Semi- or Full-Yapp Leather Bibles… Yuck!

Let me just go on record and say that I despise the look of semi-yapp and full-yapp leather Bible covers. I refer to them as uncircumcised Philistines. I don’t know what the appeal is, honestly. Go here for some pictures to see what I’m talking about.



25 thoughts on “Semi- or Full-Yapp Leather Bibles… Yuck!

  1. I agree. And of course, Bibles like that must be carefully stored (they can’t be stored vertically on the bookshelf, even in their Bible boxes), the leather must be regularly oiled (or at least handled) to avoid cracking, and they never really lay down flat.

    In contrast, a well-made hardcover book is cheaper, is probably sufficiently durable for a lifetime (unless really mistreats the book), it is easy to store and use, does not require regular maintenance, and best of all, it is designed to lie flat. Plus, a $20 book is more likely to induce less worry than a $200 book. In fact, I would argue that a well-made hardcover will probably stand up to abuse much better than a typical over-$100 Bible. Instead of spending $200 on one’s favorite leather Bible, one can get a $20 copy for the office, a $20 copy for home, and a $20 copy to keep in the car, and still be ahead by $140.

    Library books receive a lot of use and abuse, and are transported far and wide (and usually not gently) and the vast majority of those are hardcovers.

    Now, it is true, there are situations where having a traditional leather bound volume might be better — for example, the classic “Bible open in one hand” preaching style (if somehow there is no desk or lectern available). Similarly, if one plans to use a Bible as a notebook, keeping all of one’s thoughts and observations as annotations in the margins, having a single copy that lasts a lifetime may make sense. But for the average Joe who reads books in his library, in his office, or at a desk, a fancy leather bound Bible just doesn’t make sense.

    What certainly doesn’t make sense is having two fancy leather bound Bibles (unless one is a collector) — since it is unlikely that any single human being could subject two Bibles to such abuse as to require two leather bound volumes.

    So maybe for a circuit rider or other sort of itinerant preacher, having a single leather bound volume makes sense — but for the rest of us, keep on the lookout for well-made hardcovers.

    While some things such as a clean typeface and layout and high-quality paper can substantially improve one’s Bible reading experience and may make sense — I just can’t justify fancy leather bindings. It seems to me that it is a form of showing off.

    (Unfortunately, I must admit that a fair number of contemporary hardcovers are not very well made. But, the same thing is true of a fair number of leather-bound Bibles.)

  2. Here is something that I can completely disagree with you on Nick. If I could afford one I would own one of these beauties.

  3. Theophrastus: When you’re right, you’re right. I prefer bonded leather to genuine leather for the most part anyway, but I do have dreams of a high end leather Bible (with the deuterocanon) for preaching. The thing that bothers me most about my genuine leather (none of which are “fancy”) and bonded leather Bibles is that I have to store them laying on their side. I’d love to house them all on the same shelves with my (non-German Bible Society) hardcover Bibles but I can’t because they won’t stand up. I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: I wish all publishers would follow the German Bible Society in the way they produce their Bibles. The covers are durable, they stand up on the shelf, they have good quality paper, nice ribbon markers, and fantastic binding. Sure, they can get a bit pricey, but the most expensive volume is way cheaper than the average calfskin or goatskin Bible.

    Nathan: What do you find attractive about that look?

  4. Everything about it is awesome. From the red-gilt edges to the amazing feel of the leather. I like the semi-yapp edge better than full yapp for the overlap to protect the pages a little bit more. I suppose if I ever settle on a single main translation I might try to pick it up in an extremely high quality leather cover, but I am not really in that position yet. I think the best contender so far is the new NIV 2010 revision. I imagine R.L. Allan will eventually start binding these and that is probably what I would spring for. It’s a shame the exchange rate is so horrible, it nearly doubles the price.

  5. Now, one Bible binding I’m looking forward to seeing is the new" KJV Transetto Bible (in dwarsligger format) from Cambridge. You can watch a video here. I’m not entirely convinced that this format will work well with a book a lengthy as the Bible (and it is a little weird that they want to use a double column format with the dwarsligger), but if it does, it could prove to be the most usable of the compact format Bibles to date.

  6. Man, I hate that automatic “buy from Amazon” button that WordPress generates. I think I’m going to stop linking to Amazon in WordPress blog comments.

