Category: Resources and Reviews

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

 

 

NIV Study Bible Photos (Click Me)

 

 

 

For nearly 40 years, the NIV Study Bible has been Zondervan’s flagship study resource for those using the New International Version of the Bible. In 2020, it has been revised and updated with 100 new articles and over 1,000 new study notes. Zondervan sent me a copy, in black bonded leather, free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

Translation:

New International Version, NIV for short, is the dominant English translation of the Bible for Anglophone Christians. The NIV is available in two types, Anglicised (published by Hodder and Stouhgton) and American Standard English edition published by Zondervan. These two families cover both sides of the English speaking world.

 

NIV is one of the two most recognizable mediating translations available. A mediating translation strives to strike a balance between Formal Equivalence (literal) and Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought). NIV’s most similar competitor, Christian Standard Bible, leans more toward the literal side of the spectrum while NIV leans more toward the easy to read thought for thought end of the spectrum.

 

NIV as A Preaching Bible

NIV is an excellent choice for preaching. The translation rates around 6th-7th grade on the Flesch-Kincaide scale. The language is sufficiently technical and sophisticated so as to appeal to the more academically inclined disciple but it is also sufficiently easy to read so as to appeal to those disciples who have English as a second or third language. When bringing an expository sermon, NIV requires fewer restatements and definitions than other English texts.

 

NIV for Study

Some of my colleagues do not consider NIV to be good for study but I cannot agree with them. I find that NIV eliminates some steps when approaching study. Just as in preach ing, when studying a text, the NIV requires less restatement and fewer definitions. Additionally there are a host of commentaries, hand-books, study Bibles, and dictionaries based on the NIV including the powerhouse NIV Application Commentary, the New American Commentary, Holman’s Old Testament and New Testament Commentary and the premier single volume resource on understanding the Bible, Halley’s Bible Handbook.

 

Why choose a study Bible?

The choice to use a study Bible is one of practicality. Most Bible teachers are limited in the number of resources that are available for use, often having only one Bible and few, if any, study aids, which makes the acquisition of a study Bible a very helpful choice.

 

Why the NIV Study Bible?

The NIV Study Bible feature set makes it an excellent choice for a study Bible

 

Cross-References

The most important feature for Bible Study is a good cross referencing system, since the fundamental rule of hermeneutics is that the Scripture interprets the Scripture. In the NIV Study Bible, Zondervan provides around 68,000 references.

 

Translator’s Footnotes

       NIV Study Bible includes the full complement of Translator’s Notes. These include textual variants,  alternate translations, etc. I would say that the footnotes are a large portion of what makes the NIV so Easy to use.

 

Exegetical Study Notes

       Where many study Bibles contain what amounts to commentary, the NIV Study Bible has somewhere in the neughborhood of 25,000 exegetical study notes. The notes include explanations of the text, some cultural and historical background, alternate interpretations of the text , all of which is geared toward drawing out the meaning of the Scripture.

 

Introductions and Outlines

       The Introductions and Outlines in the NIV Study Bible are a little more in depth than in other study Bibles. Each introduction contains a detailed outline of the content of the book. Author, date of writing, purposes & emphases, and a timeline are all included. There is a small box containing “A Quick Look” at the book which highlights the theme, original audience, author, and approximate date of writing

 

Full color Maps and Charts

       Recognizing the needs of visual learners, Zondervan has included around 350 maps, charts, and photographs designed to make the world of the Bible come alive to your mind so you can behold the wondrous things in the Word of God.

 

Kholenberger’s Full Concordance

The complete NIV Concordance, created by John R. Kholenberger III is included. This topical study resource includes 4500-5000 entries with explanations and references.

 

       Index to Study Notes

There is a separate index to the study notes. This index is a topical breakdown of concepts addressed in the study notes, essays and articles to aid in understanding what the Bible has to say on a particular topic.

 

Expository Essays

There are over 100 expository essays included with the NIV Study Bible. These essays provide a more in-depth look at certain important concepts in our study of the Scripture.

