Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Allan NLT on the way

Keep your eyes peeled towards the end of year - RL Allan anticipates a new edition of the NLT to be ready for order.

Allan's previous edition of the NLT sold out relatively soon after release and has the distinction of being one of those Allan editions that rarely makes its way to the secondary market. We should anticipate the same with this one.

The new Allan NLT will be a reader's edition akin to the New Classic Reader's edition of the ESV - large, double column with center column references.

For fans of the NLT, this Allan's pending edition is welcome news. The NLT is extremely under represented in the Premium Bible spectrum. 2015 brought a minor flurry of activity with Allan's previous edition, Schuyler's Caxton, and the re-launch of the Tyndale Select line. Things had come to halt since then and Tyndale has no plans to expand the Select line with other formats of the NLT.

The new edition will be close in size to the ESV and NASB reader's Allan produced - the spine width should be most similar to that of NASB reader's.

More news when pre-orders go live for this one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Schuyler Canterbury - Pre-order now - and check out that dark red calfskin!

A long journey is just about complete - Schuyler is taking pre-orders for the much anticipated Canterbury KJV. You can order via

The firebrick red is just about what you should expect from Schuyler. Schuyler has consistently provided this fine shade of red for the discerning connoisseur of the sacred book. 

New with the Canterbury KJV is the production of calfskin volumes. Take a gander at the sample from the calfskin:

The folks at Schuyler have confirmed that the calfskin editions will be as soft as the goatskin and feature a rich pebble grain. The significance here? Folks, rarely does one find calfskin that rivals goatskin in terms of texture, color capture, etc. It just isn't done - likely because most publishers do not invest that much time and attention into their calfskin editions. Schuyler is (rightly) bucking a trend here and showing what calfskin can do when it is done well.

The goatskin edition will, of course, be edge lined. The calfskin volumes will not be edge lined in order to keep the price point Schuyler had in mind, It is a trade one has to make and if the volume is otherwise well bound, then the absence of edge lining should not negatively impact the life of the book.

You can pre-order the red calfskin here.

Schuyler has gone all out with this one: red ornamental drop caps (which, proudly, I pushed for on their facebook page when the project was originally announced), single column psalms (the most effective format for the psalter), and....that dark red calfskin!

The text will be self pronouncing, which is normally not something I'm too fond of, however, Schuyler has eliminated the self pronunciation from over 30 of the popular proper nouns in the New Testament.

There is just so much Schuyler seems to have done right with this edition, one suspects this will be their most popular release.

The Canterbury KJV is due out late December. As they say, the waiting is the hardest part...

Monday, October 24, 2016

ESV Reader's Bible, Six Volume Set (Review)

After many months of anticipation, Crossway has published the six volume set of the Reader's Bible. The ESV Reader's Bible Six Volume set carries with it the air of being the culmination Crossway's succession of single column offerings. Progressing from strength to strength (and correcting weaknesses along the way), Crossway (with LEGO SpA), has seemingly reached the end-point of the single column format and subsequently produced an edition that is complex in its results.

Ever since the (sadly) out of print single column reference ESV, Crossway has progressively fine tuned the format. The SCR, Legacy, and Heritage bibles were all functional precursors to the original Reader's Bible published in 2014.

The 2014 one volume Reader's Bible should need no introduction. Crisp font, suave use of red print titles, chapter numbers and drop caps, the original one volume Reader's Bible was and is a nearly ideal iteration of the English bible. Finally, it seemed, the subtle and engaging formatting options so common in many European languages (such as in the Italian bibles) had made their presence felt in an English edition. Crossway delivered a bible that was exceptional for its usability.

Around the same time, Crossway released its edition of the psalter, essentially reproducing the Reader's Bible format. Approximately a year later, the Reader's Gospels were released. As with the six volume set, the Reader's Gospels was a result of a collaboration with LEGO SpA. It was greeted with a considerably warm reception and as a result the pump was primed for what is arguably Crossway's most anticipated release in some time.

