Bible shopping...I like to read from the HCSB, but I've seen a number of "types" of Bibles available:

  • Daily Bible
  • Devotional Bible
  • Study Bible
  • Reference Bible
  • Thinline Bible

Can someone compare and contrast the types listed, and perhaps suggest a type for my use? I simply want to read the Bible. In big chunks. Uninterrupted by commentary. In large print, no split columns or anything. I want what I would call a "Reading Bible" but popular sites for Bibles don't seem to use that term.

Thanks God bless!

  • 1
    Some single column large print Bibles do exist, but not many. Here's an NIV
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 3:26
  • And the reason they are rare is that they are huge and heavy. Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 3:45
  • I have been looking for a pocket edition of a large print footnoted old and New Testament bible
    – 007
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 0:20

3 Answers 3


Daily Bible: A regular bible printed on normal pages and regular footnotes etc.

Devotional Bible: The bible text, packaged with chunks of text by one or more authors, designed to help explain the text or otherwise help the Christian reflect on the scriptures.

Study Bible: Big footnotes. Lots of footnotes. Bigger explanations at the beginning of bible books, bigger sections at the back with maps and reference points and tables and lists. Designed to provide commentary on most verses and passages, so that you always have a reference on the page to help explain the meaning of the text.

Reference Bible: Same thing as a study bible. Depending on who wrote it and why, it may include more reference to key texts or traditions of a group or denomination (e.g. early church material, reformation material, creeds, declarations, councils etc)

Thinline Bible: Thin pages. Lots of stuff in less physical space. It's like going from DVD to Blu-Ray, but in paper form.

The most important thing is having a good, consistent translation which you understand, and you won't go far wrong with the HCSB as you have it - but there are lots of others. Translations exist along a spectrum, depending on how much they try to stick to the original text "word for word" and how hard they try to convey it accurately into your own language "thought for thought". The HCSB is the former, most 'reader' bibles tend to be along the second kind.


I haven't seen a copy myself, but the ESV Reader's Bible should be right up your alley - no section headings, no verse numbers or footnotes, just a solid English translation of the Greek text as we know it. I wouldn't go using it permanently myself (footnotes are useful!), but it sounds fantastic and now that I've found out about it I definitely want one for myself.

ESV Reader's Bible

I would really recommend finding a Christian bookshop in your town/city and have a look through what they have - they could probably help you find what you're after, and order it in too if necessary. I'm not typically one to buy bibles online, they're too personal!


The term “Reader's Bible” is correct for the way you want to use it. The reason popular sites for selling Bible's don't use it much is there aren't that many out there. That is slowly changing as recent years has seen several new ones pop up.

The difference is almost entirely in the typesetting. Not having extra things on the page to get in the way and typesetting in a single column can make a huge difference to how much you are able to focus on the text without getting side-tracked. The side tracks can be great for study and a good study Bible is a valuable thing, but as you note they are not great for just reading.

Different reader's Bibles go to different extremes. Some eschew all headers and numbering, some keep such aids but just make them very subtle. Size varies a lot too so you might want to handle a few to see what you really like to read from.

The next issue is going to be translation. I am not aware of a reader's edition of the HCSB yet (although I would love to have one!). The closest match is probably going to be ESV, and thankfully Crossway has put out some very well done reader's editions of that. Beyond that the handful of other editions I've seen tend to be of very dynamic equivalent or heavily paraphrased translations.

The other editions you mention cover two sets of differences. One set is about typesetting and page layout. Thin-line has to do with paper thickness and how much info they cram into a small format. The other designations are mostly about what additional content is included. Study or reference Bibles tend to have more cross-references and assorted notes on the meaning of the text. Devotional Bibles have content less directly related to the text and more to do with general issues of faith. Daily Bibles can be any of the above OR they can be re-arranged Scriptural content into some sort of order, whether topical or chronological.

  • Funny, I've heard the term "Reader's Bible" used two different ways, both different from what you're describing. The first is for original language texts that have a mini lexicon included (usually with less common words on the same page as the text). The other is for simplified translations such as the NIrV (a personal favorite for English language learners). I suppose both share with what you're describing an attempt to make the text more "readable" (to somebody).
    – Susan
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 19:09
  • @Susan Huh. In my book those are "Bible Readers" not "Reader's Bibles". Or sometimes Greek Reader, Hebrew Reader, etc. At least that's how I think the terms should be used, your milage will vary! I'm not totally alone though and I'd rather Crossway be on my side than Zondervan.
    – Caleb
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 21:14

I do sympathize. There are so many more choices of Bible than when I was first shopping for one, and 'just Bible' doesn't seem to be an option. The Holman Bible does seem to have more choices than many.

If you can find one go visit a Christian bookstore. They usually have a huge selection of bibles and are usually very willing to help you choose the one that suits you. They will usually order if they haven't got what you want.

Large print bibles (i.e. normal book print size) are relatively rare because it makes the Bible very large. If you really want one then that will narrow down your choices. Looked at positively that will make your choice easier. Almost all bibles are two column except the large print ones. Most people don't like one column for fine print, so most publishers don't print them.

To be able to read 'just the Bible' you are usually looking for 'compact' bibles, but those are rarely large print. But also have a look at some of the smaller ' reference' or 'study' Bibles. Many of them only have very short notes in the margins or study materials at the back, in both cases allowing you to read the text uninterrupted. Try to look at sample pages, or an actual book before you buy.

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