I have received a few e-mails recently as to exactly what version of Bible do I read from. The question is a bit mind boggling: I use many.
Let me start off by saying that besides being a Theophile (lover of God) I am also a bibliophile (Book Lover) I love actually holding books. I love the smell of them, the feel of them and I love to read them. So, yes, I do have a smartphone that has a Bible App on it (actually I use the app put out by YouVersion) but I love to have an actual book in my hands better than reading off the smartphone.
I’m going to start with physical Bibles to explain exactly what I mean. I have a Bible for almost every occasion and activity. The main version that I use is the English Standard Version (or ESV) I really like this translation and the tact that it takes. I was put onto this Bible by someone that I trust very, highly and they did not lead me astray. As you can see by the picture of my stacked Bibles (and this is by no means all of them – just ask my wife) most of the Bibles that I use of the ESV translation. In fact in that stack there are only two that are not ESV and that is my Zondervan NIV Study Bible and my NASB Compact Reference Bible.
Before I delve into exactly why I use all of these Bibles and for what I will start off by say exactly why I like the ESV Translation so much. I have found it to be a very accurate and literal translation of the original Greek and I have enjoyed its literary tact of translation. Because of this idea of a Literal and Literary translation the ESV is easy to read and understand. It is also fun to read because in many ways it read more like literature than a Text Book (which sadly some Bibles – and Bible Formats – do read like a text book). That being said I am going to delve into the stack of Bibles that you see in that Picture.
Let’s start at the bottom of the stack with the largest Bible:
ESV Study Bible:
This ESV Study Bible is by far the largest Bible I own. Measuring in at 9.5 inches tall 6.75 inches wide and 2.25 inches thick, it is huge! It feels bigger than those measurements make it sound. I have gotten a lot of use out of this Bible since my wife bought it for me almost three years ago. I love the amount of information that is packed into this volume. Do you have a question on a verse and its many interpretations? This Bible can most likely answer your question.
The Basics of the Bible
The spine of the Bible, while large, is not overly cumbersome for reading. It also (because of this size) lies open on a flat surface very well. I got an imitation leather copy which Crossways (the publisher of the ESV Bible) calls “TruTone”. This TruTone Bible was and is easy to use right out of the box, no needing to break in the leather, though feeling like the leather the whole time. As you can see from the Front Cover it is really a rather large tome.
The inside of the ESV Study Bible was masterfully made. The TruTone cover opens easily and takes a beating pretty well. As you can see the pages are rather stiff though and took some weight to hold them open to get this picture of the Dedication page, but once you’ve made it into the actually Bible (from Genesis 1:1 on) it stays open and lies flat. I have pictures of it lying open but for space I think I will simply leave that to your imagination.
The final picture I have and the whole reason this Bible makes the list of “Bibles I Use” is the study value. This is all the bookmarks that I use in this Bible. Yes, before you ask there is a color code but I am not going to explain it here. Suffice it to say that each one of the those colors means something different. Let’s move onto the next Bible in our line up.
NIV Study Bible
This NIV Study Bible by Zondervan is the second edition of this Bible that I own. The first my parent gave me way back in 1999 and it is really the first Bible that I ever owned. It got a lot of use. It is so used that pages are falling out of it. That NIV Study Bible (the 1995 edition) is currently kept in a Bible Cover (or case or what ever you want to call it) and on the shelf. My 2002 edition is actually kept on the shelf a lot now too. It is an up to the Bible I grew up with and, so, holds quite a bit of sentimental value with it – besides that whole my parents got it for me thing. The 2002 edition was actually purchased for me by my parents as well. I like the information that is presented in the NIV Study Bible I have just wanted a more literal translation and so have changed over to the ESV.
The Basics of the Bible
This Bible is obviously not as large as the ESV Study Bible. This comes, partly, from the information other than the Biblical text and partly due to the fact that the ESV Study Bible has the Bible’s text in a Single Column while the NIV Study Bible has the Bible’s text in a Double Column. For ready (and therefore studying) the Word I enjoy the single column more. It is more like a book that way and the notes can be viewed as supplemental material.
As you can see the binding on this Bible is not as flexible as the TruTone on the ESV Study Bible. I had to put some weight on the Cover and the pages to get them to stay open to the Dedication Page. This Bible is great resource for studying, with all the notes and information it has inside. The amount of the information is not as great as its ESV counterpart but I still have relied on this Bible (or its previous edition) for nearly two decades of Bible study now. I would recommend it (actually the new edition that Zondervan has out) to anyone who asks.
The Greek-English New Testament
Next on the list and still in the “Study” Category is The Greek-English New Testament, Nestle-Aland 28th Edition (NA28)/ESV. Yes another ESV, but this time it is only the New Testament and it has the Greek too. Not really making my case am I? Well this has the most recent edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek Text (the text that the ESV and most major modern Bibles are translated from – in fact I think all modern Bibles are translated from this text except for the NKJV, the MEV and the WEB, I could be wrong on this) and the Text of the ESV on opposite pages. This allows you to look at the Greek Text and compare it to the ESV to really see how literal it is. It also allows those who are learning Greek to have an English translation present in order to be able to figure out what word they are looking for.
The Basics of the Bible
This Bible, being hardbound, does not have the shortfalls that either of the other two Bibles do. It is splendidly designed for what it is. It will stay open to either the first or last page with out much coaxing and it lies open and flat with out bother. It is a great edition for those looking for a polyglot (plural language) New Testament.
