Book Review – The Spurgeon Study Bible (CSB)

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Holman Bible Publishers has been coming out with some awesome Bibles containing their Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation.  One of the more unique ones has been The Spurgeon Study Bible.

Let me state up front that this is not a traditional study Bible.  You will not find notes related to culture, words studies, hermeneutics, or application as we would normally think of it.  The only part of this that matches normal study Bibles are the introductions to the books of the Bible.  (More on that later.)

This Bible is unique in that every study note is a quote from Spurgeon’s sermons that ties in to the text in question.  For Spurgeon lovers, this is an interesting way to combine Spurgeon’s thoughts with the biblical text.  Rather than having to comb through Spurgeon’s sermons to see where he refers to some Scripture verse, one can see them related here.  The notes are not exhaustive, I’m sure, and if you read through Spurgeon’s sermons, you may find multiple times he references verses, but this Bible gives you at least some quotes to connect to the Biblical text.

The edition I have is a cloth over board edition.  It comes with a partial paper slip cover that gives some information on the Bible on the back.  If you remove the cover, you will find a two-tone brown cloth over board cover with C. H. Spurgeon’s signature at the bottom right corner.  It comes with two ribbon bookmarks: one dark brown and one a lighter tan.

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Spurgeon back cover

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The Bible starts with a Table of Contents that lists the books of the Bible and the page references of additional material in this Bible: a Spurgeon biography by Alistair Begg, the lost sermons, Spurgeon quotes, Spurgeon illustrations, and intro to the CSB, abbreviations in the CSB, and the page where the concordance begins.

There is a four page (two columns each page) biography of Spurgeon by Alistair Begg to give people some background on Spurgeon as a person.

spurgeon bio

In addition, twenty of the lost sermons of Charles Spurgeon taken from The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854, Volume 1 are interspersed throughout the Bible.  For each sermon, the handwritten sermon is included on one page and a typed-out version is on the next.  I have to admit, it is neat being able to see a sermon outline in Spurgeon’s own handwriting!

lost sermons list

lost sermon handwritten

lost sermon typed

Each book of the Bible has an introduction to it.  Most of the information in the introduction matches the introduction from the CSB Study Bible or The Disciple’s Study Bible.  The outlines that are generally included with the books of the Bible introductions is not present in this edition.  In its place is a section titled “Spurgeon on [the Bible book].”  From what I can tell, this section is taken from the notes that will come later in the book’s footnotes on the text, so it is sort of a brief summary of what is to come.

spurgeon book intro

Spurgeon Quotes are scattered throughout.  They are typed in a cursive font that seems like it was intended to resemble Spurgeon’s own handwriting.  These quotes are highlights from the notes at the bottom of the page, and the quote itself is in a green font at the bottom of the page so you can see where it was taken from.  (That may not show up with my camera very well.)

The CSB footnotes are included at the bottom of the page in a green box.  There are no cross references in this Bible, unlike most study Bibles.

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There are also illustrations throughout, which are not included in the notes at the bottom of the page, but are additional thoughts on the notes.

spurgeon sample page 2

If you are looking for a deep study Bible, this is not the one you are looking for.  I would recommend the CSB Study Bible in that case.

For someone who loves C. H. Spurgeon, however, this is a wonderful Bible.  It gives a way of combining some of Spurgeon’s thoughts with the biblical text, allowing you to see what Spurgeon might say as you are reading the word of God.

You can order the Bible directly from the publisher here, or from Amazon here.  It is available in the cloth over board edition, in Leather Touch, or in genuine leather.

*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review (and Comparison) ESV Reader’s Bible Top Grain Leather

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Forgive me for posting so many reviews.  Work has me a little behind, and I have a break right now, so I am trying to get caught up.

I have been very impressed with Bibles designed specifically for reading as opposed to studying lately.  It is nice to be able to sit down and just get lost in the words of Scripture without all of the distractions that come with Bibles designed for reference (as helpful as those features can be).

One edition I have owned for a while is the ESV Reader’s Bible cloth over board edition.  I was thinking of upgrading to a TruTone edition, and when I looked, I noticed that they were releasing a top grain leather edition.  I love good leather Bibles, and Crossway is known for producing some great ones.  I asked about being able to review one, and Crossway generously agreed.

This post is focused on reviewing the top grain leather edition, but it will also have some comparisons to the cloth over board as well.

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The inside of both editions is the same (except for possibly the text editions; the cloth over board I have is the 2011 edition, while the leather is the 2016): 9.5 font, two ribbon bookmarks, single column text, smyth-sewn binding, maps in the back, words of Christ in black text, and so on.  There are no translation notes included giving alternate readings, original Greek and Hebrew, etc.  The verse numbers have all been removed and placed in a red font at the top of each page, giving a verse range for the page.  Chapter titles are still included, and are placed in a red font in the margin where each chapter starts, except for the Psalms, where the psalm number is in red font at the beginning of each psalm.  The titles of each book are also included in the same red font.  All of this serves to try to make the text itself stand out, which is the focus of a reader’s edition, and it works very well.

