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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Beautiful execution of a long-overdue concept
I just received this Bible as a wedding gift and I LOVE it!

I have owned and read a number of different Bibles over the years (a whole shelf of my bookcase is dedicated to Bibles), many of them study Bibles, and I am very thankful for their value as study tools (my favorite so far has been the ESV Study Bible). The ability to have commentary at your fingertips...
Published 5 months ago by David Christopher

versus
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Headed in the right direction, but not quite there yet
While I really do appreciate Crossway's efforts to publish a "Reader's Bible", I think that while the idea was good, the implementation suffered.

Good points:
- Removal of the verse numbers and a paragraph reading format like a book
- Single column and nice sized margins
- Good quality

Bad points:
- Small font...
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Beautiful execution of a long-overdue concept, June 21, 2014
By 
David Christopher (Charleston, SC, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I just received this Bible as a wedding gift and I LOVE it!

I have owned and read a number of different Bibles over the years (a whole shelf of my bookcase is dedicated to Bibles), many of them study Bibles, and I am very thankful for their value as study tools (my favorite so far has been the ESV Study Bible). The ability to have commentary at your fingertips can be really useful and clarifying.

However, all of that commentary can also be distracting. I often find myself chasing so many rabbit trails in the footnotes that I lose the big picture of the actual *story* that I'm reading. That's where the ESV Reader's Bible comes in.

It is obviously designed to read like a novel instead of an encyclopedia, and it succeeds. When my copy arrived in the mail, even though I knew it was coming I didn't recognize the box at first because it is smaller than any other Bible I've bought (except for those crazy small pocket Bibles). The size is on par with classic hardback novels, and about as thick. The Bible comes in a nice box sleeve (reminds me of a Lord of the Rings box set my parents owned) and looks really nice (I have the "cloth over board" hardcover version).

Inside, the Bible is super readable - again, similar to a novel. Front matter is kept to a minimum, and there are no references at the back except for 4 maps (2 pages front and back) printed in tastefully subdued colors. Everything else is just the text of scripture, with no annotations or footnotes except for very discreet chapter numbers alongside the text, plus a "chapter and verse range" printed at the top of each page, and a page number at the bottom of each page. These reference numbers are all printed in a muted red font to let the black font of scripture be the reader's main focus.

I have had the Bible for less than a week, yet already I've found myself feeling more engaged in the stories and picking up on nuances that I must have missed before. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ESV translation feels more "natural" to read in this format (I have always struggled with the ESV feeling more cumbersome than the old NIV that I grew up on). Now it is easier for me to get lost in a story and forget about which chapter I am in.

The quality of construction is also excellent and I get the impression that this book will last me a long time. It is not gaudy (no gold leafing on the edges of the pages), just very well made.

Bottom line: This well-produced Bible is now my go-to choice for devotional reading, and would also be an excellent choice for giving to friends, whether mature, new, or not-yet-believers. I highly recommend it.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comparing TruTone and Hardcover, July 12, 2014
For those who may want to know, the TruTone Brown/Walnut edition comes in a clamshell cardboard box, not a slipcase like the hardcover cloth-over-boards edition (and it really is honest-to-goodness cloth over boards, not paper).
The TruTone has rounded page corners and gilded page edges; the hardcover has right-angle page corners and plain white page edges.
Both editions have two brown ribbon markers.
The TruTone has a rounded spine and the Trutone material is pleasant to handle. The dark material covers the entire back of the book, the spine, and one-third of the front cover of the book; the lighter-colored material is used only on the front cover. The spine is blind-stamped with the words "Holy Bible," "ESV," "English Standard Version," and "Crossway," and there is brown stitching around the edge of the covers and on the front of the volume as part of the "portfolio" design.
The TruTone edition has plain light brown end papers; the hardcover has a diamond-patterned light brown and grey endpapers. Marbled endpapers, suitable to each edition, would have picked the design of the book up a notch.
The text-block, of course, is exactly the same in both, as is the paper weight, which is light flexible bible paper.
It seems to me that the experience of reading the hardcover edition is more like reading a well-crafted book; reading the TruTone edition is more like reading a well-crafted bible. All the visual and tactile cues of the hardback say "book," while those of the TruTone say "bible."
The TruTone's rounded spine and flexible cover make the book rest comfortably in the hand. Both it and the hardcover edition lay open easily and seem to "present" the text for reading.
Gazing at these pages, one realizes the many thoughtful technical decisions that had to be made to craft such a pleasing work of the printer's art. I think what I appreciate most is the sense of intentional restraint that the pages display -- the subtle pleasure of the use of red ink on the page, the balance of the single-column text block, the absence of the visual clutter of footnotes and cross references, or running chapter and section headings. The page offers a kind of unmediated approach to the text at the same time that one appreciates the intelligence of the design. Crossway has published a beautiful book, and I think it will find many appreciative readers.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Headed in the right direction, but not quite there yet, July 29, 2014
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While I really do appreciate Crossway's efforts to publish a "Reader's Bible", I think that while the idea was good, the implementation suffered.

