Category: Resources and Reviews

New American Bible Revised Edition Review

New American Bible Revised Edition Review

From time to time we have the opportunity to review some resources for the Roman Catholic Community. Today we are reviewing the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) from Harper Catholic Bibles, a Division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. {Harper Catholic Bibles provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. My opinions are my own.

 

We have previously reviewed the Didache Bible from Midwest Theological Forum, and the Great Adventure Bible from Ascension Press and have one more upcoming Catholic Resource, the Catholic Study Bible 3rd Edition from Oxford University Press.

 

The Translation

The NABRE is somewhat new to me but it feels fairly familiar. To the best of my knowledge, this is the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Churches in the United States, US Territories, and the official English Catholic Bible in the Philippines.

 

The NABRE comes across as a mediating translation and is around a 7thgrade reading level. It is, at least in my experience, similar in style to the NIV. For comparison, I read the passages commonly referred to as the Romans Road and did not find any deviations from the texts I am familiar with.  The one place that I would have expected translation bias, Matthew 16:18, was not biased in translation at all.

 

The Textual Basis is UBS3 & NA26  for the NT and both the Stuttgart edition of Biblia Hebraica and the Septuagint for the OT, the Septuagint being necessary as the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha are not extant in the Hebrew Text.

 

Overall, I find the translation interesting. I have a growing number of Roman Catholics in my audience and could see more use of the NABRE though it would not become a primary use translation for me; I have too much invested in other translations.

 

About this particular Bible…

 

Cover and Binding

Harper Collins sent me a jacketed hardcover for review. There is nothing fancy about this edition; it is clearly what you would call a mass market Bible.

 

I cannot see anything to indicate a sewn binding. There is not really anything wrong with an adhesive binding but they will not hold up anywhere nearly as well as a sewn binding. With limited knowledge of the reading habits of my catholic audience, I cannot specify how long I think this will last but my usual track record with a glued binding is about 7 years.

 

Paper and Font

The paper is a bit of a mixed bag. There is not a lot of show through, which I like, but the paper is thin enough to prevent me from recommending marking in it. IF you did mark in this edition, I would recommend that you only use a colored pencil. A ball-point pen will probably bleed through a liquid highlighter will, most assuredly bleed through.

 

The font will be sufficiently readable for most people. It is approximately 8.5 for the Bible text and 6.5-7 for footnotes. It seems to be a standard textbook style font.

 

Layout

The Bible is laid out in a double column paragraph format. Notes, study and translator’s footnotes, have been provided and are in a three column format at the bottom of the page. References are included with the footnotes but are separated by a red bar.

 

Helps

This is more of a textbook edition than what we would commonly call a study Bible but there are some fairly useful helps for the reader.

 

Introductions and Outlines

The introduction provides a couple paragraphs of overview to the book itself. The outline is a main point outline covering the principle divisions of each book. These two sections are sufficient for someone who is new to the Bible to be able to study or teach.

 

Footnotes & Cross References

The footnotes actually surprised me. The notes include variant readings, explanatory readings and cross references. This is a very important section to include. Most of us are not conversant in Ancient Greek or Hebrew and so translators notes are important for readers.

 

Section Introductions

Each of the major sections of the Bible has a brief introduction to the material in the Scripture. Some of the information is geared toward the interpretive and some toward historical understanding. All in all, they are some interesting little blurbs.

 

Overall thoughts

As I said, earlier, the NABRE is interesting. I think any pastor or Bible teacher should have a copy of the translation handy. If nothing else, it is good to  consider alternate translations of the Bible.

 

KJV Life Principles Bible Review

KJV Life Principles Bible Review

 

One of the most helpful Bibles you can find is the Life Principles Bible from Thomas Nelson. It is now available in a 2nd Edition and I am actually really excited to review this for you.

 

Life Principles Bible Photos

 

(Note: Thomas Nelson provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review simply an honest one. My opinions are my own.)

 

Translations Available

Currently the 2nd Edition of Life Principles Bible is available in the NKJV, NIV, NASB, and, for the first time, the King James Version. It is the KJV edition that I am reviewing.

 

For over 400 years the KJV has been the standard bearer in English Bibles and so it is a welcome sign to see the KJV finally join the lineup.

 

Cover and Binding

This particular edition is burgundy leathersoft with a sewn binding. When it comes to imitation leathers, Thomas Nelson has really stepped up its game in their leathersoft covers. Even though they are made from polymers, they feel fairly like a real leather. I am quite impressed with this cover. It should go without saying that the sewn binding is a great choice to ensure your Bible lasts a lifetime.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

The Thomas Nelson Comfort Print Font really shines here. This is a black letter edition set in my favorite layout, double column verse by verse. The second edition has a bit of an Easter egg for you, in between the text of Scripture and the notes,  Thomas Nelson has provided their full set of cross-references, 72,000 in all.

