A couple of days ago I received in the mail the NET Bible First Edition and a NET Bible Compact Edition. I have been using the NET Bible website for quite awhile, trying to hold off from spending the money to have a text edition. I really like using the NET Bible in my studies, especially for the more than 60,000 translators’ notes. These translation notes are heavenly to a textual criticism and translation junkie like me. But it became a pain to try to remember to go the NET Bible website while studying. Further, while I use Bible software, I still study and read from printed Bibles. Every day my desk has three to five different versions open to the text I am studying. I will get a TV tray and place it behind my chair if I need to get a few more translations open.
But finally my stubborn will yielded when I saw that for only $5 more I could also own a NET Bible Compact Edition. What a deal! Most probably have seen or own the NET Bible First Edition. I could not afford the $100 genuine leather edition. I thought about it, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger on that expense. I am very hesitant these days to purchase expensive leather Bibles because the quality of leather used in these Bibles has really deteriorated. It used to be that a genuine leather Bible would last your life and you could pass it on to another. But that kind of leather will usually put you closer to the $200 range than the $100 range. I would rather use an affordable Bible and replace it in five to ten years. So that is why I went with the “premium bonded leather” (if it is even fair to call bonded leather “premium”) for both the First Edition and Compact Edition.
The First Edition is a little stiff, but not as stiff as the TNIV Reference Bible. It is a smooth bonded leather and it is a little more “slippery” than the “TruTone” and “TuTone” leathers that are used by many publishers today. Most important to me, though it is bonded leather, it lays open flat. Even in the book of Revelation or the book of Genesis, the First Edition lays open flat. There is nothing worse than trying to study, write, and type with a Bible that will not lay open flat. Then I have to find my wallet, my iPhone, or something of weight to hold the Bible open. I wish all publishers would make sure that they have used enough quality products for a Bible to lay open and not snap shut when it is let go. But it is a big Bible, as big as the NLT Study Bible and ESV Study Bible in terms of size and thickness. The reason is that the First Edition is full of translation notes. I really love it. Between the NET Bible First Edition and Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, I feel like I am able to get a good handle on most translation difficulties and the reasoning behind translation choices.
The NET Bible Compact Edition is made of the same leather material as the First Edition. However, the Compact Edition is stiff and rigid. It requires a lot of “yoga” (to borrow a phrase from Mark Bertrand’s Bible Design site, which I love). It is beginning to loosen up a little, but I guess this type of bonded leather on a much smaller Bible makes it nearly impossible to lay open. I have been unsuccessful in getting my Compact Edition to lay open on its own.
The dimensions of the Compact Edition are nearly identical to the ESV Personal Size Reference Bible. The Compact Edition measures 4.5 x 6.75 inches and only contains about 7000 translation notes, rather than the full 60,000+ for the sake of size. One other bummer (besides it not laying open) is that there is no ribbon marker. Very curious. But it is a great size and the layout is nearly perfect. I wish it was single column layout. But other than that, the layout is perfect. The font is readable. The print is dark. The spacing is good between the lines so the font becomes very readable. It is also black letter text (no red letters) which I also appreciate. This is what compact Bibles should look like and publishers should take note of this gem.
If you have been wanting a NET Bible for your library, I think this is a great opportunity. For $5 more you can have the Compact Edition also ($20 if purchased separately). Very readable and very portable. I commend the NET Bible on their efforts. You can check it out for yourself here.