The production values and build of this set is top notch.

The hardcover set comes in a slip case with a subtle cruciform design (truth be told, it looks like a monstrance).

This design is then appropriated into the stamping on the spin.

From top to bottom: six volume cloth bound, TruTone (one volume edition), and cloth bound (one volume edition)

I was actually taken aback by how compact the volumes are. All of the volumes are of the same length as the original Reader's Bible. Although this was to be expected, the pre-release media conveyed the sense that these volumes would be slightly bigger. Perhaps it was just me. Nevertheless, these editions follow in line with the original, roughly the size of any of the Library of America or Everyman's Library editions you may have on your self.

The paper immediately demonstrates its superiority over the original edition. The one volume edition is 30 gsm. The six volume set is made with 80 gsm. The end result is some of the higher opacity on the market. How does this impact things? Well, consider this. The one volume edition was perfectly line matched - an absolute necessity when you get to 30 gsm as the ghosting typically becomes more apparent. By comparison, the six volume edition is not consistently line matched, however, the ghosting is not particularly noticeable.

The font has undergone a change as well in the six volume set. The original edition has a thoroughly readable serif font - crisp, clear, and "modern" in the very best sense. The six volume set uses 12 point Trinite` font. The Trinite` font is quite readable and perhaps more in-line with what you should expect in a novel. As I understand from other sources, the font is supposedly based on the "Renaissance ideal" print. I honestly think it is a bit of a wash compared to the one volume edition - although this could well be as a result of my own lack of refinement.

As with the one volume edition, the binding is sewn (an essential if you want a bible that will last). LEGO has emphasized that a cold glue was used for the adhesion of the book block to the cover, the advantage being that the longer drying time required for the cold glue creates a stronger bond. I will leave it to book binding experts to confirm or deny this technique.

The six volume set has forgone any chapter numbers or the extremely minimum chapter and verse notation in the one volume edition. In its place, summary headings are utilized.

The actual build of these volumes is hard to beat. Granted, we have to distinguish between expected range of premium bibles and the more common one's on the market. These volumes are not meant to compete with a goatskin or calfskin from (insert your favorite publisher here). These are meant to be sturdy, solid, hardbound volumes. I've been looking for some weakness in the construction, and I've yet to identify anything that would be a red flag.

However, as I mentioned above, the results are complex. From a physical design standpoint, these are just about pitch perfect. So what is so complex about the results? Well, there is another perspective to consider.

What follows are honest critiques resulting from nearly exclusive use since the set arrived. They are meant to provide a full consideration of these volumes - especially where most the available reviews seem bowled over by the admittedly admirable build.

The value proposition of these set (even in contradistinction with the one volume edition) is that it facilitates a continuous reading of Scripture by presenting the text in a manner closer to how it would have been encountered in the original manuscripts. Implicit in this proposition are the notions that a) Scripture was read in the early Church in a manner similar to how we would read a continuous text; b) continuous reading was the norm in the early Church; c) references, chapter delineations, and textual variants can be successfully removed form the printed bible with the presence of online tools. In following this value proposition, the six volume set demonstrates the limitations of the formatting.

There is not, to the best of my knowledge, a scholar who would disagree with the proposition that the Scripture readings in the early Church were often much longer than is customary. This said, if you want to argue that it was common for an individual to simply pick up a scroll or codex and start reading, well, you will be pushed on that. The longer, more continuous reading of scripture (unhindered by chapter and verse) wasn't a private exercise, it had a particular context, and that context was liturgical. Now these were not abstract liturgical gatherings where people just came together and started reading. We have a library of ancient evidence (most of it untranslated, actually) and we can get a good idea of the form and function of the liturgical context in which the longer readings of Scripture were applied. It isn't so much that longer reading of Scripture was the norm, so much as it was that liturgical observance used to last for hours, and there was typically a ryme and reason behind it.

