The problem that I’ve found with most reference Bibles is they either have too much reference material or not enough. The perfect reference Bible in my opinion would be one that contains a broad base of information, which brings me to the review of Tyndale’s New Living Translation Slimline Center Column Reference Bible.
Not unlike most bonded leather Bibles this one is fairly stiff with what appears to be a synthetic paper liner on the inside of the cover. The size of this Bible is approximately 9.5″ x 6.75″ x 1″ thick with gold page edges. The textblock is smythe sewn and lies flat when opened with a single brown ribbon marker.
The layout of this Bible is a typical two column text with center column references:
Each book of the Bible contains a brief introduction and outline. Also included is information regarding the author, estimated time of event, purpose, and themes. The center column references are listed under chapter and verse headings that removes the need for superscript letters throughout the text, leaving a fairly clean text. The cross references were selected by relevance to the content of the word or passage, in other words the references stay on point. Although limited, there are some superscript letters in the text that refers to a Hebrew or Greek key word also listed in the Center Column along with the Strong’s concordance number. Beneath the Hebrew and Greek words in the center column is an additional verse relative to that same Hebrew or Greek word. Also throughout the text are asterisks indicating a textual note that is relevant to the word or passage and are printed at the bottom of the page.
Paper and print:
The paper thickness in the reviewed edition is approximately .75″ @ 1000 pages. The paper in the NLT Slimline Cross Reference is thin, but opaque enough where it doesn’t affect readability. The words of Christ are printed in red, and not that I have a problem with highlighting the words of Christ, but many people find red print difficult to read. In most bibles the red print ends up being pink or very lightly printed. However, the red print in this edition is fairly consistent and thankfully is more brick red than pink.
At the back of the Bible:
What sets this Bible apart from most standard reference editions is the condensed Hebrew and Greek Index and Dictionary (NLT Study System). The NLT Study System contains 100 Hebrew and 100 Greek words that are keyed to the numbering system found in Strong’s Concordance. Beneath the word and definition are a list of verses where that word is found throughout the Bible. Downsides: Along with the English spellings I would liked to have seen the Hebrew and Greek spellings of these words.
The bible also contains a combined dictionary and concordance along with 8 colored maps (no map index).
Construction: As mentioned earlier, this bible has a bonded leather cover and it is smythe sewn, however a word of warning. This particular edition is experiencing some separation of the binding from the textblock. I’m sure overtime and use the cover will eventually come off, however some binders glue carefully applied might fix the problem. Tyndale does have a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, but as a result of the low price of this Bible I didn’t ask for a replacement. I ended up purchasing another copy in black bonded leather. At present I haven’t experienced the same problem with my black copy, so I’m hoping it was just a fluke, but you might want to check before you buy or mention it to the online retailer and have them check for any signs of separation.
A lack of quality NLT Bibles: If you’re in the market for “premium” edition of the NLT translation you’ll find that your choices are limited. A premium edition is a bible with above average paper, print, and binding. Cambridge Bible Publishers does have a nice NLT compact sized reference Bible called the Pitt Minion and R.L. Allan did bind a number of Tyndale’s NLT Slimline Premium Reference Bibles in their Highland Goatskin.
Tyndale’s Premium SlimLine Reference Bible is more of a text only bible with limited references. Sadly, the Premium in the title of this Bible refers to the layout and not necessarily a quality textblock. The paper in the SlimLine Premium Reference appears to be the same as the paper in the reviewed edition. To its credit the Premium edition does have slightly better printing than the reviewed Cross Reference edition. However, I find the ghosting (the show through from the print on the opposite side of the page) in the Premium SlimLine more noticeable.
In conclusion: I think if Tyndale would upgrade the paper, printing, and binding, then the SlimLine Center Column Reference would make for a very nice “premium” edition of the NLT. Premium Bibles aside, for the price this is a very good value and even though there’s no line matching of the text, the paper is opaque enough where the print from the other side of the page really doesn’t effect readability. If you’re looking for a standard reference bible with a broad range of information, then I feel comfortable recommending the NLT SlimLine Center Column Reference Bible.