Category: Resources and Reviews

THOMAS NELSON PREMIER COLLECTION GIANT PRINT KJV BIBLE REVIEW

THOMAS NELSON PREMIER COLLECTION GIANT PRINT KJV BIBLE REVIEW

 

Disclosure: This Bible was acquired at my own expense. Thomas Nelson did not solicit this review.

I have had terrible trouble finding a KJV for my pulpit but I believe Thomas Nelson has solved that problem for me. Read on to find out why… 

Product Description from Thomas Nelson

The Premier Edition of Thomas Nelson’s KJV Giant Print Reference Bible combines fine craftsmanship with the depth of a complete cross-reference system. Typeset in Thomas Nelson’s KJV Comfort Print. in an extra-large size, you will enjoy a smooth and easy reading experience in a beautiful King James Bible designed to last. Featuring a supple goatskin leather cover, durable edge-lined binding, premium Bible paper, beautiful art gilding, and four ribbon markers, this special edition is a treasure for a lifetime in God’s Word.

Features include:

  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Fine goatskin cover
  • Presentation page
  • Black-letter text
  • 12-point type
  • Concordance

 Initial Impression:

Previously, I reviewed the Premier Collection NIV Large Print Thin-line and I was quite impressed. That being said, the Premier Collection KJV Giant Print Reference Bible (hereafter, Premier KJV) takes that impressiveness up a notch. It is the best KJV that is available at this price point, $149.99, and I would dare to go so far as to say that the Cambridge Turquoise and Concord Reference Bibles, the definitive KJV reference Bibles, have met their match.

Font:

The font is the stand out feature of the Premier KJV. It was designed by the preeminent font type foundry, 2K/Denmark. As part of the Harper Collins Family, Nelson calls this font, Comfort Print and it is aptly named as you can easily spend hours with this text and not have any eye fatigue.

A 12-point font size is what we are given here; it is just right for use in the pulpit or the classroom. I have tried a number of different Bibles trying to get the right font size and typeface for my preaching and have not had any success, until this Bible. What we are given, here, is absolutely perfect.

Layout, Coloration, References

The Premier KJV is laid out in a double column verse by verse format with center-column references. This is the format that I have used for most of my ministry career and so it is quite familiar to me.

Verse numbers, Chapter Headings, Page Numbers, and the 1st letter of each chapter is in a cranberry red. This is a crisp rich red that really stands out on the page.

Unlike other Bibles, the center column for the references is not broken off by a harsh black line. It makes the page more pleasing to the eyes. Nelson offers around 70,000 cross-references.

Cover, Ribbons and Binding:

The Premier Collection all have goatskin covers and a sewn binding. The binding is tighter than on the NIV so it feels less likely to fall out of my hand. It also has a better feel to my finger tips; I think the leather is a little thicker but it is still edge-lined. The leather smell, which I always look for, is not as pronounced as I would have expected but it is there and is still intoxicating.  There are three silk ribbons, 3/8″ wide to use for marking your readings.

Paper

Even though I know they use the same paper, I prefer this one over the Premier NIV. It seems to be more opaque and there is less of a shine in the sunlight. I would be more inclined to mark in this vs the Premier NIV, though I would only use a ball-point pen or a gel highlighter for marking.

As a carry/daily use Bible

The KJV has more girth so I like carrying it better than the Premier NIV. It feels more substantial. As expected it fits quite comfortably in my laptop bag.

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that I have not covered every feature of this Bible but I have covered the ones that are important to a buying decision. At $149.99, the Premier KJV puts a premium reference Bible within reach of many more Christians than Cambridge, Allan, or Schuyler Bibles. It is well worth your money.

 

ZONDERVAN PREMIER COLLECTION LARGE PRINT THINLINE REVIEW

ZONDERVAN PREMIER COLLECTION LARGE PRINT THINLINE REVIEW

 

 

Disclosure: Zondervan provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to post positive comments; my opinions are my own.

Crossway, Cambridge University Press, Broadman & Holman, R. L. Allan and Sons, Schuyler, Thomas Nelson (Harper Collins), and now Zondervan (Harper Collins). What do all these publishers have in common? They all publish deluxe/premium Bibles in various English versions and at varying ranges of the pricing spectrum. The closest in materials and price point to the Harper Collins Premier Collections are from Crossway and Holman. We will compare the Crossway and Holman editions today as well.

I am reviewing the Large Print Thinline NIV and I will compare it to the the Holman CSB Large Print Ultra-thin Reference Bible (LPUT) and the Crossway ESV Large Print Bible.

Product Description from Zondervan

This NIV Premier Collection Bible features a soft, fine goatskin cover and many other quality finishes such as art gilding, edge lining, and three thick ribbon markers. The NIV Premier Collection Bible combines fine craftsmanship with ultimate readability and portability. It features the new Zondervan NIV Comfort Print font expertly designed for the New International Version (NIV) text, and delivers a smooth reading experience to complement the most widely read modern-English Bible translation.