Good points:
- Removal of the verse numbers and a paragraph reading format like a book
- Single column and nice sized margins
- Good quality

Bad points:
- Small font. Geesh...you'd think this would be an important decision for a "Reader's Edition 101". I have 20/20 vision, and I frequently find Crossway errs on the side of fonts that are too small for long periods of reading time. A reader's edition should have at least a 10 point font (I think this is a 9 point?), and ideally perhaps an 11 or 12 point font. Not sure if Crossway will ever get this right. In the past, I've seen people complain about this in reviews for many of their Bibles.
- Text bleed through: While not horrible, it certainly could have used some improvement. Maybe they could have even saved themselves a few bucks by using standard "paperback paper" rather than the thinner "Bible paper"

Overall, a valiant effort, but with a few more improvements, they could have had a best seller on their hands.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aptly Named, June 24, 2014
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This is the first single column Bible that that actually feels like a normal book. Several factors make it unique among single column Bibles. The removal of versification, the smaller (and more normal) column width compared to most, and the lack of references are the most notable. This is the closest thing I have ever seen to the Bible presented in the form of a simple book to be read. It is a beautiful thing.
The one drawback is the paper thickness. There is noticeable show-through from adjacent pages. This is mitigated somewhat by very good line-matching, but that cannot solve the whole problem. Of course the trade-off is that you get a handy sized book that, while not a thinline, is also not overly thick.
All in all, this Bible is a smashing success. Truly worth owning, especially at around $20.
This is a review of the cloth-bound edition. I should note that both the brown and the gray are cloth. I had thought that perhaps the gray would be some sort of paper, as is often the case on a 3/4 bound book like this. I was pleasantly surprised however. It has the feel of one of the 'Everyman's Library' volumes.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Lost In The Word, July 19, 2014
Length:: 0:32 Mins

When I first heard about this Bible I was less than enthused. I am an avid studier of the Word so my first thought was "I can't imagine not having the verse numbers in the text." I have to say, I WAS WRONG! When I received this Bible I was so blessed.

Size: For Starters it is a very nice size. It feels like your reading a classic novel. It comes in a very slick little box so it stays nice on the shelf.

Cover: The cloth cover board is the way to go. I know there are other options, but this cloth cover hard back just ads to the feeling that your reading a story. Also, It looks very classy sitting on the shelf.

Text block: There are two ribbon markers which are a great bonus. As far as the text itself, it is a very comfortable size. The font and the size are perfect to just sit and read. One thing that I really like that I have heard others complain about is the chapter numbers. Some say having the chapter numbers takes away from the idea of it being just the text. I personally like having them. They are off to the side in the margin and do not distract at all from the reading.

The Translation: The ESV is great. Every translation has things that you may feel should have been translated differently, but as a whole this is probably the best one out there. If you are one who enjoys the ESV but finds its literalness a bit challenging at times I would highly recommend this. It is amazing what happens when the verse numbers are removed.

The experience: I would recommend this as a companion Bible. For serious study you need a regular Bible with the verses. But I find this Reader's edition to be an incredible companion. I wake up each morning looking forward to the reading experience. You will find yourself lost in a story. What is beautiful about that is that as you are impacted by the words and as they connect with your soul you will find yourself stopping and reminding yourself that you are not just reading a story but you are reading the inspired Word of God.

I can't say it enough, this Bible will be worth every penny you spend!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Buy - You will not be disappointed., July 11, 2014
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I recently purchased the ESV Reader's Bible with a coth-over-board binding. Absolutely everything I was hoping it to be. The binding is fantastic, the font and size are very easy on the eyes and the experience of reading the Scriptures without versification is an unimaginably enlightening joy. If you do not have this Bible BUY IT NOW! You won't regret it.

In all, I have only two very minor "complaints" about the item:

1) Bleed-through. The paper is not quite thick enough, in my opinion, and results in bleed-through from the next page. However, Crossway did do a great job of lining up the text so that the bleed-through does not become a distraction. If you are already accustomed to bleed-through in your regular Bible, this will not be a problem for you. However, if you are expecting the pages to appear exactly as a novel would, you're going to be a little bit disappointed.

