NIV Single-Column Reference Bible
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012. Pp. vii + 1427. Leather. $129.99.
With thanks to Zondervan for this review copy!
I’ve never been one for premium leather Bibles. In truth, I’ve always thought them a bit pretentious and something of an unnecessary extravagance. I’ve gone on record numerous times as one who genuinely appreciates bonded leather (e.g., here, here & here) and have even said in my review of Zondervan’s TNIV Reference Bible that “I actually prefer it to genuine leather for its sturdiness.” Now I’ll freely admit that my views were largely shaped by personal experience; it’s just that I’ve always owned more bonded leather and hardcover Bibles than anything else so it’s natural that I’d prefer them over that which I know little about.
But over the last few years I’ve developed this love for single-column Bibles. In truth, this is a love affair that began years and years ago when I read a paperback NIV Revolution Bible for Teen Guys all the way through. The single-columned format made reading easier. I can’t explain why; I just know that it did. Since then I’ve gotten my hands on a few single-column Bibles, namely the TNIV Reference Bible I mentioned above, as well a n ESV Personal Size Reference Bible, which I’ve reviewed here. You’ll find that both reviews are favorable, so it should come as no great shock that this one will be as well.
When Zondervan started publishing editions of the new NIV (2011) text my dear friend Robert Jimenez was good enough to bless me with a large print Thinline Reference edition. This particular Bible is beautifully bound in brown Italian Duo-Tone with a decorative imprinting on the cover; has sewn binding; and the print is large and legible. I absolutely love this Bible! If there’s one thing it lacks it’s a single-column format. So as I became aware of the single-column NIV under review, I requested a copy, and a short time later I received it. The premium leather was a secondary concern but turned out to be better than anything I would have imagined.
To start, opening the attractive slipcase box unleashed an almost indescribable smell, a smell that took me back to being 17 years old and purchasing my first leather jacket. I brought the Bible to church and had literally ever man, woman, and child in the congregation sniff it, at which time nearly all of them responded with a simple, “mmmmm.” The smell is that good! I’m sorry to say that it has dissipated a bit over the months. But thankfully the smell isn’t the only noteworthy feature. The small grained leather is supple and as flexible as anything I’ve ever encountered. Having the ability to fold the cover underneath of itself comes in handy if you’re a preacher who likes to wander away from the pulpit.
Whereas the single-column TNIV Reference Bible made use of the outer margins for the cross-references, the references appear in the inner margins of this Bible. Oftentimes this can be more trouble than it’s worth since many Bibles don’t afford enough space for this but here they’re not cramped or running into the gutter. And that’s really the bottom line with this Bible; it’s laid out smartly. There’s no frills, excepting of course the premium leather as a frill. Once you open the unassuming cover there’s the text and some references; that’s it. No book introductions; no topical ties; no study notes (although you will find the occasional translation note). The back matter is done simply and tastefully as well. After Revelation ends we have a table of weights and measures and a 156 page concordance.
If I were to lodge a complaint or two I’d say that I wish the font were just a little bit larger. I believe it’s 8-9 pt. in the main text and much smaller in the marginal references, which means that I have to hold it a bit closer, but it’s still quite readable; the main text that is. There is plenty of room as is to make the cross reference font bigger. An increase of a point or two probably wouldn’t affect the layout at all. The other complaint is probably peculiar to the copy I was given, which is simply that it contains one ribbon marker and not the advertised two. I can’t imagine that this is a production flaw that has affected all of Zondervan’s stock so I’ll chalk it up to an anomaly.
Above I’ve done a dismal job at describing a smell that really has to be experienced firsthand to understand, but they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so below you’ll find a number of photographs showing everything from the flexibility of the leather, to the layout of the text, to the quality of the packaging, to a comparison with the similar TNIV Reference Bible. I’ll have to ask you to forgive my amateur photography; it’s all new to me.