Saturday, August 29, 2015

Free PDF download - Geneva 1599

I just ran across a free download of the 1599 Geneva Bible (text reprint).  It is called "The Patriot's Edition."

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Idle Shepherd Bible

The Idle Shepherd Bible gets its nickname from a misprint in Zechariah 11:17 which reads "idol shepherd" in the King James Version.  In this misprint from 1809 it read "idle shepherd."  In doing research while editing a friend's book I discovered this copy is available online.  Read it for yourself on Google Books.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bible mini-reviews: 4 NASB Bibles

I am always looking at Bibles to see new bindings, new formats or new translations.  Here are some New American Standard Bibles I've come across lately.  These are just mini-reviews as I don't think they need a full length treatment.

Lockman Large Print Compact Bible (ISBN 978-1-58135-157-6).  This is a hand sized Bible (7.5" x 5.125") in black leathertex.  The print is thin, not bold.  It is single column (I really like the layout) with notes on the bottom of the page.  Red letter.  9 point font.  Average paper.  No cross references.  Ghosting can be distracting on some pages.  It cost around $20 (USD).  Preview.

Zondervan NASB Compact Thinline Bible (ISBN 978-0-310-42959-3).  This is a smaller Bible (6.625" x 4.375") in imitation leather.   6 point font.  Average paper and print.  Double column, notes at the bottom of the page.  Double column.  Red letter.  No cross references.  Though it is smaller, this is a low cost ($20 USD) alternative to the Pitt MinionPreview.

World Publishing Slimline Reference Bible (ISBN 0-529-10959-X, NSLBG).  This is another hand sized (7.375" x 5.1") Bible this time in bonded leather.  About 6 point font.  Average paper and print.  Double column.  Cross references and notes in center column.  Red letter. This is out of print but a cheap alternative to the Pitt Minion.  I paid about $10 (USD) for a good quality used copy on eBay.

Zondervan NASB Skinii Bible (ISBN 978-0-310-42366-9).  This is also a hand sized Bible (7.9" x 5.375") in imitation leather hardback.  It is styled to look like the Moleskine notebooks.  Paper is acid free and fairly good.  Print is dark.  8 point font.  Red letter.  Double column.  No cross references.  Textual notes at bottom of page.  Cost about $20 (USD).  Preview.

I liked the print and paper of the Skinii Bible best out of the four.  The layout in the Lockman LPCB was my favorite.  The Zondervan CTB is a nice size but the print is too small for me.  The World SRB is a nice little Bible but again the print is too small for me.

Zondervan NASB Study Bible

I was given a copy of the Zondervan NASB Study Bible (ISBN 9780310911487) for review purposes.  Receipt of this Bible had neither a positive nor a negative effect on the outcome of this review.

I believe that the Bible I received is a second, since there was some staining on one page.  It appears to have been a printing issue.  For that reason, I've tried to avoid issues that are probably not found in regular copies.  You can view some sample pages of this Bible on

The first aspect that I noticed was the cover.  It is called "top grain leather."  It looks and feels like bonded leather.  When I lay the closed Bible down the cover sticks up.  This may not be an issue for many, but I was disappointed since it was advertised as "top grain leather."  But then I read an article about the different types of leather.  Here is my summary of leather types from that article:  Full grain is the best leather.  Next is top grain which has some grain left after being sanded to remove blemishes.  Third is genuine leather which is from the bottom half of the hide.  Finally there is bonded leather which is leftover dust and shavings glued and pressed.  If you'd like to read the article on leather types you will find it at Saddleback Leather.  So, when you read "top grain," don't make the mistake that I did.  I thought it meant "top quality."  I have recently been blessed with a goatskin covered Bible which will knock you into a new level of Bible bindings!  I expected a cover something like that.  But if I understand what I've read correctly, Zondervan is telling the truth.  Hopefully this binding will last longer than a bonded leather Bible.  A friend who has had one for a few years said that it softens up after a while.

The binding is sewn, not glued.  The Bible does lay fairly flat.  It is a study Bible, so it is thicker.  You will be reading on the curve if you open it to Revelation and lay it on a table.  But it stays open on its own.

The print is a thinner type than I am used to seeing.  It isn't a bold type at all.  In some light it looks weak.  The red type in the New Testament appears a faint red or slight pink color.  In some passages the red text is printed higher on the page that the black text.  In some places it looks lighter than others.  These could be issues unique to this physical copy.  But the red is a bit more difficult for me to read on certain pages.  There is also some ghosting (text on the back of the page showing through), of course, but it was not terribly distracting to me.