 

Paper, Layout, Font and Binding

The paper is a crisp white which makes the red lettering very easy to see. Zondervan gives us a 9-point comfort print font. I, personally find the font a touch small BUT given the amount of content, a larger font would make this volume qite unwieldy.

 

Both the text and study notes are laid out in a double column paragraph format. The columns of Scripture Text are separated byt the center column references and the notes are separated from the Scripture by a bold black line.

 

The binding is sewn to ensure that it can stand up to the rigors of daily use.

 

How do I use the NIV Study Bible?

I am often asked if I regularly use the Bibles that I review and the answer to that is yes. I actually have a particular order in which I use resources, for a very specific reason, and the NIV Study Bible is used twice in lesson prep-it is my third and last resource. I start with the Teacher’s Study Bible and Halley’s Bible Handbook because I want to make sure that I have gotten a good handle on the minimum needed to understand the text. I turn to the NIV Study Bible, next, so that I can look for specific concepts that need a deep dive. Following this are commentaries and lexicons. Lastly I turn to my Study Bibles to compare what I have learned from the text to what other scholas have found with regard to the meaning and explanation of the text.

 

Who should buy the NIV Study Bible?

It is true that NIV Study Bible is for everyone but there is a particular group that I feel would benefit from the NIV Study Bible more so than others, Sunday School Teachers/Small Group Leaders. These wonderful saints serve Christ’s church faithfully, often without the benefit of Bible College and/or Seminary training. For them, a feature enriched study Bible is going to be very helpful.

 

Final Thoughts

I got my first NIV Study Bible in 1996 as a gift celebrating my baptism. In 1996, I began teaching Sunday School and  the NIV Study Bible informed my lessons. In 2005, I upgraded to the 10thanniversary edition. Later I upgraded to the full color edition. Currently, I use the digital version on OliveTree Bible Software. NIV Study Bible has proven a faithful and reliable companion.

 

NIV Study Bible gives you a full library of study materials. You can trust that, when you choose NIV Study Bible, you are choosing a resource that will help you to understand the Scriptures. This is a Bible worth your investment.

 

 

ESV with Creeds and Confessions Review

ESV with Creeds and Confessions Review

 

 

Additional Photos

 

The Crossway ESV with Creeds and Confessions is everything I have come to expect from Crossway, who, incidentally, sent me a copy in black trutone free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, just an honest one.

 

Initially, I was actually surprised to find that this particular Bible did not blow me away. It is not a Bible that I dislike. It’s everything I have come to expect, sewn binding, good paper, etc. I like it and I enjoy using it but I don’t feel the same excitement that I get when I reach for other Crossway products such as my Literary Study Bible, Systematic Theology Bible, or the ESV Preaching Bible. HOWEVER, with more and more use the ESV with Creeds and Confessions has grown on me, so much so that I have recommended it several times to Christians who are new to what is commonly called Calvinism and are looking for a new Bible.

 

This Bible is very reserved, muted even. This does not surprise me as the most conservative Calvinists lean puritan and do not want a “flashy” Bible to take into the pulpit.

 

General Format

Essentially, the ESV with Creeds and Confessions is a large print ESV Bible, the back of which has the Reformed/Evangelical Confessions of Faith coupled with the Ancient Ecumenical Creeds. The font and layout are incredibly well done although it was not the layout I expected. (See next section)

 

What I Would Change

The original ESV with Creeds and Confessions was done by Schuyler Bibles a few years ago-it was an enlarged version of the New Classic Reference Edition with the Creeds and Confessions added in. I actually would have returned to that format. I would also move the Creeds and Confessions to locate them either in the front matter or between the testaments.  I would also add some lined notes pages. One could argue that this Bible is geared toward pastors and seminary professors so the lack of notes pages puzzles me. I would also remove the concordance, it seems a trifle unnecessary here-most of the people who would be picking up this particular Bible will most assuredly have plenty of other resources for in-depth topical study of the Bible.