2) Chapter divisions. While Crossway did remove the versification, chapter divisions were maintained. And although these chapter divisions are noted in the margin in faint red text, a double space would included between chapters which, in my opinion, spoils the flow a little bit since there are occasions where chapter divisions do as much injury to context as versification. With that said, it is not a major downfall and in no way impacts my overall satisfaction with the product. However, I would be the first to suggest that feature to be changed in future editions.

Those two minor points notwithstanding, this is about as close to the perfect non-versified edition of the Bible in a reliable modern translation available today in my opinion. Do yourself a favor and buy it today!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite pleased, June 26, 2014
By 
Sam Harper (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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I've been wanting something like this for a long time, so I got this as soon as I found out about it. It came in the mail today, and I'm very happy with it. It's got a nice looking and nice feeling leather cover on it. It fits nicely in the hand. It stays open when you lay it down. It's a good comfortable size for holding it and reading it.

Even though there are no chapter and verse divisions, it nevertheless does have paragraph divisions. It's basically like reading a book, which is how it ought to be read anyway. Not having the chapter and verse divisions is a boon, and I highly recommend it.

The last reviewer complained about the bleed through of the text. You can see a lot of the text on the opposite page when you're looking at the poetic books (e.g. Psalm, Lamentations), but I don't think it's so bad that it makes it hard to read. I don't really notice it at all in the non-poetic sections. It's only noticeable in the poetic books because the lines don't run the full width of the page, and you can see the opposite page text in the blank edges beyond the lines.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When a friend recommended the ESV Reader's Bible to me, July 30, 2014
I was first introduced to the concept of a "reader's Bible" by Adam Lewis Greene's Bibliotheca project. When a friend recommended the ESV Reader's Bible to me, I jumped at the chance and my wife and I each bought a copy. I've read the Bible more in the last few days than I have in the past year! The ESV Reader's Bible enhances readability by removing references, footnotes, and verses, and pushes chapter numbers off to the margin. It's laid out in a single-column like any novel. These little changes make a big difference in readability. While not as useful for deep study, it's much better for getting engrossed in the text than the typical way the Bible is presented. I highly recommend this product!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps Readers Appreciate the Narrative Appeal of Scripture, August 21, 2014
The Bible is a story, a tale of redemption from creation, fall and recreation. There are developing characters , interweaving plot lines, and allusions. Readers are carried along the story page after page, era after era, author after author as as the grand tale of redemption is interwoven throughout the millennium-spanning text of Scripture. This story was meant to be read and told as such-a story. The problem for modern readers comes when they encounter the text of Scripture and are met with artificial brackets and divisions which make the Scripture a scientific specimen to be dissected rather than a story to be absorbed. Wishing to help readers better understand the narrative appeal of Scripture, Crossway has produced the ESV Reader's Bible. As such, this bible serves a unique purpose for contemporary audiences.

While verses have served the church by providing markers to direct people to the text, they have had an unintended side-effect of stunting the narrative flow of the God's word. The editors explain:

These structural component serve an important purpose and have become what we expect in every Bible. Yet none of them played a role in the original documents included in the Bible. ANORIGINALNEWTESTAMENTMANUSCRIPTLOOKEDLIKETHIS-virtually no headings, chapter numbers, verse numbers, footnotes, spaces, or punctuation....Each book of Scripture was therefore viewed as a unified whole and often read that way. (ix)

As such, when lectors would read the sacred text in worship, the story of the people of God would be told (and re-told) to those gathered. Just as Ezra read the Law of Moses to the gathered ones of God's people, the communities of the new covenant would gather to hear entire epistles or portions of the gospel read out loud for their edification. While most inheritors of the Reformation have been called a "people of the book," today in most evangelical church gatherings it looks and sounds more like a people of a few specific verses. OK, so perhaps its not that desperate, but certainly evangelicals have much to learn when it comes to Scripture reading in the church (see Carl Trueman's indictment on taking Scripture seriously in evangelical churches, for example). The story of Scripture must once again dominate our churches. To this end, the ESV Reader's Bible will be an invaluable tool.

While this may not be the Bible of the pastor preaching on a Sunday morning, it most certainly could be the Bible of the lector reading in service. If not that, then it should be a Bible owned by parents who wish to impress the story of God's word on the hearts of their children, not to mention themselves. The look and feel of the ESV Reader's Bible is that of a novel (see here for a video summary). It is constructed and shaped like a typical hardback book, but of course, its contents are anything by typical. This detail may seem tertiary, but picking up the ESV Reader's Bible and sitting down with it feels like you preparing for an afternoon with coffee and your favorite book. Psychologically it is less hindering. Some may complain this style of construction mitigates the special nature of Scripture as THE book, however it actually helps readers more fully engage this book as THE story.