 

The paper is fairly similar to other Thomas Nelson Bibles but it presents as more opaque than other Nelson Bibles and is certainly more opaque than the first edition. The increased opacity is vital in this edition because Dr. Stanley provides such good content that you will want to add your own markings and notes to go along with it.

 

Helps

 

  • 30 Life Principlesarticles highlight Dr. Stanley’s essentials for Christian living. These lessons are derived from more than 40 years of teaching and encompass the essentials of a life pleasing to God.
  • 2,500 Life Lessons verse notes bring to life the practical and personal nature of God’s Word to us. These notes will help to relate to and internalize the Scriptures.
  • Over 300 highlighted verses make it easy to find God’s promises throughout the Bible text that encourage, strengthen, and bring hope
  • Answers to Life’s Questionsand What the Bible Says About articles bring scriptural insight to bear on topics of special importance to every believer
  • Topical indexes give immediate access to hundreds of life-giving principles and promises throughout the Old and New Testaments. This includes a condensed concordance for a more in-depth topical study.
  • Book introductions provide an overview of the themes and literary structure of each book. Each introduction includes the Life Principles which are addressed in that book.
  • Life Examples are character profiles that illustrate a particular life principle.
  • In-text maps and charts are a newish feature this time around and are designed for visual learners to gain a better understanding of the Bible.

 

Experiencing the Life Principles Bible

I have two copies to the 1st Edition, one in NASB and a signed NKJV in addition to the KJV I am reviewing. I have found it most useful in situations of 1 on 1 discipleship.

 

What should be added

It would be a great idea to add notes pages when we get to the third edition. I have seen several Life Principles Bibles out and about and it tends to be much more marked up than others that I have seen. This leads me to believe that notes pages would be a very heavily used tool.

 

Who should use the Life Principles Bible

If you said that this Bible should be used by new disciples, you would not, per se, be incorrect. However, I recommend more for the intermediate level disciple. A basic understanding of sound doctrine is critical for proper application.

 

Final Thoughts

All in all, this is excellent. I have a few minor points of disagreement with Dr. Stanley but overall he is very helpful. I commend it to you for your study.

 

Lucado Encouraging Word Bible

Lucado Encouraging Word Bible

 

Max Lucado has released his 4th Bible and this one looks to be extremely helpful

Note: Thomas Nelson sent this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

 

Encouraging Word Bible Photos

 

Translations Offered

The Lucado Encouraging Word Bible is available in New King James Version (NKJV) and the New International Version (NIV), my favorite of the two being the New King James.

 

Classification

Thomas Nelson classifies this as a study Bible and I can see how they come to that conclusion with the inclusion of introductions, notes, and outlines. I classify it as a devotional Bible. Max Lucado is very well known as a devotional writer and some of his best material is found here.

 

Cover and Binding

There are several cover options available: cloth over book-board, brown leathersoft, blue leathersoft, and e-book. I am reviewing the brown leathersoft. It is a very convincing imitation leather, so convincing, in fact, that when I first saw it I thought they had put a natural leather in a slipcover. Nelson is sewing the bindings on their Bibles again which is a very good sign because sewn bindings will literally last a lifetime.

 

Paper, Layout, & Font

We have the Thomas Nelson Comfort Print Font in 9-point font. This one is particularly readable where some of them are rather small. The notes are in an 8-point font.

 

The Bible text is laid out in a single column paragraph format with the notes in the outer margin. Many of the margins include dot-grid paper for journaling or other note taking.

 

The paper is around 28-gsm. For as thin as it is, the paper is pretty opaque. If one were going to write in this Bible, I would recommend pencil. It is possible to write in it with a ball-point pen but I am not sure that I can recommend it as it looks like there would be show through.

 

Helps

Introductions and Outlines The Introductions and Outlines are much improved over earlier Lucado edited Bibles. Included in this section are key verses, key themes, and key people to call your attention to the most important points to know for each book.

 People of the Word: 98 new articles encourage believers through the lessons learned by people throughout the Bible

For Your Journey: 691 marginal notes mix Max’s storytelling style with biblical context to lead you into a deeper walk with the Lord

Jesus Through the Bible and Growing in Christ: 115 articles provide both inspiration and practical lessons to build you up

God Cares for You and Growing Up Spiritually verses are subject-specific and provide another resource in your study of the Bible

Where to turn when . . . Scripture reference list provides topical lessons to help with both your spiritual and emotional well-being.

 

Overall Thoughts

Max Lucado has been the general editor of several Bibles and, including this one, I have owned 3 of the 4: The Inspirational Study Bible, The Devotional Bible, and this. I did not have the opportunity to own the Lucado Life Lessons Bible. There is no question that Max Lucado is an excellent writer. Admittedly, his style is a little light on exposition for me but when I am looking for resources to encourage other believers, Max Lucado’s writing is where I turn. His book, In the Grip of Grace, was life changing for me.

