Crossway welcomed 2021 with the release of the much anticipated ESV Preaching Bible Verse-by-Verse Edition. Over the last six months, it received mixed reviews and feedback especially from Bible enthusiasts. Many of the positive reviews commend the excellent text block and layout, and much of the jeers are about the quality that they point towards Crossway’s production movement to China.
I reached out to Crossway for a review copy and they graciously sent me one in exchange for my honest and fair review.
I recently reviewed the NASB Preacher’s Bible from Zondervan’s Premier Collection, and I really liked it. Here yet again is another Preaching Bible which has become the “talk of the town” in the recent months. In 2019, Crossway released their first Preaching Bible in single-column, paragraph format, and it received much praise. Built upon its foundational features is the new ESV Preaching Bible Verse-by-Verse Edition released last January. As its name conveys, it is specifically tailored for the task of preaching the word of God.
This Bible has almost the same footprint as the ESV Study Bible but a little bit thinner. With its size of 6.25 x 9.125 x 1.75 inches, and weight of 60.41 ounces, it is something that you would only want to use on your desk or on the pulpit for preaching, and not as an everyday carry Bible.
The goatskin leather cover of this Bible is very soft, supple, and flexible, but a little bit underwhelming. It is thin compared to other premium Bibles with goatskin leather cover that I have in my library. It has a very nice fine pebbled texture and appearance. It is perimeter-stitched and has a semi-yapp which I really like. The leather liner looks and feels very similar with that of NASB Preacher’s Bible. It has also a gold gilt line. The spine looks gorgeous with its four raised hubs, and has clean, minimal gold stamps.
What I love most about this Bible is its text block. It is smyth-sewn and edge-lined. Other Bibles do not lay fully flat especially if they are brand new, but this one is different. From Genesis to Revelation, it lays flat! There’s no tension between the text block, edge-lining, and cover when you crack the Bible open. It is something to consider when choosing a Preaching Bible. You do not want to struggle on keeping your Bible to stay open while you preach. Crossway did a great job with that.
Physically and appearance-wise, this Bible has some highs and lows. Its red-under-gold art-gilt is one of the best I have seen so far. It produces a red-champagne gold look which is stunning. It also boasts a nice white premium Bible paper, and the 9.75-point font texts are line-matched — very readable, bold, and black. On the other hand, the two black one-sided satin ribbon markers are disappointing. They are short, thin, and cheap-looking. Crossway should step-up their game. With this Bible’s retail price of $249, I would expect better ribbons like the ones from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Premier Collection Bibles. I have also noticed right at the moment I pulled the Bible out of the box that the pages seem uneven and wrinkled as if it got wet. I assume that this is a production quality control issue, and a lapse when the text block is being cut.
The highlight of this Bible is in its layout. The verse-by-verse typeset, single-column format, and the very spacious margins are a winning combination. It is very pleasant to look upon. After all, these aspects are the ones you should consider above all, when looking for a preaching Bible — it should be easy to read and follow. The layout gives you a great reading experience. The number of words each line ranges from 10-15 only, and each verse number is indented enough from the margin and has ample space before the start of each verse. It is very well-arranged. The wide margins from all sides are praiseworthy. The outer margins measure 1.25”, and .25” for the upper, lower, and inner margins. This gives an even more enhanced readability, and if you love writing notes on your Bible, you will surely love this. Crossway also included translation notes and cross-references as footnotes below the scripture. Other extras include the ESV Concordance, five blank pages for notes, and high quality maps printed on glossy paper.
Putting aside its production quality lapses, and focusing on the main thing, I would say that the ESV Preaching Bible Verse-by-Verse Edition (ISBN 9781433572067) is still an excellent one. Preachers and Bible teachers will surely benefit from this. Now that Crossway is slowly bringing back their production in the Netherlands, I hope this Bible gets re-published in a much better way and quality.
To know more about Crossway and their products, log on to https://www.crossway.org/