If you are on Facebook, you already saw that I made a purchase this past Monday, a copy of the 1977 NASB Giant Print Handy Size Bible from AMG. I had reached the point where my old favorite 95 update NASB was literally falling apart, so I wanted to replace it. I certainly considered buying another one just like it, the Giant Print Personal Size Reference Bible from Zondervan, but a few short weeks ago I became aware that AMG had brought out this new printing of the old 1977 edition of the NASB, and a commenter on this blog had mentioned that people, especially young people, are buying this Bible in droves because it’s literal accuracy surpasses the 1995 update and it comes in a format that is being ignored by other publishers. The idea intrigued me, and so I did some research, including actually looking one over in the store. That day I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger and get one, but on Monday I finally made up my mind and got it.
Now I’m not going to write much about the translation itself this time. I can’t do it all at once, you know. That’ll make another good post later on. The fact is, at this point I haven’t used it enough to give you many impressions about it, but I’ll mention it a bit later on in this post. For now I’ll concentrate more on the physical aspects of this new “old” Bible.
They call it “handy size”, you may know it better as “personal size” or even “hand size”. It’s that typical 8.5 X 5.5 size, but while most Bibles of this size are only an inch to an inch and a half thick, this one is pushing two inches! I saw those dimensions and expected this to be a heavy Bible, but it’s not. It rests quite comfortable in my hand, possibly because even though it’s thick, the weight is distributed more evenly on my hand than a larger Bible would be. The only other possibility I know of would be that it’s made out of lighter materials, but I don’t know about that.
Mine is black bonded leather, with an attractive grain and shiny surface. It’s surprisingly thick, but soft, supple, and flexible right out of the box. It feels so nice that I had to double check to make sure the stamp on the back said “bonded leather” and not “flexisoft” or something like that. I’m used to bonded leather being stiffer than this one, until it’s been used for a year or two. The pages are very thin and gold-edged. But they’re not so thin that you can see the text on the other side; it’s really quite opaque. Kudos to AMG for using apparently fine quality materials on an inexpensive Bible.
As I said, it’s giant print. I’ve seen conflicting numbers — 11 pt. and 12 pt. I would guess it’s 12 pt. And it’s nice and dark, though probably not as dark as the text of my old Zondervan NASB. Still, it’s very easy to read, with comfortable type styling and spacing. It’s a traditional 2-column page, with verse-by-verse layout and cross-references at the end of the verses, not in a center column. Text notes are at the bottom of the page. It’s not an exhaustive cross-reference and text note system, but I think for most people’s needs in a Bible like this, it’s sufficient. One thing that surprised me was the size of the section heading titles. (I know that’s not what they’re called, but right now the name escapes me.) They’re larger than the text and in bold print. It just seems a little bit too much for something that’s not actually part of the scripture.
Of course, buying a new Bible is always a compromise, and in this one I compromised by accepting the red-letter part. If you’ve read this blog for long, you know how I feel about red-letter. Red-letter is anathema! … But, what do you do when the publishers think it’s important, so that’s all they make? Fortunately the red ink in this Bible is pretty much as dark as the black, although I have noticed some inconsistency here and there. At least it’s almost a “blood-red” so my eyes aren’t assaulted by a sea of unreadable pink ink as in some other Bibles.
The only really startling thing about the text that I’ve seen so far is the use of “thee” and “thine” and “thy”, that kind of old stuff that you don’t really expect to see in a new Bible any more. The pages in the front tell me that this archaic language is only used in prayer addressed to the Deity. Why? Doesn’t God understand modern English? I guess it has to do with respect for God, or some such idea. But it’s something I can live with.
I did get curious when I first bought this Bible, though, and I looked at John 17, Jesus’ “High-priestly prayer”, and I saw all the “thees” and “thines”, and I thought, “How can I teach from this?” (I’m thinking about going back and teaching an adult Bible study class again.) I concluded that while I may decide to use a different translation to teach from, that’s a bridge I’ll cross when I come to it.
One final note: an unusual thing these days is to see a leather Bible with the words “Holy Bible” emblazoned across the front. This one has it, none of the others I’ve ever bought have had that. Is it a good thing? I don’t know; it certainly makes for a distinctive appearance. Whatever. I’ll be interested to see how long the gold printing on the bonded leather cover lasts anyway.
Well, I guess that’s about all I have to say for now concerning this new “old” Bible. I’m still in the process of going through and separating all the pages so the gold edging doesn’t make them stick together before I really get into using it heavily. That’s been a slow process, because there are over 2000 pages, and also because I’ve been dealing with arm and shoulder pain lately, and the “work” of doing the separating makes them sore and uncomfortable. But in another day or so I’ll be done, and then I’ll be able to get to work and explore this new (to me) “old” translation.