 

I do recommend this resource to a particular audience more than others. Believe it or not, I recommend it for those engaged in counselling ministry. We, who are counsellors, frequently find those who are discouraged or otherwise lacking fulfillment in their Christian walk and the Encouraging Word Bible will most definitely be helpful.

 

Halley’s Study Bible Review

Halley’s Study Bible Review

 

 

This review has been 20 years in the making. Before I explain, let me disclose that Zondervan sent this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked for positive remarks and my opinions are my own.

 

How has this review been 20 years in the making? In 2000 at the age of 18, I got my first copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook. It was a graduation gift from one of the men in the church. I loved that little blue book and used it till it fell apart. It was with me, along with my NIV Study Bible, every day. I said at that point, it would be amazing if that handbook had the whole Bible together with it. Now, 20 years later, it does. Shall we see if it meet’s expectations?

 

More Photos

 

My only complaint

I have but one complaint and it is more a gripe against me than it is against Zondervan- the font is a bit small for me. That is not really Zondervan’s fault; it’s more to do with moving into middle age and the attendant changes in eyesight.

 

Now that we have that out of the way…

 

What makes this study Bible different

Halley’s Study Bible is different because it is based on a handbook, the world’s best-selling Bible handbook for that matter. Zondervan makes some of the most in-depth study Bibles on the market today: The NIV Study Bible, The Biblical Theology Study Bible, the Quest Study Bible and a host of others. The Halley’s Study Bible is a counter balance in that it focuses on the essential material needed to understand and teach the Bible. There is nothing deficient, at all, about Halley’s Study Bible. In fact, it is everything I want in a study Bible.

 

The Translation

The Halley’s Study Bible is offered in the New International Version. What else would you pair the world’s best selling Bible Handbook with if not the best-selling English translation? NIV is accurate, readable, and reliable. The paring is obvious but still delightful.

 

Cover and Binding

This Bible has a sewn binding complete with nylon threads. In several sections, Zondervan has made the sewing quite obvious. I love that. You can tell from looking at it that Zondervan intends this Bible to be very heavily used and thus gave the best binding option.

 

There are two cover options available, jacketed hardcover and leathersoft. Burgundy leathersoft is what Zondervan sent me and it is delightful. It is an imitation leather but it is very convincing. This cover should hold up quite nicely.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font

Zondervan’s 9-point Comfort Print font is on display in a double column paragraph format. Compared to other offerings from Zondervan, this is much more readable. The font appears to be in some type of Serif family. The notes are in an 8-point font.

 

As for the paper, it is a crisp white that catches the light nicely. This coupled with the darker font makes the text highly readable. Even the red letters are quite well done.

 

If you write in this Bible, which I do recommend, a colored pencil or ball-point pen are your best choices.

 

The Helps

This is where the Halley’s Study Bible really shines. The amount of content is just right. There are some things left out which are normally included in a study Bible but their absence in no way detracts from Halley’s Study Bible.

 

Book Introductions

Each book includes a one page introduction with full color photo, author and theme information. There is no outline provided which I don’t mind as someone who has been properly taught inductive study should be able to create their own outline. One feature of the introduction that I really enjoy is the key verse, the essential verse of each book being given its own call out.

 

Full color photos

There are more than 150 full color photos included. The choice to include photographs is a natural one given that so many Christians are visual leaners.

 

6000 study Notes

Drawing from the most excellent content in the Halley’s Bible Handbook, we are given 6000 explanatory notes on the text. 6000 notes is comparable to the number of notes in the KJV Study Bible from Zondervan’s older sister, Thomas Nelson Publishing. They are enough to answer the most important questions and to then get you to go deeper into the text. I would point out, there is enough material in these notes to help you put together a solid Bible Study, probably 3 years’ worth of teaching material.

 

NIV Concordance

I would not call this a concise concordance though it isn’t a full concordance either; it is somewhere in between. The inclusion of a concordance is an important one-many of the questions that you will encounter have to do with what the Bible teaches on a particular topic. The Concordance is the ideal tool for answering those questions.

 

What’s missing

There are no cross references or notes pages. I confess to being surprised at the lack of notes pages but not the lack of cross references. Cross references can be an unnecessary distraction in the text and do not always follow the flow of thought for the expositor.

 

Overall Impression

It is everything you want in a study Bible and nothing you don’t. I recommend Halley’s Study Bible more than any other Bible that Zondervan offers.

Tony Evans Study Bible Review

Tony Evans Study Bible Review

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I spent a little more time than usual before writing this review because I am not altogether familiar with Dr. Tony Evans.(Holman Bibles provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one.) The material has proved to be more helpful than anticipated. So let’s dive right in.