 

Cover and Binding

The cover and binding are not unusual for Crossway. (I have the black trutone, which is Crossway’s polymer based imitation leather and includes a sewn binding. ) The TruTone Imitation Leather continues to get more and more convincing as Crossway continues to hone their craft.

 

It may surprise you to learn that, in many cases, I recommend Crossway’s TruTone before I recommend a genuine leather. I know a number of pastors who are on the go rather frequently and you don’t always want a more premium leather in your every -day carry Bible.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

Again there is nothing unusual here. The paper is bright white which works well with the black letter text. The text is laid out in double column paragraph format, approximately 12-point font. Crossway uses the Lexicon font family and continues to do so.

 

I think the Lexicon Font Family is more readable than most other Bible fonts on the market. I wear bifocals and frequently find ESV Bibles easier to read than other Bibles of similar size and font types.

 

The Creeds and Confessions

13 historic creeds and confessions are placed in the back, including the Apostles Creed (ca. 200–400), the Nicene Creed (325), the Athanasian Creed (381), the Chalcedonian Definition (451), the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Articles of Religion (1563), the Canons of Dort (1618–19), the Westminster Confession (1646), the London Baptist Confession (1689), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Westminster Larger Catechism (1647), and the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) Introductions to each of the 13 creeds and confessions written by historian Chad Van Dixhoorn were included.

 

First and foremost, I am a Baptist so seeing the London Baptist Confession is major for me. There is a bias (No way around it) in the Reformed Community which suggests that Baptists are not really reformed. This is grossly inaccurate and pejorative so seeing the LBC included was a major win for us.

 

You will also note that the 3 Forms of Unity are included. The Three Forms of Unity is a collective name for the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Heidelberg Catechism, which reflect the doctrinal concerns of continental Calvinism and are accepted as official statements of doctrine by many of the Reformed churches. In short, these are foundational documents to Reformed Theology.

 

Our Anglican Brethren will also be glad to see that the 39 Articles of Religion are included as well. Many do not often think of the Anglicans as being reformed but they were an integral part of the Reformation in the United Kingdom.

 

Final Thoughts

The ESV with Creeds and Confessions is perfect for the modern day puritan. You will find it to be a very well made Bible but that is what defines Crossway- incredibly well made Bibles at very affordable price points.

 

My niggling little gripes aside, the ESV with Creeds and Confessions is a prime example of what makes Crossway the first choice in Bible for a host of people, especially the “Reformed Pastor.

NLT Inspire Large Print Review

NLT Inspire Large Print Review

 

 

Click here for more photos

 

“Coloring Bible verses helps me to remember what the Bible says.”-Donna Sherro (my wife)

 

Among journaling and wide margin Bibles, there is a class called art-journaling editions. This is my first time reviewing an art journaling Bible; I am reviewing the large print edition of the Inspire Bible from Tyndale House. Tyndale provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are the views of my wife and I.

 

Translation Choice

Inspire is offered in the New Living Translation, a translation which is very close to my heart. The NLT is the translation that the Lord used when redeeming my wife.

 

The NLT is an extremely readable translation of the Bible. NLT is frequently confused with its predecessor, the Living Bible Paraphrase and is branded a paraphrase. It is most assuredly a translation and one that you can trust. Many of the people that I have instructed from the New Living Translation have responded with something to the effect of “Oh! It makes sense now.” NLT is a Bible that will speak to your heart.

 

Cover and Binding

The cover is imitation leather. There is no color name listed but it has a lilac coloring and an impressionist style paining of flowers on the bottom. My wife said, “it’s very pretty and now it’s mine” upon seeing it being taken out of the box.

 

Inspire is printed in large reflective letters on the cover, approximately in the exact center. The embossing is rather eye catching.  Tyndale has provided a paste down liner and a sewn binding. It should prove to be a very durable Bible.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font

“It’s very easy to read. It feels more like a regular book” -Donna

 

As my wife pointed out, Inspire is laid out more like a traditional book. It is a single column paragraph format. The font is completely black letter and I would estimate around a 9.5-10-point font. The margins are approximately 2 inches wide, some of which include Scripture art and some of which are lined for annotation.

