Friday, July 13, 2012

New American Standard Large Print Reference Bible

I recently purchased a New American Standard large print ultrathin reference Bible from Foundation Publications. But that will come later in the story that follows.

I used my first two New American Standard Bibles from around 1973 until 1994 when I began using the New International Version publicly.

I have really appreciated my NIV Ultrathin Reference Edition since 1994. It’s been a great Bible. I used it through a lot of years of working with people. But I began looking for two things about six months ago. I wanted a NIV that gave me more space to write notes. I’ve been hoping to bring all the “keeper” notes from all my Bibles together in one volume. Additionally I was interested in getting another Scofield Reference Bible. I had a Scofield King James for awhile, not long after I became a Christian many years ago.

I purchased the NIV Scofield Study Bible III from Oxford University Press – Basketweave Black/Acorn, 6371RRL. When I first opened it I thought, “This is fantastic.” Wonderful Bible … except for two things – the thumb index, which will be a sure wear point for someone who uses their Bible a lot and the bulkiness of the Bible – a full 3 pounds according to our scales and a little over 1-1/2 inches thick. Now it’s not as thick as some of these other note laden versions out there, but for me it is a bit of a negative. So the jury is out on this Bible. I’ve since come to appreciate the fact that this excellent Bible has the “original” NIV text.

I called the company but there are no Bibles in this format to be had without the thumb index.
Okay. That’s Bible number one. Maybe you’re developing a picture of a picky Bible user. I’ll admit it. Probably like most other leaders, I am. It’s important to me.

Now the story becomes more expensive. Part of the problem is that you can’t see all the Bibles physically, pick them up and examine them. You order them from little pictures and (often incorrect or sloppy) short descriptions.

This big, thumb indexed Bible just hasn’t managed to cut it for me. Maybe it will later, but I’ll have to lift more weights to stand up front and teach from it much. Again … maybe later.
So I took a different approach and purchased another Bible. This time I was traveling and found a Large Print NIV Thinline Reference Bible in a Christian bookstore. Great Bible. Love the feel of it. I didn’t realize until then how much I might like the large print. ISBN 9780310436362. So I took it with me when we went on a little holiday and did a lot of reading. What’s this? The wording departed from the NIV text I had used for so many years. In some places disturbingly so (to me).

I realized I had purchased the 2011 version of the NIV. I won’t even go there in terms of the translation. Suffice it to say that I am having a tough time using it. I feel sad that we have this new translation of the NIV out there and the original translation won’t even be available for purchase anymore. I’ve spent a lot of hours reading up on just what gave us this particular translation and I (that’s me personally) just don’t feel comfortable using it publicly. (At this point neither the text nor the reviews convince me it is wise [for me] to use it.) This is very regrettable to me. (Don’t write me nasty comments. They will not be posted.) And it led me to make one more purchase.

One more purchase… I know – it’s adding up.

I made the trip back to the very accurate, but updated word for word NASB translation that I had used for so many years. ISBN 9781581351316, Style #1563. This is a beautiful Bible. As I mentioned it is the updated NASB, and does not contain the original version’s thee’s and thou’s etc. This Bible is large print with a font size of 10. Let me tell you it is wonderful to read.
  • The Bible cover measures 7 X 9-3/4 inches.The pages themselves about 6-5/16 inches by 9-1/4 inches.
  • This Bible is about 1-5/16 inches thick. It’s great to hold in your hand and easy to flip to a new reference.
  • The top margin gives you just a little less than ½ inch to write in.
  • The bottom margin gives you about 3/8 inch.
  • The side margin affords 5/8 inch writing space.
  • And close as I can tell the inside margin is about ½ inch, but it is really hard to write much beyond 3/8 of an inch content in that gutter.
  • I bought the genuine leather, $49.95 through Amazon.
This NASB Bible has great references. I must say I always thought the NIV references did not even compare with the quality of the NASB references, so I am happy to have them back. The language is somewhat more ‘clunky’ than NIV and you have to weigh that up when you are using it for public reading.

So there you have it. 

A Scofield original NIV that I would love to use were it lighter, less thick and didn’t have those irritating thumb index things.

An ‘Updated’ NIV with what has become a controversial translation. Great to hold though.
And another great to hold, New American Standard, super because I like to know what the original languages say even though I don’t know Hebrew or Greek, but a little clunky for using with other people at teaching and study times.

For me, will it be … Scofield ‘original’ NIV or a return to the NASB? Not sure yet. For now I am really enjoying the NASB. I am recalling that so much of the scripture I memorized by constant reading actually occurred using this version. For now it’s really a thrill to get back into  it.

So we’ll see as time goes on. I guess my original goals of Scofield NIV are going to be hard to meet in a Bible that seems the right size and has no thumbed index. And that Scofield does have lots of room for the notes I wanted … and it does have some great notes of its own. On the other hand, I have appreciated the return trip to the NASB and it’s word for word approach, loads of solid references and that larger print … mostly kind of like discovering an old friend was in town.

Update: July 13, 2012  I've been using the NASB and absolutely loving it. It's a great Bible all the way round. Over time I've been doing a lot of comparing with other translations on my iPhone Bible program (Laridian). The NASB (to me) is as easy to read as the ESV. ESV seems pretty 'clunky' also. It about evens out for those two very good translations. I've spent a chunk of time also comparing HSCB translation and it just hasn't rung bells for me. I'm glad its there for another translation for me to refer to. 

So ... for now it's the NASB ... and gladly so. 



  1. Gary, I'm curious what you think about the NKJV ??

    I haven't looked at it very closely... Renee

  2. Other than comparing passages over time, I have not spent a lot of time in the NKJV and really don't feel I can say much about it. Certainly there are charts that show the spectrum of translations from Word-for-Word (literal) to Thought-for-Thought (toward paraphrase). I'll find a chart and post about it shortly.

  3. You are probably already aware that there are a lot of charts available comparing translations. Here is a PDF that shows both the chart and offers some comparison.

    Notice that the NKJV is moving toward the more literal side of the scale. Again, I have not used it as a Bible for personal or public use teaching. I have heard that it reads a lot better than the archaic KJV. (For those who use the KJV, don't blast me. I just choose to use something more easily understood by those I work with. They do not speak in King James.)

    FYI - I always keep an eye on the Christian Booksellers Bible sales as they come out regularly. NKJ is #3 both in dollar sales and unit sales, behind NIV at #1 and KJV at #2. The NASB sits at #7 and #9 respectively.

    Each person is different. I value accuracy and readability for when I am teaching or otherwise working with the Scriptures with other people. The original NIV used to provide that balance pretty well. Since it is no longer produced and I would be supporting a gender-neutral approach to translation if I were to be the cause of someone else buying a new NIV, I have chosen to go back to the NASB wtih the ESV (perhaps) as a back up to that.

    Anyway ... I am no expert, and I've probably gone well past the original requirement of your question. The bottom line ... whatever Bible we have ... read it to grow in relationship to the One it is all about, our Lord Jesus Christ.