 

Translation Choice

Holman Bible Publishers holds the copyright on Christian Standard Bible so it is natural that the Tony Evans Study Bible would be offered in the CSB. As a translation, it is mediating (middle of the road) between strictly literal and thought for thought. The best way I could describe it would be to say that if you made a hybrid out of the New Living Translation and the New American Standard Bible, you would get the Christian Standard Bible.

 

It is approximately an 8th grade reading level for the Bible text. The CSB was translated with an emphasis on readability and it does accomplish that goal nicely. When it comes to use, I primarily use it for comparative purposes and the excellent footnotes. The translation is a very good edition and most worthy of being used for teaching.

 

Cover and Binding

There are several cover options available; I was send the brown and black portfolio design in leather touch. Like Crossway, Holman makes absolutely incredible imitation leathers. I have had a couple people handle it and tell me that they thought it was, indeed, the genuine article. I would say that it would easily last 20 years or more with proper care. For an every-day carry Bible, this or hardcover is preferred as it will hold up to the rigors of daily life very well and you won’t be afraid to beat it up.

 

Like most Holman Bibles, the Tony Evans Study Bible has a sewn binding. This is a more utilitarian feature to comment on but a very important one. It is the sewn binding that allows a Bible to stand the test of time. It also allows the Bible to lay flat on your pulpit or desk with relative ease.

 

Font, Paper, Layout

The only complaint that I have about this Bible is the font size. I am fairly nearsighted and Holman has a tendency to use a smallish font in its Bibles. The font, here, is supposed to be a 9-point but it certainly feels more like an 8 for the Bible text. I can read it if I take my glasses off but I would much prefer a true 10-point font.

 

The paper is nicely opaque. It has a parchment look to it. I love the way it feels, kind of like an older book even though it is quite new. I am not sure which tool to recommend for writing, probably a ball-point pen though. It is generally a safe bet when marking in your Bible.

 

For text layout, the Scripture is in a double column paragraph format. The notes are laid out in three columns. If I had a gripe it would be the choice of a paragraph format for the text. I find verse by verse to be much easier to read.

 

Helps

Here is a listing of the helps. Following that will be a few examples of how I use them

 

  • Study notes crafted from Tony Evans sermons and writings
  • 40 inspirational articles
  • 50 “Lessons on Kingdom Living”
  • Plethora of “Questions & Answers”
  • Numerous “Hope Words”
  • Over 150 videos of sermons linked with QR Codes
  • Devotionals, and teaching from Dr. Evans, page-edge cross-reference system
  • Special back matter section with key definitions
  • Theological and doctrinal charts, and other study helps
  • Concordance
  • Bible reading plan

 

Here are some ways I use the Tony Evans Study Bible

  1. A Guide for Discipleship Class: Taking one section per week, the Overview of Theology offers an 8-week discipleship class. I am actively teaching a group discipleship class on Wednesday nights and as soon as I saw this section, I began to add quotes into the lessons that were prepared.

 

  1. An Apologetic Aid: The section on Bibliology is expanded into a second article. I have been using this as a tool in one on one discipleship to help provide a solid foundation on our understanding of the Bible and how to defend that belief.

 

  1. An Inspirational Resource: There is a section called Hope words. These are inspirational quotes, just a couple sentences, designed to encourage you in your walk with Christ. I have been sharing these in the office at my secular job (I’m bi-vocational) and my colleagues tell me that they have been most helpful.

 

  1. A Discussion Guide: The Q&A is an excellent tool to facilitate discussion in small groups. The answers provided by Dr. Evans are able to stand by themselves but the questions also lend themselves to discussion. They provided opportunities to peek into the heart of the pastor, or members of the group.

 

 

 

 

Overall Impression

As I said in the beginning, the Tony Evans Study Bible’s material is surprisingly helpful. I could easily see it as an ideal choice for a 1st time Bible student. In point of fact, I would say that it should be one of your first two choices for a new disciple, the other being the Swindoll Study Bible.

 

Tony Evans Study Bible Use Case

Tony Evans Study Bible Use Case

I am still working on my review of the Tony Evans Study Bible but I wanted to share a Pastoral Use Case with you. (Disclosure: Holman provided a copy of the Tony Evans Study Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review.)

 

There are a number of excellent tools in the Tony Evans Study Bible but one stood out more than others, the Overview of Theology. I have only seen an overview of theology in one other study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible. The overview which is provided by Dr. Evans is 3.25 pages and ends with a QR Code which links to a video presentation from Dr. Evans giving an overview of theology. I want to share a couple ways in which I am using this, and a couple other resources in the Back Matter for active ministry use.

