Support us with your Logos purchase

Category: Resources and Reviews

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

In this review, we are looking at a very helpful tool for both teachers and students of the Holy Scripture, the 2-Volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary Abridged Set from Zondervan Academic. Zondervan provided a copy of this set free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback, just honest feedback; my opinions are my own.

 

 

additional photos

From the publisher:

Based on the critically acclaimed, Gold Medallion-winning Expositor’s Bible Commentary used by pastors, students, and scholars across the world, this two-volume abridged edition offers you the full, penetrating, verse-by-verse commentary of the 12-volume series while leaving out needless technical details. Marshalling the knowledge of fifty-two top biblical scholars, it brings tremendous insight to your Bible studies.

Covering the Old and New Testaments in separate volumes, this commentary features:

  • Verse-by-verse exposition of the entire Bible
  • 250 in-text charts, maps, tables, and pictures
  • Goodrick/Kohlenberger numbers for cross-referencing the Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordanceand other G/K-numbered resources

 

Translation Used

Naturally, this commentary set is based on the New International Version. Zondervan is the primary publisher of the NIV in the United States so it is a logical choice for Zondervan Academic to base its resources on the NIV.

Goodrick & Kohlenberger’s Numbers

If you are familiar with Strong’s Numbers, which are most often paired with the KJV, you will immediately be familiar with these numbers. These serve as a gateway to study of the NIV text for expository purposes.

You will find these numbers in the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, NIV Concise Concordance and, my personal favorite tool, the NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible, along wth many other study resources. I would rate this as my favorite feature of this commentary set primarly because they link excellent commentary with a broad spectrum of tools to give a very well rounded understanding of the text of Holy Scripture.

Book Introductions

The Introductions are fairly similar to those in the NIV Study Bible. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you had this set along with the NIV Study Bible, you might well be able to forego the full 12-volume set. While there is no outline provided, the introductions are not lacking in any way because of that fact.When perusing the Book Introductions, you will find both historical and theological background information. Rather than approaching the Theological Background information from a Systematic Theology Standpoint, we actually look at theology from a Biblical Theology (more of a global theology) perspective.

There is also a treatment of author, intended audience, date/place/time of the book’s composition including, as I mentioned earlier, historical background information.

Though not in the introduction proper, there is also a section called the Old Testament in the New which displays the NT use of OT Passages. It is available for each book of the Bible and I would rate it as the second most important feature of the commentary set. Why? We can sometimes see Scripture in a disjointed manner and this section helps to bring the Bible into view as a unified cohesive unit.

The Commentary Itself

As I was working with this set, I noticed a very interesting feature: Though there is no outline provided, the commentary is laid out in the format of a detailed expository outline. This layout is very similar to what Dr. Wiersbe did with his Expository Outlines of the Old and New Testaments but in more detail.

It is a hybrid of a verse by verse and paragraph exposition. Following section headings found in the NIV, the commentary takes a section at a time and provides exposition on the text.

This is, absolutely, a seminary grade commentary but at the same time it is very approachable. It is conservative without being afraid to treat alternative viewpoints. It is geared primarily toward the pastor-teacher but will serve any student of the Bible very well.

Ancillary Tools

Maps, charts, tables, and photos all add to the explanation of the text. It is clear that, with these tools, Zondervan Academic has considered that a huge portion of our learning occurs with visual aids.

The Physical Book

Both volumes are hard cover with what is commonly called book paper. It is not overly thick but it is sufficiently opaque for marking in the text.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with NIV Tools

This commentary pairs very well with several NIV tools but I want to call out a few, here:

NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible

I touched on this earlier, but the inclusion of the Goodrick/Kohlenberger Numbers, the HGK study Bible lends itself perfectly to exposition of the text

NIV Study Bible

Zondervan’s premier exegetical resource, the NIV Study Bible offers a gateway to expository commentaries. The materials in the two tools complement each other very well. There is information in the NIVSB that is not in the commentary and the commentary takes the expositional notes in the study Bible to a much deeper and, I think, more helpful level.

NIV Text or Reference Bible

This commentary set is sufficiently detailed that it can stand alone with a Bible that does not include exegetical study aids.

Final Thoghts

I am impressed with the amount of help that Zondervan included in this “abridged” commentary set. It does not feel abridged at all. In fact, had I never seen its 12 volume big sister, I would not find anything lacking in this set. Truth be told, I do not find anything lacking now. I would like a bit larger font and, perhaps, some lined notes pages with each book but those are matters of personal preference.

I would recommend this, first and foremost, for a Sunday School Teacher. Many churches do not realize the vital role that Sunday School plays in developing the members of the church and so Sunday School Teachers are, often, not very well equipped. In fact, this particular commentary is so helpful for teaching the Bible that I would recommend that each church have a copy in their library so that teachers with limited financial means are able to access the resources provided.

Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

Celebrate Recovery Study Bible

 

 

Click Me for pictures

order from amazon

NIV Celebrate Recovery Study Bible 30th Anniversary Edition

 

 

This is a review that I have been very excited to write given that I have a connection to this Bible. 16 years ago, I entered Celebrate Recovery and, through their ministry and discipleship, gained victiory over being a functional alcoholic, all by the grace and power of Jesus and His gospel.  Note: Zondervan provided this copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review and my opinions are my own.

 

Translation

As you no doubt guessed from the title, The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible uses the New International Version, the best seling English Bible in the world.

 

More than in any other Bible that Zondervan offers, the NIV is the ideal choice for this Bible. Addicts come from a wide range of backgrounds and education levels so the easy to read and understand NIV Bible is an ideal choice for reaching a broad audience. NIV is a phenomenal choice for discipleship as most of the commentaries on the market, most of the handbooks, and most of the dictionaries are based on the NIV. There is a host of rescources available to make the life changing message of the Bible come to life.

