Category: Resources and Reviews

CEB Study Bible (Updated) Review

CEB Study Bible (Updated) Review

The CEB Study Bible is as interesting as it is inconspicuous. Its cover is not loud or busy; it looks like it belongs on the shelf in your pastor’s library. We will get into the translation in a few minutes, but first, I want to point out a few things that stand out to my eyes.

  1. The CEB Study Bible is very similar in size and weight to the CSB Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishers as well as the Thompson Chain Reference, just slightly larger than the MacArthur Study Bible and slightly smaller than the ESV Study Bible. Why does that matter? Well, size affects portability, which can impact use. Given that it is not as heavy as some of my other study Bibles, portability should not pose a problem.
  2. The font size is 8-point. While this is not my first choice in a font size, it is quite readable. Besides that, with the amount of content that is on each page, a larger font would make this Bible too cumbersome to take with you.
  3. This is a full color Bible, including the charts and illustrations. Aside from making it easier to see, it also makes the CEB Study Bible more fun to engage.
  4. In the front there is a list of abbreviations and textual resources including Greek Manuscripts that were used. I do not think I have ever seen that before and I have to say that I like that feature. When you decide on a translation for personal use, you want to be sure that you are using the best manuscripts available, which certainly looks to be the case here.

If I only knew those four facts, I would certainly be curious enough to pick up a copy to investigate. However, as with every study Bible, there is much more to discuss.

Let’s start with the translation:

CEB is a Dynamic Equivalence/Thought-for-thought/meaning based translation.

From the Common English Bible Website

“What is the CEB?

The Common English Bible is not simply a revision or update of an existing translation. It is a bold new translation designed to meet the needs of Christians as they work to build a strong and meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

A key goal of the translation team was to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level for over half of all English readers. As the translators did their work, reading specialists working with seventy-seven reading groups from more than a dozen denominations review the texts to ensure a smooth and natural reading experience. Easy readability can enhance church worship and participation, and personal Bible study. It also encourages children and youth to discover the Bible for themselves, perhaps for the very first time.”

There is one glaring issue that I want to deal with. The CEB translates bar-enos/ben-adam as the “Human One.” When I originally reviewed the CEB Study Bible, I did not call attention to this and that was a mistake. Jesus used the term, Son of Man in reference to Himself and a look at the usage is clearly messianic in nature. I will not go so far as to call the translation a blasphemy (because I do not know what is in the heart of the translators) but I will say that it is troublesome at the least and an attack on the deity of Christ at the worst.

Who Sponsored the Common English Bible?

The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. The translators and editors that worked on the Bible are from various denominations and locations around the world. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials. The Common English Bible Committee meets periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Church of Christ (Pilgrim Press); and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press). Abingdon Press is the sales distribution partner for the CEB.”

Abigdon Press features the NRSV and NIV in the translation comparisons on the CEB website which leads me to believe that CEB is probably meant to be more ecumenical as opposed to more conservative (NASB would be the conservative example). The notes feel somewhat similar to the New Interpreters Study Bible, not a surprise since both are published by Abingdon Press, but we will get more into that later.

The Johannine Comma is not in this translation and the ending of Mark is marked off as is the first part of John Chapter 8. Let’s look at a couple verses. We will compare with NRSV, NIV, and NASB. (the first two are provided by the publisher. The third is mine.

The Model Prayer

CEB

Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

NIV

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

NRSV

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

NASB

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 10:23

Common English Bible (CEB)

Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One comes.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

New International Version (NIV)

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

New American Standard Version

23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

            As I referenced earlier, I am totally annoyed at the choice of “the Human One” instead of the “Son of Man” The Son of Man, in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, is an eschatological term and denotes the Messiah in His role as Divine King and Judge in the end times. (I will get into more detail on the Son of Man in another article.) I am saddened by the fact that this translation choice was used as opposed to Son of Man.

Romans 3:22-24

Common English Bible (CEB)

God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace, because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ* for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

New International Version (NIV)

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

New American Standard

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

More comparisons can be found at commonenglishbible.com and you can compare to your favorite translation at biblegateway.com

Helps

I don’t normally comment on perceived bias, but in this case it seems almost unavoidable. Looking at the denominational list of the translators and contributors, I would have to suggest that there will probably be a liberal bias in the notes. In an effort to show as much grace as possible, I try to give the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that the notes would be simple ecumenical, but the presence of the “progressive (read-ultra liberal)” United Church of Christ suggests otherwise.

To my surprise, there is a tremendous amount of content provided in terms of the helps.

  • There are approximately 10,000-15,000 notes (a definite number was not provided for me)
  • 21 Maps are provided in conjunction with National Geographic.
  • There is a picture that is relevant to each book of the Bible included in the introduction. This is a very nice feature to help you visualize the environment.
  • There are approximately 200 charts, graphs, illustrations and pictures and 300 sidebar articles to help you did deeper into the message of scripture. These sidebars are actually my favorite feature. During the time I have been using this Bible, I have encountered a few points that I did not know before and that IS the key with a Study Bible; it has to help you understand the Bible more than you did when you sat down to read it.
  • At the end of the Bible text, there are several articles on the unity of the Bible and some helps for studying the Bible. IF you have never attempted study before, you will find them a great stepping stone. After 20 years, I have my own methods I follow.
  • References (around 50,000-70,000) are in the side column alongside the text.

I am frequently asked, “Matt, as a very conservative Baptist, why do you fool around with these ‘ecumenical’ study Bibles?” I use “ecumenical” resources alongside conservative resources because I tend to find more offered in the way of textual criticism as well as historical background information in the helps. Some of the reading guides and study aids also tend to be very helpful.

I do need to caution you, though, that I do not recommend that you use any ecumenical resources unless you are very solid in your theology.

Text & Paper

We are presented with a black letter text (you want this in a study bible so that when you make markings in a different color they will stick out.) As I said earlier I make it a (7 or) 8-point font, small but still readable.

The paper is creamy white and fairly opaque. While there is not a ton of room for writing, you should be able to make your notations and other markings with minimal trouble. Ghosting is minimal and I commend Abingdon Press for this, especially since there is nothing more annoying than ghosting when you are trying to study.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I can only give the CEB Study Bible a 7.5 and this is solely based on a few translation choices with which I have major problems.

 

More Photos

 

 

 

The CEB Study Bible is as interesting as it is inconspicuous. Its cover is not loud or busy; it looks like it belongs on the shelf in your pastor’s library. We will get into the translation in a few minutes, but first, I want to point out a few things that stand out to my eyes.

 

  1. The CEB Study Bible is very similar in size and weight to the CSB Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishers as well as the Thompson Chain Reference, just slightly larger than the MacArthur Study Bible and slightly smaller than the ESV Study Bible. Why does that matter? Well, size affects portability, which can impact use. Given that it is not as heavy as some of my other study Bibles, portability should not pose a problem.
  2. The font size is 8-point. While this is not my first choice in a font size, it is quite readable. Besides that, with the amount of content that is on each page, a larger font would make this Bible too cumbersome to take with you.
  3. This is a full color Bible, including the charts and illustrations. Aside from making it easier to see, it also makes the CEB Study Bible more fun to engage.
  4. In the front there is a list of abbreviations and textual resources including Greek Manuscripts that were used. I do not think I have ever seen that before and I have to say that I like that feature. When you decide on a translation for personal use, you want to be sure that you are using the best manuscripts available, which certainly looks to be the case here.

 

If I only knew those four facts, I would certainly be curious enough to pick up a copy to investigate. However, as with every study Bible, there is much more to discuss.

 

Let’s start with the translation:

 

CEB is a Dynamic Equivalence/Thought-for-thought/meaning based translation.

 

From the Common English Bible Website

 

“What is the CEB?

The Common English Bible is not simply a revision or update of an existing translation. It is a bold new translation designed to meet the needs of Christians as they work to build a strong and meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

 

A key goal of the translation team was to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level for over half of all English readers. As the translators did their work, reading specialists working with seventy-seven reading groups from more than a dozen denominations review the texts to ensure a smooth and natural reading experience. Easy readability can enhance church worship and participation, and personal Bible study. It also encourages children and youth to discover the Bible for themselves, perhaps for the very first time.”