Apart from the unique way in which this Bible is made, the ESV Reader's Biblereads well in the way it's intended. The reader will feel as if they are sitting down to read a story rather than completing a spiritual task. Some places within Scripture which were truncated by the imposed verse structures now read much more smoothly. With the opening chapters of Genesis, the early story of God and his people comes alive. The parables of Christ are connected and fluid. Paul's discourse in the epistles transform into a smooth flow of thought. There are other examples throughout the text where removing the verse numbers-chapter numbers still remain but are relegated to the margins-helps the reader appreciate the narrative flow of the text. For this reason, daily bible reading should feel much more relaxed and perhaps more meaningful. At a $30 (or less) price point for the hardback edition, this Bible is easily one of the best book investments you could make this year. As a tool for personal spiritual growth, the ESV Reader's Bible will be invaluable. As a centerpiece for family devotions, the ESV Reader's Bible will aid in helping children understand the great narrative of God's word for years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome and well-executed presentation of a major contemporary Bible translation, July 14, 2014
This is a welcome and well-executed presentation of a major contemporary Bible translation in an inviting, readable format.

The introduction to the ESV Readers Bible explains that “the addition of chapters, verses, and other non-inspired material can hinder us from reading large portions of Scripture without interruption. . . . We miss out on the flow of the argument, the arc of the story, and the broader context.” To help readers “get drawn into” the Bible instead, this edition aims at a design that is “ancient in its similarity to the original manuscripts, yet familiar in its resemblance to the modern novel.”

One way it nicely achieves this “ancient” feel, beyond removing modern additives from the text itself, is by echoing the older practice known as “rubrication,” that is, putting all non-textual material in red. Medieval manuscript illustrators would, for example, put in red the names of books on the top of the page, chapter numbers in the margins (after these were introduced), and notations within the text column that one book was ending and the next one was beginning. In a delightful nod to this ancient practice, the ESV Readers Bible puts the book-chapter-and-verse range at the top of each page, the page number at the bottom, chapter numbers in the left margin, and book names at the start of each book all in red. It also begins biblical books with large red drop caps. This is reminiscent of the way that the first letters of books were “illuminated” (illustrated) in manuscripts.

At the same time, this new edition also creates the feel of a “modern novel” by presenting the text in a single column, in an attractive contemporary font, and by removing the translation notes that appear as footnotes at the bottom of the page in standard editions of the ESV, referring readers to a website for them instead. The ESV Readers Bible even features two built-in bookmarks, as if to say, “You’re going to be reading through this Bible, not pulling out a verse here and there, so you’ll need to keep your place”—just as you’d have to do when reading through a novel.

I can see some areas for future improvement (that’s why I’ve given four stars instead of five), though this does not at all diminish my delight in this publishing initiative. First, some necessary tradeoffs have been made in order to present the entire contents of the biblical canon in a single volume with a relatively small footprint. (The text box is only 4” x 6.5”.) The paper is thin, with noticeable bleed-through, and the margins are narrow, so that there are more words per line and per page than would be encountered in that “modern novel.” I personally feel that electronic Bibles on smart phones and tablets are now filling the niche for take-the-whole-canon-with-you-everywhere Bibles, so that sit-down-and-read Bibles, intended for a different purpose, can be larger and heavier, with thick, opaque paper and wider margins, and they can even be presented in multiple volumes.

Another way the ESV Readers Bible could improve would be by representing the natural literary structure of the biblical books. Even though it removes chapter and verse numbers from the text, it still presents chapters visually as the basic compositional units of the Bible. A line space intervenes between chapters; the first word of each one is put in small caps; and that delightfully red chapter number appears in the left margin. How much better it would be to use line spaces, small caps, etc. to highlight natural structures such as the four oracles (not two chapters) that make up the book of Haggai, or the six court tales and four visions (not twelve chapters) in the book of Daniel.

Still, even with room to explore future refinements, the ESV Readers Bible is already a very welcome presentation of an important modern translation in an appealing, readable format. I believe it will fulfill its stated purpose of helping readers “get drawn into the stories, characters, and events that comprise . . . the Story of God’s redemption of humanity and all of creation.”
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ESV Reader's Bible (TruTone, Black)
ESV Reader's Bible (TruTone, Black) by ESV Bibles by Crossway (Imitation Leather - June 30, 2014)
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