One of the reasons I have continued to be fascinated by the world of fine Bibles is how different each Bible is. I am often surprised by a new Bible when I first get it out of the box. Of the Bibles I’ve reviewed so far here, the Thomas Nelson NKJC Single-Column Reference Bible made the best first impression. It was one of those reactions that was purely subjective. I’m not sure I could have articulated why I liked it so much when I first picked it up, but I was just delighted. This review is my attempt to put words to why this is a great Bible. At its current price on Amazon of $84.96 (as of publication), it is also one of the most reasonably priced edge-lined goatskin Bibles you can buy.
The cover on this Bible made a very positive first impression. It feels thick, but is still edge-lined and very flexible. (Edge-lined Bibles are bound so that there is no material in between the outer cover and the inner lining, which is what makes the covers of edge-lined Bibles so supple. The spine has gold lettering. The lettering is even and consistent. I typically prefer bands on the spine of Bibles (see this Cambridge NRSV for an example). But there is something about the way that this Bible is put together. I like the spine the way that it is.
One of the things that has surprised me about myself as far as opinions on edge-lined Bibles is how much I care about the hinge getting in the way of the cover. I’ve discussed this in more depth here. The short version is that I think one of the joys of reading an edge-lined Bible is being able to wrap the cover back around itself. But the hinge in some edge-lined Bibles makes this awkward enough it becomes impracticable. This has been my only complaint about the Tyndale Select NLT I reviewed several months back. The Thomas Nelson NKJV Single-Column Reference Bible has almost the same profile as the Tyndale Select NLT, except that it is somewhat thicker. I initially thought this might mean that the hinge on the Thomas Nelson would be more of an issue. I was delighted to be wrong! As you can see in the photo, the hinge does not get in the way of one-handed reading at all.
Single-column layouts are a non-negotiable for many fine Bible enthusiasts. If this is a must have for you, Thomas Nelson has done a great job with this Bible. There are ample margins at both the edge of the page and in the gutter. The text is easy to read, whether you are at the very front or in the middle of the Bible. The references are in the outer margins, which I like. Instead of spacing the references out so that they are as close to the verse they go with as possible, they go from the bottom to the top. This means that margins on the top half of each page, on average, are blank, with the references towards the bottom half. Of course, this varies from one page to another depending on how many references there are on a particular page. The included photo gives you a sense of it, though I would guess it has less references than the average page.
One interesting design choice is that red is used as an accent in the text. The book and chapter are listed at the top corner of each page in red. Chapter numbers and section headings are in red, as well as the link to each reference in the text, and the chapter and verse in the margin. This system makes finding the references a bit easier in scanning the text. The use of red in the text is not overwhelming, but the accent is different than most fine Bibles. Ultimately, I like the impact, especially with the red under gold art-gilded page edges.
The Bible has three ribbons, two black and one red. This is the one design choice I’m not crazy about. I found it confusing initially. I actually kept looking at the two black ribbons to see if one was brown and one was red. I’ve gotten used to it, and it is the least important thing to me about the Bible, so it is not even close to a major concern for me. The quality of the ribbons is good. They seem to me to be the right length and have held up well.
The Bible also includes a presentation page, a concordance, a one year reading plan, and eight color maps. These are all adequate, but will probably not be the highlight of this Bible for most people.
For the first few weeks I had the Bible, I was surprised at how affordable it was every time I picked it up. Of the Bibles I have reviewed here so far, this one seems to me to be the best value, particularly in a reference Bible. If you have been interested in this series of posts and have been considering buying an edge-lined Bible with a goatskin cover, but the sticker price of an Allan, Cambridge, or Schuyler Bible is just too much, this is an excellent Bible to consider. If you are a fan of the NKJV or have been wanting to pick up a copy, the Thomas Nelson NKJV Single-Column Reference Bible is a must have.