Almost ten years ago, I purchased my first ESV Bible. It was one of the snazzy Thinline editions, with a black spine and brown front face. I read from that Bible on a daily basis, taught through Mark’s gospel with it in our home group, took it on vacations and preached my first sermon with it.
After four years, my Bible had started to look pretty beat up, the way God intended—lots of underlining, crinkled pages and what may or may not have been some minor water damage. It was well read and well loved, to be sure (even if some pages were hard to make out because of all the underlining).
Then, a few years, ago, I realized that my preaching Bible had disappeared. Somewhere between church, work and home I managed to lose it… which means that it’ll turn up as soon as I buy a new one. It’s funny, though, I didn’t expect that I’d miss that Bible, the way that I do. Not in a creepy, idolatrous way, mind you—there are just a lot of fond memories associated with it.
Anyway, after several days of hunting through the house, I’ve finally given up and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to purchase a new preaching Bible. I looked at a number of different editions before settling on the ESV Value Thinline Bible… mostly because it was cheap.
And then, I found it. The Bible I thought was gone forever came back, and I resumed using it as my preaching and reading Bible, and my Value Thinline collected dust (until I finally gave it to a small church as part of a collection of Bibles to use in outreach).
But now, after nearly 10 years, this Bible’s days are coming to an end. The text itself is out of date (I think it’s still the 2001 edition, rather than the most recent). The cover and pages are in pretty rough shape, worse than it was when I first wrote this post. It’s well-worn, and hopefully I’m the better for it.
So what did I wind up choosing?
This time, I splurged. Although, there’s a bit of a story behind this.
I actually now have two preaching Bibles, both of which are quite lovely, because I have two primary translations I’ll use, depending on the wishes of the church I’m visiting.
When it comes to translation, nine times out of ten, I’ll stick with the ESV, in part because I’m very familiar with it. But I’ve also grown quite fond of the HCSB, a translation that’s fairly popular among Southern Baptists (and is growing in popularity beyond their ranks). I really enjoy using it in my personal reading, and the translation team did a really great job of bridging the gap between the ESV and similar translations and the NIV.
Which brings us back to the editions I’m using:
While neither sit perfectly flat (and really, that’s not the end of the world as far as I’m concerned), one of the things I love about both of these is the cover. The feel of calfskin leather is amazing! That might be a silly thing to enjoy, but there you go. Those tactile elements really do change how we feel about our books and Bibles, regardless of whether we’re aware of it or not.
From a text size perspective, both are plenty easy to read, which is super-helpful. The new ESV is a single-column edition as well, so that changes the feel a little bit. It’s a little more like reading a standard book. It doesn’t change the way you understand or read from the Bible, but it is a little change that requires getting used to if you’re used to a two-column one.
Will I stick with these forever? While I can’t say they’ll be my “forever” Bibles (since one never knows what will happen in the next five to ten years), these are definitely the ones I’m enjoying right now.
Your turn, preachers: What are you using in the pulpit? What do you like about your preaching Bible and what kind would you recommend to another preacher?
Updated December 2014