 

There is one glaring issue that I want to deal with. The CEB translates bar-enos/ben-adam as the “Human One.” When I originally reviewed the CEB Study Bible, I did not call attention to this and that was a mistake. Jesus used the term, Son of Man in reference to Himself and a look at the usage is clearly messianic in nature. I will not go so far as to call the translation a blasphemy (because I do not know what is in the heart of the translators) but I will say that it is troublesome at the least and an attack on the deity of Christ at the worst.

 

Who Sponsored the Common English Bible?

The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. The translators and editors that worked on the Bible are from various denominations and locations around the world. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials. The Common English Bible Committee meets periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Church of Christ (Pilgrim Press); and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press). Abingdon Press is the sales distribution partner for the CEB.”

 

Abigdon Press features the NRSV and NIV in the translation comparisons on the CEB website which leads me to believe that CEB is probably meant to be more ecumenical as opposed to more conservative (NASB would be the conservative example). The notes feel somewhat similar to the New Interpreters Study Bible, not a surprise since both are published by Abingdon Press, but we will get more into that later.

 

The Johannine Comma is not in this translation and the ending of Mark is marked off as is the first part of John Chapter 8. Let’s look at a couple verses. We will compare with NRSV, NIV, and NASB. (the first two are provided by the publisher. The third is mine.

 

The Model Prayer

CEB

Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

 

NIV

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

NRSV

Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

 

NASB

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Matthew 10:23

Common English Bible (CEB)

Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One comes.

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

New International Version (NIV)

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

New American Standard Version

23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.

 

            As I referenced earlier, I am totally annoyed at the choice of “the Human One” instead of the “Son of Man” The Son of Man, in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, is an eschatological term and denotes the Messiah in His role as Divine King and Judge in the end times. (I will get into more detail on the Son of Man in another article.) I am saddened by the fact that this translation choice was used as opposed to Son of Man.

 

 

Romans 3:22-24

Common English Bible (CEB)

God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace, because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.

 

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ* for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

 

New International Version (NIV)

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

 

New American Standard

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

 

More comparisons can be found at commonenglishbible.com and you can compare to your favorite translation at biblegateway.com

 

Helps

 

I don’t normally comment on perceived bias, but in this case it seems almost unavoidable. Looking at the denominational list of the translators and contributors, I would have to suggest that there will probably be a liberal bias in the notes. In an effort to show as much grace as possible, I try to give the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that the notes would be simple ecumenical, but the presence of the “progressive (read-ultra liberal)” United Church of Christ suggests otherwise.

 

To my surprise, there is a tremendous amount of content provided in terms of the helps.

 

 

  • There are approximately 10,000-15,000 notes (a definite number was not provided for me)

 

  • 21 Maps are provided in conjunction with National Geographic.

 

  • There is a picture that is relevant to each book of the Bible included in the introduction. This is a very nice feature to help you visualize the environment.

 

  • There are approximately 200 charts, graphs, illustrations and pictures and 300 sidebar articles to help you did deeper into the message of scripture. These sidebars are actually my favorite feature. During the time I have been using this Bible, I have encountered a few points that I did not know before and that IS the key with a Study Bible; it has to help you understand the Bible more than you did when you sat down to read it.

 

  • At the end of the Bible text, there are several articles on the unity of the Bible and some helps for studying the Bible. IF you have never attempted study before, you will find them a great stepping stone. After 20 years, I have my own methods I follow.

 

  • References (around 50,000-70,000) are in the side column alongside the text.

 

I am frequently asked, “Matt, as a very conservative Baptist, why do you fool around with these ‘ecumenical’ study Bibles?” I use “ecumenical” resources alongside conservative resources because I tend to find more offered in the way of textual criticism as well as historical background information in the helps. Some of the reading guides and study aids also tend to be very helpful.

 

I do need to caution you, though, that I do not recommend that you use any ecumenical resources unless you are very solid in your theology.

 

Text & Paper

We are presented with a black letter text (you want this in a study bible so that when you make markings in a different color they will stick out.) As I said earlier I make it a (7 or) 8-point font, small but still readable.

 

The paper is creamy white and fairly opaque. While there is not a ton of room for writing, you should be able to make your notations and other markings with minimal trouble. Ghosting is minimal and I commend Abingdon Press for this, especially since there is nothing more annoying than ghosting when you are trying to study.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Overall, I can only give the CEB Study Bible a 7.5 and this is solely based on a few translation choices with which I have major problems.

 

NLT Study Bible Review

NLT Study Bible Review

NLT Study Bible Review

 

Why review the NLT Study Bible? This is a phenomenal resource, as you will see below, which is full of valuable tools to aid you in your study. I don’t about it as often as other study Bibles so I am reviewing to call your attention to this outstanding resource.

First, some information from Tyndale House Publishers (Note: the NLT Study Bible was acquired at my own expense and Tyndale House was not involved in the decision to review.)

“Explore the Scriptures with almost 50 of today’s top evangelical scholars, including Daniel Block, Barry Beitzel, Tremper Longman, John N. Oswalt, Grant R. Osborne, Norman Ericson, and many more. Every feature in the NLT Study Bible has been created to do more than just impart information. Ask questions, and the NLT Study Bible gives you both the words and the world of the Bible. Seek deeper understanding, and find the meaning and significance of Scripture, not just facts. Knock on the door of God’s Word, and see what doors are opened to you.”

Now the review…

 

Translation: As its name suggests, the translation is the New Living Translation, one of the two best selling English translations; it is in a statistical dead heat with the NIV. NLT is a thought-for-thought or meaning based translation. Meaning based translations try, as best as possible, to capture the thought behind the original words and to convey that thought into the English language.

 

Translated into the English a 6th grade student would use, the NLT is far and away the easiest to understand of the major English translations. Faithfully accurate: Because the NLT uses a thought for thought style of translation, the original intent is easily captured. passages make more sense in the NLT, an “I get it now” experience is common.

 

Helps (Tyndale’s information will come first followed by my comments):

 

50,000 cross-referencesconnect related verses, not just words, so they are always applicable. Additionally, parallel lines (//) show passages describing the same events or saying something similar. An asterisk (*) indicates Old Testament quotes in the New Testament.

This is one of the most heavily cross-referenced Bibles you can find. The huge number of cross references is very important because Scripture interprets Scripture. The ideal scenario for using the cross references is in preparing a systematic verse by verse exposition of the Bible.

25,000 study and textual notesprovide background and deeper explanations of words, phrases, verses, and sections. Historical and literary notes open the world of the Bible and the context in which it was originally read and heard. All notes in the NLT Study Bible were developed with the “So what?” test in mind—the goal is study notes that focus on the meaning and message of Scripture, not just facts. The study notes also include the NLT textual footnote apparatus, which identifies variations in the Hebrew and Greek text as well as providing alternate translation possibilities.

This is my favorite feature of the NLT Study Bible. In terms of total annotations, it has only two rivals: the ESV Study Bible with around 27,000 notes and the Reformation Study Bible with nearly 30,000 study notes. Among the notes that are offered, the Textual Footnote Apparatus is, in my estimation, the most important feature. Despite the ease of understanding the translation, the apparatus makes this, at the least, a college grade text. The identification of textual variants and alternate readings will enable the pastor to provide a more well-rounded view of the Scripture to the congregation.

300 Theme Articlesidentify the major topics and ideas of the Bible. Placed alongside particularly relevant passages, they also point to other passages and theme notes. These articles provide the first steps in developing a biblical theology without attempting to formulate a specific doctrinal system.

Tyndale really does a good job of staying within the mainstream of evangelical christianity. It does not lean toward either Calvinism or Arminianism. It does tend to lean away from Dispensationalism but I do not fault it for that. The idea is to present a conservative text from which to study.