 

Features:

  • Hand-bound in a supple goatskin leather cover
  • Smyth-sewn and edge-lined construction for flexibility
  • Art Gilt page edging, with gilt line and perimeter stitching
  • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print typeface
  • Three satin ribbon markers, each 3/8-inch wide
  • Premium European Bible paper, 36 gsm
  • Black-letter text
  • Family record section

 

Price Point-

  • NIV Large Print Thin-line $149.99
  • ESV Large Print in Top Grain Leather $139.99
  • Holman CSB LPUT-$129.99

Cover Material and Binding:

  • NIV: Black Goatskin with edge-lined leather liner and smythe sewn binding.
  • Crossway: Black calfskin with edge-lined leather liner and smythe sewn binding.
  • Holman: Black goatskin with edge-lined leather liner and smythe sewn binding.

Winner: Tie between Zondervan and Crossway.

Among all three, we have the top Bible in its translation and class. Zondervan’s goatskin is quite wonderful. It is smoothly ironed with just the faintest sense of grain. That scent, which only a true book aficionado will love is there; it is intoxicating and it is what I look for most when I open a new Bible. This leather is infinitely more touchable than the Holman and that is part of what sets Zondervan apart; your first sensation when you interact with your Bible is how it feels. It should feel natural in your hand, not too cumbersome, loose but not so floppy that it falls out of your hand if you use it one handed.

When you look at the leather, you will notice tiny variations in the skin and you need to know that this is not a defect. Many times you will see “blemishes” in leather goods and this is a natural result of using real animal skins. I have come to look for these little variations as they make it more unique.

A goatskin leather cover and a sewn binding guarantees your Bible will last for a lifetime, which is exactly what Zondervan guarantees.

Side note: Both Holman and Crossway beat Zondervan with a tighter binding.

 

Font

  • NIV: 11.4-point comfort print font type
  • Crossway: 11.5-point font type.
  • Holman: 9-point font type

Winner: Zondervan

Zondervan uses what it calls a comfort print font that was designed by 2/k Denmark, who also designed the typeface on the Holman and the similarities are obvious when you look at the two Bibles. Zondervan and Crossway give us true large print fonts.

While Crossway offers Zondervan stiff competition, the Comfort Print from Zondervan is, far and away, the easiest font that I have read. Zondervan and 2/k Denmark teamed up to create a font family that is very easy on the eyes and is intentionally designed to minimize eye fatigue.

Paper:

All 3 Bibles use a 36-GSM Bible Paper but this time Holman is the clear winner.

Zondervan’s paper is sufficiently opaque to be easy to read. However, there is a bit of a shine so it can be challenging in the pulpit. I have a tendency to be mildly peripatetic and so there was not really a major issue with the shine.

The remainder of the review will focus exclusively on the Zondervan and my thoughts…

 

Ribbons:

Zondervan gives 3 satin ribbons- Navy blue, light blue, and standard blue. The color variation is an offset to the blue under silver art gilding and is another feature designed to make the Bible easy on the eyes.

Layout:

We have a double column paragraph format that is text only. For classroom teaching, this is an ideal layout. When you are standing before your learners and bringing the Word, you do not want any distractions. Some of my colleagues prefer to preach from a single column format but I just cannot do it. I have taught from a double column for so long that I can’t function without that layout.

As a pastor’s Bible:

The Large Print Thin-line NIV is very portable and fits nicely into my laptop bag. It is very easy to use one handed. Because of its portability, it went with me for one-on-one discipleship, on a hospital visit, and into the pulpit. Overall, I found it to be very practical. If I had one complaint it would be that the sewing is loose enough that the Bible feels very floppy; I would like to see it sewn a little tighter.

Is anything missing?

That is a tough question to answer. A concordance is definitely left out and I’m not sure why. I would like to see end of verse references and a few lined pages for notes. The absence thereof is not problematic, more of nit picking on my part.

Would I recommend the Large Print Thin-line? Who should buy it?

I do recommend the NIV and so I recommend this by default. As for who should buy this particular Bible, I would primarily recommend this edition for someone who is teaching the Bible on a regular basis and especially for missionaries. In my personal opinion, it is the most practical Bible that Zondervan offers.

Final Thoughts:

Zondervan’s sheer size as a publisher enables them to offer a very high quality Bible at what is a fairly low price point for the premium class. Many Christians only have one Bible and it needs to be a good one; when I say a good Bible, I mean a high quality edition that will easily last 25 years or more.

I am glad to see that the world’s best selling English Bible is available in a format worthy of Sacred Scripture. I am also pleased to see that Zondervan is offering a price point that will be more accessible to many Christians.

 

Vines Expository Study Bible Review

Vines Expository Study Bible Review

Let me start by saying, “It’s not what I expected and everything I want in a study Bible.” Years ago, there was Vines Expository Reference Bible and, at first, I thought that this was a re-release of that Bible; it is not. On some levels it is so much better and on other levels it is equal to the old Vines Expository Reference, both of which were published by Thomas Nelson.