 

The paper has a cream color which makes it very easy to read in most light situations. The texture is rather soft and touchable for how thick the paper is. Most marking and coloring instruments will work nicely in the Inspire Bible. As usual, I do not recommend markers but pencils, crayons, archival pens, ball-point pens etc would work out quite nicely.

 

My Thoughts vs Donna’s Thoughts

Admittedly, this class of Bible is not a favorite of mine. I am both a pastor and a theologian and a very reserved one at that. As a consequence, I sometimes overlook something very helpful where Donna does not miss it. Here is what she says about Inspire:

  • It makes the Bible mine because I can add my own notes
  • Coloring the verses helps me to memorize what the Bible says
  • It will help visual people remember what they are reading.
  • Inspire makes me want to read the Bible more.
  • NLT is easy to understand for everybody.

 

As it happens, my wife can find herself being more astute than I am. I am very good at forgetting that experiencing the Bible is a very personal thing. Inspire is as much an experience with the Scriptures as it is the Scriptures.

 

Who should buy Inspire

First and foremost, visual learners should buy Inspire. The coloring aspect will make it very enjoyable. Secondarily Inspire is a good fit for any ladies who are looking to add more of the Bible to their lives.

 

NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible Review

NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible Review

 

Additional Photos of the Spirit Filled Life Bible

 

The NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible is a very interesting study Bible geared toward those in the Pentecostal Tradition, specifically Classical Pentecostalism. Dr. Jack Hayford leads a team of  Pentecostal scholars in bringing us one of the two most popular study Bibles for Pentecostal Christians

 

Thomas Nelson provided a copy of this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own.

 

Disclaimer: I have a strong Pentecostal background having come of age in the Assemblies of God, even though I no longer attend that denomination. There are certain contributors to this Bible that I vigorously disagree with but I still found  much of the material to be helpful.

 

A Pentecostal Study Bible? Answering mockers and skeptics

It is true that there are many in the Pentecostal Movement with weird ideas but there are also some very well-known scholars and pastors who are very well versed in the Scriptures; Dr. Gordon Fee and Dr. Wayne Grudem (more charismatic than full Pentecostal) come to mind.

 

Translation Choice:

This 3rd Edition is offered in the New King James Version, previous editions were also offered in the NIV and the NLT. NKJV is a very conservative, essentially literal translation. It is ideally suited for the Bible teacher who prefers systematic exposition of the Bible.

 

Study Helps:

  • Word Wealth–Far and away, my favorite feature of the Spirit Filled Life Bible is the Word Wealth Section. There are more than 650 word studies (including over 100 new ones) which shed light on key terms, drawing important meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew. Each of these is a single paragraph that explains the basic meaning of the word. The Strong’s Number is provided for additional research, either by the pastor or the student in the audience.

 

  • Kingdom Dynamics –Kingdom Dynamics illuminates the present aspect of Christ’s Kingdom, here, on earth and prepares us for His future millennial reign.

 

  • Truth-In-Action –This is one of the most interesting features that I have encountered in a study Bible. These are 1-page articles that provide help with practical application of the particular truths presented in each book of the Bible.

 

  • Praying the Word –192 guided prayers based on significant passages throughout Scripture

 

 

  • Book introductions and outlines The traditional materials covered in a normal study Bible are here but there are three unique sections that I have not found in any other study Bible: Personal application (How can apply the truths of this book to my life?), Christ Revealed (What does this book teach us about the person and work of the Lord Jesus?), and Holy Spirit at Work (What is the Holy Spirit doing to advance the work of Christ’s Kingdom, even if not obvious?)

 

  • Full color in-text maps, diagrams, and charts offer the opportunity to visualize where the events happened.

 

  • Verse-by-verse study notes There are approximately 10,000 study notes designed to illuminate the scriptures for the reader.

