Review of the Matthew Henry Study Bible in black flexisoft synthetic leather.
January 22, 2015
I received the Matthew Henry Study Bible gratis from Hendrickson for honest review. Despite Hendricksons fine job of packaging their Bibles for shipping, this one arrived damaged. The two piece retail box was packed inside a cardboard box with air bag type packing material. I noticed the damage upon opening the Bible. The material that joins the cover to the text block was torn along the hinge at the bottom. The tear is about 1 1/2 inches long. I suspect it was due to the size and weight of the MHSB. I think it is too heavy for the cheaper materials it is made from. That in conjunction with being shipped from China where it was made could also be responsible for the damage. I contacted Hendrickson about the damage and asked about getting a different copy to review. They wanted me to go ahead with the review of the damaged Bible. I can definitely understand that. It gets expensive sending out free review copies.
The cover material is very rubbery looking and feeling. In my opinion it isnt a very attractive choice of cover material. I would go with the hardback if you are thinking of buying this product. I think it would hold up better. It has the words, Holy Bible in gold on the front. The spine has the words, Matthew Henry Study Bible at the top. In the middle there is a tree graphic and then, King James Version under it. On the bottom is, Hendrickson Bible. The head and foot bands did not stay glued down. There is a presentation page and then an article about Matthew Henry. The paper is a 30 gsm weight. It seems a bit porous compared to higher quality Bible paper. The print does not seem dark or bold enough. If the paper is more porous the ink would soak in more. The words of Christ are in read. Since the font is faint, it is hard on the eyes. The font is 10 point Garamond Pro. It would stand out more on better paper. There are book introductions before each book. The text is laid out in a double column paragraph format with in-text quotes from the Matthew Henry's writings. Side column references appear in the inside gutter area. Footnotes are at the bottom of the page. The notes are 8 point Myriad Pro. This does accommodate the 10 point font of the main text. There are eight full color maps and a concordance in the back. With a Bible this size there has to be some compromise during the design. One trade off would be a thinner paper so that the already large Bible doesn't become gargantuan. Keep that in mind when considering this Bible for purchase.
I know it probably sounds pretty bad right now, but dont worry. There are some good things about this Bible. The binding is sewn and pretty flexible. Even if the cover, paper, and binding, were done in China. The binding is still pretty decent. The Bible opens well and is easy to hold despite its size. It is very flexible for a large Bible. The cover material does allow for lots of flexibility as well. Perhaps if the cover offered a bit more structure the tear wouldn't have happened. My thoughts are that the hardcover would hold up better. I haven't looked at the hardcover though so this is an assumption.
A. Kenneth Abraham did a good job of condensing the venerable Matthew Henry's commentary down to Study Bible notes. I know that in many reviews people have mentioned that they didnt think there were enough notes in the Old Testament. In sections of Historical Narrative I dont know that youd need study notes. I found the editing to be good. I think the task of cutting down the Matthew Henrys Commentary would be daunting and was done satisfactorily. Keeping in mind that it would be extremely difficult to get every bit of even the concise commentary in here without making a ten pound Bible.
I dont know how familiar you are with the English Puritan, Matthey Henry. He compiled an exhaustive commentary which he did not finish and a more concise commentary. Henry was a nonconformist. In other words he didnt conform to the act of uniformity 1662. In England, at that time, the Anglican Church was about the only game in town. If you didnt play by their rules, you often times didnt get to. Matthew Henry only lived to 52 and died suddenly. His work of making an exhaustive commentary was finished by his peers. Charles Spurgeon spoke highly of his work. Modern day, Reformed Baptists also like his work. His commentary was exegetical and devotional. It is just as good now as it was then. Having it in even more concise fashion as Study Bible notes is nice.
If youre buying this Bible it is probably because of the notes. If that is the case I think most people would be happy with this Study Bible. I would recommend the hardcover unless Hendrickson comes out with genuine leather or starts making these in the States out of tougher cover material.