See the Holy Land in Vivid Color

Not all Bibles serve the same purposes. While all trustworthy editions of Bible translations seek to faithfully preserve and present the Biblical text, many have added features that can help you grow in your understanding. These days you can find reader’s bibles, single columns, study bibles, compact bibles, devotional bibles, outreach bibles, and so many more. Whatever your purpose, whatever your goal, odds are there is a bible out there to meet your need.

CSB is no stranger to niche or specialized bibles. They have published several specialized Bibles such as the C.H. Spurgeon Study Bible, a fan-favorite Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible, and the highly recommended Ancient Faith Study Bible. But what we have here is something else altogether. Have you found yourself wanting to know more about the people, history, and locations referenced in the Bible? Do you have an affinity for archeology? Does the study of ancient cultures get you excited?

Consider the Holy Land Illustrated Bible.

While other bible versions try to cover (sometimes too) much ground, the CSB Holy Land Bible does the literal and figurative opposite: it transports you to the ancient near east, namely Israel and the areas surrounding it, and brings to life the culture, context, and history surrounding the Biblical peoples, texts, and events. If you’ve ever wanted to go to Israel, you can do so without leaving your living room by grabbing this bible.

The people and places of the biblical narrative like you've never seen them before.

Technical Details

First, the basics. The CSB translation philosophy is termed “Optimal Equivalence” by the publishers. While translation methodology is not the focus of this review, I am pleased to share that I feel the CSB is a translation that is both easy to read and highly accurate. The publishers have done a great job of translating the text in a manner that is faithful and reads beautifully.

Bible novices and experts alike will immediately notice the easy to read 9.5 point type and line-matched text. The paper is a great weight, and that alone is a nice touch, but having line-matched text makes reading this edition a breeze. What is line-matching, you might ask? Line-matching is a process that aligns the text on both sides of a page, minimizing the see-through of text. In other words, fewer distractions as you navigate the text. The font utilized throughout this version is clear and easy on the eyes. The biblical text is formatted into two columns while the articles strewn about and around the text are formatted into three columns. I appreciate that this Bible is not “red letter,” i.e., the words of Jesus are not in any way isolated or set apart from the rest of scripture. It is a good reminder that all of the word of God is inspired by God and equally authoritative. Headings are easy to spot and serve to help you find and keep your place in the text. The articles that are included in this edition have a green border running along the top, which helps you easily differentiate between the inspired text and the publisher’s added insights.

Second, the star of the show: let’s talk about the thousands of pictures, maps, and illustrations. In one word? Beautiful. CSB did not skimp here — they’ve packed over 1,100 images into this bible. Primarily aimed at bringing the history surrounding the biblical text to life, the images, maps, diagrams, and illustrations help you to learn how the different locations, objects, buildings, etc. referenced in the holy scriptures might have looked in times past or how they look today. I was truly impacted by the beauty of the ancient near east as presented on these pages; the mountains, valleys, temples, cities, objects, and landmarks found in these pages consistently made me slow down and stare to appreciate the beauty of the holy land. I am confident that anyone who grabs a copy will feel the same. Much to my surprise, where possible, the publishers utilized full-color images. I’d estimate that roughly 97% of the images and illustrations are in color, and many of them span the full width of the page, as well. This is not a cheap production! The images of the architecture, the art, the natural landmarks, and everything else included in this bible are reproduced in high quality and serve to help you move from being a reader, to being a beholder.

Beautifully refined.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, the Holy Land Bible includes over 275 full-length articles, useful mini-introductions to each and every book of the bible (which includes a word on “Circumstances of Writing,” “Contribution to the Bible,” and “Structure” of each book). While these introductions are largely brief, they are still useful for those who might not have much background knowledge of the scriptures. CSB has also included over 40 “Digging Deeper” call outs to help you gain a more in-depth understanding of the people, objects, or places referenced in the text. Given the purpose of the Bible, you will note that many of the images, call outs, and illustrations are centered on archaeological finds throughout the centuries, but that is to be expected, again, when the intended aim of this version of the CSB is to “provide greater insight and understanding of the people, places, and things of scripture.” The Bible has two ribbons — one for OT and one for NT reading. It has no gilding, but I can’t really fault them for that, as that might have negatively impacted the full-page images that are found on many of the pages. At roughly 5 lbs., it is a slightly heavier bible compared to many of the other versions I have, and is not one I’d personally lug around to worship gatherings; but it is an amazing resource, and one that I will be poring over for a long time to come. I will keep this at arm’s reach as I study the word, prepare studies, and do my devotions. In one word, this bible is rich. I give this my highest commendation.



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