 

  • Nelson’s Complete Cross Reference System with Concordance All 72,000 of Nelson’s cross references are provided to help the Scripture to interpret the Scripture. Nelson also provides a full topical concordance for those who like to find what the Bible teaches on a particular topic.

 

 

Cover and Binding

This edition is the brown leathersoft with sewn binding. Thomas Nelson has really improved the quality of their imitation leather and this one will last for years.

 

Paper, and Font

The paper has kind of a newsprint feel. It has a matte finish which is very easy on the eyes. Interestingly, the paper also has a soft cottony feel to it and it is very easy to turn the pages.

 

This Bible is a red letter edition with red that is surprisingly well done. There is no fading of the red and it doesn’t turn pinkish in any areas. The comfort print font is very readable for a 9-point font.

 

As a Carry Bible

It is a very portable Bible at 6” x 9” and about 2 pounds. I did not notice any issues with carrying it.

 

Should you buy?

Yes, even if you  are not Pentecostal. Certain of the helps are immensely helpful and you will not notice any bias.

Why Standard Lesson?

Why Standard Lesson?

I recommend resources from Standard Lesson on, at the very least, a monthly basis and I am, often asked why. The question goes like this “Matt, I’m seminary trained, why should I use Standard Lesson?” or “Matt, Standard Lesson isn’t from your denomination, why do you recommend something that isn’t Baptist?”

I would like to offer some answers to those questions:

 

  1. The material is very easy to understand and is accessible to most audience members. I am not seminary trained and neither is most of your audience. (I have acquired a seminary grade understanding of Scripture via self-study of a host of resources plus I am mentored by several men, two of whom are seminary professors.) When we amass great learning we can miss the forest because of the trees. Standard Lesson’s resources remind me to keep it simple when I teach.

 

  1. It is very theologically conservative and broadly evangelical. When you read the commentary notes, the study Bible notes or other resources, you can see that the writers take Scripture seriously. Equally important, they take the command to make disciples seriously. Integral to making disciples is teaching and these resources will be most valuable in lesson prep.

 

  1. Resources are available in KJV and NIV. Standard lesson offers resources in KJV for the most staunchly conservative and the NIV for those desiring a more broadly evangelical audience. KJV and NIV are the two most widely read English translations of the Bible and pairing resources with those translations ensure that you are able to reach the most people possible.

 

  1. It takes the fear out of teaching. The Standard Lesson Commentary not only provides expositional commentary on the Scripture, it also provides a complete lesson for those who are new to teaching. The Standard Lesson Study Bible provides expository notes on the Scripture AND it adds discussion questions. The Standard Bible Dictionary provides insight on 2,000 foundational terms your students should be familiar with.

 

  1. There is a Uniform Series. The Standard Lesson Commentary follows the International Sunday School Lesson Uniform Series. This is important because on any given Sunday, churches around the world are teaching the same lesson. You can, literally, walk into any Sunday School that uses Standard Lesson Commentary and pick up right where you left off. Additionally, the Standard Lesson Commentary will take you through every book of the Bible in 6 years, not every single verse but you will get every book.

 

There are more reasons to choose Standard Lesson Resources but these are the reasons I give when I recommend Standard Lesson to pastoral colleagues and Sunday School Teachers

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

 

additional photos-click here

The very popular Serendipity Bible for Personal and Small Group Study has made a comeback with the Christian Standard Bible in the Life Connections Study Bible. (Holman Bible Publishers 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.)

I am admittedly new to the Serendipity Bible so we will begin with a little from the publisher:

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible is are a revised and updated version of the best-selling and renowned Serendipity Study Bible. The original Serendipity Study Bible was the culmination of 40 years of community building by Serendipity House Publishers, which revolutionized small groups and personal study through thousands of accessible questions and study helps throughout the Bible.

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible includes thousands of questions and study helps for all 1,189 chapters of the Bible – all updated for today’s readers. This Bible includes short chapter-by-chapter comments about key people, places, and events along with guidance for small group Bible study and personal reflection through the “Open-Consider-Apply” method:

  • Open” questions initiate discussion and/or reflection
  • Consider” questions focus on the details of the passage
  • Apply” questions encourage application to daily life
  • Also included are select “For Groups,” “For Worship,” and “Dig Deeper” questions for further study, reflection, discussion, and application.

