For the fourth installment of this series of posts on study Bibles, I want to offer some tips regarding selecting a study Bible.
I suppose there are more study Bibles available for purchase than probably any other time in history. If you are interested in getting a study Bible, do your homework before investing. Ask yourself important questions like: What is my purpose for getting a study Bible? Is it to help me understand my Bible as I do my daily Bible reading? Is it to help me prepare for teaching the Bible to my children? Is it for helping prepare a Bible lesson for church? Is it to help me have answers for my skeptical friends? Answering these kinds of questions will help you narrow down the selection available.
Another wise move is to ask your pastor. For some of you that read this blog, that would be me. I would be honored to offer help you in any way I can. Ask other seasoned Christians. Use the internet as a resource to research facts and opinions about the various selections. You can always go into a store and ask one of the employees. But my personal experience is that they usually know far less on the subject than your pastor or an elder at your church.
Another question to consider is if you have a preference for a certain translation. Many study Bibles only come in one version. For example, the Apologetics Study Bible (which I do not own), is only available in the Holman Christian Standard Version (an excellent translation). It should go without saying that the popular NIV Study Bible and ESV Study Bible are only available in their namesakes. But some study Bibles are available in more than one version. For example, the Ryrie Study Bible is available in the New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), and the King James Version (KJV). In some cases, you might really like the idea of a certain study Bible but not be thrilled about the version in which it is available.
I want to mention one more issue when making a purchase of a study Bible. Most study Bibles come with different price levels as well. Hardback versions are usually the cheapest, followed by bonded leather, and then genuine leather. It was only recently that I learned that the vast majority of leather Bibles are actually pigskin. Funny, I always assumed the leather was from cows. A few study Bibles offer top-of-the-line leather as an option, like calfskin or goatskin. But if you decide to go that route, be prepared to shell out the big bucks for one of those babies. For example, the suggested retail price for the ESV Study Bible in premium calfskin leather is $239.99. If it is any comfort, when you pay that kind of money you usually get a lifetime guarantee on the product. Also, that is an extreme example. You can get a high end leather Bible for under $100.
If you want to save some money, go with a hardback edition. They usually are fairly durable. A word to the wise: don’t waste your money on a bonded leather Bible. For those of us who have learned the hard way (trying to save a buck while hoping to preserve the look of leather), we have learned that the words “bonded leather” really mean “will fall apart soon.”
In very recent years there has actually been a revolution of sorts in Bible production with the development of imitation leather that is very impressive. ESV Bibles in the very affordable “TruTone” material are very attractive, very affordable, and seem to be more durable than bonded leather. But time will tell. So this might be an option. My ESV Study Bible has a TruTone cover.
Tomorrow I will conclude this series with a discussion about where to purchase a study Bible as well as my personal recommendations for the best study Bibles available.