220 Charts, Illustrations, Maps, and Timelinesorganize and illuminate important information in the text that can otherwise be difficult to understand or interpret the significance of. Examples include a chart of Israel’s Annual Calendar, regional and event related maps, the Temple at various stages, an overview of the entire Bible, and more detailed, specific timelines such as the time of the kings of Israel.

There is not much that needs said here. The visual aids are primarily geared as a memory aid/tool and they excel at that.

90 Profilespaint portraits of major figures in the Bible—good and bad. The story of Scripture unfolds through the lives of the people in it. Their lives instruct us with examples and counter-examples, helping us to better understand the Bible, its world, and its message. Their relationship with God, or lack of it, helps us to understand how we can have a relationship with God and what it should look like.

Again, there is not much that needs to be said. These notes help to make the major players of the Bible more real and relatable.

200 Greek and Hebrew word studiestrace the use of important words throughout the Bible. Because the NLT is a dynamic translation, a particular word in Greek or Hebrew is not always translated the same way but is translated in a manner that is appropriate for the context. This makes word studies richer and more productive, because the range of meaning for a particular Greek or Hebrew word becomes very clear, and it is easier to avoid common misunderstandings about what the word means. There are word studies for 100 Hebrew words and 100 Greek words. Several instances of each word are included in a chain to illustrate the range of meaning. Each occurrence is indicated with a superscript letter (a, b, c, etc.) and a corresponding superscript in the cross-reference column. Each entry includes the Hebrew or Greek word, a reference number for the glossary at the back, and study tools such as Strong’s Concordance and a chain-reference link to the next highlighted occurrence of the word.

When your motto is, “the truth made clear,” word studies are absolutely essential. I have heard pastors preach an entire sermon on a particular word (John MacArthur) and walked away feeling like blinders had been lifted from my eyes or that I had just come out of a fog. I would be hard pressed to say which feature I find more important, the word studies or the cross references; both are quite essential.

85 introductory articlesset the stage for each Bible section, book and time period. The articles give background information in three layers. First, Old and New Testament articles give a broad overview of each testament. Second, section and chronology articles help orient you to the kind of literature and timeframe of the writings included, giving information on setting, genre, and more. Third, book introductions give more detailed setting and message information as well as an outline, timelines, maps, author information, and a focus on the overall meaning and message of that book. Additional articles include a harmony of the Gospels, the inter-testamental period, and the time after the apostles.

The information about the articles, provided by Tyndale, is sufficiently self explanatory.

 

General Thoughts

This is a true study Bible in that there is something that you can benefit from irrespective of your experience with the Bible. As an example, I am a seasoned teacher and currently a senior pastor and both the apparatus and the word studies inform my sermons and provide a platform for launching more in-depth studies. In discipling others, I find the profiles to be quite helpful in helping my students to relate to the Scriptures.

 

The NLT Study Bible pairs perfectly with the Cornerstone Commentary Series from Tyndale (review coming soon). In fact, I would say that it is a gateway to using the Cornerstone Series for in depth study.

 

Tyndale has had some challenges with the opacity of its paper in some editions of the NLT but you will not find that here. The paper’s opacity lends itself to using by a desk lamp despite still being thin enough that you need not worry about the book being overly heavy.

 

The New Testament is a “Red-letter” edition. I have mixed feelings about this type of Bible. On the one hand it is very nice to have the words spoken by our Lord to be set apart for easy reading and I love that. On the other hand, when I write notes in a Bible, I usually do so in red. Even though the two shades of red are never the same, it can get a little distracting. I recommend using blue for your markings in the NT.

 

Who should use/buy the NLT Study Bible? While everyone can benefit from the NLT Study Bible, I recommend it for an intermediate level student. You will find it to be simple enough that you will not get bogged down and filled with enough resources that you will have years of solid study.

 

Is anything missing? At the risk of nitpicking, a good study Bible should have more than just a couple blank pages for notes and it would great to see a couple pages for each book, either at the end of the introductory materials or at the end of the text for each book of the Bible. I definitely recommend pairing the NLT with a good notebook; I do not think it would be possible to use this Bible to its full potential without taking notes.

 

Final Thoughts:

I have a couple colleagues that do not like study Bibles, they think it promotes intellectual laziness. I do not find that to be the case with the NLT Study Bible; in fact, it is quite the opposite for me. I find myself launching into deeper study with additional resources because the NLT Study Bible leaves me wanting more. I hope, beloved reader, that you will get one and enjoy it.

 

I do want to add; I disagree with the historicist/idealist interpretation of Revelation that you find in the notes. My area of expertise is Old Testament and I do not find that either a historicist or idealist view in Revelation fits the Old Testament’s eschatology. That being said, it is not a sufficient reason to detract from recommending this study Bible so I do. I think you should get one and use it daily for your study.

 

NLT Wayfinding Bible: A Pastoral Use Case

NLT Wayfinding Bible: A Pastoral Use Case

wayfinding Bible

Instead of simply  providing a review of the NLT Wayfinding Bible, and focusing on the physical book, I want to talk to you about how I, as a pastor, use the Wayfinding Bible.

(Disclaimer: Tyndale provided this Bible free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.)

First, here is the website for the Wayfinding Bible: http://www.wayfindingbible.com

The Problem: Many Christians want to read the Bible but get bogged down and lost along the way.

The Solution: The NLT Wayfinding Bible.

The NLT Wayfinding Bible offers 3-unique reading plans and several supplemental readings. Here are the three reading plans

FLYOVER ROUTE
: 50 of the most important events in the bible that tell one big story.

DIRECT ROUTE
: 200 readings to develop a full understanding without getting bogged down in any one place.

SCENIC ROUTE
: 400 readings to explore new territory, discovering the depth and richness of God’s word.

Our Use Case:

At Abounding Grace Baptist Church, I use the Wayfinding Bible on a weekly basis for my congregation.

Scenic Route: The Scenic Route guides the Bible Train, which is our Family Worship Guide. Every Monday, I send out the Bible Train Guide which includes the Scenic Route readings, discussion questions, and some introductory remarks for the weekly readings.

Side Trips: The 25 Topical Side Trips become Quick Scripture Reference Guides (QSRG). Each QSRG provides ready reference material for believers. There are additional guides beyond these but these are integral to our discipleship process.

Flyover Route and Direct Route: The flyover and direct routes comprise the first and second level of our 1 on 1 ministry. 1 on 1 is our discipleship process for members at Abounding Grace. We use these readings to lay a solid foundation of understanding for the new disciple and then build doctrinally from there.

General Thoughts and Recommendation:

Few of the Bibles that I have reviewed have been as useful to me as a pastor. The Wayfinding Bible joins two other Tyndale Bibles in my tool belt for discipleship, the Christian Basics Bible and the Swindoll Study Bible. The Wayfinding Bible makes reading more interactive and enjoyable, both of which are critical. The Bible impacts our lives when we understand it and internalize it; it should also be a joy to read.

The Wayfinding Bible is an incredible tool to have because of how customizable it is. There are a number of ways you can start the readings and you can do them corporately or individually or both like we do at Abounding Grace. Tyndale’s motto is “the Truth made clear” and I think this particular edition of the NLT hits it out of the park for making the Truth clear. It does not stop there, though. It lets you make the Truth yours by helping you to internalize it and pass it on to others.

If you want to help a new Christian to grow, this has to be the Bible you give them. Then sit back and watch the Bible and the Holy Spirit working in concert, the disciple will never be the same again.

 

Didache Bible Review

Didache Bible Review

 

The Didache Bible Review

Let me start with two disclaimers:

  1. I am not Roman Catholic; I’m a Baptist but I am not trying to attack/slam the Didache Bible.
  2. I acquired this Bible at my own expense. Neither Ignatius Press or Midwest Theological Forum was involved in selecting this book for review.

 

Some background to the review: My wife, and several of my closest friends are former Catholics and a number of my colleagues still are, so as a pastor, I felt that it was necessary for me to better understand catholic theology in order to be able to minister to them more effectively.

Translation:The edition being reviewed, here, uses RSV2CE. It would appear that this Bible has also been released in the New American Bible Revised Edition.

