I once sat at George Müller’s desk and read James 1:27 from his Bible. I once visited a library that contained artifacts from William Carey’s life and leafed through a Bible that he had owned and studied. I have pondered the color-coded notes in Amy Carmichael’s Bible and have paged through a first-edition King James. Closer to home, my father’s Bible was placed at the front and center of the church during his funeral and I had a special wooden case constructed to hold my son’s Bible after he went to be with the Lord.
All of this is to say that I believe in the Bible—I believe in the Bible as the Word of God, the divine scriptures, but also as a special object or artifact that will often outlast the one who owned it, who read it, who treasured it. It is for this reason that I affirm the importance of “heirloom Bibles”—Bibles that are meant to take a place of prominence in the life of an individual or family and that are constructed in such a way that they are likely to last through the rigors of long use. These are the kind of Bibles that can truly be an heirloom—an artifact to be left behind to future generations as a symbol and reminder of the owner’s faith in God and trust in his Word.
The ESV has recently released refreshed editions of three heirloom Bibles: the Omega Edition, the Legacy Edition, and the Heritage Edition. Each of them shares a number of traits: They have black, goatskin covers with gold print and four ribs on the spines. They are soft and supple and generally able to lie flat when open, even when turned to Genesis or Revelation. They are all printed and bound by Royal Jongbloed, feature high-quality paper, have four ribbon markers, and come wrapped in velvet in a handsome two-piece box. They all have the traditional presentation page, along with pages to record births, marriages, and deaths. They are all exquisite in every way and all come with a lifetime guarantee on the print and binding.
They also have some differences.
ESV Heirloom Bible, Legacy Edition is 6” x 9” in size and is modeled after the Renaissance ideal of a perfect page, which means it has a single column of text and wide margins. The font is 9-point, has 1,680 pages, and is 47.43 ounces in weight. Footnotes are in small print at the bottom while headings are in italicized print in the margins. There are no cross references, though it does feature a concordance and selection of full-color maps at the back.
ESV Heirloom Bible, Heritage Edition is quite a bit smaller at 5.5” x 8.25”, though also quite a bit thicker with a page count of 2,056 and a font that is slightly bigger at 9.25 points. It weighs 47 ounces. It has a single column of text and wide margins, though the headings are inline and bolded rather than to the side. It has no concordance, though it does have the maps.
ESV Heirloom Bible, Omega Edition is the biggest of the three at 6.125” x 9.125”. It also has the biggest font at 10.5-point, is laid out in two columns, and has a page count of 1,248. It is the only one of the three to feature cross references, which are set at the bottom of the right-most column of each page. It has both a concordance and a collection of maps. It weighs in at 39.6 ounces.
Thus, while all three are similar in being beautifully made, all three have their own collection of special attributes related to dimensions, font size, layout, and features. If I had to pick just one, I would probably favor the Legacy Edition, but that is merely a matter of preference, and it would truly be impossible to go wrong with any of them. These are special Bibles meant to serve a special purpose and they will serve it well. They are precious, durable, and just the kind of Bible that can be read over a lifetime of personal and family devotions, then left behind as a precious heirloom. In fact, I will be making sure that my daughter and her fiancé are given one at their forthcoming wedding so they can begin that legacy even as they begin their life together.
To purchase these Bibles, try: Legacy Edition (Amazon, Westminster Books); Heritage Edition (Amazon, Westminster Books); Omega Edition (Amazon, Westminster Books). They are also all available directly from Crossway.
(Note: beginning in December, 2021, all three editions will also be available in Horween Leather—a deep brown high-quality cowhide that is meant to develop character over time and with use.)
Here, to show the difference in dimensions, is a snap of all three side by side: Legacy, Heritage, Omega.