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The top grain leather edition comes in a clam-shell box, whereas the cloth over board edition comes in a permanent slipcase.  The edges of the top grain edition are traditional rounded edges like most Bibles have, and the pages are gold gilded.  The cloth over board edition has no gilding and the pages are right-angle corners like normal books.  One other selling point for the top grain leather edition is that it has a lifetime guarantee on it, and Crossway goes above and beyond in honoring that guarantee (I know from personal experience). The spine of the top grain leather edition has raised bands on it, which give it a nice texture.  The corners of the inside of the cover are also folded over the inside cover rather than having the cover glued down on top of the leather.

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The cover is very flexible and soft, which is a nice feel.  You can roll it up on itself and it will immediately fall right back into its original shape.  It truly has a nice feel to it.

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Most leather Bibles that I have seen have something of a “hinge” that attaches the cover to the text block itself.  This hinge is the one part of the top grain leather edition that could cause some people pause in purchasing this copy.

If you are holding the Bibles in your hands to read, there is not really an issue with it opening well.  If, however, you like to lay your Bible flat on a table to read, the hinge of the top grain leather edition sort of works against you.  When I tried laying the Bible open, I could not get it to remain open easily until I turned toward the middle to end of Exodus, and starting at about Titus or Hebrews, it keeps trying to close at the end.  The cloth over board edition, however, opened completely flat from the very first few pages (the Preface and Introduction), and lays flat all the way to the end of Revelation.  It is possible that with enough use, the hinge will loosen up on the top grain leather edition, allowing it to lay flat from beginning to end.  As I have read other Bible reviews in the past, however, there has been some caution about forcing the hinge to open, as it could break the bond between the hinge and the text block itself.  This may or may not be an issue to you.  Again, if you hold the Bible in your hands when you read, it won’t matter if it lays flat or not.  But if you do like to have your Bible lay open without having to hold it, it is something to consider before you purchase.

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All told, you really cannot go wrong with any edition of the Reader’s Bible from Crossway.  If you like leather Bibles, and cost is not a problem (the top grain leather edition retails at $109.99), then the top grain edition is a great purchase.  If you want your Bible to lay flat, and like the feel of older books, the cloth over board edition may be for you; it is also cheaper at $29.99.  There is also a TruTone edition, though it may be getting more difficult to find, and it retails at $44.99.

I would encourage everyone to try to get a Reader’s Bible of some sort, as it really does help restore the text into a readable format that helps grasp the text in its original context without the divisions that hinder our understanding of Scripture many times.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from Crossway in exchange for my honest review.

Bible Review – ESV Journaling Bible Interleaved Edition

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Ever since I heard about Jonathan Edwards’ blank Bible he used for taking notes, I have been fascinated with interleaved Bibles.  In my experience, there have been very few of them.  When I found out that Crossway was releasing one for the ESV, I was very excited!  As always, Crossway has gone above and beyond in delivering a great Bible.

For the basics, the ESV Journaling Bible Interleaved Edition comes in several editions.  I received the tan cloth over board edition, and it arrived in a sturdy slipcase.

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The layout on them all is a double-column text in a smyth-sewn binding.  The type size is smaller than most at 7.5 font, but it has to be for the size of the Bible.  In terms of thickness, it is about as thick as the ESV Study Bible.  This is due to a couple of factors.  One is that there is a blank page inserted between every page of text (more on this later). The other is that the paper itself is thicker than traditional Bible paper, which is great for taking notes without bleed through or ghosting. For most people, this will be a Bible that stays at home instead of being carried around to church and Bible studies.  The paper is cream colored, which I am appreciating more and more in Bibles. It does come with one brown ribbon bookmark.

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One of the first things I noticed when checking this Bible is the text edition change.  I expected to see that it was the 2011 text edition.  Instead, I saw that it is the “ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016).”

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A few weeks later a Web page was created on the Crossway site that explains the edition.  You can read the page here.  There were changes to 29 verses (52 words total).  This will be the definitive edition of the ESV, with no more forthcoming changes from Crossway.  As someone who tries to commit large passages to memory, I am actually pleased with this decision, although I can understand the need for further revisions with new manuscript discoveries and/or insights into Greek and Hebrew.

The selling point of this Bible is that it includes one blank page for every page of Scripture. For those who like to take notes, make cross references, or draw in the Bible, this space should be more than enough for a lifetime of note taking.

At this point, it has not been decided whether this Bible will be mine or my wife’s.  She tends to write in her Bibles more than I do, so it will probably become hers.  In order to keep from writing notes she may  not want later, I tested the writing on the Introduction page of the Bible and the reverse of that page.

What I really like about the format of this note-taking Bible is that it is not text on one side and blank on the other, but each page either has text on both sides or is blank on both sides.  I think this was a great decision on Crossway’s part.  When you write over the text (underlining, circling, etc.), the text on the other side helps hide it from show through or ghosting.  The writing in the blank parts show through more, but it will only occur in the margins and on the blank pages of notes, so it won’t distract from reading the text of Scripture itself.  I tested three different pens and a highlighter, which you can see below. There is some ghosting, but I noticed no bleed through.  (At least with the pens that I tested.  Other pens may have different results.)  The pictures below are how the two sides of one page looked for me.  The circle on the blank page was drawn so I could see if I could spot it on the text side on the reverse; I really couldn’t.

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If you love writing in your Bible, but don’t like the bleeding and ghosting that appears with most of them, or if you feel like there isn’t enough space in traditional Bibles for the notes you want to make, the ESV Journaling Bible Interleaved Edition would be perfect for you!

*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.