The Didache Bible uses the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition or RSV2CE for short. In early 2006, Ignatius Press released the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition (RSV-2CE). The Ignatius Edition “was revised according to Liturgiam authenticam, 2001” and that it was “approved under the same [i.e. 1966] imprimatur by the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, National Council of Catholic Bishops, February 29, 2000.” To that end, Ignatius Press submitted its proposed revisions to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and to the Congregation for Divine Worship, making specifically-requested changes to those portions of the text in liturgical use as lectionary readings. As with the original RSV and its first Catholic edition, the translation copyright remains in the hands of the National Council of Churches.

The Second Catholic Edition removed archaic pronouns (thee, thou) and accompanying verb forms (didst, speaketh), revised passages used in the lectionary according to the Vatican document Liturgiam authenticam, and elevated some passages out of RSV footnotes when they favored Catholic renderings. For instance, the RSV-2CE renders “almah” as “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14, restores the term “begotten” in John 3:16, uses the phrase “full of grace” instead of “favored one” in Luke 1:28, and substitutes “mercy” for “steadfast love” (translated from the Hebrew hesed) throughout the Psalms. As with the original RSV, gender-neutral language is not used when it has no direct referent in original language of the text. (Italicized material from Ignatius Press)

As a general rule, I am not opposed to the RSV, unlike most of my conservative colleagues. When using the RSV, you will gain some interesting insight into textual criticism as well as how the older mainline denominations handle Scripture. On the other hand, I do not care for the NABRE. I realize that it is the standard “catholic” Bible in the US, but I do not find it helpful. My studies lead me to the conclusion that NABRE is more on the thought-for-thought end of the translation spectrum and there are many other translations that are superior thought-for-thought translations. As a word-for-word translation, RSV2CE is excellent for study of the Bible, making the RSV edition for the Didache Bible the better of the two editions.

The Didache Bible includes the following as front-matter:

  • Foreword by Cardinal Francis George on the general relationships among the Catechism, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, and Sacred Scripture.
  • Preface by Fr. James Socias of the Midwest Theological Forum on the fundamental purposes of this edition.
  • Introduction on Biblical inspiration and the various senses of Scripture.
  • A brief guide on how to read the Bible.
  • A brief summary of the major themes of all the books of the Old and New Testaments.
  • A chronology of the Old Testament.
  • A chronology of the New Testament.
  • A thematically-organized list of Scripture passages for personal meditation.

 

There is a one-page introduction to each book which covers authorship, dating, audience and main themes. Then, page by page as the the Biblical text unfolds, we find:

  • Extensive commentary, verse by verse, on the meaning of the text and its significance for understanding Catholic teaching and practice.
  • Call-out boxes which briefly highlight key Biblical and theological concepts to aid the reader in understanding the full significance of the text.
  • Lists of related Biblical passages (these cross references visually separate the text from the commentary).
  • Periodic full-page apologetical explanations of important Catholic concepts, teachings and practices, placed at appropriate points along the way. There are over 100 of these longer explanations.

 

The back-matter includes:

  • 24 full-color maps providing geographical orientations for both the Old and New Testaments.
  • A 44-page glossary of Biblical names and terms.
  • Index to the maps.
  • Index of apologetical explanations by title.
  • Index of apologetical explanations by subject.
  • A 23-page index of subjects, including Biblical names, which leads to the Biblical passages in which they appear.

 

The Helps: The major feature of the Didache Bible is the commentary which is based on the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. As I mentioned at the beginning, I minister to a number of current and former Catholics and the commentary, here, is quite useful for helping me to speak to them in a language that they will relate to and, by being more familiar with their theology, I am able to bring correction where needed.

This is probably one of the more theology driven study Bibles that you will find and I think that is probably the main reason I elected to get it. Given the nature of my ministry, it is important for me to understand the background of the people that I shepherd. Ergo, the focus on the Catholic Catechism is very important, even for a Baptist such as myself.

 

Cover and Binding

The edition that I am reviewing is a hard cover, which I usually recommend if one is going to carry a Bible in a briefcase/backpack every day. The binding appears to be an adhesive binding though it could be sewn. Normally I am not a fan of adhesive bindings but if a high quality glue is used it will withstand most use scenarios. I would not, however, recommend that you leave the Didache Bible in your car if you are in AZ/TX/NM as the heat would be such that, if this is a glued Bible, it will fall apart.

 

The Paper, Font, and Layout

I was surprised by the paper in the Didache Bible. Many publishing houses use very thin paper from China in an effort to keep costs at a minimum. The thinness of the paper causes a phenomenon called ghosting, which means you can easily see what is on the other side of the page; it can be quite distracting. Here, though, the paper has a good opacity, more like what you would find in a college textbook and ghosting/show- through is very minimized. I am confident that if you were the type to add your own annotations to your Bible, you could write in this with no issue. As always, test your writing implement in the back of the Bible so that if there is bleeding, it will be in an area that does not impact daily use.

No information was available on the typeface but I will say this: it is very well done and reminds me of the textbooks I carried many years ago, while still a student. Naturally, we have a black letter text block and I prefer that because I annotate in red quite frequently. The black is a deep, rich ebony that really jumps off the page.

The page layout is 3-fold; it breaks up the page nicely and I find I would like to see this layout in more protestant Bibles. The Bible text is double column paragraph format. Instead of end-of-verse or center-column references, we find a row of references in the center of the page. Lastly the commentary is laid out in a double column paragraph format with the verse numbers in bold. Theological and apologetic articles are full page.

 

Final Thoughts

If I had to pick a scenario where the Didache Bible would be used most often, I would probably guess it would be found in Catholic High School. You may also find it in Catholic University as well.

This is certainly a useful edition, pastorally or academically. In the interest of full disclosure, I grew up in a mixed faith household (Pentecostal and catholic) and I was somewhat familiar with Catholic Theology prior to acquiring the Didache Bible.

 

 

CSB Pastor’s Bible Review

CSB Pastor’s Bible Review

 

The most important tool any pastor carries is his Bible and a number of publishers have released special Bibles for pastors, all of which are worth consideration.  Previously, we have reviewed the EVS Pastor’s Bible from Crossway and today we are reviewing the CSB Pastor’s Bible in brown genuine leather. (Note: This Bible was acquired at my own expense; no review has been solicited by Holman Bible Publishers.)

 

Before we begin, some information from Holman…

Product Description

Available in two editions, Genuine Leather or Deluxe Leather-Touch-the CSB Pastor’s Bible is ideal for pastoral use during preaching, officiating services, or personal study. Helpful features include a single-column setting, large type, wide margins, a special insert section in the middle of the Bible. Also contains outlines for officiating weddings and funerals, and extensive tools and articles from some of today’s respected pastors and church leaders. The CSB Pastor’s Bible is a valuable life-long resource for Pastors.

 

Features include:

  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Single-column text
  • Footnotes
  • Black-letter text
  • 10-point type
  • Concordance
  • Presentation page
  • Two-piece gift box
  • Over 17 articles on leadership and ministry by experienced pastors and leaders disbursed throughout the Bible’s pages
  • Outlines for officiating weddings and funerals

The CSB Pastor’s Bible 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.

A Few Remarks About CSB

The choice to preach and teach from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one that more and more pastors are making and I can see why. On a number of occasions, I have described the CSB as the perfect blend of NASB (the most literal) and the NIV (the most popular). CSB is fastidiously literal yet very easy to read. I would estimate at an approximately 8th grade level, which is excellent because it will afford the teacher of God’s word the broadest audience spectrum possible. I have mentioned, in previous articles, that CSB is one of the 3 main translations that I use for regular reading. I am happy to commend the CSB to you; you will find it to be very accurate, readable, and most importantly, faithful to the original text.

Cover and Binding

I selected the brown genuine leather version, for myself, and I want to tell you two things about it. 1. Brown genuine leather is a total understatement. This is actually goatskin leather, as you will see stamped on the back of the Bible. 2. This goatskin cover is absolutely exquisite and I cannot believe that you can find a goatskin Bible at this price ($99.99)

The liner is a paste down, which I think contributes to the pricing. Here, in Phoenix, the heat can make a paste down liner a little problematic because if you leave it in your car, you can melt the paste (This has actually happened to me in the past.).