 

 

Disclosure: Thomas Nelson provided a hardcover edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

From the Publisher

 

Product Description

The Vines Expository Bibleoffers scriptural truth alongside guided explanations of key passages from influential preacher Dr. Jerry Vines. With biblical exposition and practical teaching culled from years of faithful ministry, Dr. Vines presents helpful insights from God’s Word are presented in a warm, pastoral manner.

 

Features Include:

  • Paragraph-style text with in-text subject headings
  • 200 “Presenting the Message” detailed outlines from Jerry Vines’ sermon archive
  • 100 “Living the Message” articles with illustrations for living the Christian life
  • 200 “Applying the Message” notes that help you see the relevance of Scriptures for your walk with Christ
  • 300 “Discerning the Meaning” word studies that illuminate the meaning of key words in Scripture
  • Book Introductions
  • Topical Index
  • Concordance
  • 5-point print size

 

Content

200 “Presenting the Message Outlines”

These are sermon outlines that were taught by Dr. Jerry Vines in the pulpit of his church. They serve a couple of helpful functions: explaining the point of the passage to the reader and guiding a teacher through explaining the passage. One could, in theory, consider this to be four years of material to get your church an overview of the Bible. I always recommend doing your own work but if you had absolutely no experience with lesson prep, these outlines would be very helpful.

 

100 “Living the Message” Articles

These are practical application articles demonstrating “real life” applications of the text.

 

300 “Discerning the Meaning” Word Studies

Even though W.E. Vines and Jerry Vines are two different pastors, one could hardly have a Vines Resource without word studies. These articles cover key words that are essential to understanding the Bible.

 

200 “Applying the Message Notes”

The Applying the Message Notes, much like the Living the Message Articles are designed to help you apply the text of the Bible to your every day life. They are designed to answer the question, “I understand this passage, now what do I do about it.”

 

Topical Index

The Topical Index breaks down the major subjects of the Bible for study. While I recommend book-by-book study, I realize that topical study is the most common method of lesson preparation and the topical index, here, will give you several years worth of material for study/teaching.

 

The Physical Book

Paper

The paper is a touch thin. This is not necessarily bad as you need thin paper in order to pack a lot of content into a study Bible. If you were going to mark in this Bible, you definitely do not want a liquid highlighter. A ball-point pen or a hi-glider from Luscombe would be your best choice here.

 

There is some shadowing (see through of the other side of the paper) but not enough to be overly bothersome.

 

Font

We have Nelson’s new Comfort Print font in 10-point. It is much easier to read than some other font families on the market. As its name indicates, the Comfort Print Font prevents eye strain so you can study for long periods without developing tired eyes or a headache.

 

 

Cover and Binding

The edition I am reviewing is the jacketed hardcover. The cover is red cloth over a book-board. It is fairly sturdy and will hold up to normal wear and tear fairly nicely. For a Bible that will remain on your desk or go into your backpack, hardcover is your best choice.

 

The binding is sewn to ensure a lifetime of use.

 

Ribbons

Nelson provides us with 2 red silk ribbons, 3/8″ in width. I generally use the ribbons to mark OT and NT daily readings. I also use them to mark passages relevant to ministry texts based on the upcoming ministry activity such as a hospital visit or discipleship.

 

Who is this Bible for?

The Vines Expository Study Bible is designed for the new teacher/student. If I were to recommend this Bible to a particular group of people, it would be to pastors in Asia and Africa who may not have access to the resources needed to prepare expository lessons on the Bible.

 

Overall Thoughts

I am a Bible teacher, so I am a little biased here but I really like the Vines Expository Study Bible. Some may consider this to be entry level and, to a degree, it is. That being said, for its intended audience, it is an excellent tool.

 

I would rate it 4.5/5. The shadowing is what caused me to withhold a perfect score. Nelson should be able to get us better paper. They are, after all, part of the Harper Collins Group, the largest publisher in the US.

 

 

ESV Large Print Bible Review

ESV Large Print Bible Review

 

One of the top 4 English Bible Translations that I use is the English Standard Version. It is no secret that I love Crossway’s Bibles and when the chance to review a large print ESV Bible came up, I had to jump on it.

Crossway sent me the top grain leather edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own. Also, some of the pictures were taken outdoors to capture this exquisite Bible in natural light.

 

A little from the publisher to get us started…

The ESV Large Print Bible features generous 11.5-point type and clear black letter text for easier reading and reference. A true large print edition, it includes an extensive concordance and helpful full-color maps. Readers of all ages will find it ideal for daily reading and study.

  • Size: 6.375″ x 9.25″
  • 11.5-pt type
  • 1,312 pages
  • Black letter text
  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Concordance with nearly 12,000 references
  • Ribbon marker
  • Presentation pages
  • Full-color maps in back
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Lifetime quality guarantee

The Translation

ESV is an essentially literal translation, meaning it falls on the word-for-word or form based end of the translation spectrum. It is as accurate as NASB but not as rigid, I have found that is sounds very liturgical and the rhythm and cadence lends to reading aloud. It is ideal for congregational reading as well as personal study.

