Holman’s CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible review – Rating 8.9

Christian Standard Bible - Ultrathin Reference Bible Holman Bible PublishersI normally am not one that tries to get the newest translation that hits the market.  I guess you could call me a little resistant to change in that area.  I’ve seen some advertisements here and there for this “CSB” or Christian Standard Bible online, but honestly didn’t pay much  attention to them since I didn’t really know much about it.  One day, I decided to look into it a little more as I saw some advertisements for this new Bible.   I found out that this is actually a revision from the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible) with a new name given to it for some reason.  I have read from the HCSB before and really like it, so I decided to give this particular Bible a shot and requested a copy from B&H Publishing (Holman Bible Publishers) to see how this particular Bible looks.  The copy that I got was the imitation leather brown one with the cross on the front cover.



In full disclosure, I was not required or requested by B&H Publishing to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


**See all sections below for full detailed review**
This CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible actually has been a very nice discovery.  Especially considering the price is so low (for this particular binding).  Granted this particular one is imitation leather, it still feels very nicely made and seems like it would hold up very well.  This is a typical reference Bible and has a very nice concordance of 70 pages.  I love how (like the HCSB, which is the CSB’s predecessor) they put any Old Testament quotations in the New Testament in a bold font in addition to the cross references for them.  Very unique and helpful.  For the low price of this particular binding of this Bible, you get a very good quality for the money.  I would recommend this one for sure.  I will do a separate post on my blog to go over the actual text of the Christian Standard Bible as well, which so far is looking pretty positive.  I received a copy of this reference Bible in exchange for my honest review.


Type of Bible: Reference Bible
Publisher: Holman Bible Publishers / B&H Publishing (March 15, 2017)
ISBN-13 of Bible Reviewed: 978-1433647666
Price:  At the time of writing this review, the cheapest place to get this book is at Christianbook.com.  They have it for $13.99– suggested retail from the publisher is $19.99. Please note that these prices do not include any potential shipping charges.

If you would like to purchase this book, please support my blog and purchase by clicking any of the links to Christianbook.com on this page like the one below. If you want it in a different format, Click Here for those links listed below in this review.

647660: CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch
By Holman Bible PublishersThe CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible is easy-to-carry and easy-to-read, featuring a robust center-column, cross-reference system, 8.5-point type, and an ultrathin design which slips easily into a purse, briefcase, or backpack. As America’s oldest Bible Publisher, Holman is a pioneer in the development of Ultrathin Bibles, giving careful attention to breakthroughs in typography and paper manufacturing to produce a Bible that combines readability, portability, and durability.It features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read and share with others.Features include:

  • Concordance
  • Full-color maps
  • Two-column text
  • Center-column cross references
  • Topical subheadings
  • Words of Jesus in red
  • Sewn binding–lays flat when open
  • Presentation page
  • 8.5-point text size

Physical Characteristics:

  • Imitation Leather
  • Smyth sewn  – note that the advertisements say this lays flat, and it may do so better after breaking in a bit, but for me right now, it lays pretty flat as long as I have some Scripture pages opened up to keep weight on the cover.  For example, to keep it from closing on its own, I need to have it opened to the first chapter of the book of Numbers.
  • 1 ribbon marker (Rust colored)
  • Double column Bible text
  • Small margins – not good for note taking
  • Words of Christ are in red
  • Center column Cross References
  • 1,328 pages
  • Type size is approximately 8.5
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Approximate weight: 1.4 lbs.


Pre-Scripture Text Pages

Presentation Page
This is the typical single page presentation page with a field for each “Presented To”, “By” and “On” for you to fill out.
Books of the Bible / 
Pretty typical single page to show the Books, abbreviations and page numbers for the first page of those books.  Then the remaining additional contents.
Introduction to the Christian Standard Bible
This is the typical letter from the translators’ information which informs you how this translation came to be and the method the translators used when translating this version.  As this is a newer version/translation (which is really a revision of the HCSB), I always recommend people to read these sections of their Bibles to understand some of the features and how your particular version was created.
Commonly used abbreviations in CSB Bibles
Kind of a help for the translators’ notes to give you an idea for what abbreviations are used mostly in the Translators’ Footnotes.

Scripture Text Pages

Cross References
The cross-references used in this Bible are pretty good.  Quite a few of them are available.  My only complaint about them is that some people will have a harder time reading them as the font is pretty small.  .

Center column cross references

Center column cross references

Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament
One thing that I love in the HCSB that they continued with the CSB is how they show any Old Testament references in the New Testament Scriptures.  They make these easily identifiable and honestly is probably one of the best ways that I have seen for any Bible to show Old Testament references.  The manner that they do this is not only doing a cross-reference like you see in many Bibles, but they also bold the words that are referenced.  Very well done and greatly appreciated.

