care.
Inside each sturdy box, I found a Bible wrapped in both directions in heavy-duty paper to ensure its safety. Then, inside the wrapping, I found a thick leather cover – ready for long wear, yet flexible and soft to the touch. No wonder Holman Bibles come with a lifetime guarantee!
Earlier I had received a review copy of the hefty, impressive, award-winning HCSB Study Bible, which I highly recommend, but this time I wanted a reader’s edition to read, cover to cover, without the distraction of lengthy footnotes and articles. So the publisher sent two!
The HCSB Large Print Personal Size Reference Bible measures about 5.75" x 8.5", which provides a nice size for carrying in one hand. To keep down the weight and thickness, the paper is a bit thin with some bleed-through, but the large font (about 10-point) is very readable. With no footnotes except essentials and no center-margin references, this truly is an edition to just sit down and read.
The HCSB Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible measures about 6.75” x 9.5” and is also easy to carry, but the slightly larger size helps the leather cover to lay flat. The unusual font choice blocks out the bleed-through but might take some getting used to if you’re expecting the typical roundish serif. Once I actually began to read the text, however, I found the dark, narrow san serif font to be super easy on my eyes.
The ultrathin edition also includes a small concordance at the back of the book and cross-referencing in the center column, providing features I like even in a reader’s edition. In addition, I discovered an unusual feature I don’t recall seeing before: The names and chapters of the books have been placed in the left corners of the bottom margins of the pages! In the opposite corner, page numbers have also been placed at the bottom of each page, so with the ultrathin edition, I was able to look up scriptures very quickly in my Bible study group.
Regarding those scriptures, the HCSB provides a contemporary translation of the Bible that, unlike some updated versions, wisely retains such key words in Christianity as “justification,” “sanctification,” and “redemption.” As a writer and poet who aims toward compression, I seldom like the use of ten words when one precise word will do – especially if it carries the weight of centuries of faith and theology.
I’m also happy to say this translation retains the word “blessed,” which says so much more than my momentary happiness over that discovery! In the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Matthew 5:3-5 reads:
“The poor in spirit are blessed,
for the kingdom of heaven
Those who mourn are blessed,
for they will be comforted.
The gentle are blessed,
for they will inherit the earth.”
In the next chapter, Matthew 7:7 in the HCSB clearly states:
“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
With red letters in the ultrathin edition, I immediately found those words of Christ, and with bold letters for the biblical quotes in various chapters, I easily found scriptural references from the Old Testament to the New. With either edition though, I'm finding the HCSB a good choice to read.
©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.
HCSB Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown Genuine Cowhide Leather
HCSB Large Print Personal Size Reference Bible, Brown Genuine Cowhide