Bibles are lovely things to receive. (One can never have too many Bibles.)
After losing a “Genuine Leather” Crossway Reference Anglicised ESV Bible (and 10 years’ worth of hieroglyphic notations) to public transportation, was left with a HarperCollins Revised Anglicised Compact Edition ESV (sans cross-reference footers) and the ESV app on the iPhone.
Then a R.L. Allan Bible arrived. Most thankful.
The most important thing about any edition of the Bible is that it is faithful to the meaning of the original Hebrew/Greek text. Which is why the ESV looks to be a useful English translation to read it in.
(This assumes there are no terrible typos.)
Second, to me, is its readability. Because Scripture is meant to be read for spiritual growth and profit. The typesetting and typeface have to be easy enough on my modern eye, and the versions have to be anglicised (“anglicized” these editions say, obviously as a warning to the US audience) otherwise the proof-reading hand gets distractingly twitchy.
Third is its durability, which depends on the physical make-up of the Bible. There appear to be two schools of thought on the physical appearance of Scripture: one school says that because it is the very word of God himself, its physical appearance should be more sumptuous and luxurious to reflect its precious content; the second school says that because God meant for his word to be accessible to all, the Bible should be in the common medium of publishing in any particular time and era. The problem with the second thought is that it is difficult to find a paperback that will withstand being read, manhandled, and carried around daily.* And having the Bible as an app on the iPhone or iPad, i find, hinders the speed of my reading and comprehension.
So while i prefer paperbacks because they are unassuming and unpretentious, the glue tends to get unstuck through normal use and after being left out in the heat for prolonged periods of time, and soon only bits of the counsel of God remain! So it came to pass that after getting over the initial shock of having to own something with gold leaf on it, was not ungrateful for this new Allan version with its proper overcasting and Smyth-sewing. Hopefully the gilding will wear off this one soon enough (though sadly, it feels more hardy than the gilt on the Crossway) and stop calling attention to itself.
Regardless, it was quite a treat to examine the quality of the binding with a little help from Google.
The Allan English Standard Version Classic Edition Black Buffalo Goatskin ESV3 has cross-references but no maps. The conventional cover with slight overhang (though the website claims it is semi-yapp) was made from the aforementioned “buffalo goatskin” (goatskin embossed with buffalo grain says J. Mark Bertrand of Bible Design Blog). There was overcasting to add strength to the binding and two thicker-than-usual royal blue ribbon markers. The whole thing was subtly Smyth Sewn.
The printed book blocks were straight from Collins so the paper wasn’t more premium stuff and allowed for some ghosting. The font was the familiar Lexicon set at 9 pts. The text was double-columned, black-lettered. The edition notice to the book said it was printed and bound in China, although Bertrand clarified with Nicholas Gray of Allan that though it was printed there, the pages were then shipped to the UK for binding (they just didn’t change the text blocks that were originally for the Collins hardcover ESVs). The blunted edges will probably prevent the dog-earing that has dogged my paperbacks.
Now the only thing to do with this (that is the main thing) is to read it. For some people, highlighting and extensive notes next to the text helps them comprehend it:
at the wake of friends’ father/father-in-law, Reverend George Wan, his impressively stained and weathered Bible, original text hardly visible underneath the highlights and scribbling, had pride of place before his coffin. We all marvelled at how much he must have used his Bible (and of course, then had to take photos of it). After all, it’ll profit no one to stand before God on the last day with a squeaky clean limited edition Bible still in its velveteen-lined box, reeking of some form of bibliolatry.
Jesús Saenz lists some writing implements that may be used for this sort of writing without bleeding through to the next uniquely thin Bible page.
*While there isn’t a chance of a nice letterpress ESV in this day, there is a chance of redemption for those loose pages with: