Once More with Single-Columned Bibles

I was looking at other single-columned Bibles online last night and I came across the single-column ESV Reference Bible.  I thought to myself, “great, I’ll add it to the collection at some point,” but then I read this: “Verse-by-verse rather than in paragraphs—every verse begins a new line.” (see page samples)  Wait a second—what?!!  Why?!!  The whole beauty of single-column Bibles is reading them like any other book.  Paragraphs help to maintain the flow so why get rid of them?  The ESV Study Bible doesn’t go line-by-line (see sample pages, pp. 6-8); why not make a single-column ESV like that?  I think Crossway needs to scrap the line-by-line format.  It just doesn’t make sense.


33 thoughts on “Once More with Single-Columned Bibles

  1. Nick> Amen on scraping the verse-by-verse nonsense!

    Tony> I’m eagerly awaiting the NCPB Personal Size edition, of course, but in the meantime you might like to know that Nelson has published a single-column KJV. I wish there were a better binding available, but I saw this at B&N and I must say that it is pleasant to read.

  2. Esteban: I actually just put in a request to the BookSneeze people for that very single-column KJV yesterday. We’ll see if they come through with one since it’s not on their list of books to be reviewed. If not I’ll just bite the bullet and buy one.

  3. @nick

    How about the ESV personal size reference:


    Note that only *some* of the ESV PSRs are single column. And the font is a measly 7.4, barely readable.

    @Nick & Tony

    The Cambridge Brevier RSV can be found cheaper in eBay or Alibris/AbeBooks, but it has a misprint and they just glued on a new page on the said error.

    The RSV OAB with the apocrypha by Herbert May is still in print and available in leather. St Benedict Press has a decent RSV-Catholic Edition in leather, and it has the Catholic Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals. Stay away from Ignatius Press Catholic RSV leather bibles, the quality is inferior and does not age well.

    I have four leather RSVs but none have the apocrypha. It’s just my luck that most eBay auctioneers have protestant RSVs.

  4. That leather Cambridge Paragraph KJV is actually pretty big. It’s just a little bigger than the hardcover, which is 7 x 10 inches. But I wouldn’t spend anything on any but the paperback of the Cambridge New Paragraph Bible, as they’re planning on a release next year (400th anniversary and all). The paperback has a corrected text. And they’ll have more variety in editions, apparently.

    I’ve got the personal size ESV reference Bible, with single-column, and none of this barbaric line by line thing. It’s got proper paragraphs like a Bible should have! It’s 5.5 x 7.5 inches, but it doesn’t really seem that small because of a good font and plenty of white space on the page. Here’s a sample page. Most editions are clad in the hearty skin of the apparently easily captured TruTone creature.

    A couple of my favorite single column Bibles are the RSV New Testament and Psalms (ISBN 0521-530059), which is nice and neat like I like it. It’s not a reference version, so one’s reading isn’t impeded by all the superscript indicating notes. It includes only the RSV’s internal notes, which are not very many. It’s quite nice. Then there’s also the very nice Cambridge NIV Single-Column Text Edition (ISBN 0521-691184), which I love particularly for its font, a very nice Garamond. Also includes only the NIV version notes, with no reference apparatus. That one is now very expensive, so I expect it must be out of print.

    For a leather-bound full RSV, the best bet is the New Oxford Annotated Bible, Expanded edition, RSV, which is fortunately still available.

  5. Ched: I’d prefer to preach from a paragraph text; helps to maintain the flow when reading.

    Brian: I don’t know if I have any Bibles like that. It irks me to look at the sample pages of this ESV so I think I would have noticed if I did.

    Qohelet: That one looks good but the type is too small for my eyes. The ESV Study Bible is 9 pt. and that’s about as small as I can go.

    Kevin: The website lists that Cambridge KJV as 5.25 x 8.25 in. I like my Bibles around 6.5 x 9.25 in. Looking at the sample page of the ESV personal size reference Bible, it looks good, but the PDF is also at 250%! I imagine that my eyes would be straining with 7.4 pt. type. Thanks for the other recommendations. I’ll have to check those out.

  6. Oops! I didn’t read through that all the way. I was talking about the old one, which was close to 9 x 12! That thing is a monster! And while with the new text, it’ll be nice to have a “personal size”, I’d like to have a larger one, too. I was told (last I checked) that they were to have a variety of editions, so perhaps more options will appear, or perhaps they’ve changed their plans and the “personal size” editions are all there will be. That’d be a shame.

    Nonetheless it’ll make a great 400th Anniversary edition! I have to recommend the companion volume, which explains Norton’s editorial process: A Textual History of the King James Bible (here at Amazon). If you’ve read the Nicolson God’s Secretaries history of the KJV, by the end of Norton, you’ll have a much lower opinion of it and a much higher opinion of the Norton-established text, which is the closest that we will ever come to the text intended by the translators, and thus the King James Version.