 

Translation

The Life Connections Study Bible uses the Christian Standard Bible, a natural choice since Lifeway acquired Serendipity House Publishers. CSB is a mediating translation- it is literal when it needs to be but still very readable.  I am currently using the Christian Standard Bible for preaching and teaching.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the brown leathersoft edition. It is a very convincing imitation leather. Naturally, there is a paste down liner. Most CSB Bibles include a sewn binding and this one is no exception. The sewn binding provides two very nice features: it lays flat very easily and it also makes it fairly floppy and easy to use one handed.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is very interesting; it has a different tactile feel than other CSB Bibles that I have felt. It has a little bit of a newsprint feel. The paper is nicely opaque and should provide no issue with annotating. As is most often the case, I recommend ball-point pen, colored pencil, or mechanical pencil.

The text of Scripture is laid out in a single column paragraph format. Verse numbers are fairly opaque which makes verse finding fairly easy, especially so if you are teaching in a small group. The notes are a little smallish and are laid out in four columns at the bottom of the page. They are separated from the text by a single bold line. A chapter summary is provided for each chapter of the Bible, set off in a green box. Bible study content is in the outer margin on each page.

The font is a black letter text. It is approximately 9.5-point font for the Bible text. Bible study content and commentary notes are about a 7-point font. Perhaps 8-point.

Content

Study Questions

This study Bible includes ready-made discussion and study questions for every chapter of the Bible. Some chapters include more than one study and set of questions. There’s an opening question (or ice breaker), some Scripture-driven questions for consideration, and some application questions, all based on the chapter in which the questions are found. Where appropriate, there are also questions for worship, group activities, and digging deeper in Bible study. May of my colleagues are not fans of the “Discussion Model,” and I understand that but there are benefits to this model. The discussion and study questions are designed to help your small group study to think through the process of understanding the text.

Study Guides

There are 16 topical study courses, 60 life needs courses, and 200 Bible stories available for study. The beautiful feature about these additional studies is that they simply point to selected chapter studies in the Bible. Understanding sacred Scripture is the driving force behind every lesson and every study. While that may seem like an obvious statement you would be amazed at just exactly how much “Christian content” not actually geared toward a true understanding and internalization of the Scripture. Next to each lesson is the Scripture from where the lesson draws Truth and the page number where the questions for that chapter are found. A life needs study on sexuality points to specific chapters from which to draw the Texts and questions. Bonus: all the 60 life needs studies have beginner and advanced options and all of them depend on the Scripture with margin questions from the chapters.

Introductions

Each book has a one page introduction covering Author, Date of Writing, Theme, and Historical Background of the Book. I would have liked to see a small outline of some kind.

Is anything missing?

An earlier edition from Serendipity House, the Interactive Study Bible, was in the same format but had Lectionary Readings. I would have liked to see Holman include lectionary readings for those denominations which follow them, such as our Anglican Brethren.

The earlier edition also included options for personal readings and group study readings. There was also a brief comment on the Modern Message of each book.  (How does the message apply to Christians today.)

Overall Impression

I am fairly impressed with the Life Connections Study Bible. There are a couple of features that I would have liked to see come forward into the new edition but all in all it looks to be as helpful as it is interesting. I will most likely write a use case study as I am able to put it through its paces in church.

Who should buy this Bible?

The Life Connections Bible is ideally suited to the small group leader or, perhaps, the Sunday School Teacher. Even if one does not utilize the “Discussion Model” for teaching, the discussion questions will be most helpful.

 

 

CSB Giant Print Reference Bible Review

CSB Giant Print Reference Bible Review

 

Following my church adopting the Christian Standard Bible as our teaching translation, I sourced a new Bible for preaching and after careful consideration, I ordered the Bible which I am reviewing today, The CSB Giant Print Reference Bible in brown genuine leather (goatskin).  Note: Neither Holman Bibles nor the CSB marketing team provided this Bible for review; I sourced it at my own expense.

