***Let me start by saying this is NOT a review of the notes from Pastor MacArthur NOR the ESV as a translation. I found the notes to be perfectly fine and I am a big fan of the ESV. This review is based purely on the quality of the Bible itself. Also note, I did not receive this Bible from CBD. I ordered it directly from Grace To You, which is Pastor MacArthur's church. This is not a review of them either.***
I think all who are reading this can agree on one thing: If you order a premium Bible, you expect to get a premium Bible. You've spent upwards of $100 most likely, depending on the choice of leather, and you want your money to be worth it. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this particular Bible.
Upon arrival, I honestly did not notice any flaws. After a few days of use, I began to see things. I'll start with the positives though.
The calf skin is supple and almost buttery soft. I cannot imagine what it would be like after having a good breaking in. The Smyth Sewn binding is superb and as I said I love the ESV as a translation. The notes, I found to be good, but I suppose that depends upon your view of Pastor MacArthur. Additionally, Crossway has an excellent lifetime guarantee that comes with their premium level Bibles (more on that later).
While the calfskin leather is very, very nice after a few days of normal, on a desk usage, I discovered that the outside of the front cover was separating from the inside of the front cover. In other words, the seam that runs along the cover holding the leather to the liner was separating. I'm not a book binder, but I know that this is not sewn and appeared to me to only be glued down. I find this completely unacceptable for the price that I paid for this Bible. A calfskin cover, properly bound and cared for, should last a lifetime. I shouldn't have to worry about the cover separating after 3 days of normal use.
The next major issue, the gutter. This particular Bible has a crinkled gutter like nobody's business. Running your finger up and down sounds like crumpling a wad of paper in your hand. It also made page turning a bit of an unenjoyable experience as the noise would happen then too. I know it may seem shallow of me, but again, if I pay for premium quality, I want premium quality and gutter noise is not indicative of a proper binding process. Either it was bound to tightly or it was bound in cross ways or something. I just know that in my Schuyler ESV Quentel, the gutter is smooth as silk no matter where you open the Bible to.
Finally, the paper. This is some thin, thin paper. I don't expect no ghosting at all, in fact because I am in my early 30's, I can even stand a pretty heavy amount of ghosting in the right light and still have no issues. To read this Bible, I had to move a tall desk lamp right next to my reading area and aim the light at the Bible to see it properly. The ghosting cast to heavy of a shadow for me to see it clearly. Now, in fairness, I will say that everyone's eyes are different and this may not be an issue at all for some people. For me, it was. Again, this is another one of those categories where I feel like the cost is not equivalent with the quality.
The Super Positive:
As stated above, Crossway offers a lifetime guarantee on their Bible for any defect or issue. After contacting them on the phone and explaining my issues, they are sending me a FedEx label to return my Bible to them. When they receive it, they will be sending me (free of charge: rush status) a brand new calfskin ESV Study Bible (I didn;t want to take the chance with another MacArthur, in case that was a bad batch). All I'm required to do is pay the difference in cost between the two, which is minimal. The whole call took about five minutes and the person I spoke to was not only helpful but apologetic as well. Excellent customer service.
Personally, I would not order this Bible. With that being said, it is entirely possible that this was simply a bad batch and I happened to get one. There are clearly a number of positive reviews on here that say this Bible is wonderful. CBD has great customer service as well so if you do order it and run into the same issues I had, you'll have no problem returning it. If you do order one, check the issues I've mentioned as soon as you get it to make sure yours is on the up and up.
This is a beautiful Bible inside as well as outside. It is hard to personalize because of the cover, but can be done by a smaller store that does the imprinting by hand.
The Bible is perfect for study, Dr. MacArthur's commentary is full and complete, and the Bible offers extra sections, such as special readings for Lent, etc. I am sorry that it doesn't have red-letters for Jesus' words. That is why I bought the ESV classic thinline to go with it. I do love this Bible.
Nice bible. My only real complaint is the lack of space for making my own notes. The study notes offered great insights along with the extra sections for reading plan, maps etc. were a big plus. Leather has a nice feel and binding looks solid but not enough time to tell how it will hold up to heavy (not abusive) use. If youre ok with the lack of space I can recommend this bible.