Choosing a Reading Bible (Recommendations)

I want to wrap up my series on reading Bibles with a few recommendations for people who don’t want to be bothered with all the other stuff and just want to know what kind of Bible to get.  Here are some Bibles in various translations that I personally have used as reading Bibles and liked.  In fact, I still own most of them, so anybody who wants to try before buying is welcome to ask me for a look-see (if you live in the Columbia, TN area, at least!).

NASB:  Foundation Side-Column Reference Bible.  This is the classic NASB setting, and even though it’s a verse-by-verse reference Bible, it still works quite well as a reader.  The paper it’s printed on these days isn’t great (I’m worried about the survival of the NASB as a translation, honestly), but the genuine-leather covers still reflect good workmanship.

ESV:  Crossway Large-Print Thinline Reference Bible.  This is the Bible that, after several years of regularly reviewing Bibles, I settled on for my one-and-only.  In addition to its other virtues, I think it makes for a great reader.  It’s available in covers ranging from lowly polyurethane to pricey goatskin.  Mine is bound in top-grain cowhide.

NKJV:  Holman Large-Print Personal-Size Reference Bible.  Back when I reviewed this Bible, I liked it well enough that I adopted it as my primary Bible for several months, even though I’m not really an NKJV guy when it comes to translation.  It’s smaller than the first two, but it still somehow manages to have print that’s as large if not larger.  I like the brown cowhide for this one too.

CSB:  Holman Large-Print UltraThin Reference Bible.  The CSB (short for Christian Standard Bible) is a translation that many Christians aren’t familiar with.  It’s a more conservative descendant of the old Holman Christian Standard Bible.  I describe it as being readable like the NIV, except without all of the doctrinal problems that come with the NIV.  I don’t use it in the pulpit because it doesn’t line up very well with the congregation’s NASB’s, ESV’s, and so on, but I think it would make for a great choice for a reader.

This particular CSB has one of the most beautiful, well-designed Bible settings I’ve ever seen in my life.  My copy is bound in goatskin, but I believe Holman sells a slightly cheaper version in that ubiquitous-but-lovely brown cowhide.

NLT:  Tyndale Premium Slimline Large-Print Bible.  This is not actually my current NLT.  Instead, I own a Schuyler Caxton, which is a pricey Bible with a goatskin cover and art-gilt pages.  However, before I picked up the Caxton, I used the Slimline Large-Print and was happy with it.  For those who aren’t sure that they want to spend big bucks on an NLT, starting slowly and cheaply is the way to go!

Of course, all of the above are one-size-fits-all recommendations, which mean that they aren’t going to fit everybody.  It may be that some want to explore the world of premium Bibles, Bibles with three-figure price tags published by Allan, Cambridge, and Schuyler.  Some offerings from otherwise mass-market publishers (like Crossway’s Heirloom line) fall into this category too.  If that’s what you want to do, I’m happy to offer guidance.

Similarly, I have thoughts to share about smaller Bibles, giant-print Bibles, and all sorts of other things Biblish.  If you want to know, ask!

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