I’m surprisingly pretty impressed with the black leathersoft ESV Jesus Bible. The physical quality of the Bible is very nice, especially for being leathersoft, a sort of bonded leather. It lays flat and is much more flexible than other leathersoft or imitation leather Bibles I’ve had. The Bible also has a much nicer feel than one might expect.
I love the plain black aesthetic of the Bible. It has imprints on the spine that match the box and identify the publisher, translation, etc., but there is no ink on the cover. I like it a lot personally because I can carry it around church without it being flashy. The front cover has a minimalist cross that, again, is an imprint with no ink. I love that about this Bible. There are two ribbon markers, one in silver and one in black that pair nicely with the black and white theme. The silver gilting is also a good colour choice.
The Publisher lists the following features:
- Complete text of the English Standard Version (ESV)
- Introduction by Louie Giglio
- 66 book introductions highlight the story of Jesus in every book
- Seven compelling essays on the grand narrative of Scripture by Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Randy Alcorn guide you to treasure Jesus
- Over 300 full-page articles and nearly 700 sidebar articles reveal Jesus throughout all of Scripture
- Room for notes and journaling throughout
- ESV concordance
- Two ribbon markers
- Leathersoft cover lays flat when open
- 8.7-point type size
Regarding the content, I like the idea behind it. The whole of scripture testifies to the centrality and importance of Christ, the Messiah, from prophecies, shadows, types, and Christophanies in the Old Testament, to Jesus being made flesh in the New. The Jesus Bible will help the Christian see Christ on every page. One thing I really appreciated is that though Christ can be seen all over, it is not forced. They don’t appear to bend scripture in order to make it relevant when it isn’t. The contributors draw from passages and show where Christ is present, how passages relate to the gospel of Christ, or walking with Christ.
There are seven longer articles interspersed through the Jesus Bible by contributers such as Ravi Zacharias, John Piper, Randy Alcorn, and Louis Giglio. I really enjoyed Zacharias’s on the uniqueness of Christ.
There are no verse-by-verse study notes, which I would have loved to see in this Bible. However, there are numerous small articles on about 1000 passages, ranging in length and topic from unity in Christ, Christ’s once for all sacrifice, Jesus and the Law, and even touching on Old Testament prophesies of Jesus.
Initially, I wasn’t entirely impressed with the notes. Some of them seem kind of fluffy, but other times the notes contain rich devotional material. I wish certain places were a little more doctrinally rich, though. In some places, such as Hebrews, you’ll find interesting introductions to things like Christology in general, but I would have loved to see it be more thorough. Understandably though, there is not much space. It is still solid material, and I think considering the allowance of space, the Passion writers did very well. The more I read, the more I grew to enjoy it and see that there are plenty of places where the writers richly point to Christ as our great God and Saviour.
I definitely think of this Bible less as a Study Bible and more of a devotional aid. I really enjoy it, and think it will be good for others to help see that Christ is not merely a character who makes his first appearance in the Gospel of Matthew, but all throughout scripture.
The notes are entirely Christ-centred and have very little doctrinal lean, aside from the necessary doctrines regarding Christ, such as his divinity. The Christian of any denominational background can enjoy this Bible without cringing at someone else’s doctrine. However, those who deny essential Christian teaching about Jesus will probably not enjoy it as much.
Each book has an introduction with a brief timeline and a highlighted verse. In addition to this is a page emphasizing one aspect or attribute of Jesus that can be found in the following book. Some of these are: Jesus Our Great King, Eternal Salvation, and Divine Advocate.
Overall, it’s a nice Bible. I really love the black leathersoft cover and use this as the primary Bible I carry with me to church. Personally, I enjoy using it for devotional readings. The ESV translation is also one of the most solid in my opinion and a personal favourite. The ESV Jesus Bible would be a good fit for a Christian of any level. For the new believer, I think this would be excellent to introduce the person of Christ and his centrality in all of scripture. For the older Christian, this rich devotional aid will remind us to fix our eyes on Christ as well as inspire a growing love for Jesus.
Many thanks to Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this Bible in exchange for my fair and honest review.