Now the most important part!  The text is the New American Standard Version (EELBV #8100.120).  To evaluate the study notes I use the Bible for my daily reading and see if it answers questions that arise.  One day, I got curious about the first and second writings of the ten commandments.  I looked up Exodus 31:18 where God gives the two tablets of testimony for the first time.  The note here says that these were duplicate documents.  Two copies of the same thing - one for each party of the covenant.  I didn't know that!  I will want to study it further, but I found this really interesting.  Another question I had was about Exodus 34:28 where it says "he wrote on the tablets."  It isn't clear who wrote.  In 34:1 God says that He will write them.  In verse 27 it says God told Moses to write down these words.  That may not refer to the stone tablets though.  The notes for verse 28 say that it is probably God who wrote on the stone tablets.

This is the real test of any study Bible:  Does it enhance your study?  I don't expect a study Bible to have all the answers to every question.  I did find the notes in this Bible to be helpful.  For instance, I was reading Isaiah 7:10-16 and had some questions about the text. I found the notes explained it to my satisfaction.  The cross references show the corresponding passage in Matthew.  But the notes expand on that as well as explaining the current situation with Isaiah.  In Esther 7:8, where it says "they covered Haman's face," I hoped for an explanation.  The notes merely direct one to Esther 6:12 and the introduction.  This is not a terribly important verse.  The parts I read did cover the important theological issues.

If I were to choose a passage for a quick theological check it would be John 1:1.  The notes here affirm the complete deity of Jesus Christ.  In general I find the notes to explain the text without preaching.  I think this is key in allowing the reader to understand the text.

There are many extra features throughout this Bible that add to the reader's understanding.  There is a full color timeline in the front of the Bible.  It is very well done.  When I was reading about the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah this timeline helped keep things clear.  I prefer using this timeline while reading over using a chronological Bible.  It is helpful to stay in one book to keep the proper context but still be able to place the events in the stream of Biblical history.

I find it difficult to keep the chronology of events, especially in the Old Testament, in my mind as I read.  I've read a chronological Bible.  That is an interesting way to read the Old Testament.  This Bible helps by features such as the timeline in the front of the Bible.  Tables in the text also keep things in perspective.  In the book of Ezra there is a table showing the chronology of events covered by Ezra and Nehemiah.  It not only lists the dates but also the relevant passages.

Some features are stuck in - such as "Ancient Texts Relating to the Old Testament."  This lists such things as a Cyrus Cylinder from the 6th century B.C.  This list appears right before the Old Testament title page.   It was interesting to read about other writings from the Biblical period.  It got me interested in other writings that are mentioned in the Scriptures.  You can new my findings at this link:

There are illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.  I find them helpful in visualizing the things discussed in the Scriptures.  For instance, the ark of the covenant illustration also shows other items from the tabernacle.  As you can see (below) this includes the lampstand, the table, incense altar and bronze altar.  An illustration on the previous page showed the tabernacle layout.

Each Bible book has an introduction.  In the dating of the book of Obadiah it mentions two differing theories.  I appreciate being shown the different possibilities for some information.  I also noticed this in one of the notes (though I can't find the spot now).

I believe this Study Bible is available in other translations such as the New International Standard Version.  There is also a new full color study Bible with an new system of notes though I haven't seen it in the NASB yet.  I would like to see that setting with my favorite (NASB) text.

I am comfortable with the notes and features in this Bible.  I will most likely share this Bible with someone in church to get their reactions to it.  I believe this is a good, reliable study Bible.  I recently read where someone stated that they read through their study Bible cover to cover, notes, tables, charts and all.  I recommend that with this Bible.

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Living Translation - 2015 Update

The New Living Translation was updated again this year.  You can view a full list of the changes at  There will be a new premium Bible coming out this fall with the updated text. The Caxton NLT is from Schuyler Publishing.  For more information on the Bible visit  To pre-order the Bible visit

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What Color Is Your Text?

Since Louis Klopsch's innovation of printing the words of Christ in red in 1899, many publishers have printed red letter Bibles.  But some have used different coloring for varying reasons.  This article lists a few of those more unusual colored text Bibles.  I have divided these Bibles into three main categories:  Speaker identification, Topical and Decorative.

The first category started with Klopsch's New Testament in 1899 which identified the words of Christ by printing them in red.  Most major Bible translations now have a red letter edition available.  An example of a red letter New Testament can be read online here.  The Bible Gateway supports viewing the red letter NT in several versions such as the CEB, ESV, HCSB, NASB, NIV, NKJV and the TNIV.

Red isn't the only color that has been used.  An article at The International Society of Bible Collectors mentions one unsuccessful NT that had Christ's words in Green.  The Woman's Bible available from the Adventist Book Center has Christ's words printed in gold.

Now that red lettering has become so common a new term has surfaced:  "black letter Bibles."  Some find the red print difficult to read.  Others disagree with highlighting part of the New Testament over the rest.  Some publishers now offer both red letter and black letter editions.

Others have expanded the speaker identification idea into the Old Testament.  The King James Bible: Purple Letter Edition identifies the speaker by printing God's name, the Spirit's name and Jesus' name in purple. The Names of God Bible has God's names and Jesus' name in gold.  The Holy Bible:  King James Easy Reading Edition has God's spoken words in red print.  The King James 2000 by Robert Couric also follows this convention.

