Previously in this space I discussed picking a Bible translation. Once you know which translation you prefer, you need to think about which Bible to choose. Any particular translation will probably have study editions, different bindings in different colours, and different sizes.
Let’s start with study editions. Lots of people have written notes on the Bible. Study Bibles are not new inventions. They’ve been around for a long time. The Geneva Bible (first published 1560) was an early study Bible. When choosing a study Bible here are some questions to consider:
- Who wrote the notes? Was only one person responsible, or was a group of people responsible? What are the qualifications of the person or people who wrote the notes?
- What is the purpose of the notes? Are they primarily devotional notes? Theological notes? Historical notes? Literary notes?
- Who is the intended audience of these note? Am I included in that audience?
- Are the notes easy to access and understand? Are the notes and biblical text laid out in a way that is easy to follow?
Study Bibles should not be your only source of information about what is going on in a Bible passage, but once you get one, the notes are often your first source of information. Make sure the notes are a reliable and helpful source for your reading.
Bibles come in different bindings with different colours and pictures on the cover. If you buy a paperback Bible because you want something cheap, remember that it may not last long. If you only need the Bible for a course for a semester, that might be fine. If you want to use the Bible for several years, you may want to think about a sturdier binding. Hardcover study Bibles are often worth the few extra dollars.
Bibles come in different sizes and shapes. Most study Bibles are fairly hefty. Larger print Bibles are larger in size. Some compact Bibles are very portable, but have very small print. Think about what is comfortable for you, and your use of the Bible. If you get an enormous study Bible, will its size deter you from carrying it anywhere? If you are going to use it mainly at your desk, do you need a tiny little portable Bible?