Sunday, October 10, 2010

The HCSB Study Bible

I’m a Bible nut. I have a collection of Bibles in my office that represents numerous translations. Some of the Bibles are family heirlooms that have been passed down to me. Whenever I travel to another country I always try to obtain a Bible in the native language to add to my collection. Over the years people have given me unique Bibles as well. The collection also includes several copies of various study Bibles.

My love for different kinds of Bibles is one reason I’ve been looking forward to the publication of the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible for quite a while. The HCSB is a fine translation. I would rank it very close to the ESV, which is my preferred study and preaching translation. The HCSB Study Bible was released last week so I swung by our Lifeway Christian Bookstore on Thursday and picked up a copy and have been using it all weekend.

When I first opened the Bible to “break it in” I was “wowed.” The HCSB Study Bible is hands down the most visually beautiful Bible I have ever seen. I am talking about the physical layout of the text along with the smart use of color throughout. Most Bibles are just black with perhaps shades of gray. The HCSB uses full color throughout. There are stunning full color maps and photos, yes photos, liberally woven throughout the text. Light brown and blue are used as complementary colors to the traditional black text. It may sound unusual, but it works. Parchment look-a-like pages are used for the intro pages to each chapter. The in-text notes are very, very good. Included throughout are doctrinal articles, word studies, charts, timelines, and some other goodies I won’t mention. You really have to see this Bible to appreciate it. Holman has figured out how to visually present biblical material so that you naturally absorb the text and commentary. I am impressed.

I have only two criticisms. One, they chose not to include red-letter text for the words of Christ. I don’t understand why, especially considering the use of color everywhere else. Two, (and this is big) they chose to include only a topical concordance instead of an abridged traditional concordance. I view this as a MAJOR mistake. I cannot understand why they would leave this critical feature out.

Overall, this is one of the best study Bibles I have ever seen, and the HCSB translation is a plus as well.

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