This week I have the pleasure of reviewing the ESV Heirloom Bible, Heritage Edition in Goatskin put out by Crossway.
First things first, the ESV bible is a formal equivalent translation, which means that it seeks to be more word for word in relation to the original languages. While the ESV is formal, I have found it to be far more readable than the “competing” formal translation of the NASB (New American Standard Bible). In terms of readability and translation, ESV has consistently remained my go to. Read more about the translation here and here. The textual basis of the ESV is what you would expect in a modern translation. For the Greek text, the Nestle-Aland 28th, and United Bible Societies 5thedition. For the Hebrew text the ESV uses the Biblia Hebracia Struttgartensia, 5thedition.
Right out of the gate a typical question arises when it comes to Crossway’s premium bibles, “Is Crossway still using China for the production of their bibles?” The answer, in this case, is an enthusiastic and resounding “no.” This edition of the Heirloom Bible is crafted in the Netherlands by Royal Jongbloed and this bible is absolutely gorgeous.
You may remember my review of the ESV in Goatskin with Creeds and Confessions and while the bible was beautiful, when comparing both the price and quality, the difference cannot be exaggerated. I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I wish this edition included the Creeds and Confessions, but that was a special edition and so my grief is moot (while we’re at it, publishers: bring back the old tradition of having an appendix including the Apocrypha too).
Carrying on: As soon as I opened the box of the Heritage Edition ESV, I could literally smell the difference. The edition produced in China still has a lingering smell of what I perceive to be chemicals (after a year and a half of use) while this edition smells like wonderful leather. Strange as it may be, there is now a running joke in my house regarding how many times I stop my bible reading in order to just enjoy the smell of this edition. The differences don’t stop with the wonderful smell either, but it also has a beautiful feel and finish. You want to constantly hold and handle this bible. This edition is single column with art gilding, four ribbon markers, and a 9.25 font. Something that I observed was that while the font was smaller than some of my other books, it was easier to read because of the print quality. This font appears nice and dark on the paper contrary to some of the faded fonts you find within bibles. Additionally, the layout is fantastic with notes being placed at the bottom of the pages making for less distracted reading. Not only this, but this bible is manageable. One of my complaints on the ESV Goatskin with Creeds and Confessions was in regards to its unwieldy size, but this bible, however, is comfortable for any environment sitting at 5.5” x 8.25”.
What needs to be noted is that this bible does have the full-color maps in the back, but it does not have a concordance. As briefly mentioned above: there are notes in this bible. These notes and references are those that you would normally find within a bible (translation, explanatory notes, technical notes, and cross reference notes), but they are all placed at the bottom of the page as a footnote. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of this at first, until I came to see how much of a difference it made in regards to reading distractions. That said, I have one gripe about the footnote superscripts. I’m not sure if it was just me, but the verse numbering and footnote superscripts were close enough in their appearance that it actually threw me off a couple of times. The superscripts are italicized so this may be more of a problem with my brain rather than the print itself and so I don’t include this as a “real” negative, but something to look at. In fact, if you’d like to take a look for yourself, Crossway offers a downloadable excerpt on their website (Cover through Genesis 7).
I will say, I love everything about this Bible except the placement of the ribbons. For whatever reasons the four ribbons are placed stacked in twos making for a minor irritation. This can be fixed quite easily by nearly anyone, but you would hope that such an easy fix would be addressed at production given this complaint with some of Crossways’ other bibles I’ve seen from reviewers. With this said, it is difficult for me to find other things I dislike about this bible. Where the average individual will have to spend some time considering this purchase is around the price. The Heritage comes in Black Goatskin and in Brown Horween Leather, and both of these price points will make it clear to the individual that these are long term Bibles. Thankfully, Crossway offers a Free Crossway Plus Membership (no strings attached really) that can get you 30% off of any bible. A good thing is that while the Bibles are pricey, and ones you’ll want to pick up for the long haul, they do include a lifetime guarantee.
As mentioned, the options for this edition are Black Goatskin and Brown Horween Leather. When choosing between the Goatskin and Horween, I found myself choosing the former as the latter is a natural leather that you can expect to wear over time (see this article from the company in regards to the leather here). This may be something worth considering in more depth, with a little bit of research, prior to making your decision.
With this all said, Crossway’s switch to Netherland production has significantly increased the quality of their bible, which means you’re getting your money’s worth with the new line of bibles. I highly recommend this bible for anyone who wants to treat themselves or gift to another a high-quality bible that will last them a lifetime. Crossway has truly put out something special with this edition and you will be wanting to pick up this bible all of the time.
Check out these editions here:
Nick resides in Texas with his wife, daughter, and son. After meeting Christ in 2012, Nick began a blog in order to teach things that he found interesting. Eventually this blog would become a podcast in 2017 wherein the vision was to teach the scriptures and theology to anyone who was interested!