 

  1. A Guide for Discipleship Class: Taking one section per week, the Overview of Theology offers an 8-week discipleship class. I am actively teaching a group discipleship class on Wednesday nights and as soon as I saw this section, I began to add quotes into the lessons that were prepared.

 

  1. An Apologetic Aid: The section on Bibliology is expanded into a second article. I have been using this as a tool in one on one discipleship to help provide a solid foundation on our understanding of the Bible and how to defend that belief.

 

  1. An Inspirational Resource: There is a section called Hope words. These are inspirational quotes, just a couple sentences, designed to encourage you in your walk with Christ. I have been sharing these in the office at my secular job (I’m bi-vocational) and my colleagues tell me that they have been most helpful.

 

  1. A Discussion Guide: The Q&A is an excellent tool to facilitate discussion in small groups. The answers provided by Dr. Evans are able to stand by themselves but the questions also lend themselves to discussion. They provided opportunities to peek into the heart of the pastor, or members of the group.

 

All of the resources in the Tony Evans Study Bible are very practical and I will provide more information in my review. That being said, I hope these four points will  give you some useful ideas for how to deploy the Tony Evans Study Bible in your ministry.

Thomas Nelson KJV Study Bible, Full Color Edition

Thomas Nelson KJV Study Bible, Full Color Edition

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Additional Photos

 

The King James Version…It is has been the definitive English Bible for over 400 years. For nearly 225 of those years, Thomas Nelson has been publishing the KJV Bible and offering some incredible resources to aid in your understanding of Scripture. In this article, we are looking at Nelson’s KJV Study Bible, Full Color Edition. (Pursuant to law: Thomas Nelson provided this review copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.)

 

The Translation

As its name suggests, the translation offered is the King James Version. I do not really need to say much about this choice. It has been a mainstay of English Bibles for generations and will continue to do so.

 

The Cover and Binding

There are a range of cover choices available from hardcover to “genuine leather.” Genuine leather, by the way, is a case study in understatement. I have handled a ton of leathers in my lifetime and I knew, at a touch, that we were being treated to real cowhide/calfskin. Typically genuine leather refers to pigskin but this is absolutely not pigskin. The grain is delightful. As I have mentioned before, your Bible should be a delight to hold and in the case of a full leather Bible that is accomplished.

 

It has a paste down liner. Many of my colleagues object to a paste down liner and, in some cases, I would agree. However, in a Bible this size, a leather liner would be a disaster since it would make the Bible too floppy to use single handed and would, most likely, lead to dropping.

 

Nelson did give us a sewn binding and I am glad to see publishers going back to sewn bindings. Sewing the binding allows for it to lay flat anywhere you open the Bible and it also guarantees a lifetime of use.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

The paper is delicious. I have handled more Thomas Nelson Bibles than I can even recall but this is the best paper I have handled. It has a bit of a newsprint feel to it, a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. I think that Nelson hit on a paper that would work very well for highlighting/marking. Too bad it doesn’t have wide margins but that would probably make this Bible unreasonably large.

 

While not billed as comfort print, we have a 10-point font for the Bible text and an 8-point font for the notes. We do have a red-letter edition with the red letters being done very well. Often, red letter Bibles have a tendency to turn pink. Thankfully that has not happened here.

 

The Bible is laid out with the standard double column verse by verse format. The study notes are located in a very generous footer section. These are not commentary notes as some suggest but they are expository notes, around 7000 of them, designed to help you draw out the meaning of the Scripture.

 

Full Color Helps

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions contain all the usual helps that you would expect to find: author, date of writing, background, etc. There is a specific item I wish to bring to your attention, full color photos. Example: The Introduction Romans includes a photo of ancient Rome.

 

Detailed Outlines

Ordinarily, I would not call out the outlines separately. However, the outlines in the KJV Study Bible are, likely, the most detailed I have seen in a study Bible. The emphasis on teaching and understanding the Bible is quite evident in the outlines. Teaching each book of the Bible is essential for the pastor, Sunday School teacher, or small group leader and the outline of each book provide an excellent tool to guide your teaching.

 

Topical Indexes

There are several topical indexes. Most importantly, there are indexed to the Gospels and Teachings of Jesus, The Life and Teachings of Paul, and Eschatology. The topical indexes are fairly detailed and contain anywhere from 3-10 years’ worth of teaching material.

 

Cross References

The Thomas Nelson Cross Reference System contains over 50,000 references. In addition to reference links, you will also find translation variants and footnotes. The references are in the center column of the page for easy access.

 

Doctrinal Footnotes

Doctrinal Footnotes are unique to this study Bible. These footnotes, in a separate box in the text, cover major points of Christian Doctrine. Each one gives you an appetizer size bite of doctrine to whet your appetite into digging into each doctrine.

