ESV Reader’s Letters of Paul

Crossway’s ESV Reader’s Letters of Paul is a reader’s edition of Paul’s 13 New Testament letters. This is a new setting of those letters in a single volume without distractions such as chapter and verse numbers, and section headings. Paul’s letters had such an impact on the Reformation that this volume was produced to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

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ISBN: 9781433557965

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Cover and Binding

This edition is cloth over board. The cloth is tan, or maybe oatmeal, with multiple shades of color and a textured feel. The spine has ESV printed vertically, and LETTERS of PAUL, and CROSSWAY printed horizontally. All are printed in dark brown. The liner is black paper.

Of course it’s sewn. It lies open easily. As you get closer to the center of the book the thick paper doesn’t want to lie flat, but it is manageable.

The overall size is 8 x 5.5 x 7/8″ It includes one 5mm ribbon and comes in a thick slip-case.

Paper

This is the same 80 gsm Munken Premier Cream uncoated paper from Sweden that’s used in the 6-Volume Set. It’s extremely opaque and exceptionally readable. It has a cream tint that creates the perfect contrast with the typeface. It’s 104 microns thick and couldn’t be easier to turn. The only time I notice show-through is when I’m purposely looking for it. It looks much better in person than in my photos.

Typography

Being a reader’s edition it has no chapter or verse numbers. The text is presented in single column paragraph with poetry set to verse. The header shows the book name in the outer margin in a small italic type. The footer shows the page number in the center. The first letter of each book is a dark red drop cap. It looks nice.

The typeface is the same 12-point black letter, inkcredible Revolution Black ink, Trinité No.2 Roman font designed by Bram de Does that’s found in the 6-Volume Set. It has slightly more leading (size of the font plus the space between the lines) than the 6-Volume Set’s 15-point leading, making this typeface even more comfortable to read for long periods of time. The font’s not as dark but is still a joy to read. Since it’s less dark, it doesn’t have as much show-through even with the same paper.

It places an even greater focus on readability than any reader’s edition I’ve seen so far. There are no distractions anywhere. There are no indications on the page to tell you what chapter you’re in. Nothing in the header or footer, no drop caps, nothing. The text just keeps going. I read 3 chapters in Romans before I realized how far I had gotten. This is the most natural way to read God’s Word.

The print is line-matched except for Old Testament quotes and a few pages here and there. The paper is so opaque that it isn’t noticeable. I only noticed because I was looking for it.

It has around 60 characters per line, around 12-14 words per line, and 25 lines per page (which is 3 less than the 6-Volume Set). The text isn’t as dense as the 6-Volume Set. It has more leading and more space between the words. The column is 3 1/2″ wide, which is a touch smaller. To my eye it looks like it has the minimum word-count per page for comfortable reading.

It has a blank page between each book. Books always start on the right side. Each book has an introductory page that prints the book’s name in dark red.

Introduction

The Introduction provides some information about Paul, the work he did, the importance of his writings, and the impact his letters had on the Reformation. This is why Paul’s writings were singled out and given their own volume. This volume isn’t meant to take the place of the rest of Scripture, so I don’t recommend, and Crossway isn’t implying, reading only the Letters of Paul for study and building theology. Paul’s epistles are an important part of the whole Word of God, as the introduction rightly points out.

Index to Chapters

The Index to Chapters provides the book name in red with the chapter and page number for each chapter. There isn’t an indication on the page where the chapter starts, but this will get you in the right area if you’re looking for a specific chapter.

Comparisons

Here’s a look at The Letters of Paul next to the ESV Reader’s Bible and volume 6 (Epistles and Revelation) from the ESV 6-Volume Reader’s Set. They have the same footprint.

The Letters of Paul is on the left compared to the 6-Volume Set on the right. The Letters of Paul has few words per page, a slightly narrower column for text, and a wider outer margin. The ribbon from the 6-Volume Set is silk while this ribbon is the standard ribbons used in most Bibles. The paper and cover feels just as elegant.

the ESV Reader’s Bible on the right has far more words per page and thinner paper.

Conclusion

My first thought was this edition isn’t needed if you have the 6-Volume Set, until I read it. Crossway didn’t just take the letter’s of Paul from the 6-Volume Set and reproduce them in their own volume. This is a different setting with a different page design. It does use the same font, paper, and overall footprint, but it has a greater focus on readability with more space around each word and no indications of verses or sections. Crossway’s ESV Reader’s Letters of Paul is an excellent readable edition that any fan of ESV reader’s editions will enjoy.

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Photography by hannah C brown

Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review – only an honest review. My opinions are my own. 

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.

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