The block, itself, is sewn. If you know anything about bindings, you know that a sewn binding is the only type that will stand up to the near constant punishment a pastor will subject his Bible to and I can confidently state that the cover will wear out before the sewn binding will.

Layout, Font, and Margins

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The margins are approximately 1-inch. A wide margin is essential for a pastor so that you can mark out your notes and references.

2k/Denmark designed the font and, even though it is officially a 10-point font, it reads more like an 11-point to my eyes. The text is black letter and I have found this to be much more useful in the pulpit than a red letter.

The single column paragraph format works out well for large scale consumption of the Biblical text and, since consuming the Biblical text is a pastor’s most important undertaking, this format is highly desirable.

Helps

At the end of the Bible are the various pastoral helps.  These include a “where to turn” section with Scripture references to help (pictured below), “A Brief Biblical Theology of Leadership,” “Eight Traits of Effective Church Leaders,” “Pastor, Find Your Identity in Christ,” “Glorifying God in Your Ministry,” “What is Biblical Preaching?,” “Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures,” “What is Doctrinal Preaching?,” “Four Keys for Giving an Effective Invitation,” “Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing,” “Soul Care: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,” “Letter to the Church,” “Five Steps to Start and Keep an Evangelistic Culture,” “How Do You Disciple Others?,” “The One Thing You Must Do as a Student Pastor,” and “Sharing the Gospel with Children.”

In between Psalms and Proverbs is where you will find the “Life Events” helps. These are for weddings, funerals and so on.  Noticeably absent are helps for communion and baptism as well as cross-references, which can all be found in the rival ESV Pastor’s Bible. Whether or not missing these helps is problematic will depend entirely upon who you are as a pastor. The helps that are “missing” I have in other books that are in my library.

There are 3 ribbons provided so you can mark your spot in each of the 3 major sections of the Bible: Old Testament, Worship and Wisdom, and New Testament.

As A Carry Bible

The Pastor’s Bible is not small but it is not overly large, either. I would list it as just right. It fits in my bag easily, I can hold it one handed without my hand/arm getting tired, and it pairs well with my iPad when placed on my pulpit.

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend the CSB Pastor’s Bible? Yes. As the pastor at Abounding Grace Baptist Church, I use different translations (NLT, CSB, & NASB) for different purposes and I definitely plan on moving the pastor’s Bible into rotation as my pastoral care and discipleship Bible. I will also be using it alongside my Tyndale Select NLT Reference Bible for large scale consumption of the Biblical text.

 

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

 

 

NLT Christian Basics Bible Review

As I am preparing to step into a Senior Pastor role, I find myself looking at resources for the disciples who come to church and today I would like to introduce you to one of the two Bibles newly saved disciples will be offered, the NLT Christian Basics Bible. (Disclaimer: unlike other review Bibles, this was not sent by Tyndale nor was a review solicited; this is completely on my own.)

First, some information from the publisher:

New to the Bible? The Christian Basics Bible is for you! It can be difficult for readers who are new to Scripture to explore the Bible’s teachings and to understand how Christian beliefs are established in its pages. The Christian Basics Bible is filled with features designed to help readers-especially those new to the Bible-connect biblical teachings to Christian beliefs and to see how those beliefs apply to their lives. By delivering the right amount of both information and application, the Christian Basics Bible can become the catalyst that helps you to live a vibrant Christian life guided by God’s Word.

Product Information

Format: Imitation Leather
Number of Pages: 1700
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 1496413571
ISBN-13: 9781496413574
References: Cross References

Initial Thoughts:

I was rather surprised with the Christian Basics Bible; my original expectation was something geared more toward teens or perhaps children and I was not expecting much theology. I half expected the Christian Basics Bible would just call out the major stories that most people would already be familiar with. Instead, you actually get Theology, and good Theology at that.

Translation Choice:

The editors chose the NLT and they could not have made a better choice. The NLT is translated using English at an early middle school level, approximately 6th-7th grades. The “Meaning Based” or “Thought-for-Thought” approach is what gives NLT its broad appeal; if you did not know it, outside the United States, NLT is in a statistical tie with the NIV for the dominant English Translation and I find that it is perfect for someone who has English as a second language.

Front Matter:

First up, we are given a Read This First Article. This article is a brief overview of the Christian Basics Bible and a guide to using it.

Becoming a Christian

This article provides a guide to how to become a Christian and begin a life of discipleship. The article discusses the need for a savior, the need to repent, and how to do so. There is a sample prayer provided to help the new disciple in confessing sin and yielding to the Lordship of Christ.

Now That You Are a Christian

Following on the Becoming a Christian article, this article guides new disciples through the beginning stages of the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus. The article references several topical articles located throughout the Bible that will provide guidance in starting that relationship.

What is the Bible

This is the longest of the three articles. It covers Bible history, the major sections of the Bible, and the languages of the Bible. The article also covers the overall message of the Bible as well as its priority in the life of a believer.

A Timeline of the Bible

This is an estimated chronology of when the events in the Bible happened. It is fairly self explanatory.

Main Study Helps

Book Introductions

Like any good study Bible, each book comes with its own introduction. Each introduction has a 1-paragraph summary of the book. The What’s It All About section provides an overview of the book and where it fits in the overarching story of redemption. The What Does It Mean for Us section gives us a glimpse of how the truths of each book applies to our lives today. Lastly, the Overview Section provides a brief outline of the book.

Topical Articles

Interspersed throughout the Bible are topical articles related to what it means to be a Christian. Each article concludes with a reference to another article that is related to the topic being studied. Topical exegesis isn’t my favorite way to study the Bible but when you are trying to learn theology for the first time it is a very helpful way to begin.

Back Matter:

Reading Plans

Plan 1 takes 28 days and gives an introduction to the Bible. Plan 2 will take approximately 180 days and provides a panoramic picture of the Bible. There is not a Plan 3 but that isn’t a drawback. By the time a new disciple completes plans 1&2, there should be enough familiarity with the truth of Scripture to be able to decide what is desired to be studied next and select an appropriate study plan.

Basic Truths of the Christian Faith

At first glance, you would think this is a concordance, but you would be mistaken. This is a topical guide to the major subjects a Christian would be expected to deal with in their life. There is an introduction to the topic followed by an expository outline to the reader through the topic.

Glossary

There is a brief glossary which helps readers to understand the terms that Christians commonly use.

Visual Overview of the Bible

Lastly, there is a visual overview of the Bible. These are 14 full color maps and charts to help you visualize what you are reading about and make the Bible come alive.

Final Thoughts

This is not what I had expected and I am delighted by that fact. I have spent almost a month on reviewing the materials offered and I am well pleased. The theology is basic enough that a reader would have a solid foundation after following the 200 days of readings recommended in the reading plans but it will also provide a jumping in point for deeper discussion of theology.

This is one of two Bibles that we will be providing at Abounding Grace Baptist Church for those who are new disciples, the other being the Swindoll Study Bible and we will choose which one to give based on how much, if any, the new disciple already knows about the Bible. I highly recommend the NLT Christian Basics Bible.

 

 

NLT Reflections Journaling Bible Review

NLT Reflections Journaling Bible Review

 

 

Initial Thoughts on the NLT Reflections Bible

It’s no secret that I love a wide margin Bible and in the case of the NLT Reflections Bible, these are the widest margins I have, personally, seen in a Bible, 2.25 inches. Tyndale made the margins ruled which eliminates a huge problem for me; for some reason I cannot write in a straight line on un-ruled paper, so giving me ruled margins made me exceedingly happy.

 

There are 3 covers available, all with sewn bindings so they will lay flat. Tyndale sent me all three (free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own): Ocean Blue (actually more of a teal) cloth over board, Sketchbook (The cover feels very similar to a Moleskine notebook and is the same shade of black), and Mahogany Bonded Leather over board. Of the 3, the mahogany will be the one I carry most. I cannot explain why, but it seems to be the most “pastoral” and since it will be used in a church plant, it seems the natural choice.