The idea that references or textual variants (the basics of having a solid scholarly apparatus in the Bible) can be removed from the text is, from the perspective of someone who has the background to engage in such a reading, somewhat disconcerting. In the absence of notation related to nuances in meaning, alternative translation, or variants in the textual tradition, In other words, by presenting the reader with a particular translation without any reference two a) alternative translation or b) alternative readings, one is effectively applying even more editorial imposition onto the sacred text by denying access to the textual tradition. Now, some people think this can be solved by having the materialize accessible via computer. Okay, fair enough. Do you want to be dependent upon an electronic device to read the Bible? Is it a seamless reading experience if you have to pivot from the book to the computer or phone screen? I suppose each to his own in this regard.

Of all the editorial decisions behind the six volume set (and again, this is written after continuous and basically exclusive use since it arrived), the decision to remove any chapter or verse indication is perhaps the most questionable. The benefit of the chapter and verse notation in the one volume edition is that it made it so wonderfully usable. Whether we like it or not, the chapter and verse delineation is so well established that it sort of provides a beacon or guidepost during one's reading. One has a rough idea of where one is when one stops or resumes reading. With the six volume set (the exception being the psalms), you're sot of in an open world and although that is probably the intention, it is worth asking: will the average reader is going to be in the position of memorizing the narrative of a given book so well that he or she intuitively knows his or her place in the text?

Now, none of this means that I would discourage someone from getting the six volume set. Its construction may well be a standard going forward. It is built to last and as an aesthetic experience of Scripture I am not sure there is anything else comparable.

This having been said, I cannot speak highly enough of the single volume edition. In fact, I hasten to add that if you don't have a copy of the single volume Reader's Bible, do yourself a favor and get one!

You can find the cloth bound six volume set at for a good price.

The top grain edition is exclusive to, and they have a pretty extensive webpage dedicated to it.

Looking to pick up a copy of the one volume ESV Reader's Bible? has them at a great price:

Top Grain



Friday, October 21, 2016

R.L. Allan ESV Reader's Bible and Personal Size Study Bible - 2017

Fans of R.L. Allan's nearly incomparable work in the area of Bible production have much to look forward to in 2017.

Allan's treatment of the ESV Personal Size Study Bible is targeted for a release in the first half of 2017. For those that missed out on the last edition, this is very good news. Allan's ESV Personal Size Study Bible is so popular it rarely finds its way on to secondary markets. The last version was astonishingly well done and there was a notable void since going out of print.

Allan's treatment of the Reader's Bible, once news of it circulates, will doubtlessly be subject to high expectations. My review of the 6 volume set is forthcoming. Suffice to say, the prospect of Allan producing an edition immediately capture's one's thoughts - almost to the point of distracting you from LEGO's production of the 6 volume set. This will be the single volume Reader's Bible - with Allan's production behind it. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

ALLAN ESV Single Column Personal Reference Edition

The platinum standard for Bible binding, R L ALLAN, is just about ready to ship their new Personal Reference Edition of the ESV.

Pre-orders are going on now. There is a small quantity available for shipment this month. You can find more information at ALLAN's website.

The Burgundy is a classic, but the blue looks amazing:

Simply put, this is how to make a Bible.

The Society of Biblical Literature and the failed experiment of an open society

It has been some time since I was involved with academia in a professional capacity. I keep tabs on a few subjects, publications, scholars, articles and colleagues. though, by and large, I am unlikely to spend too much time in former pursuits.

This said, I paused when reading the initial blurb that InterVarsity Press had been barred from the SBL's annual meeting.

What is the hub-bub all about? It seems to be a matter of contemporary academic ideology coming into discord with Christian Theology and Anthropology. The controversy swirls over IVP's “Theological Summary of Human Sexuality.”

SBL's letter regarding their decision fires on all fronts, stating:

The Council of the Society of Biblical Literature will meet on October 29-30, and I will raise these concerns at that time. I will also discuss my concerns with the American Academy of Religion to determine whether InterVarsity Press will be allowed to exhibit at future Annual Meetings, beginning in 2017. Further, I will request a temporary suspension of IVP’s booth registration for the 2017 Annual Meeting while we take this matter under advisement.