The Cover

This is top grain leather and we need to stop and ask the question, “What is top grain leather?” Buffalo Jackson trading company states “Top grain leather is the second highest grade of leather, and has the outermost layer of the hide removed. This difference makes the leather thinner and more workable for the manufacturer, which is reflected in the price compared to full grain leather.”

Based on the feel and smell, this top grain leather is almost certainly a calfskin. The grain is somewhat pronounced but I lack an adjective to describe the softness of the cover and the delight it brings to the touch. I own a couple goatskin, full grain leather Bibles that are not this delightful to have in my hands. I swear that Crossway does something to the leather to make you want to open your Bible over and over again. The best way I can describe the leather is to say that it is limp and supple and an absolute delight to touch.

Binding

Crossway is well known for their sewn Bibles, so well known, in fact, that they come with a lifetime guarantee. This particular Bible has what I describe as medium tightness. Some Bibles like R. L. Allan’s are very loose and tend to feel like they might fall apart at any second while other Bibles like Cambridge Bibles are very tight and even though they lay flat are not as loose in the hand. The ESV Large Print Bible is the perfect blend, loose enough to be comfortable for one handed use yet tight enough to not leave you wondering if it will fall apart.

Paper, Font, and Layout

The font is spectacular, 11.5-point; it is a true large print, unlike many who deem a 9-point font to be a large print. This size incredibly easy to read. Crossway uses fonts in the Lexicon Family which are somewhat bold, with deep rich blacks. This is not a red letter edition and you may have mixed feelings about that but I do not find them useful on my podium when I am trying to teach.

36 GSM Thinopaque paper is what Crossway uses for paper. This is an ideal choice with the double column paragraph format that we are treated to here. The paper is thin enough to keep the Bible from being cumbersome yet still thick enough that you can mark in the Bible without bleed through and while we are on that subject, this is a line matched Bible and there is no show through of the text.

As a Ministry Bible

During my review period, the ESV Large Print Bible came with me into my secular employment arena alongside my NLT. For one on one ministry it cannot be beat. The overall size fits on almost any desk easily. On the lectern, it was everything I wanted- large font, easy to read, portable; I could not ask for more.

Overall Thoughts

It is hard for Crossway to outdo itself and I doubt that any other publisher could out perform Crossway. The quality offered by Crossway is unmatched anywhere. I highly recommend their Bibles to anyone.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Marking in Your Bible/In-Depth Study

A Beginner’s Guide to Marking in Your Bible/In-Depth Study

 

As a pastor, I am asked, quite often, for advice on how to mark in a Bible. Finally, after answering more than 2 dozen times, I decided to share this advice with all of you, my beloved readers.

You will need:

  • A new, unmarked Bible (As it happens, the writing of this article coincides with my beginning to mark in a new ESV Large Print Bible in top grain leather.) There are a number of excellent choices available, but I recommend avoiding the ones with artwork already in the margins; you want your markings to be your own.
  • A set of marking tools (For highlighting, I recommend Bible Hi-Glider from GT Luscombe, for underlining, I recommend Prang colored pencils, and for your annotations, I recommend Pilot Brand Better Retractable Ball Point Pen in fine point). You can use any or all of the three.
  • A plan for how you will study (Chapter and Verse, Topical, Systematic Theology)
  • A journal (Moleskine is nice as is Picadilly Essential Notebook)
  • A Bible Dictionary. a Concordance, and a single volume commentary (I recommend either the MacArthur Bible Commentary (Single Volume) or the Wycliff Bible Commentary. (Warren Wiersbe has an excellent 2-volume set if you like)

 

Before you begin, Pray. You want to be sure that you are being guided by the Holy Spirit. Ensure that you have decided on if/how you will color code before your first session. Will you simply highlight verses you want to commit to memory (ideal for 1st time students of the Bible) or will you have a more detailed approach.

 

Here is my approach for this new Bible:

I will be using the GT Luscombe Hi-Gliders. There are 6 colors and I will be highlighting Six Essentials of Christianity

 

  • Orange = Sin
  • Yellow = Grace
  • Pink = Salvation
  • Green = Fruit of the Spirit
  • Purple = the Kingdom
  • Blue = New Heaven and New Earth

 

Here are the steps I recommend following:

  1. Choose your topic. For our example we will choose sin.
  2. Look up your topic in your concordance and turn to the first passage.
  3. Read the passage the 1st time without making any marks
  4. Read the passage again with your journal handy. Write down any words you are not familiar with and leave room to note definitions. Also make note of any questions that you may have as you are reading.
  5. Read the passage for a third time, this time underlining or highlighting as you go.
  6. Make any marginal notes that will help jog your memory about what you have learned so far.
  7. Consult your commentary for further insight. Read any cross-references you find and mark the passage address (John 1:1) in your journal
  8. Pray for the 2nd time, ensuring that you thank the Holy Spirit for His word and to ask him to illuminate His truth to your mind.

