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Review of the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible

This month, as promised, I will be reviewing the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. This is a one-volume Biblical library that should be given some serious consideration if you are looking for a Bible that screams completeness. Although it has some limitations, they are few when it comes to the study Bible scene. Let's take a look at this self-proclaimed comprehensive study Bible

First, let’s look at the layout. This is one big, giant-sized study Bible! Wow! If you are thinking of carrying this one to "Sunday go-ta-meeten day," prepare yourself with some serious weight training, because this study Bible will not be easily carried around! My hardbound copy has over 2300 pages compared to my large print slim-line NKJV (no study notes) that has less than 1200 pages.

The Holman Christian Standard Study Bible ("HCSB") is very appealing with lots of "eye candy" for the student who wants their notes to be clear, easy-to-read, and easy-to-follow. The print is bold and there is plenty of color. The chapter headings, sub-headings, and numbering system are all in a royal blue (my interpretation). As to its graphs, timelines, charts, and pictures, you will not find too many study Bibles out there that can match the quality of this one. If you like verse-by-verse, you will be disappointed with Holman since it is in paragraph form. I am finding out that this is the future of most Bibles whether study Bible or not. However, if you are not put off by the paragraph form, you will find it as easy to follow as most center column reference Bibles out on the market today. If you are into word studies, there are 290 in all and they should boost your Hebrew and Greek word searches (unless you are already proficient in these languages). For the young Believer looking for a better understanding of certain key words in the Bible, it will be very helpful.

As to its content, it is theologically conservative. This Bible is affiliated with Life Way Ministries which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some reviewers have said that it gives a clear denominational bent; however, if you check the study note contributors, you will find that they come from a number of different backgrounds including Cambridge University, John Brown University, Yale University, Baylor University, and Union University. Although I have not read this study Bible cover-to-cover, what I have read has been a good rendering of what the Bible passage under study really means. The only note of caution I have is in the essay department. I found some to be confusing. But it could be just me. I will not cite any because I want you to make up your mind for yourself.

The cover and paper quality. I can only speak concerning the hardbound version, but I must admit it seems to be holding up well to my weekly, if not daily, use. It has a sewn binding, not glued, has some ghosting (show through) of the previous page, but it isn’t distracting. It comes in a variety of materials--hardbound, genuine leather, bonded leather, and imitation leather. Personally, I would recommend shying away from anything leather, although the imitation leather seems to be well put together. As far as price and durability, you cannot beat a hardbound Bible of any kind. This study Bible handles my obsessive highlighting, red pen and pencil scrawling, underlining, and constant manhandling. So for $33.99 plus shipping and handling from CBD I will be surprised if it doesn’t hold up for 20 years (I believe it will).

The only real downside to this study Bible is that it only comes in the HCSB and the NKJV. The NKJV Holman Study Bible has a slightly different layout, but has the same study notes, many of the same pictures, essays, and references. Does the HCSB Study Bible say, “Pick me, I’m worth it!”? I think so. I have had mine for the past six months and I still reach for it when I am preparing for a sermon; just to get a different English rendering on a passage (if for no other reason).

Thanks again for reading this blog. Please feel free to make comments or ask questions. I am always eager to hear what you have to say on this subject.

Until then, this is Pastor Whalen wish you joy in Jesus Christ!

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