A couple of months ago I invested in a new preaching Bible, and no it’s not the “Preacher’s Bible” from Steadfast Bibles. Don’t get me wrong, I think the “Preachers Bible” (here after PB) is a fine product, it’s just not for me, because it is not what I prefer, especially for preaching. What sets the PB apart is it’s wide margins and non-porous pages that resist bleed through from a fountain pen. And those are great features if you mark up your Bible and make notes in it with a fountain pen. I don’t. I prefer the text of my preaching Bible to be clean. Other than underlining key passages in pencil so I can more easily find them on the page, I don’t mark up my pulpit Bible, so wide margins for me are superfluous in a preaching Bible. As are the non-porous (read glossy) pages; since I don’t drink the juice (or fountain pen Kool-Aid as the case may be) it is definitely not worth the squeeze. And I don’t preach from the NASB (the reasons why are beyond the scope of this post). So the PB was out.
But I did want a new high quality Bible for pulpit use. My preaching Bible is open and in use 50+ hours a week. It’s open on my desk with my reading glasses sitting on the open pages right now. When the PB was released there was a lot of noise from some corners of the internet that asked the question, “why does any preacher need a $200 (that is the retail price of the PB) bible?” And the implication was that no godly minster would want something that expensive. I’ll ignore the implication that no minister of the gospel should have anything nice and go ahead and answer the question. It is cheaper to spend $200 once than $40 dollars 10 times. Just like a framing carpenter’s hammer is orders of magnitude better in quality than the hammer in your junk drawer (or even in your toolbox), it is entirely reasonable that the primary tool of a preacher would be of the highest quality he can afford. (Full disclosure, I can’t actually afford a new $200 bible. Through the magic of the internet and networking, I turned the PB I was gifted at the Shepherd’s Conference into the Bible I carry into the pulpit now.)
But as I said the PB wasn’t for me. After doing a lot of research I found the Bible that was for me, the Schuyler Quintel. Although not perfect, it checked by far the most boxes for me in what I was looking for in a new preaching Bible.
This is really the big one for me. For me, my preaching Bible is a tool of my trade, it is essential equipment. And I’ll admit it, I’m rough on equipment. So rough in fact that every single page of my old preaching Bible, that I have preached from, has at least one and in most cases many, pieces of tape along the bottom edge. I began using my new Bible as my preaching and primary study Bible on April 1 (resurrection Sunday) and so far there are no tears, and I put this to two unique features, the paper itself and (surprisingly) the ribbons that serve as integral bookmarks.
The paper is a little more robust than what is typically found in even high-end Bibles. While it is not quite the thickness typically found in well printed and bound hardback books, it is not far off. It is noticeably thicker and just feels of better quality the pages in my (very nice) smaller Bible I use for visitation, an Omega Thinline Reference published by Crossway and my previous preaching Bible (The predecessor to Crossway’s Heirloom Reference Bible). That is not too say that there is anything wrong with quality of the pages in those Bibles, it is actually far better than in most Bibles, but if you are an inveterate page ripper like me, you’ll appreciate the thicker paper.
The one drawback to the paper that I have noticed, is that it does tend to pucker, crease and roll, especially on the top and bottom edges where I turn the pages. While this is a minor flaw, it is a flaw none the less. Perhaps because it is thicker than typical Bible paper but not quite as thick as that in a typical hardback book, where it picks up the oil from my hands, it curls as it dries. (I tend to leave it sitting open on my desk.)
The ribbons in the Schuyler (10mm) are twice the width of ribbons in my Crossway Bibles (5mm). And although I’m sure that publishers would say this is not what they are for, when preaching I will use the ribbons as a lever to turn pages, often a lot of them as I turn back from a cross reference to my passage; and it seems that the broader ribbons are less likely to cut into and tear the pages. (At least they haven’t thus far.)
As far as the covers go, my previous preaching Bible was covered in calfskin and the Schuyler is covered in goatskin. The calfskin is marginally thicker (.5mm by my measurement) but softer to the hand with a larger grain. The goatskin on the Schuler is soft, but feels tougher than the calfskin. That said, other than a few nicks on the top edge, and 15 years of wear and tear being visible, the cover on the Crossway has held up perfectly, and probably had another 10 years in it (at least).
The Schuyler has a smith sewn binding, and seems to be of very high quality. The binding of the Schuler feels solid and secure with six sets of stiches across the spine (those are the ribs you feel on the spine of smith sewn bound books). It feels tight and secure and just “feels like” the best bound book I’ve ever owned. I’d be shocked if there was any breakdown in the binding over the years.
If durability is consideration #1 for me readability is 1a. And there is a wrinkle here; I wear prescription reading glasses when I read or study and I don’t like to wear them in the pulpit. This is not out of vanity, but because I like to be able to see the people I am preaching to, and if I wear my glasses I cannot. In order for me to both read my Bible and to see the people, I need a Bible that I can read without my glasses. And that comes down to three things, the printing, the page and the binding.
The printing in the Schuyler is 11 pt Milo (you can download a sample PDF of Jude here) and is very readable and the ink saturation is both excellent and consistent. And while I don’t think I’ve yet looked at every single page in the Bible, I’ve looked at a lot, if not most, of them by now and I’ve yet to run across a light spot. And something that really surprised me is how sharp the printing is. It surprised me because I never thought about it, I always just assumed printing is printing. But I’ll say this, the printing in the Schuyler Quintal is noticeably crisper than in any other Bible I have ever used.
The paper is a very bright off white that provides a sharp contrast with the rich printing. Somehow the combination of the off white paper and the saturated and sharp printing seems to provide greater contrast between the printing and the page than any other Bible that I have ever held.
And one other thing. The pages have a matte finish. It used to go without saying that all Bibles have matte pages, but the PB has glossy or at least semi-glossy pages, kind of like a magazine (although the PB paper is far more substantial) page in finish. It is a personal preference, but I have a strong preference for matte pages.
And the Bible lays completely flat when opened to Genesis 1:1 and when open to Revelation 22:21.
While it is not a major consideration, how the Bible looked was a consideration, after all buying a new premium Bible is a substantial investment (especially when you make the big church planter money). On this score the Schuyler knocked out of the park. The Bible is substantial yet the dimensions (9¾” X 6½” X 2”) are visually appealing and don’t seem out our proportion. (For comparison, a standard Crossway ESV pew Bible is 8½”X5½”X1½”.) The Schuyler Quintel is available in a wide variety of cover colors beyond (but including) the traditional black and brown and has a Jerusalem Cross embossed on the cover. I choose imperial blue (because it is both conservative and different, which is hard to pull off at the same time) which comes with blue edged pages that are gold gilt. It is a visually appealing package.
Two and a half months into using it every day I am thrilled with it, and I Imagine it will last the rest of my life and well beyond. It was expensive, but it is a serious tool for serious work in the Word. I am blessed to have it and your pastor would be blessed to have a preaching Bible he prefers too. (And yes, that is a hint!)