 

Repeat the process as often as you have planned for your study. Some people stretch this process out for a week and others repeat daily. There is no correct or incorrect option; follow the pace best suited to how you learn. A quality study is what we are after, not a quantity of verses studied.

Wesley Study Bible Review (CEB Edition)

Wesley Study Bible Review (CEB Edition)

 

Once in a while you come across a Bible that makes you stop cold in your tracks, you absolutely have to know more about the features that are included with the Bible text. Enter the Wesley Study Bible…(By way of background, I was raised in a Pentecostal Church, Pentecostalism having grown out of the Wesleyan Holiness Movement)

 

Note: This Bible was provided free of charge by Abingdon Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

First published February 1, 2009 the initial release, from Abingdon Press, was an NRSV Bible, without the Deuterocanonical/Apocrypha books. In November 2012, the Wesley Study Bible was republished, this time in the Common English Bibletranslation (also without the Apocrypha).

 

Where did the Wesley Study Bible come from? The Wesley Study Bible was developed by scholars from 11 denominations, in North America, with roots in the Wesleyan/Methodist Movement: The United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian & Missionary Alliance (Pentecostal/charismatic), Christian Methodist Episocpal Church, Church of the Nazarene, Church of God (Anderson, IN also pentecostal/charismatic), Free Methodist Church of North America, The Wesleyan Church, Salvation Army, and the United Church of Canada. The Wesley Study Bible is not just for those in the Wesleyan/Methodist/Pentecostal/Holiness Movements; every Christian can benefit from features that are in this Bible…

 

From the Publisher

“Lead an abundant life, grow as a faithful disciple, and find new avenues to serve. By studying The Wesley Study Bible, readers will share God’s grace and find the good gifts God has for them. As God transforms them through study, they will be inspired to transform the world. Contributors from across the Wesleyan family join together to help others experience God in fresh ways. The Wesley Study Bible highlights the depth of John Wesley’s perspectives on scripture and features accessibly written notes and articles contributed by pastors, theologians, and Bible scholars. Easy-to-understand explanations of core terms encompass the following themes: eternal life, forgiveness, grace, heaven, holiness, justice, and mission.”

 

About the Common English Bible

 

What is the CEB? (From commonenglishbible.com)

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

I do not care for the fact that the CEB changes Son of Man (a decidedly Messianic Term) to the Human One. I feel this takes away from the deity of Christ and fails to give Him the reverence due.

 

 

Holiness of Heart and Life Articles (for every Christian)

One of the hallmarks of John Wesley’s ministry was his emphasis on practical holiness, essentially being the hands of God in the world. (Please note, I am not talking about works based salvation.)

 

There are approximately 150 side-bar articles on the fruit of your salvation, holiness of heart and life. These offer wisdom and applicable advice on what it looks like. As a pastor once told me, you don’t do works to be holy but because you have been made holy. In these valuable articles you will find tangible and measurable examples of holiness.

 

Wesleyan Core Terms (mostly for Methodists of all stripes)

No matter which Christian Fellowship you belong to, there are terms that are important to understand such as Free Grace, Holy Spirit, Personal Holiness, etc. These terms are essential to understanding your faith and committing that faith to others.

 

As with the Holiness of Heart and Life Articles, there are approximately 150 side-bar articles explaining these terms.

 

Study Notes & Introductions

There are approximately 7500 Study Notes. The notes are designed to be of a very pastoral/practical nature, that is to say, to guide you into ways to put your faith into action.

 

The introductions are not as detailed as you will find in other study Bibles. I think that is done in keeping with the pastoral tone of the Bible.

 

 

This is a Bible that is designed to be experiential. If you are using it correctly, you will find yourself motivated to live out the holiness that has been gifted to you (James 1:22). If you look at Matthew 25, Jesus meant it when he said “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink, sick and in prison and you visited me.”

 

Overall, I really enjoy this particular study Bible. It is, candidly, difficult to discuss with someone who is not from this background. It’s a niche Bible but at the same time it isn’t. No matter your denominational background, you will be able to find something in the Wesley Study Bible that will benefit you.

 

TLB Large Print Review

TLB Large Print Review

 

I am really excited for today’s review as I am reviewing one of the most influential Bible versions ever produced, the very first one to receive a Quadruple Diamond Award (1 Diamond = 10 million units) from the ECPA, The Living Bible Paraphrase. For 40+ years, with over 40,000,000 units sold, the Living Bible has been impacting lives. In 1996 TLB gave birth to one of the two most used English translations of the Bible the New Living Translation, also published by Tyndale and, itself, a Triple Diamond winner. This is one of a very few English versions that I think every single English speaking Christian needs to have.

 

Tyndale House has provided a large print two-tone, thumb indexed, version for free in exchange for an honest review. I have a padded green hardcover (probably 2 or three, actually) that I use on a regular basis.