Bold font Old Testament references within the New Testament

Bold font Old Testament references within the New Testament. Then look at the cross-reference in the center column to determine which Old Testament Scripture(s) is referenced/quoted.

Translator Footnotes

Typical with most Bibles, the CSB has translator footnotes on many pages that show how the translators understood the original Biblical language.

Translator Footnotes within the CSB

Translator Footnotes within the CSB

Post-Scripture Text Pages

Table of Weights and Measures
This is the typical table but is a little more in-depth than other ones I have seen and covers 2 pages.

CSB Concordance
This is a pretty decent concordance for the CSB version that is around 70 pages. It is laid out very clean and is easy to use.

8 additional full-color maps are printed on very nice paper and pretty easy to read except for some of them have pretty small text


OK, this is the part where I get to tell you about how I like or dislike this bible in a detailed manner. What I typically try to do is do a quick glance over the entire book at a high level to get a feel for it.


Ease of Use:
I would say that this bible is very easy to use. It’s a no-frills Bible that is designed nicely for someone who likes to take notes in the margin.

Study Tools Helpful & Informative:
This does not apply since this is not a Study Bible

Does Commentary Convey Biblical Truth:
This does not apply since this is not a Study Bible.

Durability of Bible:
I would say that this appears to be a very durable Bible. I was pleased to see that the edge of the cover is sewn (see section below) which not only gives it a nice look in my opinion, but also gives it some more stability long-term. This Bible is Smyth Sewn (or section sewn), which means it will hold up better than most “perfect bound” or glue back Bibles (similar to general paperback books). I would easily consider this Bible a “carry around with me” bible for preaching, teaching, studying or reading.

Example of Smyth Sewing in this CSB

Example of Smyth Sewing in this CSB

Imitation Leather bound cover and spine:
As I have stated in other posts in my blog, I have a personal preference toward leather-bound books.  This one is imitation leather, however, which does not feel as high quality as real leather, but then again, with this Bible, you’re not paying the premium price for the nicer leathers.  For the price of this Bible (less than $15.00), you will not be able to get a real leather Bible.  However, this Bible does come in many bind options (see the list below), so you can get this with great leather options if you are willing to spend a little more money.

One thing that I would note is that in some ads for this Bible, it is said that this is a lay flat Bible.  This means that when you open it up and lay it down on a flat surface, it should lay flat.  It does do that in most cases, but if you open it up to within Genesis it does not lay flat very well.  Again, for the price though, this is mostly acceptable and it may loosen up a little more over time as you use this Bible.

You can see this CSB lays flat nicely when opened up to the middle (or not near either end).

You can see this CSB lays flat nicely when opened up to the middle (or not near either end).


Opened to chapter 8 of Exodus and you can see it doesn't lay completely flat.

Opened to chapter 8 of Exodus and you can see it doesn’t lay completely flat.

You can see this imitation leather binding has a "memory" and tries to stay a tad open. If it's a concern for you, a genuine or premium leather option would be better for you.

You can see this imitation leather binding has a “memory” and tries to stay a tad open. If it’s a concern for you, a genuine or premium leather option would be better for you.

Rounded Corners:

This Bible does have rounded corners that you see in the vast majority of leather or “leather-like” Bibles. Personally, I like the rounded corners from an aesthetic as well as functional purpose. The Bibles that don’t have rounded edges in my opinion tend to get bent or damaged corners more easily than those that have rounded edges. So, rounding the corners is a way to reduce wear and tear on the pages. This wear and tear can happen just from long-term turning of pages, which hopefully happens a lot for you rather than your Bible not getting opened.

Typeface and Print:

Scriptures appear to be at a readable 8.5 point font for the Scripture text, however the Cross References are much smaller and might be a little harder for some to read.  One thing to note is that they really did do a really good job on the line matching which helps the readability quite a lot.  And not only is the line matching good on the Scripture text, but the also did a good job with line matching the center column cross references as well.  This surprised me a little bit as I have seen even on the more expensive Bibles where the line matching isn’t that great.  This was a very pleasant surprise.  Line matching is where the printed lines on the front side of the page are lined up exactly with the lines on the back side of the page which makes the show through (where you can see the type ghosting through from the other side) much less apparent and easier to read.

