I just received a review copy of the HCSB Minister’s Bible in the mail. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I really like the HCSB translation. My first impressions of the Bible is that the formatting is the best I have seen. I absolutely love the single column paragraph format. It is also a black-letter Bible, thank you B&H Publishing! The Bible itself has all of the technical textual notations at the bottom of the page. It is not a reference Bible. I have absolutely no problems with this at all. Typically the references do not run parallel to my train of thought.
There are some articles in the back of the Bible that would be helpful for those in ministry. The Bible does include the normal HCSB text Bible features: plan of salvation, concordance, bullet note index, and several tables. I will have much more on this Bible in the future. Everything that I has seen so far is absolutely wonderful.
The Bible is smyth sewn which makes it possible for the Bible to lay flat and will also ensure that the binding lasts longer (kudos to Holman for making the majority of their Bibles with sewn bindings – we appreciate it). The cover itself is genuine cowhide leather, which in my opinion is just as nice as many of the calfskin Bibles on the market.
The font is very easy on the eyes in regard to size. It is a different font character than I have seen in other Bibles. It is different than the font in the original HCSB Minister’s Bible, but it appears to be the same font utilized in the HCSB Study Bible. I like it. It gives it less of a “bubbly” look that the original edition’s font had.
Christians are unique when it comes to Bibles. There is a large segment which does not want to see any variation between Bible translations (font, format, translation theory, etc…) so I don’t know how this will effect potential customers. I like that this is a black letter text. The truth is that there was no such thing in the original letters. A black letter text forces readers to recognize that every single word in the Bible carries equal inspiration and weight.
The text is in a paragraph format with a single column of text. I prefer this layout of the biblical text. It allows you to focus on the text at hand rather than all of the visual noise on the rest of the page. It does feature the textual notes at the bottom of the page which is very a useful feature. The notes provide pertinent information for alternate renderings, Hebrew or Greek textual manuscript information, or literal translations.
This is a wide margin edition. It has ample amount of space on the outside of the text which allows users to record their own studies and thoughts on the biblical text. I have been able to record notes from my own studies in the margins and have had sufficient room to write. I think that this is an excellent feature in a Bible. The Bible paper is better than average. There is some bleed through from the text on the opposite side of a page. The boldness of the font on the facing page actually makes the bleed through less of an issue. The font on the facing page grabs your attention and minimizes the distraction.
There is a pastoral helps section. I am a pastor but do not choose to use the helps. The helps are well done and could be very useful. I choose to use this as more of a study/teaching/preaching Bible, not a minister’s manual (not that there is anything wrong with such a use). There is a full concordance in the back of the Bible.
Since the HCSB is an optimal equivalence translation such a feature is a useful tool. All things considered, I think that this is an excellent edition of the HCSB. I would encourage others, who like the HCSB and want a Bible to record their study notes in, to purchase this Bible.