Ok so my first 2 life in the spirit study bibles were the top grain leather, the third and latest is the hardcover.
A word about the top grain leather.
It is NOT cowhide or cow leather. It's pigskin. Pigskin would be a good choice for a bible except zondervan uses an extremely thin piece of leather. From constant use I literally wore a hole in the edge of the leather and it separated so that I could see the thinness of the leather. I could also see how the leather was made. It was ironed flat, embossed with the grain on the inside part of the skin which is the outside part of the cover, then painted with a dye or something. I know this because as I was cleaning the leather I noticed the blackness was coming off so I rubbed it with a cotton swab with a touch of alcohol and the finish came off, onto the swab. The top grain leather is Smythe sewn. I received my first one in early 2007 and by 2011 it was worn out. Holes in the leather, binding separating, and sections of pages starting to fall out. Now this may seem bad but remember I put my bibles through abuse. I use them constantly. The leather edition of this I carried with me EVERYWHERE I went for a couple years. Handled it every day. Taught from it. Preached from it. Studied from it. I put my bible through 2-3 years of use every year. Then I gave it away. But I had a second one in the box up in my closet where I'm keeping it with another backup bible (Thompson chain, they hold up MUCH MUCH BETTER but have no notes). Because the top grain/bonded leather is Smyth sewn you could buy one and have it rebound in a good premium leather like cowhide, goatskin, calfskin, or sheepskin for an extra 60-100 bucks.and it'd be worth it for the decades of service it'd add.
A word about the hardcover
My third one of these, having worn out my first one and not wanting to wear out my second from constant use, I bought a hardcover to carry with me, study at my desk, teach from, and be my go to bible. It feels much sturdier in my hand and is holding up much better than the top grain leather. I attached 2 purple ribbon markers but the spine of the cover is glued to the spine of the book block so I glued them to the outside of the spine and put a paper bible cover on it is glued. But if I'd have known that I Woulda got another top grain leather. However the glued binding is solid and should hold up pretty well for years of use. In fact I expect it to last as long as the top grain leather.
A word about the bonded leather-
It's scraps of leather glued together. Spend the extra 10-15 dollars and get the top grain, or buy bonded and find a book binder and have it rebound in a good leather. It's worth it. But only have it rebound if it's Smyth sewn. Bonded leather will start deteriorating in a year or 2.
The biggest complaint I have is that it doesn't have enough notes in it. Of all the study bibles on the market, the zondervan study bible, life application study bible, Holman study bible, and nelson study bible (I go by publisher if they publish a different bible which share the same name ur similar name) this has the fewest notes.
One other thing I must say about the notes, it seems to me that they give the teaching without giving any technical terms. Many study bibles do this, but I hate it. Why give the teaching but not the teaching's name?
I haven't used the theme finders very Much but they were nice when I did use them. The zondervan life in the spirit study bible and the Hendrickson fire bible is the same bible but have a few differences. Going by the KJV because that's what I use and prefer the text layout is different. The fire bible is paragraph format. This bible has a more traditional layout each verse has it's own line and paragraphs are marked with paragraph markers. The articles and notesin my ex fiancs fire bible were worded different but she also had the NIV. This bible is classic baptistic Pentecostal theology. the one thing i like that nobody ever comments on and probably haven't noticed is that this study bible teaches you hermeneutics (principles of interpreting scripture properly). It does this in the notes and articles by using and giving scripture comparisons, grammatical information, historical information and at times contextual information. The more you use this bible the less you'll use the notes because of this fact it's my favorite bible to recommend. If you don't believe in the gifts of the spirit, and if you believe in once saved always saved then you'll hate this bible. But ifyou believe God hhasn't changed, the gifts of the suit are for today, and are looking for a conservative, Arminian style, pentecostal study Bible, then cheer up. This one is for you in fact this is not just a study bible for Pentecostals. It's the only study bible done by and for Pentecostals. The others are by charismatics (new spirit filled life), or contain heresy (Dake annotated study bible). This bible's notes/articles was compiled and written by donald stamps but edited and reviewed by a committee of theologians and experts not a group of fly by night popular teachers. for that cause the reader is guarded against one individual's bias. A lot of my baptist and charismatic friends have bought this bible at my recommendation and they love it. Even though they don't always agree with it, but then again even my baptist friends don't agree with their baptist style study bibles. All in all it's a must have for every christian's library. The print is comfortable and easy to read. The red letters are evenly printed. The ghosting (bleed through of the print) is minimal. I hope you enjoy.
These comments etc are pretty much exactly how I believe!! They motivate, inspire and convict!! I bought one for my Dad and am praying who else I should give one to. I have my hard cover Bible in a "nylon" case and it is holding up great even though I write in it a lot!!