Paper Stock:
Paper used for this Bible is pretty typical and you can see the type through the paper.  However, as mentioned in the section above, the line matching really does not make it as noticeable, so I would not classify it as a concern.   ________________________________________


Below, we have the overall ratings that I would give to this particular Bible with a 1 to 10 range. Keep in mind that when I am doing these ratings, it is based on the physical makeup, format, extra-biblical content and value of the bible, not rating the Word of God itself as that would be off the chart 🙂  Soon, I will do a separate post that talks specifically about this new CSB “version” which is technically a revision of the HCSB (Hollman Christian Standard Bible).
Quality: 8.7 – I am going to state that when I rate the “Quality” section, I am basing it partially on how the product is made when compared to the actual price.  With that said, I would say that for the price of this particular Bible, you are getting a fairly good quality… again for the price.  The copy I received is an imitation leather, so it doesn’t behave as nicely as leather in my opinion.  But, for $15 or so, this Bible is actually pretty good quality, but it is very clear that it is not in the real leather price range.  
Appearance: 8.6 – 
The appearance of this Bible from the exterior doesn’t really stand out above the rest greatly.  Don’t take me wrong, it does look nice and simple with the cross design on the front cover.  It just doesn’t pop out from the rest of the Bibles that have flooded the market.  Then when you open it up, it is on pretty good paper, so the show through of the print on the other side is there, but not terrible – especially for the price tag on this Bible.  Plus the line matching on this Bible is actually really good.  The font is a very pleasing and easy to read font in my opinion and has a decent 70 or so page concordance for the CSB translation. The font looks to be about 8.5 point which is a pretty good size and easy to read.
Value: 9.4 – I personally like Bibles that are Smyth sewn better simply because they are typically made better and will last longer. Yes, this is an imitation leather Bible, but overall, it feels pretty well made nonetheless.  If you can afford to get the real leather (either genuine or the premium version), you won’t be disappointed.
Innovation: n/a – As this Bible is a standard reference Bible, I can’t say that there are any real innovations that aren’t in the typical reference Bibles on the market today.  I am going to mark this section as not applicable and not include it in the rating.
Other/Wildcard: n/a – There aren’t any real wildcards for this one that stood out to me, so I am marking this section as not applicable and not including it in the rating.

Overall Rating: 8.9 out of 10


Bible Formats and Options:

There is a large selection of binding options/formats that this Bible comes in per the publisher.  Click the ISBN number of the option you like below to be taken to Christianbook.com where you can purchase your desired format:

ISBN: 978-1433647666 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch – This review)
ISBN: 978-1433647628 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black Genuine Leather, Thumb-Indexed) WW647628

ISBN: 978-1433648434 (Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black Premium Leather, Black Letter Edition) WW648434
ISBN: 978-1433648441 (Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black Premium Leather, Black Letter Edition, Thumb-Indexed) WW648441
ISBN: 978-1433647611 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black Genuine Leather) WW647612
ISBN: 978-1433647635 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black Premium Leather) WW647635
ISBN: 978-1433644191 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Purple LeatherTouch) WW644191
ISBN: 978-1433651342 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW651342
ISBN: 978-1433647581 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647581
ISBN: 978-1433647512 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Pink LeatherTouch) WW647512
ISBN: 978-1433651403 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Teal LeatherTouch) WW651403
ISBN: 978-1433647598 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Saddle Brown LeatherTouch) WW647598
ISBN: 978-1433647673 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647673
ISBN: 978-1433644115 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch) WW644112
ISBN: 978-1433647550 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Charcoal LeatherTouch) WW647550
ISBN: 978-1433647604 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Saddle Brown LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647604
ISBN: 978-1433651427 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Charcoal LeatherTouch) WW651427
ISBN: 978-1433647567 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Charcoal LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647560
ISBN: 978-1433647543 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Teal LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647543
ISBN: 978-1433651359 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Purple LeatherTouch) WW651359
ISBN: 978-1433644139 (Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible, British Tan LeatherTouch, Black Letter Edition) WW644139
ISBN: 978-1433648427 (Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible, British Tan LeatherTouch, Black Letter Edition, Thumb-Indexed) WW648427
ISBN: 978-1462766024 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Brown LeatherTouch Value Edition) WW766021
ISBN: 978-1433651380 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Pink LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW651384
ISBN: 978-1433647505 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Purple LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647505
ISBN: 978-1433651366 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Purple LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW651366
ISBN: 978-1433647536 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Teal LeatherTouch) WW647536
ISBN: 978-1433651434 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black LeatherTouch) WW651434
ISBN: 978-1462766031 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Purple LeatherTouch Value Edition) WW766031
ISBN: 978-1433651373 (Compact Ultrathin Reference Bible, Pink LeatherTouch) WW651373
ISBN: 978-1433647529 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Pink LeatherTouch, Thumb-Indexed) WW647529
ISBN: 978-1433647574 (Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black LeatherTouch) WW647574


Company Summary:

In 1993, A.J. Holman Bible Company was acquired by Broadman Press to form B&H Publishers. Then in 2014, B&H Publishing combined with Lifeway Church Resources. They are based in Nashville, TN and have roots that go back to 1738.


Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.
– Michael


This entry was posted in B&H Publishing, Bible Reviews, Concordance, CSB, Holman, LeatherLike, Lifeway, Maps, Reference Bible, Reference Book Reviews, Scriptures, Word of God and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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