 

Features

 

Articles explain eight recovery principles and accompanying Christ-centered twelve steps

The 12 Steps and the 8 recovery principles are a discipleship program, no more and no less. The explanatory articles guiod the reader through building a life pleasing to God and free from addiction.

 

Over 110 lessons unpack eight recovery principles in practical terms

These lessons, which I recommend taking two per week, make the discipleship process more intentional and help you to understand the process as well has how the Lord is using the steps to transform your life.

 

30 days of devotional readings

The devotionals help you to gain a foundation of discipline as you begin your new life. They take you through all of the steps in the recovery process.

 

Over 50 full-page biblical character studies are tied to stories from real-life people who have found peace and help with their own hurts, hang-ups and habits

 

Book introductions

Among other things, the Introductions provide a theme, a challenge, an encouragement, and a reflection point. The CRSB is designed to be one of the most practical study Bibles on the market so it is not inundated with a lot of historical background or commentary. It simply provides practical tools for life change. 

Side-column reference system keyed to the eight recovery principles

This particular reference set, goes through each of the recovery principles so that you are able to follos the principle throughout the Bible.

 

Cover and binding

This is  a softcover edition. It is designed primarily for affordability. Given its focus on affordability, it does have a sewn binding.

Paper

The paper is quite opaque for such an affordable Bible. There is no ghosting at all. You could easily use just about any writing instrument for your notes.

Can I use this on my own?

Can you? Yes. Should you? No. Neither recovery nor the Christian Life are designed to be solo endeavors. We are called the Household of the Faithful, the Sheep of God’s Pasture, Disciples of Christ, and, many other names all of which speak to community, We learn from each other, encourage each other, and pray for each other as part  of the recovery process. Victory is more likely when standing with others instead of standing alone.

Is it just for addicts?

Nope, it is not just for addicts and, yet, in a very real sense, there is not any other kind of person. We all suffere from an addiction to sinning and need help to unpack how the truths of Scripture can transform your life.

No matter what you struggle with, the Celebrate Recovery Study Bible offers help, hope, and healing through the transforming power of one simple message: Jesus saves sinners and will transform your life for His glory.

Final Thoughts

The Celebrate Recovery Study Bible is one of the most practically helpful Bible offered by Zondervan. The principles and steps, when paired with Scripture, truly offer the freedom that so many crave. I can tell you from personal experience that the motto of AA is very true, “It works if you work it.” This study Bible is very much a discipleship tool that should be carried not only by addicts but by Biblical Counselors, Social Workers, Pastors, Deacons and anyone else who meets messed up people in their daily lives.

Thompson Chain Reference Bible by Zondervan

Thompson Chain Reference Bible by Zondervan

 

 

Thompson Chain Photos

 

Before we even begin the review I want to share that I have a very special connection to the Thompson Chain Reference Bible and I want to disclose that it is one of my most highly recommended tools for Bible teachers. In October of  1996, I taught my fist Bible lesson from my grandfather’s Thompson Chain Reference Bible. Nearly 25 years later, it is one of two Study Bibles that I recommend, almost to the point of insistence.

 

This will be a simultaneous review of three of the four TCR currently offered by Zondervan. Zondervan Publishers sent me KJV and NASB Editions and Bible Gateway sent me the New King James Version. Note: All three Bibles were sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review (even though I am definitely going to give a positive review) simply an honest one.

Translations offered:

Currently, Zondervan publishes the Thompson in the NKJV, NASB, KJV, and ESV. The NIV will follow very shortly.

NKJV-  New King James Version is far and away my most used translation. It Is very literal, much like its predecessor though it is, oddly not as popular.

New American Standard Bible- Considered to be the most literal English Translation currently available, The NASB is the heir of the most literal English translation that has been made, The American Standard Version.

King James Version- The definitive English Bible, the standard for more than 400 years. The Thompson Chain has been continually offered in the KJV for over 100  years.

 

What makes the TCR unique?

Complete alphabetical and numerical indices listing all 8,000 topics with corresponding pilot numbers and Bible references for comprehensive topical study. It happens that this is the feature which causes me to say that the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is one of the only two Bibles you will ever need.

If a pastor were to take one topical chain per week, it would take just under 154 years to preach all 8000 topics. You would quite literally die before you ran out of things to preach, Were you to preach one topical sermon every Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, and Wednesday Evening Worship Service, there is 51 years worth of material.

 

Bible study aids:  biographical sketches of the most prominent people in the Bible, an archeological supplement, glossary, concordance, Bible harmonies, and outlines of each book of the Bible.

If you thought the Topical Chains were impressive, these additional helps essentially put a seminary grade library in you backpack.

I will just address one of these, the analysis of each book of the Bible. These are presented in an Expository Outline Format.  Each outline presents the minimum necessary to understand each book.

Key Verses and Key Thoughts provide basic information readers can use to develop their own study

Paper, layout and font

The font comes in at 8.5 which is a little smallish for me. The paper is crisp white but there is not a lot of glare, even in the unforgiving Arizona sunlight. The red-letter section is much better than in older editions. Unlike earlier editions, where the red letters were rather pinkish, the red letters here are a deep rich cranberry.