 

For Every Day Use

This Bible is not small. I would say it weighs in at about 4 pounds which makes carrying it interesting. I do take it with me, to my secular job, on Mondays so that I have it when I start the first draft of a new sermon. It would probably be a good idea to make this a keep on your desk Bible.

 

Overall Thoughts

Does this Bible come up to the mark? This question was posed to me when I received this Bible for review. I will repeat my answer to the asker: The only way the KJV Study Bible could be more up to the mark would be if there was a rural Baptist Church included in the box.

 

I would not be surprised to find Nelson’s KJV Study Bible in the backpack of every undergrad student at Bible College. I would encourage EVERY Sunday School teacher to have a copy. In fact, for those who prefer the King James Version, this is one of two must own study Bibles, the other being the Standard Lesson KJV Teacher’s Study Bible.

 

Nelson’s KJV Study Bible is available on OliveTree Bible Software. I primarily use it there so that I can easily pair the excellent study resources with multiple translations simultaneously.

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

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For 24 years I have used and loved the New American Standard Bible. Now, my favorite NASB edtition has been released in incredible new packaging. Zondervan has brought the Side Column Reference Bible into the Premier Collection. (Pursuant to law, I disclose that this Bible was provided in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, I was not asked to give a positive review.)

The Translation:

For those that are new to the New American Standard Bible (NASB) let me open with a little information. NASB stands in the lineage of the most literal English Bible ever produced the Revised Bible, American Standard Version (1901). There have been incremental changes to make it more readable but it remains fastidiously literal, so much so that I have had seminary professors say that it could easily be used to cheat in Greek  class. Setting it apart from other translations, the NASB renders the Greek Aorist tense exceptionally well and also handles the Second Person, in English, nearly as well as the KJV which is remarkable since we rarely use the Second Person anymore. Regardless of your primary teaching translation, every Bible teacher should have a copy of the NASB.

The Format:

This is my preferred layout for preaching, single column verse-by-verse with side column references and wide margins. While I was still in my very early days as a Sunday School Teacher, I discovered the single column verse-by-verse layout and immediately fell in love.

Each verse begins on a new line with spacing at 1.5 lines. The margins are 1-inch wide. To the right of the text block you will find the references in a vertical column much the same as you would find in a center column edition. You don’t get much in the way of a gutter margin but that is not a problem for me. I tend toward being peripatetic when preaching and frequently read one handed.

Cover, Binding, Paper

Goatskin. I do not really need to say more but I will. The Premier Collection all include goatskin. Amazingly, the NASB Editions have the best feeling leather, with the exception of the 2nd Edition of the MacArthur study Bible. The grain is mildly pronounced and the leather is softer than cool whip. I was impressed with the NKJV Premier Collection Editions but the NASB Editions take 1st Prize. Of course the leather is black, the obvious choice for the solemn office of Pastor. There is an imitation leather edition as well, in brown. Of late, Zondervan has been putting out some very convincing imitations with their leathersoft Bibles.

The binding, as you would expect, is sewn. For some reason I still get asked why this is important so here are two reasons: 1) The Bible will lay flat anywhere you open it. 2) By sewing the Bible, it will last for a considerably long time. I have seen Bibles from the 1700’s that are still intact because of the sewn binding.

Post 2007, the SCR has had some challenges with the paper selected. I am happy to say that Zondervan has remedied that problem. There is minor show through but nowhere nearly as bad as in the 2013 and 2017 editions. It is a bit shiny and is bright white which provides a great contrast to the black ink. I am not sure of the gsm but the pages turn rather easily. It is thick enough that you will not have issues with writing.

Font

The font is listed at 10-point Comfort Print. It is a black letter text which reads very well. Subject headings and chapter numbers are in a deep cranberry which offsets the black of the text very well.

The font is the same as in Zondervan’s NASB Preachers Bible. The SCR is easier to read, however because of the layout.

Helps

95,000 Cross References

The NASB is one of the most heavily cross referenced Bibles on the market. To the best of my knowledge, only the Thompson Chain Reference and Westminster Reference Bibles are more heavily cross referenced. I have seen some gripes about the fact that the Translator’s Footnotes have not been provided. My answer to that gripe is this: those of us who use the NASB in lesson preparation should have enough facility with the original languages as to make them unnecessary. Also, there are a host of other NASB editions with the footnotes added so complaining about them being missing is really, in my estimation, looking for something to be dissatisfied with.

Introduction with Outline

Several Zondervan Bibles (Amplified and NIV) have a one page introduction with brief outline and that feature now finds its way into the NASB Side Column Reference Bible. The introductions are just a couple paragraphs but there is enough provided to give an overview of each book of the Bible.

Parables of Jesus & Miracles of Jesus

There are a couple other charts but these two are worth a call out. Each one is a single page pointing out significant miracles and parables which Jesus performed.

