I have been reading my new copy of the ESV Reader’s Bible over the last week, and I have to say that I am really impressed with this work. If you are thinking about purchasing a reader’s Bible, there are at least five reasons that you really ought to consider this one.
1. Fine Translation: The most important thing about picking a Bible is the translation. There are many fine translations on the market today, and the ESV is leading the pack among the more literal versions on offer. As a revision of the RSV, the ESV does not use archaic expressions like “thee” and “thou.” Nevertheless, the ESV is in the King James family of translations and as such retains the literary elegance of that tradition. The ESV translation committee is committed to the ongoing work of keeping the translation up to date. Indeed, this volume contains the “ESV Text Edition: 2011.”
2. Single Volume: For nearly the entire history of the church, Christians have preferred to include all the books of the Old and New Testaments together in a single volume. This is not arbitrary. Keeping the testaments together invites readers to read the one in light of the other. This kind of reading was in fact the apostles’s intent because they viewed their message as a continuation of the Old Testament story. Yes, the books of the Bible were originally written as separate works. No, they are not to be read as separate works but as constituent parts of a coherent revelation from God. In short, there is great value in keeping the whole Bible in one volume. For this reason, I believe it’s more valuable to have thinner pages in a single volume than thicker pages in multiple volumes.
3. Beautiful Layout: The idea behind this reader’s edition is to remove all distractions from the text. Modern Bible editions tend to look more like a dictionary or reference book because of all the reference materials surrounding the text. All of that has been left out of the ESV Reader’s Bible. There are no notes, no verse numbers, no alternate translations in the margins. All you have is the text itself. The only markings are faint red chapter numbers included in the margins, but even these are very unobtrusive and aren’t even in-line with the text. In short, this is a clean beautiful text that very much mimics reading a novel or the like. It’s exactly what you would want out of a reader’s edition. The only reference materials are four maps of the biblical world located at the end of the volume. The best way to get an idea of what the pages are like is to watch the video below or view the mock-up here.
4. Cover Options: The ESV Reader’s Bible comes in both hard and soft covers. I obtained the cloth over board version, and it looks like a well-bound novel. The binding is sewn, and the Bible lays flat with pages laying easily open from Genesis 1 all the way to Revelation 22.
5. Affordable Price: Perhaps the best thing that the ESV Reader’s Bible has going for it is the price. It comes in at only $22 on Amazon.com. Compared to the recent Bibliotheca project which costs $75 dollars, the ESV Reader’s Bible is a real value.
Again, the ESV Reader’s Bible is everything that a reader ought to be. If you want to read the Bible without all of the distractions that appear in modern print editions, you really ought to consider this one. It is well done.