The text is laid out in  a quad column format. Scripture texts are in the center two columns and the reference chains are in the outer columns.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the jacketed hardcover but the TCR is also available in a a very nice imitation leather and a bonded leather. I a told that when the Comfort Print Editions release next year, there will genuine leather options and a Premier Collection Edition,

Thompson and Key Word Bible, Perfect Together

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible pairs perfectly with the Keyword Study Bible. Most of the world’s pastors have no seminary training and so these two work together as the perfect study library for a pastor. I wish it were possible to merge the two into one physical book but that massive tome would be too much to try to carry. I have said that there are only two study bibles that you really need and these are it.

 

For Every Day Carry

The Thompson is a fairly standard size Bible. It is fairly easy to use for every day carry. In my case, it stays on my desk with my =magnifier. In most cases, though, you will not have any issues using it for daily carry.

For preaching and teaching

The TCR is not designed for pulpit use. However, it is ideally suited, more so than any other, to lesson prep. As I mentioned earlier, the Thompson chain is absolutely the perfect choice of lesson preparation.

What about the NIV Thomason Chain?

Fear not, the NIV Thompson Chain will return in the Comfort Print Edition. I believe that the new edition will be the 2011 NIV despite the fact that Kirkbride only published the NIV TCR in either the 1978 or 1984 NIV.

From what various sources tell me, the NIV will remain in paragraph format as per Biblica’s requirements. I am also told that, at the very least, the NIV will be the Premier Collection Offering for the Thompson Chain

Do I recommend it?

I sure do! For nearly 25 years, the Thompson has been on my desk and has been a primary choice for lesson preparation. Like I said, there is between 41-134 year’s worth of preaching material

 

 

Maclaren Reference Bible Review

Maclaren Reference Bible Review

 

Maclaren Bible Photos

 

The Preaching Bible from Thomas Nelson has been updated/retired in favor of the Maclaren Reference Bible. The two Bibles are nearly identical so there will be some overlap in my review. Like the Preaching Bible, the Maclaren is offered in both KJV and NKJV.

Note: The Brown Bible in the photos is the Preaching Bible and the black is the Maclaren.

Disclaimer: Thomas Nelson provided one in KJV in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review- my opinions are my own.

Translation Choices

The Maclaren Reference Bible is available in both KJV and NKJV, the most conservative and faithful English translations available. The Maclaren Reference Bible takes one of the best preaching Bibles available, makes a few tweaks and adds new cover options designed to appeal to a much broader audience than the Preaching Bible did.

NKJV is my translation of choice for preaching and I will be ordering the thumb-indexed version as soon as it is available in the US.

Cover

There are several cover options available: Leathersoft/imitation leather (what I am reviewing), Genuine leather/cowhide, and Goatskin. The Genuine Leather Edition also has an option for thumb indexing.

In the Maclaren Reference Bible, Thomas Nelson has really stepped up their game with the imitation leather cover. When I frst touched it, I thought, for one brief second, that the box might have been mismarked. However, I have handled enough cowhide in my life to realize that it was, by far, the most convincing imitation leather that I had ever encountered.

The imitation leather cover has a vinyl paste down liner. The liner lends durability to the book. Doubtless, many will use the Maclaren as a main Bible and it will find itself being carried regularly  so a paste down liner and imitation leather cover are wise choices.

Page Layout

Nelson really hit a couple of my favorites with this layout. We get a double column, verse by verse format with the references at the foot of the page. This layout is my ideal format for a Bible, especially one that I will take into the pulpit.

Paper, Font and Margins

This paper is absolutely outstanding, possibly the best that I have ever seen in a Thomas Nelson Bible. I would estimate it at a 36-gsm paper. It is very opaque and this is, perhaps, the most important feature in a Bible other than the font used to display the text. You should not have any issues with a highlighter or ball-point pen to mark in this Bible.

The font is Nelson’s Comfort print and it is very easy on the eyes. The font is very crisp and dark. It works well for me in many lighting situations. Unlike most Bibles, I do not have to hold this one close to read from it when preaching, I can let it rest on the pulpit and still see with no issues.

This is not a wide margin edition and I cannot, for the life of me understand why it isn’t. So many pastors make annotations in their Bibles and with this paper, the Preaching Bible would be the perfect choice for note-making.

Pulpit Use

All of the Bibles that I review get real world usage before the review is written. I am very peripatetic while teaching and this Bible’s design makes it very easy walk around with it while teaching.

The only other Bible that has given me as much enjoyment to teach from is my beloved 334 from Nelson (it’s the thumb-indexed one in the photos).

For carry/Field Ministry

I carried this Bible, daily, for about a week. Being that it is essentially the Preaching Bible in a less expensive cover It is very bright in Arizona and I expected to have some challenges reading in direct sunlight but I did not experience any issues, much the same as the Preaching Bible.

What was added

On the Maclaren, Thomas Nelson added Maps. That and the various cover options were the only real change.

Final Thoughts

The Maclaren is essentially the ideal reading Bible. As it happens it is also the ideal Bible for preaching. Just like its predecessor, I find that I can read it without any issues in most situations.

Just like its predecessor, I love the Maclaren. As I mentioned earlier, the Genuine Leather Thumb-indexed NKJV will become my main teaching Bible as soon as it is available.

Life Application Study Bible Red Letter

Life Application Study Bible Red Letter

click here for photos

 

Buy from Amazon (affiliate)

 

The 3rd Edition of the Life Application Study Bible has finally been released in a red-letter edition, bringing it in line with the other iterations of the Life Application Study Bible, Today I am reviewing both the NIV and NLT Editions

Disclaimer: Tyndale sent copies of each edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.