Dictionary/Concordance/Thesaurus

Laid out in three columns, the dictionary/concordance/thesaurus combines three of the most needful study tools into a single section of the Bible. Pastors from less developed regions who are able to get their hands on an SCR will find themselves very well resourced for the preaching of the word.

Final Thoughts

Not one complaint. Not a single one. Since I was introduced to goatskin Bibles, I have wanted a copy of the SCR that was bound in goatskin.

I have loved the New American Standard Bible, as much as I have loved my New King James Version, and with the new SCR, I love it all over again in new ways. I had made the statement that the new SCR makes the choice between NASB and NKJV infinitely more difficult. It must be a tie. I had already possessed my ideal in NKJV and now I possess my ideal NASB.

NASB Church Pack (Preacher’s Bible and Pew/Worship Bible)

NASB Church Pack (Preacher’s Bible and Pew/Worship Bible)

Additional Photos

 

I love the Bible; if you have known me more than two minutes you know this. I also love the New American Standard Bible. On 2/20/2020, it will have been with me 24 years. So, when I heard that Zondervan Publishing has resolved one of my biggest complaints in the Bible world (There is not a suitable preaching Bible with a pew Bible counterpart), they had my attention.

They sent me, free of charge in exchange for an honest review, a combo pack of the NASB Preacher’s Bible and the Pew/Worship Bible. I was not required to give a positive review, just an honest one and I do have a gripe or two but none so severe as to color my opinion.

The Concept:

Many churches provide Pew/Worship Bibles for members of the congregation but the pastor has to have a copy re-bound so that it will stand up to the rigors of day to day pastoral use. This left a huge gap, which Zondervan has jumped into, feet first.

The concept is simple and so obvious that it really annoys me that no other publisher has done so: Release a Pastor’s Bible AND a pew Bible simultaneously with identical page numbers, page layout, and font family. Zondervan has done just that. As I said, it is such an obvious concept that other publishers have no excuse for not doing so. Many churches, mine included, often have people in attendance who have never seen the inside of a Bible or have an extremely limited experience with it. Ergo, being able to say, from the pulpit, turn to page ______ for the morning’s text would be most helpful.

This, then, will be a simultaneous review as a good portion of the review applies to both books.

 

The Font, Layout, and Pagination

We absolutely must talk about this first. Zondervan calls this Comfort Print and it lives up to its name. I was surprised at this for the pew Bible because some Comfort Print Editions (Looking at you, Biblical Theology Study Bible) are not all that comfortable to read.

The hardcover is listed at 9-point. It actually looks to be 8.5 to me; many publishers list font size that includes leading and that is probably the case here. The Preacher’s Bible is listed at 10-point but I think that is a bit of an under-sizing. It looks to be the same size as its NKJV Cousin, the Large Print Thin-line. Both are very easy to read.

Black letter text, as all preaching Bibles ought to have, is what Zondervan has on offer here. There is a delightful little surprise, though. Subject headings, chapter numbers, and verse numbers are all in red for the Preacher’s Bible.

The layout is double column verse-by-verse. Verse-by-verse is the ideal format for preaching, whether single column or double column. You will easily find the verse you are preaching. Also, each book starts on a new page for easier reading.

Since the Preacher’s Bible and the Pew Bible share a common DNA, we are given a text only edition. There are translator’s footnotes provided which include variant readings of the text.

Paper and Binding

The paper in both is a crisp white. The pew Bible is a little brighter than in the Preacher’s Bible but much brighter than in other pew Bibles. The paper is nicely opaque with almost no show through. You can, successfully, mark in either edition, preferably with colored pencil or ball-point pen. I almost never recommend a liquid highlighter but a gel should pose no issue. Note: I encourage you to have a take a copy program if you are going to encourage congregants to write in the Bible. I DO encourage you, most wonderful colleague, to encourage your congregation to mark in their Bibles.

The Pew Bible has a “premium hardcover,” which did arrive in a dust jacket; I presume most churches will remove the dust jacket before putting the Bible in the pew.

The Preacher’s Bible that I received is the black goatskin, but it is also available in brown imitation leather. It is leather lined with a fairly pronounced grain. I am glad to see that a lower price option is available for pastors on tighter budgets or will a modest book allowance.

Both Bibles have a sewn binding. It is obvious to sew the binding in a premium leather Bible, not so much in a Pew Bible but I am glad to see Zondervan include it. It will doubtlessly get knocked around in the pew. If you are like me and like to keep some Bibles on hand for giveaway, it will get knocked around in your bag as well. In both cases, the sewn binding assures that the Bible will survive years of rough and tumble use.

My Gripes

Neither Bible is indexed. I understand that you don’t need to index a pew Bible if you plan to tell the congregation which page to turn to, but I do find it useful for the pastor to have a thumb index so it is not necessary to write down every page number.

