HCSB Deluxe Ultrathin Reference Bible
Available at B&H
Many thanks to the kind folks at Broadman & Holman for this review copy!
I have a lot of bibles—I have no idea how many—and enjoy them all for different reasons. I certainly don’t consider myself a “collector” at all because, as I said, I use all my bibles for one purpose or another—I don’t just admire them on a shelf. The volume at hand will be added to the stack and will certainly be enjoyed for many years to come.
I now own four leather bibles and this is certainly the first I’ve had that is top grain cowhide. Having used it now for a little while, I can say that it is an exquisite binding! When I first opened the box, I noticed it was enveloped in black paper, presumably a protective measure. Before I even took it out of the box, I raised it to my nose and breathed in the intoxicating aroma of fine leather—I felt like I was in a boot shop! I love the smell of leather, so I lingered a moment before removing the bible from the box. As you might expect, the feel of this Bible is quite lovely. The cowhide cover is very soft and supple, almost a velvety smooth texture that feels good to hold. The top grain cowhide feels as luxurious as I hoped, better than even genuine leather. Being premium leather, I also expect that this cover will hold up for many years with the proper treatment and care.
Another feature that is requisite (or should be) for premium Bibles is a binding that is sewn, which this one has, of course. In fact, the box boasts that this particular Bible has a “hand-crafted deluxe binding.” I’m not totally sure what the difference between this kind and a non-deluxe sewn binding might be, but this one certainly feels sturdy.
I used this Bible not long ago when I preached and found the dimensions to be suitable for the task. For many years I preached with two Bibles—a Thompson Chain Reference NIV and later an HCSB Minister’s Bible. The NIV was bonded leather and was as tough as a burlap sack. It was heavy and bulky, but I rather liked that since it sat on the pulpit most of sermon. The HCSB is genuine leather and is a very nice Bible, one I used for the latter days of my pastoral ministry. It, too, is a rather heavy Bible, but like the NIV it sat on the pulpit, so the weight was not an issue. When I preach these days, however, I prefer a smaller volume and this Bible was just right. Because it’s an ultrathin, it’s quite portable and its leaner build makes it easy to handle. Did I mention how nice the cowhide feels?
I also rather like the font choice for this edition. It’s more akin to an Arial-style font than Times, which makes it a littler easier on the eyes. The pages are also printed on fairly standard paper that results in ghosting, but surprisingly less so than most Bibles I own. That in concert with the font choice and the readability is a bit higher than average. This is especially so with sections in the OT that are poetic. Because the text is not a running narrative and the spacing is different, it restricts the layout on the page, thus eliminating some of the crowding that is evident elsewhere. This is a two-column format, so that makes for less space in which to cram the text, but nevertheless very readable. There are also center column references that don’t interfere because of their smaller font.
I do have one complaint about this particular Bible. Those first couple of pages, one of which is opposite the inside cover, are glued together ¼ up from the binding. This is not only annoying visually, but practically—the Bible can’t rest fully opened to the front (or back) unless a few pages are laid on it first. The same is the case in the back, so I assume this is part of the design, perhaps for some measure of support for the heavier material lining that page (I’ve seen this my other Bibles as well).
Assuming this is part of the design, I can live with it, especially since there would be no good reason for me to need it open to those parts anyway since they’re blank.
That one gripe aside, this is an excellent Bible. The size, readability, and lovely cowhide result in a lovely Bible, one that I will enjoy for the foreseeable future.
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