Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: NASB In Touch Ministries Wide Margin

The Lockman Foundation has a strong legacy of producing high quality Bibles, and I was greatly impressed by the NASB Side-Column Reference Bible; however, the NASB In Touch Ministries Wide Margin Edition is by far the finest edition of the NASB I have ever seen, and it might be the nicest Bible I have ever handled. This calfskin wide margin Bible was designed in partnership with Charles Stanley (a well-known abuser of Bible editions (edit: He always wraps the back cover around the front, which puts a lot of stress on the binding)) and reflects a distinct usability with the finest craftsmanship. Dr. Stanley's introduction to the edition immediately reveals the heart behind this Bible's intentional design:

I'm excited to join The Lockman Foundation in creating the In Touch Ministries Edition of the NASB. This Bible features the translation of God's Word that is most accurate to the original languages, with greatly expanded margins perfect for extensive note-taking. Included are a solid concordance and an impressive full color map section. We also have selected a wonderful imported paper that will not allow distracting bleed-through of the text. The unique binding allows this Bible to open and lie flat from the first time you use it. Finally, we chose premium cover materials--top-grain cowhide, genuine leather, and hardcover--to make it a lifetime tool.
I am exceptionally impressed with this handsome edition.


The burgundy calfskin edition features a rich color (a bit darker than the pictures reflect), a deep pronounced grain and soft, supple leather. This is the only Bible I've reviewed other than the Cambridge editions which has a leather-lined interior and it gives this Bible a distinct feel. The thickness and softness of the calfskin rivals and may even surpass Cambridge's goatskin editions and is considerably cheaper. The difference between calfskin and goatskin often comes down to individual preference. Goatskin editions come with a natural grain, whereas all other leathers have a grain stamped into the leather. While my Cambridge goatskin Bible has a complex natural grain, the grain on this edition has a greater depth and definition and provides a highly pleasurable texture.

The spine features raised spine bands, which are a favorite feature of mine, and raised bulges at the top and bottom of the spine for added protection.

The dimensions of the Bible are 10.7 x 8 x 2.1 making it slightly taller and narrower than a Cambridge wide margin. The binding is smyth-sewn, providing the most proven and durable method of Bible binding.

This Bible does gymnastics fairly well, though not as flexible as the Side Column Reference its flexibility parallels a Cambridge edition. The flexibility and thickness is achieved not only with supple leather, but with a leather lined interior.

A truly beautiful spine accented by rich gold letters and gilding.



The layout in this edition is one of the major attractions this is a wide margin edition with a very readable 10 point font. The margins themselves are about 1" and 3/16ths on the outside, top and bottom margins and about an inch on the inside margin. As usual the inside margin is smaller than the outside, which is counter-productive. The inside margin curls into the spine and is much harder to write in, which would make a larger inside margin desirable. The outside margins are somewhat smaller than the margins within a Cambridge wide margin, but the top and bottom margins are significantly larger. This could be an advantage depending on your note-taking habits. This edition gains space by foregoing a cross reference system, but takes more space for the larger font.

The 10 point font is very readable and a desirable option, as this is the largest font I know of in a wide margin edition, but this also means the columns are narrower than usual, allowing about 20 verses per page. This allows more space for notes per verse but may also make reading slightly more difficult. This layout takes advantage of a readable font and a format that permits extensive note-taking, highly comparable to the Cambridge editions, but with a few different choices.

This edition features a full 70 page concordance with a very small font, making it fairly extensive. In addition it features 8 color maps and a few pages of blank paper at the end for notes. The cover is complemented by a felt slipcase. The paper in this edition is high quality but perhaps not as high quality as I have seen elsewhere. It should only be a drawback for those with highly selective tastes. This Bible also features some of the best ribbons I have ever seen, they are thick, durable wide and high gloss. This Bible may not feature cross-references or other extras, but it maintains a high quality in all its features.

The In Touch Ministries Wide Margin excels in materials, workmanship and design. It accomplishes elegance and beauty in a classic wide margin format that gives the reader a number of new options, including a larger font and a more even distribution of writing space. While the inside and outside margins may not be as large as some wide margin editions, but the larger font allows more space per verse. This is my favorite NASB of the editions I've handled, and it would be my first recommendation to any note-taker looking for an NASB. Different readers may be looking for different features or aesthetics, but this edition meets my preferences at many levels and provides exceptional quality in a simple approach.

My thanks to the Lockman Foundation for providing this complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review but an honest review.


  1. Thanks for the review. I've been thinking about buying one of these, but I couldn't find many pictures of it.

  2. When you say Charles Stanley is a well known abuser of texts, I take it you mean he gives his Bible's lots of hard usage and makes them fall apart if they're not well made though as a Reformed minister I have thought he did twist a few texts too! :)

  3. Whoops, I meant it in a good way. He's hard on his Bible. He always wraps the back cover around the front, which puts a lot of stress on the binding. I better edit this post to clarify.

  4. That is a good looking Bible. I'm impressed with its overall quality but do miss the cross-reference feature.

    I wonder if the Lockman Foundation has any updates planned for the NASB in the near future?

  5. Nice review.

    I think this is not a paragraphed text, am I wrong?

    On the other hand, I have read elsewhere complains about quality control issues, meaning folded pages, falling pages, etc... I do really hope Lockman has put their thing together, it is a pity that such a nice product does not stand a chance due to easily avoidable mistakes.

  6. The text is verse per line, but they do separate prose from poetry with formatting.

  7. This is the Bible In Touch Ministries is using as evidence in a court case against a fellow Christian. It is sad, I hope Charles Stanley isn't involved in this, I always held respect for the man through the years.

  8. I actually received one as a gift recently, and I readily agree with each and every point you make of this Fine~ Bible! Will hold up to many years of usage!

    Thanks for sharing, Jonathan!

  9. Is this updated nasb