 

From the publisher

Product Description

NLT Reflections is a handsome single-column, wide-margin New Living Translation Bible. Extra-wide 2.25″ lightly ruled margins make this Bible great for note-taking, journaling, recording prayers, doodling, drawing, and other forms of creative expression.

Special features include

  • A line-matching setting that’s designed to prevent text show-through
  • A durable sewn lay-flat binding
  • Matching ribbon marker
  • Elegant spine hubs
  • Presentation page
  • One-year Bible reading plan
  • 8-point text size
  • 75″ X 6.75″ x 1.50″

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 1704
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.50 X 6.38 X 1.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1496418042
ISBN-13: 9781496418043
Text Layout: Single Column|Wide Margin

 

Text Color: Black Letter
Text Size: 8 Point
Thumb Index: No
Ribbon Marker: Yes
Spine: Sewn
Page Gilding: None
Page Edges: White

The Paper & Font

The paper is a crisp white, not quite so bright that it would be difficult to read in the sunlight but not an off-white either; I guess that eggshell would be the best descriptor. Tyndale lists an 8-point font which I would have to say is the most readable 8-point font I have seen in a while. It is not the same font family as my KJV Concord Reference Bible but it is just as readable. Since I am planning to preach from the Reflections Bible, the font is the biggest factor for me; I am pleased to say that I have experienced no eyestrain when reading from this Bible.

Margins and their use

The margins, as I said earlier, are 2.25 inches and they are ruled for easy writing. I think there is one Bible with larger margins but it is only in KJV, if memory serves. In my case, the margins will be used for main points of sermons and word studies.

For writing your annotations, I recommend Papermate’s Better Retractable (shown in photo below) and I recommend Accu-gel Hi Glider for color coded marking. I have the six color pack and I am using the following color coding:

  • Green: Fruit of the Spirit/Christian Life/Discipleship
  • Purple: Kingdom of God/Eschatological Kingdom
  • Blue: the Godhead
  • Yellow: Prophecies of Christ, His Advents, & Ministry
  • Pink: Salvation
  • Orange: Ecclesiology

 

Naturally, your color coding may vary. There are many important topics that are worth color coding; in my case I chose the topics I believe are most important to a brand new church. How you color code is not as important as actually doing the color code. Color coding is one of several memory triggers that you can use to recall information quickly.

Actually Writing in the Bible

Typically, my annotations are word studies although, on occasion, I have been known to add some topical references. In the example shown in the photos, I have provided markings from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5. Because the Beatitudes fall into the category of Christian Life, I have marked them with the green accu-gel highlighter pen. You will notice that the coloring is noticeable but it is not so bright as to distract from the text. In the margin, there are some brief comments on the word makarios which we translate as blessed. The word to be studied is in red with the definition and references to Strong’s and Thayer’s in blue and my summary remarks in black.

I have also provided a picture of the opposite side of the page from where I made the markings. You can see the slightest hint of a shadow where I wrote but you cannot make out individual letters and the green highlighting barely shows any shadowing.

For Carry/Daily Use

For daily carry and use, this Bible is a great choice. The format lends itself to reading large amounts of text in a single sitting. Of course, the exquisite margins provide the perfect canvas to record your thoughts as you read devotionally or your study notes while you prepare your lessons. In the case of my wife, who has claimed the Ocean Blue, that point you want to remember from the Sunday Sermon fits here nicely as well. The overall size and weight of the Bible lends itself to one handed use without worrying if the Bible will fall out of your hand while reading. I am very peripatetic (walk while talking) and I have not noticed any issues with that habit and this Bible.

Overall Thoughts

I’m really enjoying the NLT Reflections Bible. It works out nicely for my purposes in using it as a pastoral tool. My only suggestion would be to add two more ribbons so that you can study the Old Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, and the New Testament simultaneously. I hope that, after reading this, you will get an NLT Reflections Journaling Bible and that you will customize your own study/devotional Bible.

 

 

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Spurgeon Study Bible Review

Charles Spurgeon…The words are often spoken with reverence as if the words themselves define what it means to be a pastor. Spurgeon is often called the Prince of Preachers and deservedly so. However, there has always been one disadvantage…you cannot have Spurgeon in your living room teaching the Bible. Holman Bible Publishers and Allistair Begg have been able to remedy that with the Spurgeon Study Bible.

I was asked, by a friend, for a one sentence reaction to the Spurgeon Study Bible and here it is, “I liked the Spurgeon Study Bible review copy so much that I procured a goatskin one so that I will be able to use it till Jesus returns.”  (NOTE: The Hardcover in the pictures was sent free of charge in exchange for an honest review; the goatskin was not. My opinions are my own.)

Features include:

  • Introductory Biography of Charles Spurgeon
  • Study notes crafted from Spurgeon sermons
  • Spurgeon’s sermon illustrations placed on the same page as the associated biblical text
  • Sermon notes and outlines in Spurgeon’s own handwriting
  • “Spurgeon Quotables” inserted throughout the Bible
  • Book introductions with book overviews in Spurgeon’s own words
  • Two-column text
  • Concordance
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation Page
  • Full-color maps

About the Translation

The Spurgeon Study Bible is published in Holman’s own translation, the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). CSB is an Optimal Equivalency or Mediating Translation; it does not swing too far on the thought-for-thought end of the translation spectrum nor does it swing too far toward the word-for-word end of the spectrum. I find it to be fairly in the middle.

The CSB is an excellent choice for teaching and study and, in fact, is one of the translations I use daily alongside NASB, NLT, and NIV. Several ministers that I know, personally, have switched to CSB and, frankly, the only reason I have not is because most of my audience was already using NLT before they became my audience and I felt it would be easier to use the Bible they already have rather than have them try to switch to what I’m using. I feel confident in recommending the CSB to you for your daily use.

To be a little more specific on the translation, it is like the perfect combination of the NIV and the NASB. It is very readable though a little more challenging than the NLT but the translation is easily readable enough for students of any age. I always recommend using two translations in a study session and my favorite pairings for CSB are these: CSB/NLT for devotional readings and CSB/NASB for lesson prep and academic study.

The Introductions

The Introductions are 1-page each. They provide an overview of each book in Spurgeon’s own words as well as how the book contributes to the Bible. There is also some information about the structure of the book and the circumstances of writing.

You won’t find any outlines in the Spurgeon Study Bible. Normally this would annoy me, but in the case of this particular Bible, it actually makes sense. Spurgeon focused more on pastoral understanding of the Scripture as opposed to academic theology.

The Notes

The notes provided aren’t commentary in the traditional sense that you find in most study Bibles. These notes come from Spurgeon’s sermons. While they do not cover every single verse of the Bible, and I would not want them to, they provide an excellent understanding of how God spoke through the man who is arguably the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul.

Translation Notes

The Translation Notes have been reduced in quantity to allow for the other notes on the Bible. They can usually be found in a green box under a column of text.

Spurgeon’s Sermon Outlines, Quotes and Illustrations

There are 20 one page outlines from Spurgeon. They’re from The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons Between 1851 and 1854, Volume 1 from B&H Academic.  They take two pages – one page is a facsimile of the hand-written sermon and the opposite page, you will find the sermon outline typed out.

You will also find quotes on particular passages of Scripture and sermon illustrations sprinkled throughout the text.

The Paper and Font

The paper here is fairly opaque. I would put it between 28 and 32 gsms. 2k/Denmark provided the design layout in their Bible Serif font. If you have ever seen a 2k/Denmark layout, they are incredibly easy to read. I did have a couple challenges but those challenges resulted from deficiencies in my own eyes and not anything to do with the font. The fact that this Bible is a black letter text is very useful when it comes to being able to read it.

My goatskin leather edition also includes tabbed indexing. These are small rectangular tabs cut into the text block as opposed to the rounded thumb-index type. Many of my colleagues have mixed feelings about indexing tabs but they can be useful. If you have not memorized the order of the books of the Bible, or if you are like me and sometimes need rapid reference to a particular section of Scripture, they can be most helpful.