Some Bibles use even more colors.  The BRG Bible is one of these:  It has the God's words in blue, Jesus' words in red, the name of the Holy Spirit in gold, words of angels in underlined blue and messianic prophecies in underlined red.  A sample of this Bible is available on  Google Books.  It can also be read on Bible Gateway.  The God Speaks Interactive Bible uses the following color scheme:  God's words in purple, passages about God speaking in green, people speaking God's words in third person in brown, angels, visions and dreams in blue, Jesus' words in red and miracles and acts in gold. The Strand Study Bible uses blue for God the Father, red for God the Son, purple for God the Holy Spirit.  Titles and pronouns of each are bold, upper case and colored, full color satellite maps are included right in the text, trinity passages have box around them (such as Colossians 2:9) and underlining indicates passages quoted (or that are quoted elsewhere).  The Spoken Word, a Red Letter Project has God's words in red, people's words in blue, Satan's words in brown and people speaking words from God in purple.

The Sourceview Bible colorizes text according to the identity of the speaker.  When I saw the name, I expected it to be similar to the Bible With Sources Revealed (see below).  But in the free sample of Jonah (available on their preview page) God's words are in red, Jonah's are in blue, the ship's captain and crew are in green, the narrator is in black

A group calling themselves "The Jesus Seminar" produced The Five Gospels.  They used colors more to show what they think wasn't really said than anything else.  Red means Jesus said this or something very like it; Pink indicates that Jesus probably said something like this; Grey words are probably not Jesus' words, but the ideas are close to his and black means Jesus did not say this.  In their version of the Lord's Prayer, the only thing we can be certain Jesus said is "Our Father."

The next category is Bibles that use coloring for topical reasons.  For instance, The Green Bible has "Verses and passages that speak to God’s care for creation" in green print.  Most of Genesis 1 and 2 are in green text.  It is also printed on recycled paper, soy-based ink and water-based coating.  The Financial Stewardship Bible has verses relating to finances highlighted in green.  The Bible looks as though someone took a green highlighter and marked certain passages (e.g. Genesis 2:2-3). The Freedom Bible also uses the highlighter technique.  In this one, passages relating to freedom are highlighted in blue (e.g. Mark 2:3-5).  Another highlighter style Bible is the Poverty and Justice Bible.  Here, scriptures dealing with poverty and justice issues are highlighted in brown (e.g. John 16:8-11).

Taking multicolored text even further is the Bible With Sources Revealed.  It uses different colors to indicated the sources of the text according to the documentary theory (also known as the JEPD theory).  Each source has a letter or letters, so the key looks like this:
  • J - green
  • E - green sans bold
  • P - blue sans
  • RJE - green with green background
  • R - blue with blue background
  • other independent texts - blue italic
  • Genesis 14 - green italic
  • Dtn - green sans italic
  • Dtr1 - blue
  • Dtr2 - blue bold
The Rainbow Study Bible challenges my ability to see and name colors.  It has every verse highlighted in color according to the subject matter.  The key is as follows:  Purple - God, Pink - Discipleship, Green - Love, Peach - Faith, Grey - Sin, Brown - Satan, Blue - Salvation, Yellow - Family, Lighter Pink - Witnessing, Lighter Green - Commandments, Lighter Grey - History, Gold - Prophecy.  Fortunately, this Bible came with a bookmark containing the color guide.

 The New Marked Reference Bible colorized the text according to four major themes.  Red was for salvation, green for the Holy Spirit, gold for temporal blessings and Blue for prophecy.   The Standard Full Color Bible uses 12 different color highlights to identify Scriptural themes.  I wasn't able to connect safely to their website, but there may be a sample of it available.

The final category is decorative coloring.  The main reason for the colorized text in these Bibles is for appearance.  For instance, the KJV Promise Bible for Women has nearly everything in purple.  This includes the covers, the table of contents, introduction, essays, reading plan and even the lines on the notes pages.  Can you guess the color of the ribbon?  I was told that the Duck Commander Bible has headings in green and the text in tan.  I wasn't able to verify that one. The My Beautiful Princess Bible has purple text.  Some verses also have purple highlighting.  You can view a sample here.

There are certainly many more Bibles to be found in each of these categories.  By the time this article is finished, there will be even more.  I don't intend to list all of them.  But I hope this overview has given you an idea of the wide variety of coloring schemes.

The purpose of this article isn't to decide whether or not to colorize the text in Bibles.  I have heard arguments on both sides.  Love them or hate them, there are a lot of them out there.

I would like to thank several people in the Bible Versions Discussions/Dialogue group on Facebook including (but not limited to) Daniel, Joshua, Lance, Lawrence, Marika, Stephen, Steven and Timothy.  If you are interested in the sort of thing I discuss on my sites, you might enjoy joining the group.

Whatever color text you choose, I certainly hope you are reading a Bible.  That is my favorite color:  read.