Crossway’s ESV New Classic Reference Bible – Review

Crossway ESV New Classic Reference Bible

The first edition of the ESV ever published was the Classic Reference Bible in 2001. The New Classic Reference Bible is an update to that Bible. The New Classic Reference (NCR) has been around since 2011. This is a brand new 2015 edition in TruTone Coffee imitation leather with paper liner and sewn binding.


Crossway ESV New Classic Reference Bible

Crossway ESV New Classic Reference Bible

Crossway ESV New Classic Reference Bible

Crossway ESV New Classic Reference Bible

The imitation leather looks great. I love the color and the texture. It’s a little stiff out of the box, but I think it will break in and lay open at Genesis 1. The format is the standard two-column, paragraph, center-column reference with footnotes in the footer and section headings throughout the text.


Crossway ESV New Classic Reference Bible

The paper is around 30gsm or more. The opacity is decent. It doesn’t have line-matching. Where the lines do match up the print looks great. It has a 9-point font with maybe a 10 leading. There is some slight variation in the print quality. It’s more noticeable in the red letter, which ranges from dark to medium. The variation is probably my only complaint. When it’s dark it’s my favorite red letter. Verses are easy to find because there’s a little bit of space between the verses and the reference numbers. It’s hard to say for sure, but unless my eyes are playing tricks on me the verse number might be a little darker.

Cross References

It has 80,000 cross references. Some references I noticed were:

  • Genesis 1:1 – Job 38:4-7, Ps 33:6, 136:5, Isa 42:5, 45:18, Jn 1:1-3, Ac 14:15, 17:24, Col 1:16, 17, Heb 1:10, 11:3, Rev 4:11
  • Matthew 17:20 – Jn 11:40, Mt 6:30, 21:21, 22, Mk 11:23, Lk 17:6, Mt 13:31, vs 9, 1 Cor 13:2, Mk 9:23
  • John 1:1 – Gen 1:1, Col 1:17, 1 Jn 1:1, Rev 1:4, 8, 17, 3:14, 21:6, 22:13, 19:13, Heb 4:12, 1 Jn 1:1 (different part of the verse), 1 Jn 1:2, Jn 17:5, Phil 2:6
  • 1 John 1:1 – Jn 1:1, 1 Jn 2:13, 14, Ac 4:20, Jn 19:35, ch 4:14, Jn 1:14, 2 Pet 1:16, Lk 24:39, Jn 20:27

As you can see there are plenty enough cross-references to help with study and sermon prep. If you need any more than what’s in this Bible then you’ll need to use external tools anyway. If there are more verses that will fit in the center column they are placed under the last verse on the page. This works because it doesn’t restrict the references to only what will fit in the center column. It can be a little confusing having more than one place to look for references, but I don’t use them enough for it to be a problem.


The footnotes include manuscript variants, Hebrew and Greek difficulties, alternate renderings, alternate spellings, etc. They’re useful for study and sermon prep.

Book Introductions

Each book has an introduction that’s about a paragraph long. They mostly give a quick summary of the book by telling the primary events and what the verses are for those events. Some discuss the author, setting, and recipients.


The concordance is 72 pages with 3 columns per page. It has 3000 entries with 14,000 references. Some examples include:

  • Faith – 36
  • Faithful – 12
  • Faithfulness – 7
  • Faithless – 2
  • God – 56
  • Goddess – 2
  • Godliness – 6
  • Godly – 4
  • Gods – 4
  • Praise – 11
  • Praised – 4
  • Praises – 3
  • Praising – 4
  • Pray – 13
  • Prayed – 5
  • Prayer – 11
  • Prayers – 7
  • Praying – 4

There is enough here to be helpful for personal study and sermon prep. It’s easy to use and read.


There are 17 full-color illustrations on thick paper. These are sites, objects, structures, etc. They are very detailed and have lots of facts with references to where information can be found in Scripture. Illustrations include:

  • The Tabernacle and Court
  • The Tabernacle Tent
  • The Table for the Bread of the Presence
  • The High Priest’s Holy Garments
  • The Alter of Incense
  • The Golden Lampstand
  • The Bronze Altar
  • The Ark of the Covenant
  • Jerusalem in the Time of David
  • Jerusalem in the Time of Solomon
  • Solomon’s Temple
  • Jerusalem in the Time of Hezekiah
  • Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
  • Herod’s Temple Complex in the Time of Jesus
  • Herod’s Temple in the Time of Jesus
  • The Synagogue and Jewish Worship
  • Golgotha and the Temple Mount

There are 12 full-color maps on thick paper. Maps include:

  1. The World of the Patriarchs
  2. The Exodus from Egypt
  3. Israel under Saul, David, and Solomon
  4. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
  5. Jerusalem in the Time of the Old Testament
  6. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
  7. Palestine under Roman Rule
  8. The Apostle’s Early Ministry
  9. Paul’s First and Second Missionary Journeys
  10. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey and His Voyage to Rome
  11. The Spread of Christianity in the First Two Centuries
  12. The Middle East Today

The maps are labeled well and are easy to use.

Other features include family presentation pages, 1 ribbon, and gilded edges.


It’s easy to see why the New Classic Reference Bible from Crossway is so popular. I love the size (6 x 9 x 1 3/8), layout, and features of this Bible. It’s a winning combination in my book. I’d love to see this exact Bible, same layout, etc., as a KJV. It’s excellent for reading, carrying, studying, and preaching. I personally prefer to preach from a slightly larger font in verse format, but the font is bold enough to see easily and the verse numbers are easier to find than many Bibles in paragraphs. I think preachers that use paragraph format will love it. If this was my only ESV, I would be happy with it. I highly recommend the ESV NCR from Crossway. ISBN: 9781433545573

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

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.


  1. Jayson

    Hi there,
    Great review. I am curious if the bible within the second and fifth photo are still sold today? The one in the first photo showing a black bible I believe is the bible in which this review is regarding correct? I would like to know if the bible with the red hues (or burgundy) is still selling by crossway, or if this colored one is the one you referenced as the first edition published in 2001? I am buying a new bible, and would love this color, size, and print. Any information would be great!

    Thank you for your help!

    • Randy Brown

      Hi Jason. It’s the same Bible. I didn’t color-correct my photos accurately enough and they look like different Bibles. The 2nd and 5th photos are the most accurate. You can get it at Amazon here: Crossway ESV New Classic Reference.

  2. Jayson McKown

    Hi Randy,

    Thank you for explaining this to me, and for your time. I really do appreciate it. Have a great day!


  3. Nathaniel Ferguson

    For preaching would you recommend this edition or the crossway wide margin?

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Nathaniel. Good question. Both are great choices. If I carried the Bible to preach other places I might go for the personal size. Other than that I’d choose the wide margin for the note space.

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