Cover Options

There are 4 Cover Options available, Cloth Over Board, Black & Brown LeatherTouch, Burgundy & Marble Leather Touch, Black Genuine Leather (Actually goatskin). The cloth over board is very nice and sturdy and would be well suited for daily carry, especially for students. For taking into the pulpit, the goatskin is phenomenal. It is vinyl lined so it is a little stiffer than a leather lined Bible but this is in no way a negative as it will still lay flat due to its sewn binding.

What Holman is doing with their Bible covers is absolutely amazing. The LeatherTouch (imitation leather) is incredibly realistic and, I think, is even more convincing than what Crossway offers. The true surprise, though, is goatskin with tabbed-indexing for $99.99 which is normally what you would pay for a pigskin genuine leather.

I am not sure who the source of the leather is, or the bindery house, but it is very well done. The skin is very soft and smooth, almost like it was ironed goatskin but there is the tiniest bit of grain that you can feel as you run your fingers, slowly, over the leather.

Is Anything Missing

There are two features that are noticeably absent but their absence does not detract from this Bible: Book Outlines (mentioned earlier) and Center Column Cross References. The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible is not intended as an academic aid like most other study Bibles are; it is much more pastoral in nature. To me, it feels like you really do have Spurgeon in your living room mentoring you.

Final Thoughts

Spurgeon was, perhaps, the greatest pastor since the Apostle Paul and, in the Spurgeon Study Bible, you get to see the heart of the pastor and you get to be mentored by Spurgeon. I would rate the Spurgeon Study Bible a perfect 10.

 

ESV Systematic Theology Bible Review

ESV Systematic Theology Bible Review

It’s not the Bible I expected…I had visions of a juggernaut along the lines of Crossway’s ESV Study Bible, a massive tome that I could literally use to beat the heathen out of someone. Instead what I got when I opened the box was more like a mini me for the ESV Study Bible. The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible is unlike what I envisioned, but Crossway likes to surprise me and in this case, the Bible they sent is no exception.

 

Disclaimer: Crossway sent me the hardcover of the Systematic Theology Study Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review; so let’s do that.

 

First, some particulars:

About the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible (from Crossway)

Theology should, first and foremost, be rooted in God’s Word. The goal of the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible is to demonstrate how all Christian doctrine arises from the pages of the Bible. Created to help readers understand how Scripture forms the basis for our understanding of God, humanity, sin, salvation, and eternity, this study Bible features over 400 short in-text doctrinal summaries connecting Christian beliefs to specific Bible passages, 25 longer articles explaining important theological topics in greater depth, and introductions to each book of the Bible that highlight the unique ways each book contributes to the whole of Christian theology. Created by an outstanding team of editors and 26 contributors, this resource has been created to help Christians better connect what they believe about God with the very words of Scripture.

Features:

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Footnotes
  • Book intros
  • Topical index of sidebars
  • Cross-references
  • 400+ doctrinal summaries explaining core doctrines and connecting them to specific Bible passages
  • 25+ longer articles on key theological topics
  • Lifetime guarantee on leather and TruTone editions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: J-Card (Hardcover); Box (Genuine Leather and TruTone)

Contributors:

  • Gregg Allison
  • Bruce Ashford
  • Gerald Bray
  • Bryan Chapell
  • Graham Cole
  • David Dockery
  • John Frame
  • Michael Horton
  • Kelly Kapic
  • Michael Kruger
  • Robert Letham
  • Donald Macleod
  • Chris Morgan
  • Stephen Nichols
  • J. I. Packer
  • Michael Reeves
  • Fred Sanders
  • Sam Storms
  • Scott Swain
  • Stephen Wellum
  • David Wells

 

 

I admit to not knowing some of the names on the contributors list but others (JI Packer, Stephen Nichols, John Frame, Michael Horton, and Greg Allison) read like a who’s who of theologians. Actually, there are two names, major players in the arena of theology, that are glaringly absent and I’m stunned that those names are not on the list of contributors, Drs. Sinclair Ferguson and R.C. Sproul. I suspect that is because of the role they play in the Reformation Study Bible.

 

The Fly in the Oatmeal

The ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible does not include any Dispensational Theologians which means, necessarily, that I will have disagreements with the Eschatology and any Israelology that you may find. However, this does not mean that I would discard it off hand. In fact, I would say that I am in agreement with probably 95% of the supplemental material that you will find here.

 

An Important Point

“Theology should, first and foremost, be rooted in God’s Word” –the back-cover.

 

Crossway could not have stated it better; the font of our understanding of who God is stems from His revelation of Himself in the Bible. I understand that, for many, Theology is difficult to handle and, at times, can seem rather dry and boring. Thankfully, that problem does not exist within the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible.

 

Introductions

This time around, the introductions bring more to the table with regard to theology including specific points on theology for each book of the Bible. The introductions also cover the author, the original audience, and provide an abbreviated outline for each book of the Bible. I say abbreviated because they are not as detailed as in other study Bibles.

 

Notes and Articles

In a change from traditional study Bibles, you won’t find verse by verse commentary at the bottom of the page. What you will find are 400 doctrinal footnotes and I, personally find these to be more useful. This is very important because of what Systematic Theology is, the discipline of formulating an orderly, coherent, and rational account of the doctrines of the Christian Faith.

 

The articles are expanded with larger articles in the back of the Bible. There are 28 articles and they are titled as follows:

 

  1. What is Doctrine and Why is it Important?
  2. How to do Theology: Worldview and Process
  3. A Brief History of Doctrine
  4. Theological Traditions Within Christendom
  5. The Origin and Authority of the Biblical Canon
  6. Doctrine in the Creed and Catechisms of the Church
  7. Apologetics
  8. Orthodoxy and Heresy
  9. Doctrine and Preaching
  10. Reading the Bible Theologically
  11. Revelation
  12. Scripture
  13. God
  14. Creation
  15. Providence
  16. Humanity
  17. Sin
  18. The Christian Life
  19. The Person of Christ
  20. The Work of Christ
  21. The Holy Spirit
  22. Ordinances and Sacraments
  23. Grace
  24. Election
  25. The Gospel
  26. Salvation
  27. The Church
  28. Eschatology

Honestly, the only article I have any kind of problem with is number 28, eschatology. I am a futurist and a dispensationalist so my point of view on this doctrine will be markedly different from the contributors.

Thoughts on the Book

I am impressed. On the other hand, I would really like to see people stop treating Dispensationalists like the fair haired step child. That being said, I think that the Systematic Theology Study Bible will be a benefit to anyone who is not a theologian by trade. There is a real lack of adherence to any form of theology in western evangelicalism and it is my hope that the Systematic Theology Study Bible will help to address that gap.

 

The paper that has been provided is crisp white and the font is a deep rich black. As is typical from Crossway, we have a sewn binding so that you will get a lifetime of use out of the Bible.

If there were ever a Bible that screamed for a wide margin, this is it. The paper is thick enough that you should not have any bleed through with your pen and so a wide margin would be perfect here.

Would I buy it? Should you buy it?

I would buy it, most likely for gift giving purposes. I have a number of Systematic Theologies on hand including the volumes by John MacArthur, Charles Hodge, John Calvin, Luis Berkhoff, Stanley Horton, and Wayne Grudem so I am well versed in theology. I emphatically recommend this Bible because of the glaring need for coherent theology in the church today.

 

 

Swindoll Study Bible Review Part One: The Actual Bible

Swindoll Study Bible Review Part One: The Actual Bible

In 1996, Chuck Swindoll and Zondervan released the Living Insights Study Bible; 21 years later is it back (sort of) as part of the NLT Family in Tyndale’s Swindoll Study Bible. I say it is sort of back because it would appear that Tyndale not only updated the translation but they also updated the content. I will be reviewing the hardcover, iPhone, and iPad editions in one simultaneous review. (All 3 were provided by Tyndale House free of charge in exchange for an honest review.)