Features Include:

  • Enhanced, updated, and with new content added throughout
  • Now more than 10,000 Life Application® notes and features
  • Over 100 Life Application® Bible character profiles
  • Introductions and overviews for each book of the Bible
  • More than 500 maps & charts
  • Dictionary/concordance
  • Side-column cross-references
  • Index to notes, charts, maps, and profiles
  • Refreshed design with a second color for visual clarity
  • 16 pages of full-color maps
  • Durable Smyth-sewn binding, lays flat when open
  • Presentation page
  • Single-column format
  • Christian Worker’s Resource- a special supplement to enhance the reader’s ministry effectiveness
  • Full text of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT) or New International Version (NIV)
  • Single Column text for Scripture, Double Column for Notes and Side Column References
  • Words of Christ in Red
  • Text Size: 8.5 Point and Note Size: 7 Point

 

Translation Choices

Currently the 3rd Edition LASB is available in the New Living Translation and the New International Version. While not confirmed by Tyndale, I have to imagine that this is because these are the dominant two English Translations of the Bible in the English Speaking World. In my case, it is an embarrassment of riches because I love both translations and use both, NLT in the church service and NIV at home for personal devotions. In either case, you get the same great study content. Since some will ask, the NLT will get the most use in my situation as a huge percentage of my audience uses NLT as their main Bible.

Cover and Binding

Both of my review copies are Leather-touch a.k.a imitation leather. The NLT is black and onyx with silver foil stamping and the NIV is brown and tan with gold foil stamping. Insofar as I can tell, the binding is glued so do be mindful of the heat. With proper care, it should last several years but if you are concerned about the binding it can be sewn by a professional re-binder.

Font, Layout, and Text Coloration

The text is a little small for my taste, but that has more to do with me approaching 40 and having eyesight issues than anything else. The Scripture portion is 8.5-point font size, similar to the Wayfinding Bible and the current edition of the NLT Study Bible. We have the notes and cross-references at 7.5. Again, a little small for my taste but still manageable. LASB has matured and, now, is nearly the same size as the NLT Study Bible and so the font needs to be a little smaller to keep the size of the book manageable.

This time around we have a red-letter edition for the New Testament. The red is very well done, perhaps better than in any other Tyndale Bible. There are times when I rather enjoy a red-letter edition and there are times when it can be a distraction but this edition is not one where the red lettering distracts. My favorite edition of the LASB is the Holman Christian Standard Bible which is also a red-letter edition. I am quite used to it and, in fact, have come to expect the red letters.

Before I discuss the features, I want to deal with an important question: Would I, a pastor, buy and actually use the LASB?

. I, regularly, use the LASB in my sermon preparation. There are 3 questions that I answer in every sermon: What does it say? What does it mean? What do I do about it? The LASB is quite helpful for the 3rd question as it is the application question.

Features

THE TEXT

In offering meaning based translations of the Bible, the LASB makes the Scripture more accessible to the average reader. Of the two, I prefer the New Living Translation. It is true that NIV is the dominant English Bible (NLT a very close second) but I find the NLT to be more easy to read, especially since it feels less academic.

FOOTNOTES

Tyndale provides two types of annotations and both are equally important in a Study Bible.

Translators’ Footnotes

For both the NLT and NIV, the translator’s footnotes include alternate readings, manuscript variants and so forth.

Study Notes

There are 10,000 annotations provided, in a double column format below the text. These notes do not simply explain the text, they help with application of the Scripture to your daily life. Of the three questions that we endeavor to answer with the Scripture, these annotations answer the most important question, What do I do about the text/How does it apply to my life?

BOOK INTRODUCTIONS

Each introduction contains several sections designed to help open the Scriptures for you.

Mega-themes

Mega-themes showcase the most important ideas of each book of the Bible. These ideas are the essential concepts for understanding the various books of the Bible.

Overview

The overview section provides a summary of the book. It also provides general application lessons for the Scripture.

Blueprint

The Blueprint section of the introduction is fairly straightforward; they are outlines of each book of the Bible. For the Bible teacher, this outline provides a solid teaching structure while the student receives an excellent starting point to break the book into manageable pieces for study.

Vital Statistics

Vital Statistics are straight facts about the book: author, date, place of writing etc. These are basic background to the book and are primarily intended as a starting point for further study of the Scripture.

General Thoughts:

There are two roadblocks that I have found people to run into more than any other: “I don’t understand the Bible” and “the Bible is not really relevant to today.” Both are based on the faulty assumption that the Bible is nothing more than an ancient book. Thankfully, the Life Application Study Bible blows that idea out of the water. The LASB helps the pastor to accomplish our two most important tasks: helping disciples to understand the Bible and helping disciples respond to the Scripture to the glory of God.

I know that a number of pastors frown on the use of a Study Bible but I disagree with them. As a general rule. I advise believers at all levels of maturity to own and use a study Bible. For new believers, this is a great choice in a study Bible to own and use.

NIV Deluxe Single-Column Comfort Print Reference Bible with Topical Link References

NIV Deluxe Single-Column Comfort Print Reference Bible with Topical Link References

Click for more photos

 

Zondervan has taken one of my favorite Bible formats and added a  an interesting tweak to it. The new  NIV Single Column Reference Bible, now, not only has standard references, it also includes topical link references. Before we go any further, I disclose that Zondervan sent me a copy of the Premier Collection Edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to give a positive review and  my opinions are my own.

 

From Zondervan:

features:

  • Complete text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • 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
  • Bottom-of-the-page topical links tie Scripture themes together
  • Over 100,000 cross-references and thousands of topical link connections
  • 8 Pages of full-color maps
  • Concordance
  • Single-column format
  • Elegant two-color page design on premium European Bible paper
  • Theww satin ribbon markers
  • Premium goatskin leather cover lays flat when open
  • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print Typeface
  • 9.5-point print size

 

Translation

We start off with the New International Version (NIV), the world’s best-selling English translation of the Bible. For those who do not remember, or are not familiar with the NIV, it is a mediating translation, meaning that it blends the best of both modes of translation, word-for-word and meaning based translations.