 

Additional Bible Photos

 

Learn about the CSB here: CSB Official Page

The Translation Choice:

Why the CSB? In short, technical precision and readability. This is an optimal equivalence or mediating translation, similar to the NIV. The major difference between the two is that the CSB is more toward the formal equivalence end of the spectrum where the more free-flowing NIV is closer to the dynamic equivalence.

Being the more formal of the two lends to the technical precision of the CSB. Also lending to the technical precision of the translation. Christian Standard Bible  is one of the most heavily footnoted of any English Bible translation.

The Cover and Binding

Holman has a gift for understatement. This Bible is billed as being genuine leather. On the back of the Bible, itself, you will read, stamped in gold lettering, goatskin leather.  This is the same ironed goatskin that is to be found on the CSB Pastor’s Bible. It is a rich milk chocolate reminiscent of the coloring of a chocolate bar from Cadbury. There is no real grain on this one but that is actually quite nice for my purpose; I am a systematic expositor and I like my preaching Bible to be a bit more reserved.

This Bible has a sewn Binding and a paste down liner. In the case of this Bible, the paste down liner was a smart choice; there is a bit of heft and a leather liner could make it a bit unwieldy. By now, you have been reading my reviews enough to understand why a sewn Bible is so very important- it will far outlast a glued binding.

Paper, Layout, Font, Indexing

This edition is thumb-indexed. This is not the traditional half-moon indexing; it is more rectangular. The tabs for the New Testament are bright red, a subtle reminder of the blood shed at Calvary.

The text block is in a double column paragraph format with verse numbers being in bold. End of verse references are provided. We have a 14-point font with design cues reminiscent  of the NIV’s comfort print. It is very easy on the eyes with the black letters being a deep rich ebony and a dark cranberry for the red lettering. It does look as though line matching has been used as there is not a lot of shadowing.

The paper has great opacity for being somewhat thin. I would put it around 28-gsm. You will not have any problems turning the pages and a ball-point pen (I recommend Pilot Brand) or colored pencil (I recommend Prismacolor) should not give you any bleed through.

In the Pulpit

I love a very large print in the pulpit and have even preached from the CSB Pulpit Bible but I tend to not stand still so this is a much easier Bible to use. I can hold this Bible at arm’s length or rest it on my podium and read aloud without any issues.

Compared to the Pastor’s Bible and the Verse by Verse Reference Bible for preaching

The giant print, amazingly, is slimmer than that of the Pastor’s Bible. This is due to the fact that the Pastor’s Bible has a bit thicker paper. They have the same brown goatskin for the leather cover. I have to give the giant print the win, though for being easier to read in the pulpit.

The Verse by Verse is everything I had always wanted in a Bible from the CSB and it is my primary CSB Bible. That being said, there can be no question of the superiority of the Giant Print Reference Bible in terms of font; in all other areas they are equal.

As an Everyday Carry Bible

The Giant Print Reference Bible is a standard size Bible. It fits easily into a messenger bag or briefcase. The overall size and wight made it very east to carry. This is my primary ministry Bible at the moment and I found it to bring the perfect blend of form and function.

Buy this Bible if

  • You want a huge, easily readable Bible
  • CSB is your preaching/teaching translation
  • You want a Bible that is very utilitarian without a lot of bells, whistles, or distractions
  • You want premium leather feel without breaking your wallet.
NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

 

 

The 2nd Edition the MacArthur Study Bible has finally been released in Dr. MacArthur’s favorite translation, the New American Standard Bible. Like the NKJV, it has been added to the premier collection. (Note: Thomas Nelson provided this Bible to me 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.)

Disclosure: John MacArthur is my favorite Bible teacher and the MacArthur Study Bible is my favorite study Bible.

 

Additional Photos

Translation Choice

This particular edition of the MacArthur Study Bible is offered in the New American Standard Bible (NASB). NASB is considered, by many, to be the gold standard for Bible translation and study and I see no cause to disagree, with the lone exception of the NKJV.