You can find a well thought out reaction at Patheos.

The action taking by the SBL aptly shows the complexity of our times. The West is committed to the idea of the open society defined by diversity. This dominant cultural goal has, in recent years, reached such status so as to become a pervasive framework into which every aspect of the culture's leading institutions is framed. In this instance, academic purpose of the SBL is in conflict with the theological position of IVP. The fact that this conflict exists at all raises some important (and deeply philosophical considerations).

The SBL took its action based upon a document on sexuality that appears at odds with the goals of diversity in an open society. Yet, this document is based in large part upon a text, the Bible, which itself upholds positions on sexuality which run contrary to the norms of the contemporary West. Will the SBL summarily ban the ancient text that constitutes its purpose? Will it mandate specific interpretative norms designed to either reach a predetermined conclusion, or discourage study of questionable texts (from the perspective of contemporary Western sexuality)?

In many ways these events are representative of the crisis facing Christianity in contemporary Western culture - Christianity is forced to create interpretive norms which allow for greater assimilation of Western ideals, or it adheres to its Scripture and tradition as a result becomes more marginalized in the West.

The above being noted, the SBL's actions are disturbing in so far as they are a targeted attempt to censor legitimate discourse and restrict the exchange and debate of ideas. It is not as though IVP is dishonest with their sources - the document draws very legitimate conclusions based upon Christian Scripture (and tradition). That these legitimate conclusions are at odds with contemporary Western ideals ought not cause controversy if acknowledged. From a certain perspective, this action represents an attempt to regulate authorized intellectual discussion and interpretation. The motivations can only be speculated, although the end results are somewhat clear - scholars or publishers supportive of a more traditional interpretation of Scripture or of certain issues will be forced out of the academic discussion until such time as they form their own contrary institutions. Those institutions, however, will be marked with the "reactionary" label and struggle to acquire the perception of academic legitimacy. If taken far enough, the decision of the SBL may influence the AAR, the long term consequence of which could impact accreditation of theological schools (by association) and the future of theological scholarship.

This entire event is itself a picture of the crossroads to which post-Enlightenment ideals have come to in the Western world. It was some 20 years ago that a major academic institution in the North Eastern United States found itself in the middle of a controversy stemming from a student flying the Nazi flag outside of his or her dorm window. The president of said university determined that the student would not be subject to any discipline and could continue to fly the flag. The reasoning was simple - the ideals of the open society run contrary to notions of censorship and a legitimate debate and exchange of ideas cannot happen if dissenting views are suppressed.

The SBL's decision runs contrary to the intellectual ideal underpinning the aspirations of an open society. One wonders if this is not systemic of the West in general at this juncture in cultural history. It seems "tolerance" is taking an increasingly authoritarian approach to dissent in the effort to fully institutionalize the open society's ideals. If we are at such a juncture, then we no longer have an open society - we are witnessing the birth of a new totalitarianism.

When legitimate academic or intellectual discussion is censored, it is often the precursor to the establishment of a intellectual orthodoxy for a new cultural regime. The open society only survives if academic institutions (be they universities or forums for peer review) are committed to its ideals. When intellectual or academic differences become dissent, the gates are beginning to be closed.

The greatest benefit we have in the West is the free exchange and debate of ideas. The moment we lose this, we have nothing to distinguish ourselves from the list of totalitarian regimes that so reviles us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

ESV Reader's Bible 6 Volume Set - Making of Video

Crossway is expecting the 6 volume Reader's Bible to make an impact. A rather large one, apparently. So much so that a "making of" documentary was made for the pending release.

You can find it here:

The full video should be loaded in the next day or two. It provides a little bit of insight into LEGO's philosophy and technique.

The release, I believe, has been pushed up to October 15th.