I have particularly enjoyed the ability to look straight at the Greek during my reading. The text of both the Greek and the ESV are single column which (for me at least) lends itself to reading better than does the double column (as I said before). The verses on one page match up to the verses on the adjoining page which makes finding a passage in either text a breeze. I highly recommend this Greek-English New Testament as something to be added the avid Bible Student’s Collection.
ESV Single Column Heritage Bible
We have now crossed the line from “Study” into reading. There is a lot to be said on the subject of “Reader’s Editions” of the Bible. Lot’s of people have different views all the way from your standard double column all the way to no chapters or verses (or something in between). For me a reader Bible is a single column Bible that still has the chapters and verses. I like them there because it is easy to break up the text into readable pieces as well as it is easy to reference the text you are reading with someone else. This is why the chapter and verse apparatus was added to the Bible in the first place. How hard is going to be to discuss a passage of Scripture with someone when the discussion starts like this: “Hey you remember where Paul was writing to the Romans about that grace thing and…” I mean this is just horrid. Many people will have different ideas, which is great I don’t want a bunch of me’s out there. These different ideas are what breeds the different versions of the “Reader’s Bible”.
Any of Crossway’s amazing Single Column Bibles I consider a Reader’s Bible. They have come out with everything from the cheaper to the expensive and in between. (You can check out their Expensive, In Between and Cheaper options – Please Note that I said “Cheaper” not cheap because even some of the more expensive versions come in cheaper bindings.) I am using the ESV Single Column Heritage Bible as my reader. This is a relatively recent addition to my collection of Bibles, but I am already in love with it.
The Basics of the Bible
This Bible, partially because of how new it is, does not lay open very well. The binding is quite a tight binding and it will close on itself until you’ve made a few books into the Bible. As you can see I am having to hold it open to take a picture of the dedication page. The cover that I chose was a TruTone (Imitation Leather) partially because of price and partially because these newer imitation leathers are being shown to hold up better under use than some of the leather covers.
The internal layout of the Bible is gorgeous with a single column text all the way through the Bible and a paragraph layout. To me this is visual poetry, or visual music, because it simply makes the Bible easier to read. It feels more like a book or letter from a friend rather than a Text Book. It also engages me more as a reader and I want to read more rather than just find verse such and such.
I can’t help but gush over this Bible, partially because it is the newest in the collection and partial because it is (so far) my favorite. I have only been reading from it for a few days and I am just in love.
ESV Compact Thinline Edition
The ESV Compact Thinline Edition has become my new travel Bible. Crossway doesn’t make this Bible anymore. I believe that I got this for my wife before we were married got her a new one after we were married and so this became my hand-me-down. It is very small, its cover measure about 6 inches tall by 4 inches wide and it is about 0.75 inches thick. There are a lot of benefits to the size of this Bible, most of them are in its portability. But there are some drawbacks, too, as we’ll see in just a moment.
The Basics of the Bible
The major thing that is most notable about this Bible for me is that it is easy to throw in a bag and go. If I am travelling across country or down to the diner for a morning Bible Study. It is just easy because of its size.
But a major drawback to that size has to be the size of the type. It is pretty small. That could be manageable if it were in a single column but it is in a double column to decrease the size of the Bible even more. This can make it hard to read, but I guess it is the sacrifice we make to a be able to take this Bible pretty much anywhere.
Again you’ll notice I am having to hold this Bible open to the dedication page. This Bible is closing in on its decade mark and its bindings have still not loosened up. In a way I guess that is a good thing because it keeps the pages safe on trips, but at the same time this Bible does not lay flat until you get quite a ways into it. The fact of the matter is though that it is not very often this Bible is lying on a surface to be read. The type is just too small.
I have greatly appreciated the workmanship on this Bible because it has followed halfway across the country and back.
NASB Compact Reference Bible
The New American Standard Compact Reference Bible was my original travel Bible. This Bible has gotten me through a lot of my life. It is also the first Bible that I ever bought for myself. I bought it because I wanted a literal translation and I wanted compact Bible to carry with me. It came in a sturdy box and I new it would be safe and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. This Bible is still a Bible I go to, to look up verses and find alternate readings to the ESV. (Most of the time the ESV and NASB are so similar it is just a word here or there that will change my understanding of a verse, or help me explain a verse better.)
This Bible has carried me through ten years of my life and I am very thankful I had it.
The Basics of the Bible
As you can see the words are starting come off the spine from use. That’s fine by me, I’m not going to be worried until the binding starts coming apart. This Bible’s bonded leather cover is very tight even after ten years of use. It still will not lie open on a surface until you have made it a ways into the Bible. This Bible’s binding taught me how to put a weight on a Book without obscuring the text that is present.
As you can see I am still have to hold the Bible open at its dedication page.
I don’t think there are really words to express what the Bibles in this collection mean to me. They all have different purposes. I don’t use them all every day but I do use them all. The NASB to supplement the ESV the NIV to for notes and supplemental (idiomatic) readings to (more literal) ESV and NASB. I like to delve into the Greek and find out what is really being said in a given passage. There are few more translations that I use on a rare occasion and I am adding more. I have recently ordered and Holman Christian Standard Bible. I also use the World English Bible (WEB) as a text. For those of you who know that I am part of Breath of God Ministries, you know that we are trying to put out an edition of the WEB. Really that’s all there is to it. I mainly study out of the ESV, though, I use other supplemental versions and I don’t just use one Bible. I use many.