CSB Study Bible for Women | A Review

The recently released CSB Women’s Study Bible claims to be the most comprehensive study Bible ever prepared for women and by women. In this review, I’ll give you my initial overall thoughts about the Bible, then break it down into more detail for those like me who need a little more than just the facts, ma’am

CSB Women's Study Bible Review

Overall Assessment

Typically, I don’t prefer Women’s Study Bibles. However, this particular Women’s Study Bible may have changed my mind. Let me explain…

I have a strong conviction that there are no pink passages of Scripture and that every Christian, male or female, can and should engage with the text of Scripture itself and leave the commentaries to separate books. I also believe there are good {and bad} ways to study Scripture. We should all approach Scripture inductively, letting the text speak for itself, and allowing for the more easily understood passages to shed light on the more difficult ones. After we have done our due diligence in engaging with the text itself, and only after, we many consult commentaries from trusted sources to check whether we are properly understanding the text. 

While I still hold to these convictions about how to study, I have found the CSB Women’s Study Bible to be a refreshing exception to my rule. This Bible is incredibly beautifully done, but not distractingly so. Unlike other Women’s Study Bibles I have observed in the past, the notes contained in this one are not like neon flashing signs that drag your attention away from the text. It has a pleasant font in 9.25-point type that makes for great readability, and the margins allow for enough white space to let your eyes rest. 

This Bible has been released just in time for Mother’s Day and would make a great gift, even for those who deal with moderate eye-strain and need a larger text to read. While it’s certainly not giant print, it is large enough. It also comes in some equally gorgeous binding options ranging from a really economical, yet visually appealing cloth-over-board hardback, to genuine leather, and everything in between. 

Bible Quality Assessment

There are several elements I consider when determining the quality of any Bible. The categories are translation, paper, binding, font, notes {when applicable}, and visual appeal.

Translation

This Bible is in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. I have been using this translation for several months now and I love it. I was formerly a NASB girl and, while my beloved NASB still holds a special place in my heart, the CSB is my new favorite. The translation board of the CSB used a method called Optimal Equivalence, which they have pioneered, to bring us this translation. You can read more about the translation philosophy here. What it means for you, the reader, is an accurate, faithful translation with ultimate readability. I describe it as the richness of the NASB, with the readability of the NIV. Neither clunky nor too formal. It’s like the porridge Goldilocks was looking for…just right.

Paper

Paper quality and style is a big factor in choosing a Bible and much of this decision is subjective and preferential. I love the paper in the CSB Women’s Study Bible. It is as close to the perfect Bible paper as you can get, in my estimation. It is thin, yet not too thin, which will make it delightfully crinkly once it’s broken in and written on. It’s thin enough to do the two-finger pinch page turn. {Those of you who do this know exactly what I mean. The rest of you can just ignore this feature} It is a matte white as opposed to a smooth white, but not so bright-white that it gives a glare. It does have ghosting, where you can see the print from the other side, but it’s not distracting, and I challenge you to find a Bible that doesn’t have at least some ghosting.

**Of note for those who have a She Reads Truth Bible from the same publisher and wish to compare: this paper is different than the paper used in the SRT Bible. I have been struggling to bond with my She Reads Truth Bible simply because of the paper. While Holman got me with the extraordinarily wide margins in the SRT, the paper itself is bright-white and a little too thick and glossy for my taste. It just doesn’t feel like Bible paper to me. The paper in the Women’s Study Bible is far superior. 

Binding

The CSB Women’s Study Bible has a binding that is Smyth-sewn rather than glued. What this means for you is that it will last. You have very little possibility of your pages falling out after heavy use when they are sewn in as opposed to glued in. You can read more about this binding process here. In addition, sewing the pages in allows for the book to lay flat when open. 

My review copy is a linen cloth-over-board hardback binding. It is well-bound and sturdy. While I haven’t had an opportunity to handle the other binding material options, I would guess that they all have similar craftsmanship.

Font

As mentioned above, the CSB Women’s Study Bible has a 9.25-point font in a lovely, readable type. This is large enough for most readers. The text is in paragraph form with in-text verse numbers. The font in the notes sections is slightly smaller, but still very readable. This is a double-column Bible with sub-headers throughout each book noting the verse numbers for each outlined section. I find the outlined verse numbers to be a very useful feature. 

My personal preference is a single column text due to the way I study, but that is my criteria and most people don’t mind either way. This Bible lacks wide margins, so if you are a note-taker, you may be squeezing notes in nooks and crannies. I find, however, that most study Bibles with commentary notes throughout fall into the narrow-margin category because, let’s face it, you simply can’t have it all in one Bible if you wish it to be smaller than a coffee-table sized Family Bible. 

Notes

As stated above, I’m not generally a fan of having a notes section in my Bible. I prefer to study for myself and make my own notes as I go while allowing the experts to speak in their own books. However, I am utterly impressed with the notes in this Bible. If I had my choice, I’d still prefer to have them bound in their own book, but these notes are so valuable that if the only way you can have them is contained within a study Bible, I say buy it

There are character profiles, in-text timelines and maps, word studies, and biblical womanhood notes throughout. I thoroughly inspected all the sections and read several of the notes, but I paid very close attention to the biblical womanhood sections. Given the current discussions going on in the evangelical church about women’s roles within the church, I was curious to see how they would handle these notes.

I’m beyond pleased to tell you that the editors of this Bible have a faithful complementarian viewpoint of biblical womanhood, while not overreaching into patriarchy. There is no hint of motherhood is your highest calling language to alienate those who aren’t in this category, while at the same time, they uphold the biblical view of male leadership within the home and church. The notes on Genesis Chapter 3 about the judgment on the woman after the Fall and the roles and functions of women are absolutely the most reasonable, faithful explanation of this Chapter I have seen in a very long time. The entire Bible is worth it, just for these notes alone. 

Visually Appealing

This last consideration is purely aesthetic and, therefore, subjectively based on my opinion. The CSB Women’s Study Bible is one of the most visually appealing Bibles I’ve seen, whether for women or a general audience. I tend to get an allergic reaction to overly ornate Bibles {the love for Bible journaling escapes my understanding or interest}, preferring to focus on the text. This Bible is simply beautiful, while not being distracting. I’m so thankful for the attention to detail while remembering to keep the main thing the plain thing {as our dear brother Alistair Begg would say}. 

 

Go grab a copy for your mom for Mother’s Day. Or your sister, or your daughter, or your friend. There’s still time if you have Amazon Prime and they deliver on Sunday in your area. You can also find it at your local Lifeway. Or grab one for your husband or pastor so they can learn from a woman’s perspective and incorporate what they’ve learned in their sermons and conversations. Now there’s an idea! Women’s Bibles. They’re not just for women anymore. {I joke! Mostly.} Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.