After making significant updates to the HCSB in 2010 and releasing the superb HCSB Study Bible shortly after, B&H has started releasing some new HCSB reference editions featuring a completely redone text layout and greatly expanded textual and translation-related footnotes. So far, both regular and large-print Ultrathin reference editions have been published with the new text block. The main innovations of the new layout include:
- sans-serif fonts throughout
- book and chapter references in the bottom margin instead of the top
- extensive footnotes for textual and translation-related issues
Below the photos are some thoughts about the new features. If you’re looking for a review of the HCSB as a translation, Pr. Richard Shields has done a great job reviewing it at his blog: https://exegete77.wordpress.com/
Sans-serif fonts are pretty standard for the web (including this blog) and some e-readers, but a quick look through my library revealed that I have very few print books with this type of font. To me, in a side-by-side comparison of two equally-sized serif (think Times New Roman) and sans-serif (think Arial) fonts, the sans-serif font appears larger. Another benefit is that the quirky HCSB choice to bold-face OT quotes in the NT is not nearly as noticeable than in prior editions. Personally, I think this is a good thing as I find the use of bold-print very distracting. Overall, though somewhat novel for print editions, I find the sans-serif font extremely easy to read, even for long periods of time.
Book and chapter references are moved to the bottom margin in these bibles. At first I thought this would be very difficult to get used to after decades of looking to the top margin for these references; however, it took me about five minutes to adjust. As radical a departure from the norm as this appears, don’t overreact. It works.
In my opinion, the most wonderful improvement in these new layouts has been the incredible expansion of the footnotes, as seen in a couple of the above pictures. These notes are not interpretation or study bible-type notes but are exclusively related to textual issues (comparing difference manuscripts) or translation matters (alternate translation possibilities). As nerdy and academic as this might sound, I find these notes extremely helpful. The only other bible I have seen that even comes close to this level of detail is the NET bible. B&H should be commended for this valuable addition.
These new layouts are fantastic. If you are in the market for a new bible, the HCSB is a super translation, and these new editions are wonderful. Many thanks to Jeremy Howard at Lifeway for providing me a copy of the large-print edition for review!