5 Stars Out Of 5
The New Standard For Bibles ESV Study Bible Cowhide Black
April 27, 2017
To date, my favorite Study Bible has been the NIV Study Bible, by Zondervan (NOT to be confused with the Zondervan Study Bible). Over the past month, I have purchased several Study Bibles, in several translations, this being the most recent acquisition, and being the most feared to purchase, due to the complaints this product has received, and due to one Study Bible having notes that were useless and self explanatory. This, despite the "highly qualified" people working on it. To further complicate matters, I had to wonder what is the difference between the ESV Study Bible and the CBD Exclusive version. To the best description I can come up with is, pricing and packaging. Apparently CBD was able to pick up a deal with an exclusive deal that included an exclusive price-tag, far below the MSRP of $180.00 which is where the review picks up.
Leather/Binding: My guess is, I have no idea what "Cowhide leather" is. I was expecting something different, I suppose. Not to say this is a bad thing. Just different. In all honesty, I don't care. And here is why it does not matter: Forget all the marketing stuff, and let's deal with the reality; this Bible will be placed in a Bible cover, so, in reality, we will rarely, if ever feel whether the leather is soft or hard, or whatever (ie, that is where you want the . feel and texture to be, really), however, since it is part of the product:
It is a coarse leather, and will stand up for a long time; especially when housed in a Bible cover. It is glued, with no stitching. Complaints, even within the positive reviews is what worried me, that it is a thin leather. I do not find this to be the case, with the Cowhide Leather version.
Pages. Another complaint is the pages are too thin. Nicer Bibles do tend to use a nicer paper, which usually means super thin pages. This is normal. In reality, they feel thin, but in my experience, are not torn as easily as the thicker hardcover and cheaper Bible pages are. They can be accidentally folded more easily, however. This format, the Bible has the gold trim.
Font/print: I am surprised, but the small print was easy for my 20/400 and 20/60 eyes to read, without glasses.
Over the decades, it does seem the Bible companies have reduced the font size. One nice thing Crossway and the publishers did do, is to help in a subtle way, remind us what the important part is, by keeping the Bible text a larger print, than the less important notes (their words).
As others have pointed out, the words of Jesus are not in red. An oddity all around. The complaint is odd, since no other book has spoken words by any one in a different color. And, odd since people are used to having Bibles where Jesus' words are in red, that they would decide to try to cut costs in this area. Really, to me an odd complaint, an odd thing to do, but, does deserve mentioning. Is this a deal breaker for you? It isn't for me, because as I stated, no other book I am aware of changes font color-- and, while nice, does it change what the words are?
Notes: Marketing aside. I'm not swayed much by marketing. However, since they boast a "20 volume book" I have to say, "Huh?" Maybe they mean, the number of people who contributed is the equivalent to that of a 20 volume commentary set? Certainly not the notes of a 20 volume set, Unless it's a very thin set.
There is a lot of degrees behind the Study Bible, however. Everyone I saw listed has a PhD. But, more importantly, as opposed to another Study Bible that boasted a bunch of names (people I respect) this Bible has notes that are actually meaningful, clear, and can help teach us of the then culture, thought patterns, and application for today. The latter, not as detailed as the Life Application Study Bible, but, to their credit, they wanted to ensure there was a purpose behind all the intellect.
Translation: The ESV is becoming a highly recommended version by scholars, pastors, and lay-people, and at a rapid pace. They boast a more literal word for word translation, which is good, and appreciated by many. The major issue with this method is, it's an impossible feat. They realize this, recognize this, and let us know it is not possible to do. But, where possible, they do. Where impossible, they let us know they came as close to what they believe the original (human) author intended. As did the NIV translators, the ESV translators used a large committee of translators from a wide variety of denominations who hold to a mainstream Bible belief system, so as to hold to as unbiased as possible translation, resulting in an excellent translation, both academically as well as day to day reading and studying.
Value: This was a confusing issue for me. While waiting for a rep to call me back with some concerns from other reviewers, the price had unexpectedly increased by $20. I waited another day, to decide if I really wanted to buy yet one more Study Bible, and for some reason, I went back to the page, and the price had dropped once again. So, I placed it in my cart, and there were two in my cart. The higher priced and the lower priced one. Naturally, I removed the higher priced one. I say all this, because I am unsure what the regular or normal price will be. However, now I have it in hand, I will say that at $180.00, it is not a great value. However, if you find it at a sub $100.00 price it is a good value; and of course, the lower the price, the better.
I highly recommend this format, and this Study Bible