Bible Review: Crossway’s Omega Thinline

There are two kinds of Bible people in this world. And there is nothing wrong with either type.

Type One

There are the “One Bible” types, who tote around an old, tattered genuine or even bonded leather copy of the Sacred Writ. Heck, maybe even a paperback! Their pages are falling out, and brown chunks of bonded leather are flaking off of the spine like the chaff in the bottom of the cereal box. They don’t particularly care what kind of leather it’s made out of, or think deeply about the formatting and setting. They love their old tattered Bible and aren’t looking to change. If that’s you, raise your hand.

Type Two

And then there are the “Many Bibles” types. They are those who treasure really nice, premium editions of the Holy Bible, swathed in superior grades of leather, and who probably also collect several other editions of the Bible in various translations, formats and styles. These folks savor them. Love them. Take them off the shelf just to smell them, and have a hard time choosing which one to take to church.

If you are of the former type, please carry on. Our work here is done. I’m not trying to talk you into anything. But if you are one of the Type Two folks, and the pursuit of the right look, feel, smell, and tangibles of an exceptional Bible keeps you up late at night searching review blogs like this one, pause here and linger a while. Breathe deep.

This is gonna be good.

This summer, (in fact just a week ago), Crossway introduced the newest edition to their , the The Heirloom series (as you may already know) is the Wheaton publishing giant’s super-premium lineup. These books feature the best-of-the-best in leather, paper, and binding. As the name suggests, they are supposed to be heirlooms.

Let me give you a general overview of this particular one, and then we can talk some specifics.

The Omega is a Jongbloed (Netherlands) bound, goatskin upgrade of the already existing edition Bible. This particular setting already exists in Crossway’s regular Trutone polymers, and in a stepped up, Both of these Bibles are already pretty good stuff. I own the top grain edition, and I love it. So why an Heirloom edition?

Well, the Omega takes things to a whole new level; it adds a better paper quality to the very good double-column format, splashes the ends of the pages with some gorgeous, salmon color art gilting, and wraps the book up in some of Jongbloed’s best goatskin–complete with perimeter stitching. Making the whole thing “pop,” Crossway adds four artificial ribs to the spine, which gives the edition that special panache, making it worthy of the name Heirloom.

As most Bibles should, this one features line-matching which means that the printing matches perfectly on both sides of the paper, reducing ghosting and eliminating that “thin paper” affect of gray characters showing through to the other side. Most reviewers agree with me: there is no reason in the year 2015 why any new Bibles should fail to have line-matching.

Yes, I’m looking at you Crossway (Awkward silence).

Aesthetically, the look and feel of this Omega Bible hits the mark, and makes it an all around contender for being “the one.” The goatskin is supple, soft and flexible. This Bible properly melts in the hand for study or preaching without going liquid and slipping through the fingers. The size, in the 9 X 6 category, is the most 嘉盛 beloved and often-employed Bible size, although I personally prefer 8 X 5 Bibles, and can’t for the life of me figure out why Crossway doesn’t line-match their dutiful standard Thinline editions. That would be sweet! Not even their has line-matching, since they didn’t change the setting at all. But’s another blog article.

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Like all edge-lined Bibles, the Omega’s cover is comprised of two components; an outer leather shell (goatskin) and an inner liner (this one appears to me to be a very nice bonded leather). These two components are glued faces out, and then perimeter stitching seals the edges tight, giving it superior strength. I love this feature and appreciate its looks as much as its function. The liner is then tabbed to the block (see below), creating a stronger hold that enables the Bible to withstand lots and lots of use.

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As we open the Bible up, we begin to see just how beautiful this edition is. The art-gilting is stately without being ostentatious, and the golden gilt line along the liner frames the pages well. Inside though, the utility of this version becomes paramount: this double-column edition is perfect for reading and preaching, and the large print 10.5-point Lexicon font is ideal for visual clarity. Bingo!

The margins are wide enough to keep poetry looking like poetry instead of getting chopped up like sliced ham. The line-matching is near perfect in this edition and so the interior is charming. It’s clean. It’s spacious. It’s alluring to read. I don’t want to put it down.

Verse numbers, although obviously superscripted like in most Bibles, are also bolded here, making them particularly easy to find when referencing quickly. As a preacher, I appreciate this. Just last week, I was preaching an evening service, and I could not for the life of me find my verse number in Matthew 3, because I happened to have some underlining in the text. Further complicating the matter, the verse had some textual variants, meaning additional symbols were laced in the text indicating that the reader should check an alternate rendering in the margin. The result was a prolonged “Uhh…” (Insert crickets chirp here).

