Designed from the ground up with input from leading pastors and church leaders, the ESV Preaching Bible was easily one of the most anticipated Crossway Bibles of 2019. The vision behind this edition was simple: create a Bible by preachers for preachers tailored to the task of preaching.
The exterior design of the Bible is stunning. The rich black goatskin leather cover is soft and saturated with natural grain patterns. The cover is perimeter stitched, leather lined (cowhide), edge-lined into the block for added durability, and has four raised spine hubs. While it is visually and physically pleasing to hold and use (especially in the study/pulpit), the cover itself is nowhere near an heirloom quality Crossway Bible. It feels thinner and more flimsy than the Crossway Heirloom line, which could become a problem for some given the dimensions of the Bible (6.6″ x 9.8″ x 1.75″). I did not mind it for practical use, as it allowed the Bible to lay almost entirely flat, and it certainly did not detract from my use of it in study and preaching.
The interior design of the Bible is where it shines for preaching. The Bible features a highly readable 10-point type in a single-column format, enlarged and bolded verse numbers to make it easy to quickly locate verses on the page (more on this later), and extra-wide margins for notes. The 36GSM coated paper is opaque and allows the text to jump off the page with little effort or strain on the eyes. I also found it easy to turn when jumping back and forth between books, both while preaching and preparing to preach. I do not usually write in my Bible, but the paper appears to be ideal for such a task if you do. The pages also have red-under-gold art gilding, which adds a touch of elegance to the Bible.
As someone who prefers a single-column format for study and preaching, I found the ESV Preaching Bible to be more than adequate for my needs. In fact, I absolutely loved using it! The font is readable even from afar. The paper quality is superb for a China printed Bible. The overall footprint of the Bible fills the pulpit while not making it too difficult to pick up and move around with the text. The margins, while I do not write in them, are excellent and offer a clutter-free experience. Some have complained that the “enlarged and bolded verse numbers” was, and I agree to an extent. I think there was room here for Crossway to get more creative (e.g. the use of color would have been a welcome addition), but I would not say that the current format makes it challenging to find a particular verse—especially if you are using this Bible in the study as well as preaching. In my experience, because I was exclusively using this Bible for both, I was becoming more and more familiar with the layout and could easily find my place with the aid of the existing “enlarged and bolded verse numbers.”
The ESV Preaching Bible is simply fantastic! It’s not perfect. But, for the preacher, there are few Bibles on the market as useful for preaching than this. More than that, it’s a joy to read and interact with. It comes highly recommended!