The NASB Side-Column Reference Bible (henceforth SCR), produced by the Lockman Foundation, is an interesting animal. If you love the NASB, and you can get over its idiosyncrasies, this Bible could become your best friend.
Let me get this out of the way: The thing that bothers me most about this Bible may just be what you love most about it– the wild flexibility of the cover. I realize it sounds like an oxymoron to bemoan a cover for being “too limp” or “too flexible”, but thats my chief criticism of the SCR, or at least my copy (readers, are yours this flexible?). In my pre-SCR experience, R. L. Allan made the most flexible leather-lined covers. But this one is even more flexible, even to the point of feeling–dare I say it–flimsy. I don’t know what the cause is, but it seems as though there is something of substance between the cover and the liner on an Allan Bible and there is absolutely nothing between them on this Lockman SCR. As a result, the cover itself is even more limp and floppy than the book block. It makes me think of a person without a skeleton, as odd as the comparison sounds. Reader’s, are yours like this too or is mine an anomaly?
Here it is compared to other edge-lined bindings:
But that criticism aside, this is a beautiful Bible that will go the distance. The calfskin has an attractive grain pattern and a nifty blind-tooled line around its perimeter.
The raised bands on the spine add an elegant touch, and I actually really like the combination of upper and lower case lettering; it’s a nice change from the default all-caps we see in most Bibles:
As for the binding, the SCR lays as flat as the flattest-laying Bibles Allan has to offer, which undoubtedly make this an excellent study and pulpit companion. The edge-lined binding style (as opposed to the more traditional paste-off bindings) accounts for this, at least in part. But something about how they stitched and bound the signatures, the heavy book block, and the limp cover must also play a significant part, because this is uncommonly flat. Look at the pancake-esque flatness:
There was a prior edition of the SCR printed in America, and it is out of print and highly sought because of its opaque paper. This one is printed in China, and a common criticism is that the ghosting (ink show-through from the other side) is very noticeable. Line matching and better paper would have helped mitigate this problem. It could be distracting to you if you’re picky, but most readers won’t mind too much because of the tradeoffs.
Compare this text block to other well-loved verse-by-verse settings:
The SCR features a whopping 11 point font (!), making this one of the most legible NASBs I could imagine. The layout is single-column and verse-by-verse (meaning each verse begins on a new line). This is not an optimal layout for extended reading, but I believe it to be optimal for study and teaching/preaching. In fact, if I preached from the NASB, I would probably get an SCR and make it a fixture on my pulpit. The cross-references are located in the outside margin, and beyond the references is an additional wonderful 1″ margin, allowing for note taking if you so desire. Overall, this typesetting is at once attractive and quite useful. As for trim size, the book block measures in at 6-1/2″ x 9-1/4″ x 1-3/8″ — a full-size Bible to be sure.
Like I said, if you can overlook its faults, the Lockman NASB Side-Column Reference Bible is a nice Bible. If you cannot overlook its faults, you can always pick up almost the exact same book in an Allan binding (albeit for more than double the money). But for what it is, the SCR would make an excellent companion for the regular teacher or preacher of God’s word in the NASB.
If you want a higher quality NASB text block, I would recommend, in this order, the Schuyler Quentel (buy here, see my review here), Allan Reader’s (buy here), Cambridge Clarion (buy here, see my review here), Pitt Minion (buy here, review forthcoming), or Wide-Margin (buy here, see my review here). But none of them do quite what this typesetting does in terms of its easy-to-navigate verse layout, large font, and pulpit-forming flatness.
And lest we get lost in leather-bound English-Bible luxury, please remember to pray for translations in the remaining 1,859 Bible-less languages in our world. Click here to see my heart on the matter and to even support the work of Bible translation.