NIV is one of the most ideally suited translations for study of the Scriptures, offering the largest range of commentaries, Study/Reference Bibles, Dictionaries etc. It is one of the main translations that I use for study and teaching and will suit the needs of virtually any Bible student quite well.

Cover and Binding

As with all of the Premier Collection, this edition is goatskin, black in this case. As usual, it is quite delightful to the touch.

It it leather/edge-lined for enhanced flexibility, i.e. more suited to one handed use. The end papers are very thick to provide a little extra sturdiness. All in all I would say this is a very well balanced book and it feels absolutely wonderful in my hands while using it.

The signatures are sewn together to ensure that the Bible lays flat and also to ensure that it will last for a lifetime of use.

Paper, Layout & Font

The Comfort Print Font lends nicely to the readability of this edition. It is listed as 9.5 for the font size and this appears to be a true font size. It is a very readable Bible. Also, this Bible is a black letter edition.

The layout is single column paragraph format with “wide margins.” I put wide margins in quotes because the wide margins also house the references. At the bottom of each page you will find the topical links for each chapter.  (more on that in the reference section)

We have a generously opaque, 36-gsm European Bible Paper. Most writing instruments should be able to be used with no issues.

References

There are two sets of references offered. First, we have the standard NIV Cross-Reference System which has around 80,000 references. Then we have the Topical Link References.

There are around 8,000 topical link references. These remind me of the NIV Topical Reference Bible that was available when I was a child. The topical links are keyed to the Concordance to further enhance your ability to have Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Additional Helps

Concordance

Kohlenberger’s full NIV Concordance is offered. It is keyed to the set of Topical Reference Links to aid with Scripture interpreting Scripture.  There is not really much that needs saying about a concordance other than to say that it serves as a basic topical guide to the study of Scripture. I would go so far as to say that if a person studied every topical like and concordance entrt offered, here, then that person would have a stronger grasp of the Bible than around 90% of the Christ professing world.

Maps

There are 8 full color maps available to help visualize the world of the Bible

Footnotes

We are provided with an abbreviated set of Translator’s Footnotes. These are found in a small callout box at the bottom right of the page.

With Premier Collection Single Column Bibles

I have also reviewed the NASB Single Colum Reference Bible and the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible in the Premier Collection. The NIV offering is thinner and lighter than its NASB cousin and about the same size as the NRSV offering.  Of the three the NRSV is my faavorite because of certain design cues but the NIV is the most useful with the 2nd class of references.

As and Every Day Carry Bible

The  NIV Single Column Reference Bible is offered in a somewhat thin-line format. It is about one and one quarter inches thick. I have a tablet pocket in my briefcase which normally holds my carry Bible for the day and this Bible fit in that pocket quite nicely. It is very light weight and did not pose any issues with carrying

As a Teaching Bible

For most people, this format is very useful for teaching. As it happens I prefer a verse by verse format but all in all this is not bad. I did not notice and difficulties in reading the text in bright light. (The font is a touch small for me to read in soft light)

Should You Buy

You should purchase this Bible if you do any kind of Bible teaching. Pastors, Sunday School Teachers, Biblical Counselors, and small group leaders will all find this Bible very useful.  I think it would also come in quite handy for the student. We often say that the Bible speaks to life, and it does, in this case with more of a practical emphasis than others.

Final Thoughts

I love the idea. My only wish is that we had lined notes pages. Half of the margins are used up by the references so it would be nice to have a place to put notes.

This is, probably, one of the most useful NIV that I have encountered in a while. The Topical Link References are an unexpected but delightful surprise. I think this Bible is an excellent offering.

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

Bible Photos click me

 

Known for bringing very high quality KJV Bibles to market at incredible prices, Trinitarian Bible Society has done it again. The have refreshed their Large Print Family Presentation Bible with an upgrage to one of their most popular Bibles, now bringing  the  Windsor text into a large print edition.

(TBS 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 and my opinions are my own.)

 Cover & Binding

My review copy has the black ironed calfskin cover, a change from the very textured cover on the Large Print Family Presentation Bible. It is Meriva Calfskin. To the best of my knowledge, this is the same ironed calfskin that can be found on the unrivalled perfection that is the Westminster Reference Bible. The paste down liner was rather a surprise. I had expected it to make the cover a little more stiff such as with the Large Print Family Presentation Bible. While it does make the cover more sturdy, it is still more limp and supple than other Bibles I own with a paste down liner.

The text block is smythe sewn as is the case will all TBS Bibles. As I have said in almost every review I have ever written, a sewn text block is an essential feature in a quality Bible; it is this feature that helps the Bible to last across generations.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is crisp white but rather thin allowing modest show through (also called ghosting). The paper does have a minor issue, there is some page curl. The page curl is not severe enough to be challenging but I do find it mildly irritating.

We are given a plain text Bible, laid out in a double column verse by verse format. The 11-point font is crisp and very deep ebony. I do not know of TBS making a red-letter edition of the  Bible and this is no exception, a black letter text all the way through. The font is more of a semi-bold as opposed to the blackface/bold font style of the former Family Bible.

For Preaching/Teaching

This is an excellent Bible for preaching and teaching. The verse by verse format makes it very easy to locate the passage of Scripture you wish to use. Truth be told, I prefer the previous version of the Large Print Family Bible series. Please do not take that to mean that I have any dislike for the Large Print Windsor.

