Crossway is known for both single and double column settings in paragraph format. These settings a great for reading, but some find them difficult to preach from. Some simply prefer verse-by-verse whether they preach from it or not. To solve this, Crossway has produced the ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible.
Cover and Binding
The cover is TruTone in Deep Brown (ISBN: 9781433545597) with a paper liner. It’s stitched around the perimeter. I like the elegant look of the brown. It has a sewn binding and lies open with no trouble. It’s flexible but I can hold it open in one hand and it doesn’t try to fall out of my hand. I do have to spread my fingers out to keep it flat. Overall size is 7 x 9 5/8 x 1 ¼.
Imitation leathers are great economical choice for the short-term but they might not last over time. If you can afford it I recommend the genuine leather edition. You can always get the TruTone edition and try it out – and then have it rebound when the time comes or upgrade to genuine leather later.
Paper and Print
The paper is 36 gsm Apple Thin Opaque. It actually reads thinner to me because of the show-through. This isn’t that noticeable where the lines match up, but it is distracting where they do not. It actually does look better than my initial impression before I unstuck the pages (they were only slightly stuck). The paper feels thick enough to the touch to turn the pages easily.
The font is black-letter 9-point Lexicon. It’s consistently dark throughout and easy to read. It’s a clean text even with the letter and numbers keying the text to the references and footnotes because they’re small enough to ignore. I don’t find myself having to look at every footnote like I do in other Bibles. They’re also large enough for me to see when I do want them. The text never feels crowded. The word and line spacing feels natural and comfortable.
This is a double-column, verse-by-verse, layout with references under the last verse and footnotes in the footer. It has a 7/8” margin on the outside which is great for short notes. The inner margin is 3/8” which helps bring the text out of the gutter and gives you some space for symbols or small notes. Verse numbers are indented and bold to help make the verses stand apart more. It has section headings but it doesn’t have any paragraph indicators. This layout is excellent for preaching, which I suspect is its primary purpose.
I like it when references are next to the verse they correspond to because it makes them easy to find, but that can take up too much space in the margins which creates narrow columns. It can also clutter the page. This layout actually focuses more on the text and allows for wider columns (columns are 2 7/16” wide). This gives more characters per line (it has 44 spaces) and better line spacing. Unless I’m using the Bible for study I don’t use the references that often anyway so the extra time to find the references is worth it. This also allows for more references or larger print for the references because they’re not limited to the space beside the verse.
Each book includes a paragraph that gives some basic information about the books’ author, setting, purpose, audience, story, time of writing, etc. Although most do not, some do include some theological bias.
References and Footnotes
References are keyed to the verses with letters. The references themselves are placed under the last verse on the page, giving your eye a single place to look. They’re easy to find because the verse numbers are bold. Here are some examples of references:
- 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, ch 6:30, 21:21, 22, Mk 11:23, Lk 17:6, ch 13:31, v 9, 1 Cor 13:2, Mk 9:23
- Mark 11:23 – Mt 17:20, Ps 46:2, 1 Cor 13:2, Rev 8:8, Rom 4:20, 14:23, Jm 1:6, ch 16:17, Jn 14:12
- John 1:1 – Gen1:1, 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, 2, ch 17:5, Phil 2:6
- 1 John 1:1 – ch 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
Footnotes include textual variations, difficulties, alternate readings, explanations of technical terms, alternate spellings of names and places, etc.
The concordance is 76 pages with 3 columns per page. It includes 3000 entries with 14,000 references (or so they say… one of these days I’m going to count them to see for myself. I guess for now I’ll take their word for it). It’s a good concordance for basic study and sermon and class prep. Here are some sample entries with the number of references given:
- 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 are 8 maps on thick glossy paper. The colors are distinctive and subdued toward the earth-tones, so there’s nothing bright and vibrant here (I actually prefer this – too much color tends to strike me as cartoonish). The maps are labeled well, annotated, and show distance, routes, and elevations. Maps include:
- The World of The Patriarchs
- The Exodus from Egypt (shows a possible Red Sea Crossing)
- The Twelve Tribes of Israel
- Israel Under Saul, David, and Solomon
- Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
- Palestine in the Time of Jesus
- Paul’s First and Second Missionary Journeys
- Paul’s Third Missionary Journey and His Voyage to Rome
The ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible is a good choice for preaching. It even has some space for your notes because books start on a new page. I’d like to see some pages added in the back for sermon outlines and notes. I had no problem preaching and reading in public with this Bible. Of course it’s not just for preaching. I recommend it to anyone that wants a verse-by-verse reference Bible in ESV. It’s a good Bible for reading, carry, study, teaching, and preaching.
Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review – only an honest review.