  7. Oh, and yes, the ESV personal reference is just a little too small for long stints of reading. It’s okay as a reference. I prefer a much larger edition for regular reading, anything close to a “normal” book font, so hovering around 11 by a point. My favorite being the Cambridge NIV I mentioned above, which is probably 10 or 11 point text. But I’ve also got one of those old NIV Pulpit Bibles! That thing is enormous, but the text is so big, I can read it from several feet away. Very easy on the eyes, you can imagine. It think it’s 16pt! (And I got the font wrong above: it’s Palatino, not Garamond. The two are close, but not identical. Both the Cambridge and the Pulpit Bible use that font.)

  8. Kevin: 9 x 12?!! Yikes! I have the Norton book (as well as his A History of the English Bible as Literature) but unfortunately I don’t have Nicolson’s book to compare.

    Concerning the ESV personal reference, I just requested a review copy, so if they choose to send me one I’ll see if my eyes can handle it. That Cambridge NIV looks really nice but goatskin is just too darn expensive! I really am a fan of bonded leather though, no matter what the purists say, so in the end I guess the high prices don’t bother me all that much. Too bad about the font—I much prefer Garamond to Palatino.

  9. I can’t believe that the RSV Brevier Reference edition is going for $400! I was given a copy of that many years ago by the Dad of one of my dearest friends, who at that time worked as a Baker book rep. I really love having it, but I hardly ever use it — in fact, I keep it in the box. Maybe I ought to list at on Amazon for $300 and see if I can use the proceeds to finance other books! ;-)

    I looked again at the Nelson KJV Single-Column edition today during my lunch hour. Its is really quite handy and easy to read. Too bad it’s bound in what amounts to cardboard, and with cheap glue.

  10. Esteban: Or you could give it to me! ;-) I actually contacted Baker today to see if they give out Cambridge Bibles for review but I was met with disappointment. I plan to start reviewing more Bibles on this blog since I seem to spend much more time in the Bible these days than in days past.

    That’s a shame about the binding on that KJV single-column. But isn’t that how you feel about all bonded leather?

  11. The Cambridge NIV goatskin isn’t, I think, a good exemplar. It might as well be a more “normal” leather. I have an Oxford Annotated NRSV in a properly old-fashioned Morroco that blows it out of the water, binding-wise. It’s too bad they don’t have the same text block available in other editions. It really is superb.

    Also, the old Palatino is very close to the contemporary Garamond. It’s in the capitals where they differ most. It’s very readable at any size, as it’s such a wide font, with spacious kerning. But, you know, I’m a fan!

  12. Kevin: I don’t really understand the nuances of leather. I’ve always been a bonded-leather/hardcover guy myself.

    And I was thinking about how Greek displays in Palatino; I should have mentioned that. I really don’t like it (especially the rho).

  13. Hey Norelli. I’m taking eight classes currently. I have about 4,500 pages of reading this semester. Just no time for anything else. I deleted my blog (although I backed it up first). Still a loyal fan of RDTWOT though!

  14. Michael: Wow! Lots of work. I pray God’s blesses you with the time, strength, and determination necessary to get through it all! I know you deleted the blog—I was disappointed to say the least—but I’m glad to hear you backed it up. I’ll look forward to your return.

  15. First, I want to ask — why does everyone keep talking about next year being the 400th anniversary of the KJV, and no one seems to care that this is the 450th anniversary of Geneva Bible? (Hendrickson has published a very nice facsimile of the 1560 Geneva.)

    Second, contrary to claims above, the Cambridge Brevier edition (at least my Cambridge Brevier edition) does not contain the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals.

    Third, the large edition of the KJV New Cambridge Paragraph Bible is, in my opinion, spectacular — it is large and easy to read and uses the margins effectively for notes.

    Fourth, the nicest and most readable KJV I have is the Nonesuch Press 1963 edition (not to be confused with the 1923 edition!) printed by Oxford and Cambridge presses — this is a true reading Bible in paragraph format. You can commonly find it at used dealers or eBay — I highly recommend it.

  16. Theophrastus: First, the KJV is king for a reason! I really don’t care so much about the anniversary, but I came up on the KJV and love it, although it’s no longer my everyday Bible.

    Second, is it possible that there are different Cambridge Brevier editions?

    Third, sounds great, but I doubt I’ll ever get my hands on a copy.

    Fourth, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check eBay right now.

  17. I didn’t know you changed your “everyday bible”. I always thought of you as “that KJV pentecostal guy”. :p

    What’s your new preferred bible? Don’t tell me Joel got you to use his pet translation!

  18. Qohelet: Oh, I’m still that guy, but I’ve been doing devotional reading for the last couple of years out of the NLT and most recently the TNIV, which is also the Bible I teach from at church.

  19. Nick, I was going to recommend the personal size ESV reference Bible, but I see that someone already did. I do own that one, just can’t find it right now, it’s been MIA since I moved to my new house. It really wasn’t that bad, and it was nice to carry around.

  20. Cambridge emailed me saying that they have a few returned copies of the RSV Brevier reference bible (“good condition”) for 30 GBP + postage and packing. It’s not $300+ but it’s still way above my price range (and there’s still the issue of a misprint in some copies) . But, if anyone’s interested, just email me (qohelet[AT]biblecritic[dot]com)and I can put you in touch with the Cambridge people.

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