I very much enjoy the Windsor for daily reading but I find the older edition easier on the eyes with its very bold black format.

The Large Print Windsor will lay open on a pulpit or other type of lectern quite easily. It is also light enough to be used with one hand, which is especially handy if one is peripatetic.

For daily use

At less than an inch thick and weighing in at a little over a pound, the Large Print Windsor  is very practical for daily carry.

I am not sure that I would recommend writing in this Bible, unless it was done in pencil.

Should you buy

As I said  earlier this is an excellent Bible. You cannot go wrong  owning it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this Bible is representative of everything I have come to expect from Trinitarian Bible Society. If TBS ever makes a wide margin Bible this would be the perfect choice. If they don’t, this is still a solid choice of KJV to own.

NLT Helpfinder Bible

NLT Helpfinder Bible

Click Here for Photos of Helpfinder Bible

 

Buy from Amazon (affiliate)

Currently offered by both Tyndale House and Guideposts, the Helpfinder Bible is one of the most practical Bibles you can invest in. (Tyndale House sent me a copy 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.)

 

The HelpFinder Bible updates the NLT Touchpoints Bible, which paired a very helpful topical index with an incredibly easy to understand text of Scripture. Here is some information from Guideposts about the Helpfinder Bible:

 

Let God’s Word help erase your fears and comfort and encourage you during difficult times.

The HelpFinder Bible brings you God’s Word at your point of need so you can easily find the exact Scripture that speaks to your heart. When we’re faced with life’s challenges, our own stress sometimes makes it hard to find the right Scripture to bring us peace. But now, you can find the comfort and help you need instantly with the HelpFinder Bible. This beautiful Guideposts edition will help you build your faith with the Promises of God. You’ll always be able to find just the right Scripture to calm your fears, erase your worries, and increase your Biblical knowledge. You’ll turn to the HelpFinder Bible again and again to:

  • Get instant access to thousands of notes and verses on more than 100 “life-needs” with a comprehensive index.
  • Discover the healing wisdom of God’s Word on key topics from betrayal and burnout to debt, discouragement, and divorce…to emptiness and frustration to grief, guilt, and healing…to loneliness to regrets, stress, and so much more.
  • Learn how the truths you read in God’s Word apply to your personal situation.
  • Soothe your soul and work through your emotions as you read the Psalms.
  • Find introductions to each book of the Bible that include: an overview emphasizing its core messages, key themes, and verses, plus an at-a-glance outline.

 

Cover Options

Guideposts offers the NLT Helpfinder Bible in paperback but in a larger format with a 9-point font for easy reading. The Tyndale House Edition is available in paperback, e-book, hardback, and imitation leather. I am reviewing the black imitation leather edition from Tyndale House publishers. Surprisingly, the Helpfinder Bible comes with a sewn binding for enhanced durability.

Paper and Font

The paper is soft white, which is helpful in reducing glare and makes for easier reading. My colleagues tell me that the gsm for the paper is somewhere in the mid 30s. It is also fairly opaque.

We have a red letter edition, here, and the redi is nicely done. It is not as dark as I would prefer but it is fairly consistent. It does not devolve into pink like what happens with many other red letter editions.

The font is a little smallish for my taste, approximately 8-point in the Tyndale Edition and 9-point in the Guideposts Edition.

 

Helpfinder Index

The Helpfinder Index bills itself as bringing God’s word to your point of need and it does this very well. The Helpfinder Index  is a topical study guide which runs to 368 pages. Each topic comes with an introductory paragraph, several questions related to the topic as well as answers from Scripture. It is very similar, in concept, to the NASB or Amplified Topical Reference Bibles. To be clear, the Helpfinder Index is not as in-depth as either Nave’s or MacArthur’s Topical Bibles but I do not want you to think  of that as a drawback; Unlike those resources, the Helpfinder Bible is not primarily geared toward pastors. Instead it is geared toward the average person in the pew who wants to let God’s Word minister at a point of need.

While I do advocate doing your own study, you could actually follow the Helpfinder Index and ready-made lessons for Sunday School or the Sunday Sermon.

 

Application Notes

There are 500 application notes provided to help you apply the truths of Scripture to your life. They appear to be very abbreviated versions of what you find in the Life Application Study Bible.

The Application Notes are found in a grey and red box at the bottom of the page. Each note is a simple paragraph; I would recommend pairing with the either the Life Application Stud Bible or the NLT Study Bible to go deeper with the notes and topical guides.

 

Promises from God

Promises from God are in red letters (but they are marked out with “Promises from God in black letters). Each one contains a promise from God, Psalm 23:4 for example.

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions are a couple paragraphs related to application points in the text of Scripture.

What You Will Be Reading About

This section is essentially an outline of the book. They are not super detailed but they do bring out the major points of each book.

Key Verses

This section highlights the verses from each book of the Bible which are helpful to memorize.

 

Overall Thoughts

This will be a very practical tool for someone who is new to the study of Scripture. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of topical study but there is a place for it. Life offers us tough questions and the Bible is completely sufficient for answering those questions, especially when you have the help of the Helpfinder Index.

 

Do I recommend it? Yes. If you are looking for helpful ways to apply the Bible to your life, this is a great stepping stone Bible. If you are looking for a solid topical reference Bible, you have found an ideal choice.

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

The Abide Bible and Journals are a very interesting offering from Thomas Nelson. They are not a study Bible system and neither are they a devotional system. Rather, I would describe them as a personal worship system. The Abide Bible is offered in both New King James Version (NKJV) and New English Translation (NET) and the Abide Bible Journals are offered with the NET. In this article we will review the Abide Bible in the NET alongside the 1st and 2nd Peter journal. (Both Bible and journal were provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are my own.)