Product Description

The Living Bible is a “thought-for-thought” translation of the Bible. It is a “paraphrase” – a summary of Scripture- rather than a word-for-word translation of Scripture. As such, its purpose is to summarize what the writers of the Scriptures meant rather than quoting them directly. The Living Bible may be particularly helpful for those who are new to the Bible, or for those who have difficulty understanding the words of the Bible.

Features Include:

  • Double column format
  • 10- point type
  • Footnotes
  • Bible Reading Plan
  • 2 Maps black & white
  • Topical Concordance

 

Format: Imitation Leather
Number of Pages: 1184
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2018
Dimensions: 10 X 7.3 X 1.6 (inches)
ISBN: 1496433521
ISBN-13: 9781496433527
Text Layout: Double Column

 

 

What is The Living Bible?

The Living Bible is a paraphrase of the English Revised Bible, American Standard Version of 1901 (American Standard Version or ASV for short). The ASV, long held to be one of the best English Translations, is an ideal source for a paraphrase given its meticulous nature and attention to detail in translating.

 

Why paraphrase the Bible?

In Dr. Taylor’s own words, “The children were one of the chief inspirations for producing the Living Bible. Our family devotions were tough going because of the difficulty we had understanding the King James Version, which we were then using, or the Revised Standard Version, which we used later. All too often I would ask questions to be sure the children understood, and they would shrug their shoulders—they didn’t know what the passage was talking about. So I would explain it. I would paraphrase it for them and give them the thought. It suddenly occurred to me one afternoon that I should write out the reading for that evening thought by thought, rather than doing it on the spot during our devotional time. So I did, and read the chapter to the family that evening with exciting results—they knew the answers to all the questions I asked!”

 

Doesn’t a paraphrase take away from God’s Holy Word?

It can but that is entirely dependent on the person doing the paraphrase and their commitment to the Scripture. In the case of TLB, there is nothing taken away from the Scripture. It is clear, when reading, that Dr. Taylor held the Scripture in high esteem and truly wanted even the simplest and most childlike to be able to understand the Scripture.

 

Cover and Binding

This review copy is TuTone/Imitation Leather and, as best as I can tell, has an adhesive binding, though it could very well be sewn. The binding is nice and tight, which lends to the possibility of smythe sewing and the TuTone cover is very soft, though it is distinguishable from real leather. It should easily last for 10 plus years of service.

 

Paper and Font

We are given a crisp white paper with minimal show through and almost no glare; in most light settings, I had no issue with reading. The font that Tyndale chose is really stellar and is incredibly easy on my eyes. Many Bible publishers call a 9-point font large print, which irritates me to no end; in academia 10-point is the standard for large print so Tyndale choosing to follow the academic standard is incredibly helpful.

 

Layout and Indexing

For layout, we have a double column paragraph format, with double column being the most common format for Bibles. While my preference is for verse by verse, the paragraph format does lend toward easier reading. The plain text format will lend to easy reading and you will find limited footnoting interspersed throughout the text.

 

True to form, Tyndale has provided thumb indexing to make the Bible more accessible to the reader. Thumb indexing is still done by hand so some Bibles may appear uneven.

 

As a carry Bible

The size of this Bible works really well in my briefcase; this is very important for me because I do a tremendous amount of 1 on 1 ministry as a bi-vocational pastor.

Should I buy this Bible?

You should buy a copy of the Living Bible Paraphrase in whichever format your budget will allow. For ESL Bible Students, the Bible is rendered into an easy to understand level of English that will grow with you as you increase your command of the English language. First time Bible readers will find that the approachable language makes the Bible easy to internalize. For the pastor and the professor, the TLB will be of immense help in capturing the thought. We have two goals as Bible students, to find out exactly what the words say and then to find out what they mean and the TLB, paired with a word-for-word translation will give a tremendous amount of help in communicating the Gospel of Christ.

 

ESV Archaeology Bible Review

ESV Archaeology Bible Review

 

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Crossway has finally answered Zondervan with an Archaeology Study Bible of their own. While I did enjoy Zondervan’s NIV Archaeological Study Bible I am thankful that Crossway’s is not the monstrous tome that its colleague is, though they serve a similar purpose. I am reviewing the hardcover, which was sent free of charge by Crossway in exchange for an honest review.

 

Other Bibles and Works in this Class

This particular class of study Bibles is, in my estimation, one of, if not the most, important class of study resources because of its focus on the historical and cultural context of the Bible. ESV Archaeology Bible joins 3 works from Zondervan/Harper Collins and at least one commentary set from Inter-Varsity Press. They are:

  • IVP Bible Background Commentary
  • NIV 1st Century Study Bible
  • NIV Archaeology Study Bible
  • Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Currently NIV and NKJV with NRSV coming soon)

 

An essential part of understand the Bible is to know the historical and cultural context as we look for Authorial Intent. We want to see what God said to the original audience and then look for how it applies today.