  7. Attacking the uncircumcised Bibles are we? Have ye not read what the Scriptures say about Bibles that are not circumcised? “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” And concerning those who treat these Bibles as second class citizens it also says somewhere: “I wish those would emasculate themselves!”

    If anything Bibles are declared to be awesome on the basis of faith, and not works of scissors. Therefore, what counts is a new leather Bible, and not circumcision.

  8. Theophrastus: I saw something about dwarsligger Bibles on J. Mark Bertrand’s blog a while back. They look interesting but my concerns are the same as yours. The Bible is pretty long to put into such a format.

    I didn’t mind the Amazon links at first but they’re starting to annoy me. I think WP needs to offer the blog administrators the option to turn that feature on or off. Or they need a way for commentators to insert them or not insert them. If someone is using the a href tags then I think only the link should appear. If they simply insert the URL then the “buy from Amazon” button should appear. Or they could just do away with it altogether and everyone would be happy.

    Pär: Very clever! And still I hate uncircumcized Bibles! Pray for me!

  9. Nancy: I don’t know what firppergistic means, but it sounds kind of negative, and if so then I agree, the outside of semi- or full-yapp Bibles are frippergistic! ;-)

  10. I love fine leather Bibles — yap, semi-yap, no yap, or whatever — and I don’t care what either of you guys think! ;-) But in the end, I suppose that I agree with Theophrastus: hardcovers offers much more bang for your buck in all the areas he mentions, and it is for this reason that most of my Bibles are hardcovers.

    P.S.: How did you turn that hellish thing off?

  11. Esteban: I didn’t turn it off, and trust me, I searched the WP forums and Google to see if that was possible. I found nothing. It seems that the WP powers that be like messing with us WP users. I thought that they had turned off the Amazon thing before Theophrastus left his comment, because I saw that this was the case on LePort’s blog, but then a day later they were back on. Who knows if they’ll return. Let’s hope they don’t!

    P.S. — What the heck is wrong with you man?!! How can you like yapps of any kind?

  12. I tell you what, that thing almost made me go back to Blogger! I hope it stays away.

    And there is NOTHING wrong with me. My REB Oxford Study Bible is semi-yapp, and it is one of the most awesome Bibles in existence.

  13. Esteban: Ya know, I was just thinking about the REB like two hours ago. I don’t have one and I really want one. They seem to be pretty hard to come by though.

  14. Estaban — interesting that your Oxford Study Bible was semi-yapp — was it rebound?

    I’ve seen leather bound OSBs that are not yappy. In fact, I’m especially unconvinced about Oxford’s soft-cover leather bindings on its contemporary Bibles, at least — they don’t look very impressive to me at all (and, they don’t seem to command the type of premium that Cambridge’s volumes offer).

    Nick, scoring a mint hardcover Oxford Study Bible REB is not that hard. Scoring a mint hardcover Oxford Study Bible NEB is somewhat more difficult. For a variety of reasons, I think the NEB (which was radical in many ways) is a more important translation than the (more conventional) REB.

  15. Chuck: Hence the dilemma. I want one with the deuterocanon and waiting 3 months is never an option.

    Theophrastus: I don’t even need a study Bible per se. I’d take one, but I’m more interested in the translation. I’ve never seen more than a couple of verses quoted. I can’t say that I’m at all familiar with the NEB. I thought you meant the NAB when I initially read your comment, which made me wonder why you’d say they were hard to come across since I see them everywhere.

  16. The NEB is very nice and a refreshing read. The used book stores here have lots of them in red hardcover for under $10 and in decent condition. In some ways I prefer it over the REB, but only for personal use.

  17. The NEB was widely used in biblical studies in the 1970s and early 1980s (and is still referenced from time to time). Among major mainstream Bibles, it was perhaps the biggest departure from the traditional translations that had appeared to date. The REB represented a return to more traditional interpretations.

    The Oxford Study Bible version of the NEB is useful because (a) it has a high overlap with some of the NEB team, so it is a sort of official version of the NEB; and (b) it includes the Apocrypha, which not all versions of the NEB do.

  18. I might add that the REB is filled with Anglicanisms. I have the NT in the REB and read it time to timel On a similar note, I just ordered the KJV in Highland goatskin via Great place to order high end Bibles.

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