ESV Reader’s Bible 6-Volume Set. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2016. 3,364 pp. $199.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for much less.
From the publisher:
The ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set stems from the conviction that the Bible is of immeasurable value and should therefore be treasured–and read in the most seamless way possible. Constructed with materials carefully selected to reflect the beauty of God’s Word, the ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set is a unique collection designed for those desiring a cleaner, simpler Bible-reading experience. Printed on European book paper with smyth-sewn binding and packaged in an elegant slipcase, this edition features single column text that is free of all verse numbers, chapter numbers, and footnotes, as well as most section headings–resulting in a unique Bible-reading experience that helps readers encounter and delight in the beauty of God’s Word.
Check out this video for a great introduction and summary of this massive 6-volume reader’s edition Bible.
My goal with this review is to offer an argument as to why you would do well to spend $100-$200 on a Bible.
1) I reviewed the first Reader’s Bible Crossway published back in 2014. In that review, I did criticize the use of chapter numbers, though small, embedded in the text and offset by color as well as the use of chapter and verse numbers as reference guides at the top of each page. Those are completely missing from this 6-volume set leaving behind just the text.
There are, however, simple section headings that do help to break up the reading. For example, a long book like Jeremiah there are 7 section headings: Israel’s Faithlessness, Jeremiah Struggles with God and Judah, Jeremiah’s Confrontations, Consoling Promises of Restoration, God Judges Judah, God Judges the Nations, and The Fall of Jerusalem. These become the reference points whereas in the single-volume edition it was the chapters and verses.
2) The font size has been enlarged to a 12 point Trinite No. 2 Roman font rather than the 9-10 used in the original reader’s edition. This is, in some instances, twice as large as the 6-8 size font used in most Bibles.
3) The pages are thicker than most any other Bible. While not necessarily a big deal for most, I have found that the pages in other Bibles tend to tear easily from over use in sections where I am either preaching an extended series or have written quite a bit in the margins.
Granted, I do not see myself writing in this Bible, but if I ever did, I am confident of no bleeding or smearing. I typically enjoy writing with fountain pens and the 80 gsm weight paper is the perfect paper upon which to write.
4) The single column format along with the 12-point font makes for easy reading. Since there are no chapter or verse numbers along the way, it is easy to get lost in the story line of the Bible. As a matter of fact, the aforementioned reference points at the top of each page serve the reader by orienting him or her in the big story of the particular book of the Bible being read. Before you know it, you have read more than you intended to read and you almost can’t put the book down.
This has become extremely important to me as I am prone to get lost in cross references and even myopic in the individual verses. I tend to lose the forest for the individual trees. Also, I have been searching for a Bible that I could read purely for my own edification that is not by sermon preparation Bible. I have found that Bible.
5) Because of the six volumes, you can either read straight through from Genesis to Revelation or you can pick and choose to read specific volumes whenever you want. I read the original 1-volume reader’s edition straight through this past year. Since acquiring this 6-volume set, I have settled on my own reading plan which I read from one volume each day and then choose another volume to read on day 7 which for me, is Sunday.
For example, I read Volume 5-the Gospels/Acts on Monday; Volume 1-the Pentateuch on Tuesday; Volume 2-the Historical Books on Wednesday; Volume 6-Epistles and Revelation on Thursday; Volume 3-Poetry on Friday; and Volume 6-Prophets on Saturday. By doing this, it allows me to saturate myself in Scripture in different places each day of the week. When I finish each book, I will simply start over. This is akin to Dr. Grant Horner’s Ten List Bible Reading Plan. The best part about having the six volumes is each volume has its own ribbon thus there is no searching a reading plan or having an over abundance of book marks in one Bible.
6) Finally, as a pastor, I will confess that it is tough to read my Bible without thinking about a future sermon or someone in my congregation. Whether it is my personality or my calling, I have increasingly found it more difficult to read my Bible for simple communion with God. This 6-volume reader’s Bible has enabled me to do just that. It has truly made my Bible reading time more about soaking in the Word of God for my personal sanctification. I find that I am not “studying” for any other purpose than what God is revealing to me about Himself.
While this this is perhaps more true for the pastor or the Bible teacher, I cannot express how important reading for communion with God is for all Christians. I do not know if I am ashamed or amazed at how this particular reading Bible has transformed my Bible reading, but I can say that I am thoroughly enjoying just reading the Bible.
I honestly asked to review this 6-volume set because of all the publicity it was receiving. I know Crossway is one of the best companies when it comes to publicizing their resources, but I was hearing more than the usual buzz for this particular resource. I say this to say that I approached this review with skepticism but have been extremely impressed with this reader’s Bible.
Study Bibles have their place and function in a Christian’s library. There are many reasons to have cross-references and footnotes and wide margins and journal pages as well. There remains, however, much to be said for getting along with God. By alone, I mean you and the Word of God with nothing to distract you on the page.
I realize most would balk at the MSRP of $200, but I will be honest, I do not think I cannot have this Bible now that I have experienced it first hand. The 6-Volume Reader’s Bible strips away every distraction except the Word of God by itself. That alone is worth the price of the Bible. I heartily recommend this 6-volume reader’s Bible to every Christian who wants to simply get alone with God and commune with Him.
I am sure there will come along another Bible that will be the “gotta have” Bible and I will (hopefully) review it and tell you I recommend it, but I can also tell you that this particular Bible is worth every penny you will pay. As you read it, you will find the truth that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”