 

As is our habit, let’s begin with some particulars from the publisher:

 

The Swindoll Study Bible offers the best of Chuck Swindoll’s wit, charm, pastoral insight, and wise biblical study directly to you as you study God’s Word. Chuck’s warm, personal style comes across on every page, and his informed, practical insights get straight to the heart of the Bible’s message for the world today. Reading each part of this study Bible is like hearing Chuck speak God’s Word directly to your heart. It will both encourage readers’ faith and draw them deeper into the study of God’s Word.

In Chuck’s own words:

“This study Bible was designed with you in mind. As you read the Scriptures, imagine me sitting beside you and sharing personal stories, important insights, and hard-earned lessons that will encourage you to walk more closely with Jesus Christ. You’ll discover the whowhatwherewhenwhy, and how of the Bible. Who wrote it and whenWhat does it mean, and where did its events occur? Why should I trust it? And most importantly, how can I apply it today?

“It’s that last question more than any other that has fed my passion to publish this Bible. My primary focus in ministry has been teaching biblical insight for living—for genuine life change. After all, that’s why God communicated His Word to us—that we may become like His Son, Jesus Christ, the central figure of this Book.”

 

Product Details

Published: October 17, 2017

Binding: Hardcover

Text Size: 9.0

Trim Size: 6.5 x 9.188 in.

Pages: 1984

ISBN: 978-1-4143-8725-3

 

Now on to the review…

 

Free App:

The first thing I want to point out is the free app that is bundled with the print editions of the Swindoll Study Bible. It is provided by Tecarta Bible Apps (https://tecartabible.com) and is available to use on you qualifying iOS and Android devices.

 

The app includes the NLT Bible (SRP $7.99) and the Swindoll Study Notes (SRP $14.99) giving you $22.98 of free content. The Swindoll Study Bible App will sync any content that you already have in your Tecarta account, but if you do not have one you will need to register first. There is a promo code that is under a scratch and reveal tag on the page following the maps and there are instructions for redeeming your code. It is very important that you use the same email to redeem your code that you used to sign up for Tecarta so that the premium content that Tyndale is including syncs into your account.

 

Currently, I have the app on both my iPhone and my iPad Pro; the iPad Pro app being the one used more often. When linking this app with your Tecarta account, you will find that there is a plethora of resources that the app developer makes available to you. Some of the content that is available is at a lower cost than other soft-ware but most of it is priced similarly to OliveTree and WORDSearch Bible, which are the two that I use most frequently, though I am also a long time user of e-Sword. If you have not invested in any software for your Bible Study, Tecarta is equally as good as the ones from the major publishers but the advantage is that it is built from the ground up entirely for mobile.

 

There is a lot more to say on the app and there will be a 2nd review article focusing on that.

 

The Translation Choice

The Swindoll Study Bible is offered in the New Living Translation (NLT). where the original, the Living Insights Study Bible from 1996 was in NIV. As Chuck Swindoll and I have both discovered, the NLT is, perhaps, the easiest Bible to read and understand without becoming a complete paraphrase. I have really grown to love the NLT, in part because it so easily captures Greek and Hebrew thought, but mostly I love the NLT because that is the Bible my wife was reading when came to Christ and yielded her life to Him. I commend the NLT to you for the same reasons, if you have never understood the Bible before, you will with NLT and you may even find that this is the Bible that Christ uses to draw you unto Himself.

 

Around a month ago, I switched to NLT as a primary translation for 1-to-1 discipleship, for the content here at Exploring the Truth, for daily devotional reading and for any public speaking that I will do. I always pair my NLT with a word for word translation (NAS, ESV, or KJV) and I recommend you do the same. I feel like reading the NLT is like listening to a wise old friend explaining the Scriptures.

 

Living Insights Notes

In this edition, the Living Insights Notes have been moved to the bottom of the page and now look and function more like a traditional study Bible’s notes. Each Living Insight is designed to illuminate a specific verse of Scripture. Unlike many study Bibles, the Swindoll Study Bible does not feature a study note for each verse of Scripture; instead the notes are structured to help you grow in your relationship with the Lord.

 

I absolutely love the Living Insights Notes. They are perfect for on the go teaching.

 

Book Introductions:

Each book comes with an introduction that is focused on answering the following questions: Who wrote the book? Where are we? Why is this book important? What’s the big idea? How do I apply this? You will notice that the introductions in the Swindoll Study Bible fell much more pastoral than they do academic and if you are a Bible teacher in a church or small group, these insightful articles will prove most useful to laying a foundation for your teaching.

 

Application Articles

Application Articles are adapted from Chuck’s sermons and explain important passages with his winsome style including stories, illustrations, and usually three to five specific points of application. This is my favorite feature of the Swindoll Study Bible. Oftentimes we are left to ask the question, “What do I do about what I just read?” and these application articles tackle the most common passages that face this question.

 

People Profiles

Quite simply, people profiles highlight the lives of major players in the drama of Redemptive History and points out lessons, from their lives, that we could all benefit from learning.

 

Holy Land Tour

Learn more about geographic locations where biblical events occurred. These include a photo of the modern archaeological sites, many that can be viewed today, and a modern-day map of the location. You’ll be transported to the ancient sites with background information and devotional content, similar to being on a tour of the Holy Land with Chuck and his Insight for Living team.

 

Prayer Moments

Scattered throughout the text, prayer moments are similar to the prayers that Chuck Swindoll uses to close out his weekly sermons. Each prayer focuses on asking God to help us apply the truth of a particular passage of Scripture.

 

I do not ever recommend using someone else’s prayer in place of your own. On the other hand, you can easily use the prayer moments as a guide to help you get started with your prayer during personal worship.

 

Is Anything Missing?

This is probably a niggling little complaint, but I would have liked to see references; end of verse references would do just fine here without interrupting the layout. It is very important to understand that Scripture interprets Scripture and references go a long way toward that process, especially for a new believer.

 

I also think it would be nice to see and upgraded/deluxe edition in genuine leather.

 

How to Study the Bible (Searching the Scriptures Section)

This section showcases the genius of Chuck Swindoll. So many study Bibles have a section on how to use them but I think the Swindoll Study Bible is the only one that I have ever seen that includes a section on how to study the Bible. Many people that I encounter, especially new disciples, have trouble getting started with Bible study and the How to Study the Bible and practice section will remedy this problem easily.

 

Who would benefit from the Swindoll Study Bible?

In my estimation, the Swindoll Study Bible should have broad appeal. The app will most definitely appeal to Millennials and younger who are very tech savvy and want to do their study on electronic devices. On the other hand, the physical Bible will appeal to traditionalists who desire to study in an actual book; I happen to very much enjoy both.

 

You may find yourself saying that the content seems very simplistic. I would discourage you from dismissing this Bible simply because the notes are not overly complex. The Bible tells us we need to become like a child, in our faith, to see the Kingdom of Heaven and the Swindoll Study Bible endeavors to help us get there with its simple, down to earth, practical resources.

 

Usage Experience

After around two weeks of regular use, I could see this being my every day carrying Bible. The coloration of the pages is different enough that I don’t find much in the way of eye strain. The font is a crisp black and, despite being around an 8-point size, it is very easy to read.

 

The theological content is very solid. Dr. Swindoll takes a consistently literal approach to the Scripture, which I would expect from any dispensational theologian. The major takeaway that I have from the content is a better way to say the things that I teach; I have taught at various levels for 21 years so there is not a lot of new content for me. If you are a new disciple, or are looking for a gift for a new disciple, I encourage a purchase of the Swindoll Study Bible.

 

Overall Impression

I have a number of Study Bibles but I have to say that this one has moved into a favorite spot for me. I have told my wife that, when it comes to teaching, I endeavor to be as in depth as John MacArthur but as approachable and easy to understand as Chuck Swindoll. Tyndale publishes two other Study Bibles that I enjoy, the Life Application Study Bible and the NLT Study Bible. Of the three, my recommendation is that you buy the Swindoll Study Bible, especially given the fact that I usually find some gripe with the Bibles I review and cannot in this case.

 

Stay tuned for Part II where we will look at the Swindoll Study Bible on iPad…

 

 

 

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