My second gripe made me scratch my head a little. There are no congregational/responsive readings included. This feature has been a hallmark of pew Bibles from days gone by. Many churches, Abounding Grace being one of them, feature a responsive reading on Sunday mornings and it would be fairly nice to have readings already provided for everyone to read together.

My last gripe is a frequent one, I wish the Preacher’s Bible had wide margins. Almost every pastor I know of writes in their Bible. Zondervan could do like Cambridge and use a wider footprint in order to have a wide margin which still has the same pagination as the pew Bible.

None of these gripes is enough to make me dislike the Bible.

Real world use

I have gotten so many responses to some teaser photos that I shared that I was not able to wait to use the Preacher’s Bible on Sunday before writing the review. I took in into a counseling session and found that I had no issues using it. I was able to find the text rapidly and, even with some ocular challenges, had no trouble reading the page.

Final Thoughts

Given the combination, I am having a hard time envisioning not opting to use it, unless of course Zondervan’s “Big Sister” decides to do the same with the NKJV Preaching Bible.

For 24 years, NASB has been one of the two translations that are with me every day. I carry multiple translations but no matter which editions are in my rotation, NASB and NKJV are always with me. NASB is one of the two most fastidiously literal translations available and you will not regret its usage.

Note: Either product can be a stand-alone. I do not recommend that, though. The Preacher’s Bible and the Pew/Worship Bible are designed to be used together and that is how you will get the best results.

CSB Ultimate Bible Guide

CSB Ultimate Bible Guide

The publishing juggernaut, Holman/B&H Publishing continue to put out resources on the Bible not only at breathtaking speed but also in a variety of formats designed to help disciples at all levels of maturity. Today we are reviewing one of their handbooks, the Ultimate Bible Guide featuring the Christian Standard Bible translation. If you are not familiar, a handbook is a beginners level resource for understanding the Bible.

Note: I purchased this book on my own. B&H was not involved in the decision to review. My opinions are my own.

Translation:

Most Bible Handbooks feature either NIV or KJV but this features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). I have to say that I am quite pleased to see this. CSB is an excellent translation, the third iteration of Holman Christian Standard Bible, and, a rising star in Christian circles.

CSB is an Optimal Equivalence or Mediating Translation. It endeavors to provide a balance between a form based (essentially literal) and a meaning based translation. I would put it on the level of the 1984 Edition of the New International Version and, probably, a notch or two above the 2011. It is a very faithful translation of the Bible into English. I have used it in ministry in quite a few different ways. While my main translation is not CSB that has less to do with the translation and more to do with habit. It is a trustworthy translation that deserves consideration for your studies.

Content

Key Text

This is the central verse for each book of the Bible. If there was one verse that you should know for each book, the Key Text would be the verse that you would know.

Key Term

This is your watch word for the book of the Bible.  For example there is a call out on the word wilderness in the Book of Numbers. The call out points out that wilderness is referenced more than 40 times in Numbers

One Sentence Summary

As its name suggests, the One Sentence Summary, sums up each particular book of the Bible in a single sentence.

God’s Message

The God’s Message section covers the purpose in writing the book, Christian worldview themes, what the book teaches about God, what the book teaches us about humanity, and what the book teaches us about Salvation. All in all this section is very helpful in seeing how the story of redemption comes together in the Bible.

Christ In

We all know that that Bible is the story of Jesus. Now in the Christ In section, we can see how each book points to Jesus and how that portrait fits into the scope of Redemptive History.

Background Information

This encompasses many of the usual sections that we would encounter in a study Bible. We find information about the author, date & time of writing, cultural background. We are also told about the original audience which helps us to understand how to interpret the Scripture as we are seeking out Authorial Intent.

Literary Features

We often forget that the Bible is multiple genres of literature in a single volume and the Literary Features Section gives us a look at the type of literature comprising each book of the Bible. Helpful hint: knowing the type of literature presented is integral to a proper interpretation of the Scripture.

Themes

Simply put, this is a paragraph about the main thesis/theme of each book. 

Cover and Binding

The book itself is hardcover made out of fairly sturdy book board. To my surprise this little gem has a sewn binding. You don’t normally see a sewn binding in a mass market edition and especially at this price point. Since the binding is sewn this should last for quite a few years.

Buying the Book

I recommend keeping the book on hand for giving to new disciples. It will provide a solid overview of the Bible. Youth pastors should also keep the Ultimate Bible Guide on hand for students who are either new to Bible Study or want a rapid reference for on the go use.

Final Thoughts

I was rather surprised by how much content you get in this little book. To give you an idea of the size, it is comparable in footprint to the Cambridge Cameo Reference Bible, so fairly pocket sized. I recommend it highly, if for no other reason than it is a highly useful companion to the Christian Standard Bible.