 

 

Click Me for Photos of Abide Bible and Journal

 

Buy from Amazon (affiliate)

 

Abide Bible_Thomas Nelson Official Page

Abide Bible-Taylor University

From Thomas Nelson on the Abide Bible Journal

The Abide Bible Journals are designed to help you experience the presence of God and grow in your relationship with Him as you read and interact in Scripture. Each volume contains a book or section of Scripture in a clean, single-column format along with powerful passage-specific journaling prompts. And most important, right within the Word, lightly lined pages invite you to respond to what you’ve read and abide with God in active prayer and reflective response through the act of putting pen to paper.

The prompts within the text are based on four ways of engaging deeply with the Bible:

Praying Scripture: Pattern your prayers after biblical texts

Picture It: Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant

Journal: Focus and reflect on Scripture and its meaning for your life

Contemplate: Follow the simple 4-step practice of feasting in God’s Word

 

The Concept:

The concept for the Abide Bible comes from John 15:4,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

As I understand from Thomas Nelson, the Abide Bible is designed to take you beyond simple reading of the Bible and to move you into the arena of actually living the Bible; having a vital, active relationship with Holy Scripture and more importantly, its author.

 

The Translation

I am reviewing the New English Translation. I have commented on this translation before, if you will recall, I rather like it. NET is a meaning based (dynamic equivalent/thought-for-thought) translation completed by the students and faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary. They Full Notes Edition carries with it all 68,000 translators’ notes, a fact which makes in the most heavily annotated English Bible available.

 

Many of my colleagues will say that a meaning based translation is not suitable for study but in the case of the Full Notes Edition, I could not disagree more. It is designed for study.

 

In the case of the Abide Bible, the footnotes are not provided, not that such a deprivation would negatively impact your experience with the Bible. While I love the NKJV, I think that the NET is a better choice for the Abide Bible. Given its intended use, I want a translation that does not require me to reach for a lexicon but instead, I want a translation that feels like I am with friend, which you definitely will get from the NET. I am also quite glad that the journals are in the NET Translation for the same reason, I want something that is easy to use.

 

Cover and Binding

The journal is softcover with an adhesive binding. I would have preferred to see a hardcover option but I understand that it would be enormously impractical given the groupings of the books.

 

The Abbie Bible that I was sent is the brown leathersoft. Thomas Nelson has really stepped up their game with their imitation leathers. Having handled many leathers over the years, I could tell from the touch that it is not real leather but I am not sure most people would pick up on that-it is very convincing. The binding appears to be sewn. I am glad to see sewn bindings return to the Thomas Nelson Lineup. Sewn bindings wil, literally, last you a lifetime of use.

 

Paper Layout and Font in the Journal.

The paper is a crisp white but not so bright as to cause glare. It performs very well in most light settings, including the Arizona sun, which is quite unforgiving.

On the left page we have the text of Scripture in a single column. On the right page we have the Abide Journaling Prompts and a lined column for journaling. Following the last page of journaling prompts we have an additional 15 lined pages for additional thoughts.

The font in the journal is quite a bit larger for the Scripture portion than what is found in the Abide Bible. I would gauge it at 9-point font while the journaling prompts come in at 8-point. Both, though, are quite readable.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font in the Bible

I am told that the paper is 36 gsm. You can see that it is quite opaque so it should work rather well for marking, highlighting, or journaling. There is a little bit of a newspaper texture to the paper which makes it rather easy to turn the pages.

Unlike the NKJV edition, this is a black letter Bible. The text is laid out in single column paragraph format, which is ideal for the intended use of the Abide Bible.

The Abide Prompts are in the outer column. Many of the pages, I would guess about half, include ample space for journaling.

Helps and Prompts

Introductions

 Each Introduction includes the usual material  including historical and literary context. It also adds a section called Prepare which is designed to help you to engage with Scripture.

Journaling Through Scripture

This section is not for a personal journal or even prayer requests. Instead, guided prompts help you to interact with scripture and to record/catalogue insights that you gather. Journaling is a critical component of Inductive Study which is the essential method to understand and internalize the Scripture.

Engage Through Artwork

“Consider a classic piece of art—photograph, sculpture, painting—and let it deepen your meditations on scriptural truths.” The Bible, itself, is art; it is God’s masterpiece and has inspired countless artistic works over the years. The artwork provided does not simply help us to visualize what we see in scripture, it spurs us on to worship by bringing the text to life.

 

Praying the Scripture

“Pattern your prayers after biblical texts, personalizing the prayer and gaining language for the thoughts and emotions you want to express.” This is a similar concept to the Prayer Book used by some denominations. Many of us do not really know how to pray but the Abide Bible helps to guide us through the process.

Picture It

“Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant in important events.” The Bible IS literature, among other things, and the best literature invites us into the story. We identify with the characters and, on varying levels, the story speaks to us.

Contemplate

We are given a  4-step practice of reading, meditating on, praying, and contemplating a passage of Scripture.

Assorted Articles

There are some articles explaining how to engage with Scripture, studying vs engaging, and why we read the Bible. These are more of background material rather than what will take you through the process.

 

Final Thoughts

The Abide Bible and Journal  is an excellent resource when used as a complete system. Could you use each one separately? Yes but they are better together.

My preference is for the NKJV for study and teaching though the NET will do quite well for understanding and internalizing the Scripture.

It is important to remember that this will take time and discipline, but this is to be expected; nothing worth having comes easily. I think you, dear reader, will enjoy the Abide Bible and Journal and they will help you with your growth.