Product Description (From Crossway)

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible is a cutting-edge academic resource for those looking to dig deeper into the historical context of the Bible. It features study notes written by field-trained Biblical archaeologists and scholars, color maps, photographs, and drawings- all designed to bring life to the ancient text of Scripture. With editorial oversight from Dr. John Currid (PhD, University of Chicago) and Dr. David Chapman (PhD, University of Cambridge), the ESV Archaeology Study Bible assembles a range of modern scholarship, helping readers situate themselves in the Bible’s historical context by recognizing the truth that the eternal God became flesh entered human history at a specific time and in a specific place.

 

Features Include:

  • Presentation page
  • 2,000+ study notes
  • 700+ full-color maps and photos
  • 4 Timelines
  • 15 articles like “The Bible and History,” “Archaeology and Preaching,” Major Biblical Finds,” and “Daily Life in the New Testament Era”
  • Book introductions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Double-column
  • Cross references
  • Footnotes
  • Lifetime guarantee (on leather and TruTone)
  • 9 point type (Bible text)
  • 8 point type (Study notes)
  • Black letter text

 

Maps and Photos

This is my absolute favorite amongst the helps. Often when I am preparing a lesson, I want to visualize a place or see a location on a map and these maps and photos make the world of the Bible more accessible to me. With nearly 70% of the population being “visual learners,” you could not find a more helpful tool for internalizing the Scriptures. At the risk of being trite, the maps and photos will help you put yourself in the narrative of Scripture, visualizing the land where Jesus walked and the people He talked to.

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions were a pleasant surprise; I had expected several pages of background material on each book of the Bible. What I got was much more pleasing to the eye and to the mind. The Introductions provide just enough material to give you an understanding of how the book fits the culture of its audience and also how it impacts redemptive history. The Contributions from Archaeologysection of each introduction is a delightful little bonus that brings the whole picture together.

 

Notes, Outlines, References

This is a study Bible but do not expect the massive amount of notes that you find in other study Bibles. To my surprise, the Oxford Annotated Bible has more notes in total, but perhaps not of the same quality. The 2,000 or so study notes, here, stay focused on the primary task for this Bible, helping you to understand the cultural background of the Bible and to see how God superintends archaeological finds to prove the Bible’s truth.

The Outlines and References are much more succinct in the Archaeology Bible than in other Crossway Study resources and this keeps with the theme of being focused on a single area of study. The outlines and references are more than sufficient to give you a framework of study but you will want to add other tools for a complete exegesis of the Scripture.

 

Articles

There are 15 somewhat in-depth articles. They can be found at the beginning, between the testaments, and at the end. The articles are:

  • What is Archaeology?
  • Ten Most Significant Discoveries in the Field of Biblical Archaeology
  • Daily Life in Israel in the Old Testament Times
  • Judea-Palestine in the Time Between the Testaments
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Roman Empire and the Greco-Roman World
  • Daily Life in Judea-Palestine in the New Testament Times
  • Doing Archaeology
  • Archaeology as an Academic Discipline
  • Expository Preaching and Archaeology
  • Archaeological Dating
  • Biblical Geography and Archaeology
  • Inscriptions, Coins, and Papyri
  • A Short History of Archaeology in the Near East

Overall, these articles are extremely well written, which you would expect from a group of professors. There is one area that I would have really liked to see treated more; like my colleague at the Bible Buying Guide, I would have really appreciated some treatment of the original language documents beyond just the Dead Sea Scrolls. In our time, there have been some significant papyri discovered and it would be nice to see a dedicated article regarding original manuscripts.

 

Final Thoughts

This is one of the two most valuable study Bibles that Crossway has produced with the ESV Literary Study Bible being the other. I am embarking on a chronological journey through the 4 Gospels and I have already cleared a space on my desk for this Bible as it will provide extremely helpful background information for our study.

 

I do not, often, upgrade the Bibles that are sent to me for review but there is a strong possibility that I will upgrade this edition to a leather one for much longer use. I give the ESV Archaeology Bible the strongest recommendation possible.

 

 

ESV Thinline Bible Review

ESV Thinline Bible Review

 

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One of our most valuable partners is Crossway, publishers of the ESV Bible and I am pleased to be reviewing another of their excellent Bibles, the ESV Thinline Bible, which Crossway provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. They sent the Brown Natural Leather edition for us to review…

Special Note: my wife actually laid claim to this Bible the day that it came out of the box.

This ESV Thinline Editionfeatures:

  • Two-column paragraph format
  • Weights & Measures Table
  • Words of Jesus in red
  • 8 Pages of full-color maps
  • Presentation page
  • Family record section
  • Ribbon marker
  • Concordance
  • Eight pages of full-color maps
  • 8-point text size
  • 8.75″ x 5.75″ x 1.00″

 

The Leather and Binding

There is not a doubt in my mind that this “natural leather” is is actually a cow’s hide.  Truthfully, it feels as though someone simply removed all the hair from the skin of the cow and made a Bible cover from the top layer of skin. It is fairly stiff, which is to be expected from a mature cow and so it does not lay completely flat upon first opening.  Over time, the natural oils that occur in human skin will work their way into the cover and it will become softer and more supple. In the interest of full disclosure, there will always be a small measure of stiffness because it is a paste down liner as opposed to edge lined leather.

