My journey into the world of fine Bibles started right about a year ago, at least in earnest. The first Bible I contacted a publisher about was the NIV Heritage Bible, even though I knew it wasn’t yet in print. It ended up being the last of the Bibles that I requested for this series of posts to arrive. Even with all of the amazing Bibles that I had been able to review, I kept wondering what I would think of the NIV Heritage Bible when it came. Now that it has come and I’ve had a chance to spend some time with it, I’m excited to share my thoughts. There are several things I love and a few things I would change. It is the (relative) affordability of this Bible that is why I am most excited to share it with you. With a coupon you can apply within Amazon, the Bible is currently $83.76 (click here). For goatskin edge-lined Bibles, that is less than half the price you would usually pay.
I wonder if my favorite leather cover is the one that I’m holding in my hands. While I would say that I have really liked every premium leather cover (as opposed to bonded leather especially) that I have gotten my hands on, I would also say that this cover surprised me right out of the box. Even after getting my hands on a variety of exceptional Bibles, this cover made an immediate impression. It is the softest and supplest goatskin cover I have held. The grain is very smooth. I have a few goatskin Bibles with very pronounced grain and I really like them. But there is something about this cover that is wonderful. The spine is smooth with faux bands stamped on with silver, but they are no more pronounced than the lettering on the spine itself. The lettering on the spine is below average when compared to the other fine Bibles I have reviewed. It seems a bit cheap compared to the quality of the cover. But that is one of the few compromises you make at this price point.
The NIV Heritage Bible is a single-column Bible. Zondervan has done a great job here. Poetry is laid out as poetry and narrative sections are in paragraphs. The layout is clean and draws you into immersive reading. If I were going to read the Bible through in a shorter period of time, or read an entire Book in one sitting, this would be the Bible I would use. Distractions from the text are at a bare minimum. There are chapters and verses, with occasional headings. Translators notes are in the bottom corner of the page (if there are any). And that is it. There are no references or other material in the text. Each chapter number is in blue, which helps quickly locate chapters and adds some interest in design. Every Book starts on its own page, which is not always the case. The design and layout of this Bible are excellent.
Exceptional Edge-lined Binding
As is the case with almost every goatskin Bible, the binding is edge-lined, which is the most durable binding. As I’ve mentioned before, the tabs in edge-lined Bibles often irritate me enough that I am sometimes unsure whether I would rather have an edge-lined binding than a less durable paste-off binding without the rigid tabs. My initial impression was that the tabs in the NIV Heritage were going to be frustrating. The first two thicker pages have glue through half the width of the pages, which made me concerned that the cover would not readily fold back behind the rest of the Bible. This was the most pleasant surprise to me of this entire Bible. I’m not sure how they did it, but this is the best edge-lined binding I’ve seen from that standpoint. Right out of the box I could fold the front cover all the way around the back with ease and flush against the spine. This is ideal for reading with one hand. The NIV Heritage Bible does this much easier than any edge-lined binding I’ve reviewed.
The NIV Heritage Bible has art-gilt page edges that are blue under silver. The page edges are a nice additional touch at this price. They match the interior design beautifully, especially with the blue chapter numbers and section headings. The Bible also has three ribbons that are black, blue, and red. The color of the ribbons with the silver page edges and black goatskin is really striking. The Bible also has a concordance and maps at the end. The concordance is the more concise of the two NIV concordances I’ve seen in NIV Bibles. This one has 2,474 word entries with more than 10,000 Scripture references.
I’ve gone back and forth on the paper and ink in the Bible. My feeling is that the paper is not at the same level as some other Bibles I have reviewed here. I would guess that this was the major tradeoff that Zondervan made in order to be able to offer a goatskin Bible for less than $100. It feels like a top-quality cover married to good but not exceptional paper. This is not a major concern from my perspective, but one I wanted to name for readers. Of the Bibles I’ve reviewed here, the paper in this Bible made the least positive impression on me. I do think the opacity is comparable to other similar Bibles, maybe even better than some. I also like Zondervan’s “Comfort Print” typeface.
I have really enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with readers online and in person about fine Bibles. More and more people read the Bible entirely on a screen, if they read it at all. For this reason, I am all the more grateful for publishers who invest in print Bibles that are made with attention to detail and the best available materials. These Bibles are attractive and a pleasure to interact with and read. They are designed to be used and last. The price is understandably an obstacle for many people who cannot justify spending $200 or more on one Bible. This is where I think Zondervan has made a really important addition. The NIV Heritage Bible is a remarkable Bible that gets a lot closer to the price of a bonded leather Bible. And there is a world of difference between a Bible that is made of leather shavings glued together (which is what bonded leather is) and a single piece of goatskin. The fact that Zondervan can sell an edge-lined goatskin Bible for less than $100 is an exceptional value. I hope it will make it possible for many more people to invest in a high quality Bible that will provide a draw to spend more time searching the Scriptures.
Zondervan generously provided this Bible to me for review. As always, I was not required to give a positive review of this Bible, only an honest one.