Literary Study Bible Review

Literary Study Bible Review

 

Of all the ways to study the Bible, considering it as literature is probably the most overlooked. Crossway has answered that for a second time by re-releasing the ESV Literary Study Bible. It comes back to us in a slightly smaller format but maintaining all of the study tools from the original version.

(Note: Crossway provided a copy of the ESV Literary Study Bible in hardcover free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review-my opinions are my own.

 

Click Here fpr Photos

 

Order from Amazon (Affiliate)

 

From Crossway:

In order to understand the content of the Bible, readers first need to understand how the content is expressed. The literary forms and features of the Bible are a crucial part of understanding the Bible’s message—both for its original audience and for readers today. Compared to conventional study Bibles that answer the what of a passage, the ESV Literary Study Bible guides readers through the Bible text, showing how to read the passage. Combining over 1,200 insightful notes with the complete ESV Bible text, this volume highlights literary features such as genre, images, plot, setting, stylistic and rhetorical techniques, and artistry so readers can more richly understand the unity, flow, and profound depth of the biblical text. First published in 2007, the ESV Literary Study Bible has been refreshed with an all-new typesetting while retaining all the same content that helps readers discover and teach the message of the Bible embodied in its literary forms and features.

 

Reader Friendly Format

The Literary Study Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The layout very much resembles a novel; it is very close to the ESV Reader’s Bible but different enough to classify it differently.

 

The literary study Bible has an 8.5-point font. The updated edition is quite a bit darker than in the original, which makes it more readable. Both editions are black letter texts, a preference of mine as red letters can be quite distracting. One change that Crossway made I do not understand-they took away the wide margins.

 

Each book gets an introduction outlining the book at a glance, literary genres covered by the book, theological themes, literary inferences etc. Interspersed among the text, you will find study notes on items of literary note, around 1200 in all. These notes appear to be adaptations of the materials from Ryken’s Bible Handbook, which would make sense considering that Leland and Phillip Graham Ryken are the editors of the literary study Bible.

 

Let’s break down the format:

  1. Format.The ESV text is single-column, black text set in 8.5-point Veritasfont. The Veritas Font Family is quite a bit more readable than the Lexington Crossway normally uses.
  2. Introductions and overviews. Each book of Scripture receives a detailed introduction and content overviews. The overall literary genres and styles are summarized at the beginning. This section is where we are introduced to the particular literary contexts that are addressed in each book.
  3. Subsection prenotes.Before each subsection of Scripture (normally one chapter in OT and every half chapter in NT), the editors provide important literary notes and an overall snapshot of the upcoming content. These are like prenotes, compared to the footnotes common in study Bibles. These prenotes peak interest and drive the reader into the text. “This literary Bible is a guide to the Bible that pushes the reader into the text instead of providing mere summaries of the content that readily become substitutes for reading the Bible” (xvii). These chapter notes reinforce the literary styles mentioned in the book introductions, provide overviews of upcoming Scripture content, and function well in helping the reader chomp through large sections of Scripture in single settings.
  4. New reading plan. The daily readings include one section from each of the four categories: Psalms and Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch and the History of Israel; Chronicles and Prophets; and Gospels and Epistles. But four important books – the Psalms, Isaiah, Luke and Romans – are read twice annually (It could be argued and I do, that these 4 books are the most foundational to a well-rounded understanding of the Scripture). The readings through the OT are arranged chronologically, and the NT readings by author.

 

The Bible as Literature

From the introduction:

“To approach the Bible as literature as this literary Bible does is not like dessert — something pleasurable to add to more important aspects of the Bible. The literary approach is the first item on the agenda — the starting point for other approaches to the Bible. This has been a point of neglect among Bible readers and Bible scholars that this literary Bible aims to correct” (ix).”

 

Dr. Ryken goes to length explaining, including rebutting the idea that Literary Study Bible reduces the Bible to mere literature.

Dr. Ryken suggests  “meaning is conveyed through form, starting with language itself but moving beyond that to a whole range of literary forms and genres” and “There is no meaning without the form in which a piece of writing is expressed” (vii). Forms directly impact interpretation.” When you stop and think about it, this is precisely why we study Greek-styles and forms impact how we understand that Scripture.

 

Cover and Binding

The new edition of the Literary Study Bible is offered in a hardcover format with smythe-sewn binding. It is everything we have come to expect from Crossway.

 

The Bible Experience

The best literature invites us into the story. We see ourselves in the hero and are pulled into the action. The Literary Study Bible does this for us to a degree. The format invites us to consume large portions of the Scripture and “get lost” in the story.

Again quoting the introductory matter,

“The goal of literature is to prompt a reader to share or relive an experience. The truth that literature imparts is not simply ideas that are true but truthfulness to human experience. The implication for interpretation is that Bible readers, teachers, and expositors need to be active in re-creating experiences in their imagination, identifying the recognizable human experiences in a text (thereby building bridges to life in the modern world), and resisting the impulse immediately to reduce a biblical passage to a set of theological ideas” (xi).

 

I very much concur with Drs, Ryken; far too often we reduce study of the Bible to cold and impersonal facts. The Bible is described as a living book (Hebrews 4:12) and it draws us into it because the Bible is not only the story of God, it is also the story of the Redeemed.

 

A Use Case Scenario

The Literary Study Bible is suited to the classroom, ideally so. As we progress through our schooling, we are exposed to literature, how to understand it, and its impact on our lives. It happens that the Bible should be read in community and the Literary Study Bible lends itself to communal reading and study rather well.

 

Final Thoughts

The Literary Study Bible is a novel concept. I rather like it and happily recommend it to others.