When I started asking people who already knew a lot about high end Bibles where I should start, I was surprised at how many people mentioned a Bible with which I was entirely unfamiliar, The Tyndale Select NLT Select Reference Edition. The Tyndale Select checked the major boxes I had on my initial wish list for a forever Bible. It was a single column layout. It included cross references and a concordance. It was available in goatskin. The pages were Smyth-sewn. And it had art-gilded edges. I was worried that when the Bible arrived, I would find that I had gotten my hopes up too much and would feel let down.
But if anything, I like this Bible even more than I had anticipated.
Two Covers, Two Colors
The Tyndale Select NLT is available goatskin and calfskin. Both of these options are available in either black or brown. I am reviewing the goatskin and calfskin in brown.
Simply put, the calfskin cover is the best calfskin cover I have ever felt. I like how soft the leather feels and the firmness of the boards, which I’m finding are breaking in wonderfully. For those of you who want the floppiest cover possible, this is not it. The grain on my calfskin is not pronounced at all, which is part of what makes it so soft and smooth in the hand. The calfskin is a paste-off binding and has gold gilding (and not the art gilding, which is gold when the Bible is closed and red/salmon when opened). The calfskin Tyndale Select retails for $189, but can be found online for around $130.
The goatskin cover is also wonderful. It has a much more pronounced grain than does the calfskin. It is edge-lined, as are most goatskin Bibles. The inner lining is also leather (cowhide, I believe). The edges of the cover are sewn. For a goatskin edge-lined cover, this cover is a bit firmer than some of the others I’ve reviewed. It does not have boards between the two leather covers, but it is a bit less floppy than other covers I’ve seen. Unlike the calfskin, the goatskin has a gold line around the interior that outlines where the text block sits inside the cover, which adds a touch of beauty. The goatskin edition has art-gilded edges, which I love. The other difference between the goatskin and the calfskin is that the goatskin is a semi-yapp cover, which means the cover hangs over the pages about half an inch.
The layout is identical in both Bibles. And it is fantastic! The Tyndale Select NLT is a single-column layout. The references are in the outer margins. Textual notes are in the footer. The combination of the size of the page (the text block is 8 ¼ “ x 5 ¼ “) and the generous spacing between lines makes this my favorite single-column Bible I’ve reviewed so far. The text is arranged in paragraphs in narrative sections and sections of poetry have generous and attractive spacing. The cherry on top is that the Tyndale Select NLT starts every Book on a new page, which most Bibles do not do in order to conserve space. This does make the Bible slightly thicker than the Cambridge Clarion, for example. For me, the tradeoff is entirely worth it. The layout decisions enhance readability at every turn.
The Tyndale Select NLT contains cross references. I find these to be invaluable in reading and studying the Bible. It also contains a dictionary/concordance after Revelation. The concordance is helpful, but by no means exhaustive. It also has 8 full color maps. This Bible has more pages for commemorating key moments in one’s family than any I’ve seen. At the front of the Bible there is a presentation page, a page for listing marriages, a page for listing births and adoptions, and a page for listing deaths. Both Bibles have two ribbons. One of the ribbons on the goatskin Bible is fraying quickly.
There is one thing that I wish were different. Of the goatskin Bibles I have reviewed, this one is the hardest to wrap the cover around the back of the Bible. I think this is the combination of the slightly more compact size of the Bible combined with the tab in edge-lined Bibles that I often find to be a bit frustrating. The calfskin edition is easier to wrap around than the goatskin, so it is less of an issue.
I have reviewed quite a few Bibles over the past several months. One question I’ve been asking myself of late to try to gauge my feelings about these different Bibles is this: If I could only keep one of these Bibles, which one would I keep? Of the Bibles I’ve been able to get my hands on thus far, the Tyndale Select NLT Select Reference Edition is the Bible I would keep if I could only keep one. If I had to choose between the goatskin and the calfskin, I would choose the goatskin, in part because I love the art-gilded page edges. I have to say I love them both, though!
The Tyndale Select NLT Select Reference Edition is an exceptional Bible. Of all of the Bibles I have reviewed, it is the closest to perfection. The reason this is my favorite Bible of the ones I’ve reviewed so far is, of course, largely subjective. I love the size of this Bible. The size combined with the consistent quality across the board makes this a fantastic Bible that I highly recommend.
Other Tyndale Bibles
Tyndale sent me several other Bibles to consider for review. They don’t really fit the focus of this series on fine Bibles. I found myself spending enough time with two of them that I wanted to say a brief word about them.
The Filament Bible is worth considering if you love the layout of the Bible reviewed in this post. The filament edition is the exact same layout as the Tyndale Select NLT, it is just in a much more economical hardcover without the frills of the much more expensive Bible. It is an awesome and affordable single column Bible in its own rite. The filament is an experiment in combining physical and digital media, as the filament also includes an app that enables you to scan the page that you are on in order to uncover substantial study notes, additional articles, commentaries, and videos.
The Wayfinding Bible has three different guided reading plans that take you deeper into the narrative of Scripture. Because of the initial “flyover route” and then the deeper dives that follow, I would consider giving this Bible to a new Christian or someone who has struggled to prayerfully read Scripture on their own. I was really interested in how Tyndale arranged these different layers of reading Scripture.