As is usually the case, this Bible has a sewn binding for lifelong durability.

Paper and Font

For such a small footprint, the paper is actually excellent. I have never found crossway paper to be lacking and in this case, it is no exception. If this were going to be your primary Bible for carry, you would have no issues with marking your favorite verses. As always, I recommend purchasing your highlighting products from a Christian Bookstore as they will have instruments specifically geared toward Bible marking.

Regular readers of this site will know that I have mixed feelings about red letter Bibles. This stems from two things: usually a very poor and inconsistent red ink and the fact that I write in my Bibles in red ink and so there is usually a visual disconnect for me. In this edition, though, Crossway’s red ink is very well done. It is rich and consistent which pleases my wife who uses this Bible on a regular basis.

It works out that my wife really enjoys this particular edition because an 8-point font is, in most cases, too small to be comfortable for me (the Cambridge Cameo, and I think Concord, being the only exceptions. Most people will not have any issues with the font size and it should, in most cases, be quite useful for daily reading.

For carry

The dimensions on this Bible make it ideal for carry in your purse or briefcase. You will find it large enough that you do not have to squint to read it but not so large that it will be cumbersome.

Overall Thoughts

At its price-point, you would be hard pressed to find a better leather Bible. Crossway’s Bibles are always superb and if they are not you can count on their customer service team to replace it fairly quickly.

 

 

 

God’s Word Translation Review

God’s Word Translation Review

“A most interesting translation.” That is my overall impression of the God’s Word Translation of the Scriptures. Before we go further, I need to point out that God’s Word for the Nations Missionary Society provided this Bible for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Let’s begin with some information from the publisher:

THE THEORY USED TO PRODUCE GOD’S WORD

  • Closest Natural Equivalence
  • Contrasting Closest Natural Equivalence to Form Equivalence
  • Contrasting Closest Natural Equivalence to Function Equivalence
  • Closest Natural Equivalence Maintains the Balance

 

Closest natural equivalent translation attempts to be exactly what its name implies. Above all else, it provides readers with a meaning equivalent to the source language (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek in the case of the Bible) in the target language (English in the case of GOD’S WORD). Second and equally important, it seeks ways to express that meaning naturally in a way that a native English speaker would have spoken or written. Finally, it expresses the meaning naturally in a way that is as close as possible to the way the source language expressed the meaning.

This translation most certainly falls into the dynamic equivalence/thought for thought/meaning based end of the Bible translation spectrum. It is an incredibly easy version to read and understand and I really appreciate that. Many of the people that I minister to have English as a second language and I would be confident in placing the God’s Word Translation in any of their hands.

I would mark this translation as a 3rd to 4th Grade Reading Level. For a Bible to be translated at this level of understanding is absolutely fabulous. Matthew 18:3 tells us that we need to become like a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and the English used here would certainly be simple enough for most children to understand.

There is the question of gender in translation and God’s Word Translation endeavors to be what is considered to be gender accurate. What this means is it chooses the most accurate pronouns based on the audience addressed. This is different from being gender neutral which seeks to eliminate the patriarchal aspects of a patriarchal society. I am not sure how some of my conservative colleagues would receive this aspect of the translation but I have no issue with it.

I have used GWT alongside three translations: my New American Standard Bible, my New International Version, and my King James Version. Like the NIV, the GWT is very easy to understand and accurate to the thought of the original language documents. Similar to the New Living Translation, the GWT provides a very illuminating, almost commentary feel to the Scripture.

Who should use the GWT? My recommendation for GWT is to provide it to those who have English as a second language. I would also advise giving the GWT to elementary school students looking to read the Bible for the first time.

How should you use GWT? My recommendation for use depends on a couple factors.

Personal/Small Group Study: I recommend GWT in use alongside an essentially literal translation such as NASB or ESV. The GWT will provide a more well rounded understanding of the Scripture.

1st Time Readers: Given the ease of use, I highly recommend the GWT for 1st time Bible readers. There are a number of reading plans and devotional sources available for use. I would pair the GWT with a reading plan designed to get you through the whole Bible in a year, Tyndale’s One Year Bible is an excellent choice.

Pastoral Use: GWT is an excellent choice for an alternate translation from the pulpit. We always want to have two or three translations in use when preaching and GWT will most definitely help you to communicate the clear meaning of the Scripture.

All in all, the GWT was very interesting and I will be using it more in the future. It will be added to our distribution inventory for those who have never had a copy of the Scripture and for our chaplaincy visits to leave behind for prisoners and hospital patients that are in need of the Bible. I commend it to you for your use. Whether or not to make it your primary translation, I leave up to you but I do think it is well worth your investment.

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