HCSB: Still no basic Reference Bible…

The publishers of the HCSB are evidently continuing their trend of publishing topical Bibles without providing a standard Reference Bible. New this fall will be the following:


The Apologetics Study Bible :: “Real Questions. Straight Answers. Stronger Faith. The Apologetics Study Bible will help today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in this age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. More than one-hundred key questions and articles placed throughout the volume about faith and science prompt a rewarding study experience at every reading. Highlights of this new thinking person’s edition of God’s Word include the full text of the popular Holman Christian Standard Bible® translation, two-color page layout, an introduction to each Bible book focusing on its inherent elements of apologetics, and profiles of historic Christian apologists from Justin Martyr to C. S. Lewis. Also featured are valuable contributions from a who’s-who of modern apologists such as Chuck Colson, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, Ravi Zacharias, J. P. Moreland, and Phil Johnson.”

  • Hardcover: 2240 pages
  • Publisher: Holman Bible Publishers (October 1, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 158640024X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586400248
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.8 x 1.5 inches


The HCSB Ancient Faith Bible :: “The HCSB® Ancient Faith Bible is a richly designed pocket edition with a motif reflective of the ancient church. This Bible features the full text of the popular Holman Christian Standard Bible® translation plus twenty-six pages of bonus material that recounts history-shaping early church documents and profiles many key personalities in the ancient church, from Augustine and Francis of Assisi to Constantine and Perpetua. Available in two editions (hardcover or magnetic flap), each one has beautiful outer gold gilding, foil stamping, and matte finish.”

  • Hardcover: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Holman Bible Publishers (October 1, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1586404431
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586404437
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.4 x 1 inches

Those look interesting, but may I suggest (again) that publishers should provide a solid text edition (which Holman has done) and a standard-size reference edition before they delve into specialized topical editions? Holman does have an UltraThin Reference Bible, but I’m rather wary about the print bleedthrough and durability of a Bible that’s only .75″ thick, especially one that I can’t hold in my hands without buying it (since the HCSB has limited distribution in Minnesota).

Ironically, the Baptist church that we’ve been “church shopping” at uses the NIV as its base text, at least for preaching and sermon notes.

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  1. Posted July 16, 2007 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    ElShaddai, how do you define a “reference” Bible?
    I bought the HCSB hand-size large print Bible this past weekend, and I find there’s lots of cross-references and text notes in it, though they’re not in a center column. They’re end-of-paragraph and bottom-of-page, not exactly my favorite layout, but they’re there. I do get the nagging feeling, though, that there should be more of them.

    BTW, I was pleased with the selection I found at our local Barnes & Noble. They don’t have a complete inventory by any means, but it’s better than most other places around here. Why, they even had several different copies of the TNIV, which is better than the local Christian Bookstore!

    I hope B&H continues to push the HCSB. I am very impressed with it! People need to know about this Bible!


  2. Posted July 16, 2007 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

    Good question, Gary. I guess I’ve imprinted on my NASB Side-Reference Bible from Foundation. A big 6×9 size, 1-2″ spine width, single column text with references on the side, maybe some room to jot down notes. I’m expecting 1-3 references per verse that point to other scriptural uses of a word or phrase, topical ties, alternate translations, etc. Maybe there’s a better reference tool for that type of study – I just like having everything in front of me in one book.

    I’ve never been a fan of smaller, compact, hand-size Bibles, mostly due to the thin paper that’s inevitably used, so I honestly didn’t even think about the HCSB in that version. I’d be interested to get your feedback on Holman’s paper quality. Otherwise, the HCSB reference bibles seem to all be UltraThin slimlines with center column refs – not my favorite layout since the text columns always get squeezed – so I’ve just been frustrated that a “normal” size wasn’t available.

    Now that I know there’s probably not something new coming from Holman, I’ll have to look around at some other Barnes & Noble stores. The one in downtown Minneapolis where I work has one Illustrated Study Bible and that’s it. And Northwestern Book Store doesn’t have much more than the red-letter hardback I have.


  3. Posted July 17, 2007 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

    You’re probably already aware of this, ElShaddai, but Holman’s “hand-size” isn’t one of those little compact Bibles that you need a magnifying glass to read. It’s approx. 8 1/2″ by 5 1/2″ and at least an inch thick. It’s what most other manufacturers call “personal size”. It’s a size I have found very comfortable to use and carry for several years now. I always make sure I buy the “large print” or “giant print” version as well. It’s much easier on the eyes. And I haven’t noticed that the pages are particularly thin.

    But I could never use one of those personal size study Bibles you see advertised. The print is just too small!

    You asked about the paper quality. That is one thing that has quickly impressed me with this new Bible. The paper is thick enough that I don’t end up accidentally reading the back side without turning the page! And it’s smooth to the touch, and the pages don’t stick together like in some Bibles I’ve used. For a relatively cheap Bible I’m impressed with the quality. The imitation leather cover is nearly as nice as bonded leather (in fact, I can’t really tell the difference!) The only obviously cheaper item is the page edging, which is more of a bronze than gold. But that’s growing on me, too.

    BTW, do they still call it the Northwestern Book Store up there? My co-worker said he thought they all were going by a different name now.


  4. Posted July 17, 2007 at 10:59 AM | Permalink

    That’s really good news, Gary – I have to remember your brother’s advice to not judge a book until you’ve held it. I’ll definitely have to get to a different Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstore and check out some of the other styles.

    Yes, it’s still Northwestern Book Store; it seems they’re mostly pushing the NIV, N/KJV, ESV and NLT, at least in the store by me. Lots of other translations available, but in a limited number of editions. Hard to know if that’s a store decision or the result of publishers’ promotional funds. Very familiar with the latter from my days of working for a software company and stocking product in retail stores like Best Buy…


  5. Posted July 18, 2007 at 12:07 AM | Permalink

    I stopped by the Barnes & Noble closest to my house after work to check out any HCSB editions – none, except one Illustrated Study Bible. Not sure what the deal is, but this is a hard Bible to get here in the Twin Cities!

  6. Posted July 18, 2007 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    That seems kinda strange. They have a number of different versions of it at Barnes & Noble here in Mankato. I’ve also seen it in the local Christian Bookstore, but of course they charge quite a bit more for it there. I haven’t seen it yet in such places as Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, or Target.

  7. Posted August 17, 2007 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    I had the opportunity to go to Northwestern last night and surprise, there was a Giant Print Handsize HCSB – that’s actually a really nice format. The text isn’t as extremely large as I thought it was from the sample pages and you’re right, the paper quality is quite good. Much more substantial than the TNIV XL. I also saw a similar (hand) sized TNIV that had small print, but felt good – either might be something to pick up for my work backpack, but I’m trying to avoid buying anything else until I come to a decision on which translation to use.

  8. J. Butoni
    Posted September 11, 2007 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    I found the HCSB to be a superior translation. I have several of them including the Compact Large Print edition. I love it. I also have the Illustrated Bible, but am most disappointed in it. It isn’t a true STUDY bible. It repeats the pictures and has very little in the line of study. Would it be possible to produce a real STUDY Bible with the HCSB text, center column, footnotes, concordance, and really GOOD study notes such as is found in the NIV Study Bible or the Nelson NKJV Study Bible? I don’t like the Scofield edition.