In previous reviews, I have talked about how much I love reader’s editions of Bibles. The current review is no exception.
Crossway released a reader’s edition that is certainly not your typical carry-to-church Bible, since it is divided up into multiple books. But what it sacrifices in terms of portability, it gains in terms of aesthetics and design. The ESV Reader’s Bible Six-Volume Set is a beautiful edition of the Scriptures that anyone would do well to have in their library.
For all of the strengths of previous reader’s Bibles, they still have the typical setbacks that one-volume Bibles have: thin paper, ghosting of text as a result, a lot of lines per page, etc. Crossway found a way to remedy some of that by dividing the Bible up into six volumes: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Poetry, Prophets, Gospels & Acts, and Epistles & Revelation.
The six volumes come in a sturdy slipcase to hold them. This slipcase is not a mere afterthought, but has been beautifully designed as well. The foiling design on the side is astonishing (and I believe there is meaning in the design, which you can find on the ESV Reader’s Bible Six-Volume Edition website, and there are “blocks” set at the bottom of the case to help prop up the books themselves so that they retain their shape and don’t sag over time.
Each volume is printed on thicker, traditional book paper. Because there is no pressure to fit the Bible into one volume, the lines per page have been spaced out, allowing easier flow on the eyes by providing some blank space for the eyes to rest with. Each volume has a ribbon bookmark for marking where you leave off in reading. The edition I have is a cloth over board edition, and the binding is a sewn binding.
The text is in a single column format and is set at a 12-point font (the single volume Reader’s Bibles have a 9.5-point font). Words of Christ are in black text. There are no chapter numbers or verse numbers anywhere on the page, except for the psalms, which retain their traditional numbering in a red font. There are occasional section headings in a red font, but they are greatly reduced over most Bibles. For example, Genesis has 7 headings total and Matthew has 9. If you compare that to a traditional Bible, you will find that is a great reduction, and these headings serve to help guide the reader with minimal intrusion and disruption to reading. Each volume does contain an index in the back which provides some guidance as to what page chapters of the independent books of the Bible would start on, if someone needed it for reference, but this edition cannot be used to locate specific verses or even verse ranges. Of course, that is by design, as this is truly meant to be a Bible for reading, not study.
The only place that the layout makes it a little more difficult to read, to me, is in the book of Proverbs. Everything seems to run together a little more there for me, but it may just be because I am used to a traditional layout. It is certainly not a deal breaker on this set.
When you compare a volume of the six-volume edition to the one-volume editions, you can see the difference. Here, I’ve opened to the same passage in Numbers, and you can see the ghosting on the one-volume edition as well as how close the lines are to each other, whereas there is almost no ghosting of text on the six-volume edition, and the spacing is much more pleasing to read for long periods.
If you are looking for a Bible that can stay at your house and provide long periods of reading of Scripture with minimal interruptions, the six-volume edition of the ESV Bible is perfect for you. The cloth over board edition retails for $199.99 at Crossway’s site, and I have seen them as low as $100 at other sites. It is money well spent!
*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from Crossway in exchange for my honest review.