Very professional, right? From now on, more pronounced verse numbers get marked up in my reviews. Kind of makes me want to rethink that snarky comment about the  I made above since verse numbers are its calling card. Note to self: “May need one of those anyway despite lacking line-matching.”

The Omega contains a full complement of references (not so, the  which gets the basic package) and the references are placed at the bottom right in the corner, becoming part of the right column on each page. I like this and think it looks great.

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As you can see in the picture below, this Bible lies incredibly flat. Although the Jongbloed, edge-lined hinge does kick up the front and back pages just a bit (please don’t tell Mark Bertrand), this edition seems to have no trouble lying almost blanket-flat. This means that if you type or take notes while using your Bible, you are not going to have the trouble of keeping it open with your elbow, forearm (or in some extreme cases, your foot) while you temporarily use your hands for other study functions.

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I don’t have the exact weight on this Bible, but if I know my Bibles (and I do, #humblebrag) this one weighs just over 32 oz. Perhaps as much as 38oz. That means it is in the right zone for preaching. Several reviewers, myself included, believe that a preaching or teaching Bible should be close to 2 lbs. without going much over. Once you get into the 3 + lb. range, the hand and arm naturally get tired and one becomes prone to subconsciously rest the arm by putting down the Bible.

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As an expository preacher, I don’t like to do that. Even when I am telling an illustration or giving an application, I prefer to keep my Bible open, and in my hand to signal to the congregation: we started in this book, we are working through this book, and we are coming right back to it in a minute.

UPDATE: I checked the weight on my unofficial postal scale at home and it tips in at 34 oz. That puts it just a nudge over perfect.

All told then, this Bible gets a stellar score in its aesthetics, its layout, and its utility as a study and preaching Bible. It does not come with any notes other than the marginalia provided by the ESV translators, and the 80,000 standard set of Crossway cross-references. But it does have glossy maps and a decent concordance. It’s a Thinline, what else do you want?

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Probably the closest competitors to the Omega Thinline are the Schuyler Quentel and the . For fun, I’ll say a few things to compare them.

On the surface, the Quentel and the Omega have quite a lot in common. Both have large print, both are double-column, and both do something sort of fancy with the references, rather than putting them in a space-hogging central column.

The Quentel (pictured left) has larger print at 12-point, but I have to say that the Omega’s 10.5-points are plenty for me! I have no problem there, so I am glad to save the paper – not that I am a tree hugger or anything. I am more concerned about the overall weight and heft of the book. By comparison, the Omega is much more of a carry-friendly volume, and I would probably not preach out of a Quentel, although it is in many other ways a standard-bearer of premium Bibles.

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The Quentel, does (tit for tat) beat the Omega in the quality of paper, and the Omega is just slightly more transparent, resulting in a bit more ghosting as I think this picture shows. Which to buy then? Well two factors are going to mitigate this decision. First, if you commonly read or study at a desk, table, or use a pulpit, the Quentel is going to give you better opacity on the paper and a very easy-on-the-eyes reading experience. If you want to carry the book around or bring it to church with you, however, the Omega is the better option. Both have about the same margins at 1/2 inch, so they are not designed for note-taking.

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On the other hand, another comparable edition is the As some of you know, the venerable “Eagle” is my go-to edition. You can see the differences immediately. The Omega has a much better reading experience with the substantially better font (10.5 point vs. 8 point and a more gracious leading) but the Cambridge WM has those gorgeous marshmallow-sized margins for note-taking. Of course, that extra girth on the margins (inner and outer) adds weight to the book, not to mention those wings fly out extra wide when the Eagle is open and taking flight.

Here’s the deal: if I wasn’t an avid note-taker, I’d get an Omega for sure… You won’t have enough room to write full sentences in the Omega, but you will have enough space to write basic words, cryptic notations, your own cross-references, and symbols. In my opinion, the Omega is the prettier Bible, and the spine ribs seal the deal in that category.

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The real difference can be seen here in the thickness of the three Bibles mentioned. The Cambridge WM is about 1/2 inch thicker than the Omega, and the Quentel dwarfs it by almost twice, making the Omega by far and away the easiest, most ergonomic of the options. As to the aesthetics, since all three are bound by the same place, Jongbloed in the Netherlands, the Bibles are going to be extremely comparable in type and composition, and beauty.

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Well, whaddya think? Is the Omega an edition that you would consider in the future? I hope so, its a great Bible. Comment below, or shoot me a message at Facebook or on Twitter. I would love to hear what you have to say about any of these three editions.

Thankfully, I own all three, and that makes me a Type Two kind of guy. 🙂

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