Struggling to read the Bible with consistency, enthusiasm, and understanding is common for Christians. But given the expectation that we read it regularly, it can be a difficult struggle to confess. I found the 6-Volume ESV Readers Bible to be a great help. I think it could help you too.
Here’s my story and why I love this edition of the Bible (and how you can win one!)
I’ve struggled to read the Bible all my life.
In childhood, I struggled to read the Bible with understanding. I recognized the stories from Sunday School. However, I had no grasp of how they flowed as one grand narrative. The Bible became a collection of disconnected stories and verses.
As my faith grew in college, my love for Bible-reading grew. However, instead of fanning that interest into flame, an acquaintance gave me a sheet on “How to Have a Quiet Time.” It outlined steps in Bible reading and prayer to take to grow as a Christian. As though a switch was flipped, Bible-reading changed from communion with God to a spiritual disciplines box to check. (It is amazing how difficult it is to flip that switch back!) Chapter numbers became mile-markers—”just one more and I can stop!”
In seminary, as my understanding of theology and redemptive history grew, the Bible became a puzzle to figure out, a textbook to study in preparation for teaching. A decade into pastoring, this struggle intensified as sermon deadline reset each week. I found myself unable to read the Bible personally instead of preparationally.
One remarkable contribution to these struggles is Bible formatting. The Bible, in so many printing, is just not designed to be read. It is intended to be cross-referenced, study-noted, diagrammed, summarized, and dissected—but not read. (Yes, I know—all those things are important aspects of studying the Bible. Don’t hear what I’m not saying!) The thin, onion-skin pages, double-columns, small print, section headings, chapter and verse markers, footnotes, study notes, and cross-reference indicators each work to draw my mind away from the text itself.
The Six-Volume English Standard Version Readers Bible has been a help to me in reading and enjoying the Bible. Made with high-quality paper and bindings, it features a single column paragraph format in a clear, readable font.
Using minimal section headings, it is free from all verse numbers, chapter numbers, and footnotes. The six-volume set divides the Bible into six volumes: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Poetry, Prophets, Gospels & Acts, and Epistles & Revelation. These volumes fit into an attractive slip-case designed to protect and preserve the investment. (Visit Crossway to learn more.)
Options for Every Budget
The 6-Volume ESV Readers Bible is available in three editions, ranging in price from $500 to under $60:
- Cowhide over Board with Walnut Slipcase
- Cloth over Board with Permanent Slipcase
- Softcover with Permanent Slipcase
The sets may seem expensive compared to single-volume Bibles. But, if you struggle to read the Bible in the ways I’ve described, I believe the investment is worth it.
I find myself reading long stretches of Old Testament narratives and the Gospels, engaged in the stories and not thinking about “how this will preach.” I read New Testament letters in their entirety and one sitting (as the authors intended!) without noting “how many chapters I read today.” I notice myself connecting themes, storylines, and emphases in ways that frequent chapter divisions discouraged.
I’ve used the cloth-over-board edition for a few years. Recently, Crossway gave me a complimentary copy of the cowhide edition. So, I’ve decided to give away my gently used (like new) cloth over board edition. See this Tweet for giveaway details:
Here’s how to enter to win:
(1) Follow @emschumacher.
(2) RT this tweet.*
(3) Reply w/ name of an African American, explaining how they positively influenced you.
Winner picked on 3/1.
— Eric Schumacher (@emschumacher) February 1, 2019
And be sure to check out my Black History Month giveaway on Instagram to win an ESV Bible Journals New Testament set:
View this post on Instagram
For #blackhistorymonth, I want to hear your stories about African Americans who have inspired and influenced you. They can be living or dead, famous or unknown. 👨🏿👩🏾👵🏽👴🏾 On March 1, I’ll pick one person and send them a full NT set of the ESV Bible Journals. 📖📖📖 Here are the terms: 1. Follow @emschumacher . 2. Like this post . 3. Share about your favorite African American . 4. At the end of your comment, tag another person who might like to read and/or participate . 5. You can share as many stories as you like. Each story/tag counts as an entry. . 6. Be sure to check out my 6 volume ESV Reader’s Bible giveaway on Twitter (link in profile). 😀 I can wait to read what your share, to learn, and to be inspired! . #blackhistory #africanamerican #africanamericanhistory
Coming Up: Next week I will publish a three-part guest series by Lucy Crabtree—”Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community.” In these posts, Lucy shares her experiences with hearing loss, as well as practical wisdom for loving your neighbors with hearing loss both personally and in the local church.