Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Bevy of Bibles for the New Year

By Lauren Yarger
It's that time of year, and many of you have contacted me for recommendations about last-minute gifts of bibles. It's also the time of year when many plan a new year's resolution to read through the entire bible or to spend more time in the word. Fortunately, I received a bunch of new bibles from Zondervan to review. I already have recommended a bunch of them to those of you who contacted me via email. All of the bibles mentioned here are New International Versions. Here's a wrap-up of what I found:

The NIV Thinline bible is compact and ideal for throwing in a travel bag (the entire New International translation is contained in a volume that is less than one inch thick. I have used this model myself for years and gave it as a gift for Christmas this year. This updated version (with a purple grape and orchid motif on the faux-leather cover) offers a font called "comfort print" which allows the smaller text size (9.4 point) to be read with relative ease.

The text is formatted in two columns with the words of Jesus are in red. The volume lies flat for study.

ISBN 978-0-310-44890-7

The Jesus Bible. with a light blue imitation leather cover, comes boxed and includes a custom reading experience app. Louie Giglio is editor in chief of a large editorial staff which composes and compiles information throughout the volume including essays from Giglio, Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias and Randy Alcorn around the theme that all of the books and stories in the bible are about Jesus.

Information about certain passages is highlighted on the side of the text. Other pages with commentary on topics, such as people of the time, what their lives were like, how the law affected them, etc., are interspersed on pages before and within the text. These informational additions are abundant (more than 300 full-page articles and 700 sidebar pieces are included) and offer quite a lot of insight into the scripture.

The biblical text itself, formatted in a single column, is pretty small to make room for all of the commentaries, timelines and blank spaces on pages for notes. The volume packs a wallop of information and is a helpful tool for those looking to do more intense study.

ISBN 978-7803-10-44469-5

The Beautiful Word Bible is available in several formats, including a coloring version that offers hundreds pf versus to color in for those embracing the adult coloring book fad. I even received a large-print version of the latter which might just inspire me to take up the hobby. It is large sized and hard cover with cloth. The print is very easy on older eyes and the journaling and art work you can add to the volume make bible study a personal experience.

The non-coloring version has plenty of room for notes. It comes with 500 beautifully illustrated, full color verses (and the one I examined comes with a very attractive, Italian-style taupe and cranberry leather cover which would make a beautiful gift). The single-column text is small, but the volume is compact.

Leather non coloring version: $49.99 ISBN 978-0-310-44427-5

Large-print Coloring Bible: $49.99 ISBN 978-0-310-44705-4

Journal the Word bibles are just what they say: the scriptural text with lined space in the extra-wide margins of each page for your notes.

Hardcover with pink floral cloth.

ISBN 978-0-310-445166-6

The Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, edited by John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener, is a treasure trove of biblical culture. The leather-like covered volume, with a sage/leaf motif, comes boxed for attractive gift-giving, but bible study lovers might want to hold on to a copy for themselves. It is loaded with helpful information about the laws, politics, geography, literature and culture of the bible as mentioned in scripture. Color photos bring passages to life. The new and old testaments start with introductions that include key concepts and background information. The Old Testament includes a chart to help readers understand terms.

The text (small) is formatted in two columns, with detailed notes at the bottom of each page to explain the nuances of each verse. The amount of information in this volume is impressive and would be a handy tool for anyone who teaches bible study or for pastors as they prepare sermons.

Checking out these bibles was like an early Christmas present. I realized it has been a while since I have upgraded the bible I use for study. You can benefit from these samples too -- I have some to give away to my readers after the new year. Stay tuned for details!

ISBN 978-0-310-08095-4

Copies of the bibles mentioned here were provided by the publisher without expectation of a review -- positive or otherwise. If you are a publisher or author and have books that fall into the Christian or Arts non-fiction genre and would like a review, contact us for information on how to submit. We don't review self-published books.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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