Hopefully I have been able to persuade you to consider more than just using one Bible translation because now I’m going to present to you the idea of owning more than one Bible of the same translation.
Isn’t one Bible enough?
Yes, one Bible is actually all you really need, but having more than one may be of use. Obviously if you only use your Bible for Sunday service then your problems cannot be solved by owning more.
There are four sizes or types that may be of use, starting with a study Bible, a wide margin Bible, a hand size Bible and a compact Bible.
Starting with a study Bible as these tend to be big and heavy. I would not recommend these for carrying around to church or Bible studies but only for home study where it’s size and weight won’t be an issue. Look for one that has a sewn binding. Since study Bibles are larger, a sewn binding will help keep a Bible of this size together, longer. I would not recommend the Life Application Study Bible as it is one the largest study Bible available but the binding is glued and not sewn. The Reformation Study Bible put out by Ligonier Ministries is a study Bible in the ESV that has a sewn binding, as does the 1599 Geneva Bible. Although not presented as a study Bible, it does contain notes from the English Reformers of the 1500’s like John Knox and Miles Coverdale as well as the Reformers in Geneva like John Calvin. Study Bibles should be used for home study use along side of your Bible of regular use. Remember, the study notes are not inspired and are to help you get through some theological issues. Consider getting one in hardback as most modern bonded leather or genuine leather covers are about as stiff as cardboard and feel just as bad.
The other Bible you should consider is a wide margin Bible. The wide margins are for you own personal notes, to make your own study bible. These Bibles usually have paper that is slightly thicker than regular Bible paper but that does not mean that the ink will not bleed through, so choose your pen wisely. Being able to make your own study notes will be helpful in that they will be study notes on matters that are important to you, not a bunch of advisors. You can make notes for your teaching or for sermons, for apologetics or for evangelism. Whatever they are, they will be your notes. Of the wide margin Bibles available there are a few I can recommend. Cambridge makes some of the finest Bibles you can buy. They make wide margin Bibles in the KJV, NIV and the NASB by August of 2007. Cambridge Bibles have sewn bindings and are availabe in a variety of covers including goatskin. Although goatskin is expensive, it is the best leather available for binding. The Lockman Foundation make an NASB wide margin Bible called the In Touch Ministries WIde Margin, they have sewn bindings and are bound in calfskin. They are soft and very durable. Crossway currently offers a wide margin Bible in the ESV but not in a premium leather. They also make a Deluxe Reference Bible which has wide margins and a larger font (10 point vs. 8 point) than the wide margin ESV… though the margins aren’t quite as wide. This Bible was offered in calfskin but is now out of print. That is too bad becasue it is a great book. I found one after they went out of print, and I am very pleased with it. The hardback and leather are still available, just not the premium calfskin model.
The next Bible to consider is a hand size Bible. This of course is quite subjective as some may say that a study Bible in my hands would look like a compact Bible in the hands of an “average” sized person. This is a Bible that you can use for taking to Sunday service or to Bible studies. You don’t need a big heavy Bible with a dictionary, concordance, maps, cross references, etc. You are not going to sit in the middle of a sermon and begin to do all of your cross references and word studies. Save that for when you get home and continue your studies. This Bible should be thin and light but also look for a font size that is large enough so as to be easy to read. Those with poor eye sight will have their choices limited.
If you are looking for a KJV in personal size or hand size there a few publishers that can help you out. Starting with Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson’s Signature Series which are smyth sewn and bound in calfskin. They have an ultra slim edition that is expertly made. The covers are thick leather that is buttery soft, these are also leather lined. This size is also availabe in the NKJV. Cambridge makes a plethora of Bibles in the KJV but there are two that fit the criteria. The Cameo edition which is currently out of print but is excpected to be re-printed later this year and also the Concorde edition. The Concorde is the larger of the two and both are available in different covers, the best being the goatskin in which the Concorde is leather lined as well. Last is RL Allan of Glasgow, Scotland. They are the Cadillac of Bibles. Allan’s Bibles are not cheap but they are worth the hefty price. They offer the KJV in the same sizes as Cambridge and Oxford but the book block is hand sewn and then covered in some of the most luxurious leathers available with the Highland goatskin being the best. They offer Bibles with covers that are full yapp or a true semi-yapp, that is the cover is made larger than the block. Most publishers that offer a semi-yapp are not a true semi-yapp cover, the cover barely comes over the pages, RL Allan semi-yapp are not skimpy.
The NASB is limited as far as quality bindings in a personal size. The offerings from Cambridge are limited to the Pitt Minion which is too small and the Wide Margin which is too large. The Lockman Foundation has two Bibles in this category that are great buys. First is the Ultrathin Reference Bible which has a smyth sewn binding that you can buy in inexpensive bonded leather, leathertex, or genuine leather with the most expensive retailing for $34.95, which you can find for less at Amazon.com. The other is the Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible which is on the large side of the spectrum when it comes to hand/personal size Bibles. It is available in calfskin and is fully leather lined, the font is large at 10 point and is not totally thin but is a great Bible that has a great feel in the hand. This is out of stock until September.
My personal favorite translation, the ESV has a few selections which I can recommend. From Crossway, there is the Classic Reference Bible and the Classic Thinline Reference Bible. Both have the same dimensions of 5.5″x8.5″ but the Thinline is… you guessed it, a little thinner by about a 1/4″. They are available in a wide range of covers and color choices but only the premium calfskin are smyth sewn. Any of these would be a valued addition to your quiver especially the calfskin, they are thick and very soft as well as being leather lined. The Thinline Tru Tone Edition (portfolio design) is a must have. It is very inexpensive but has a great feel and looks nice as well. RL Allan also offers an ESV edition which is a classic reference like those offered by Crossway but are so, so much more. The Highland goatskin covers are rich, thick, luxurious with an intoxicating smell of leather. The covers, while thick are floppy and cover your hand like a glove when you hold it open in your hand. They are amazing, this is what a Bible should be!
Finally is the compact Bible. These are not for everyone as the type tends to be a little small, but they are nice to have around. They are not a Bible you would use for serious study. They are good for reading, carrying in your bag, travel as well as for Bible studies and sermons, eye sight not being an issue. Compact Bibles should be small, almost hand sized, thin and light weight. This is their selling point, portability. There are a few that have complete cross references, maps and a concordance. The Pitt Minoin from Cambrdge are some of the better compact Bibles availabe especially in the goatskin. They are smyth sewn and sit nicely in your hand when open. Crossway again has a Bible to fit your every need in a Compact Tru Tone and Compact Thinline, as well as journeling Bibles that are made for those of us that are fans of the Moleskine notebooks. Compact Bibles are great because you can take them anywhere with you.
You don’t need to have all these Bibles, you only need one. As long as you read it. The premium leather Bibles, although expensive are an investment. They will last longer than the other, less expensive ones. Spending a little over a hundred dollars for a Bible that will last us a lifetime should not be a big issue considering we can spend the same or more for shoes that will only last two years. You also need to take care of the Bibles. Do not keep them in your car as it can get too hot and warp your Bible or curl the covers. Do not get them wet. If you take notes in them make sure the pen or marker doesn’t bleed through and most importantly, DO NOT USE YOUR BIBLE AS A FILING CABINET. Keeping pens, fliers and notes in your Bible will eventually ruin the spine.