NASB is fastidiously literal in the tradition of its predecessor, the American Standard version. Some say it has a bit of a wooden feel but I don’t really see that. It seems to flow rather well.

Cover and Binding

Like its NKJV cousin, this Bible has a milk chocolate colored cover in the same exquisite goatskin as the remainder of the Premier Collection. It is as silky, smooth, and soft as Ghirardelli Chocolate (my favorite) and, it is even more glorious feel than the NKJV; the NASB edition has a considerably more pronounced grain than the NKJV, the most pronounced grain in the Premier Collection as far as I can tell. The goatskin is easily equal to the famed goatskin covers of RL Allan and Sons and beggars anything that Cambridge produces. To say that this cover drips quality is a perfect exercise in the art of understatement; it would have to be Thomas Nelson’s magnum opus, a work of art worthy of the ultimate book man can get his hands on-flawless goatskin aged to perfection and surrounding the holy words of Scripture. I cannot imagine an edition of Sacred Scripture I could enjoy more.

A leather liner ensures the flexibility of the cover. There is a gold gilt line encasing the perimeter of the Bible and, in tiny, gold all caps, at the bottom of the page, we find the words “goatskin leather cover.”

The front of the Bible is totally blank and the spine has MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible , and Thomas Nelson stamped in soft gold lettering. I did not really comment on this with the NKJV edition but I really like the muted front cover. A blank front cover is less ostentatious than you will find on other Bibles. To be perfectly honest, I do wish it were available in black goatskin but I do enjoy the brown as well.

As with the rest of the Premier Collection, the binding is sewn allowing the Bible to lie flat irrespective of where the text is opened. Both the front and rear of the Bible contain overcast stitching to reinforce the sturdiness of the text Block. Believe it or not, the text block is not as tight as in its NKJV cousin. This actually feels more pleasant in the hand and it is also more pulpit friendly in that it lays flat just a touch easier than the NKJV Edition.

Paper, Typography, Ribbons

There are 3 satin ribbons, 3/8” wide and they are offered in red, baby blue and mahogany. For some, three is the ideal number, but is the minimum that I find acceptable. The general idea behind the three ribbons is that you will have one to mark your OT readings, one for NT, and the last one for Psalms and Proverbs. If this were a preaching Bible, I would insist on two more ribbons. However, what we are offered, here, is quite adequate to the task at hand.

The paper is a 39 gsms European Bible Paper. This Bible actually has thicker paper than its siblings in the Premier Collection and it feels very similar to the paper used in the Cambridge Concord Reference Bible. The edges of the paper have red under gold art gilding. The paper is quite opaque allowing almost no show through.

2k/Denmark has designed all of the fonts in the Comfort Print Family and they ply their trade impeccably in this Bible. The text of Scripture is 9-point and the notes are 8-point. I have to say that this is the easiest 9-point that I have ever tried to read.

Layout

The Scripture text is laid out in double column paragraph format. The notes, which are also in paragraph format, are laid out in a triple column format (extremely helpful given the addition of 5000 more expository notes). In between the text of Scripture and the Notes Section you will find the Complete NASB Reference System, comprised of 95,000 cross references, textual variants, and translator’s notes.

Helps

The shining stars of the MacArthur Study Bible are the helps provided. For 50 years, Dr. MacArthur has made it his mission to “unleash God’s truth, one verse at a time” and in the MacArthur Study Bible every tool a person could need to comprehend God’s Holy Truths is made available to the reader. Let us look at the helps provided…

25,000 Exegetical and Expository Notes on Scripture

While many study Bibles offer commentary on Scripture, the MacArthur Study Bible goes further. By adding 5,000 notes to the previous 20,000, the MacArthur Study Bible now rivals the ESV Study Bible as the most heavily annotated Bible available.

The notes that are provided draw out the meaning of Scripture (exegete) and explain said meaning (exposition). However, they do not stop there; these notes whet the appetite and draw the reader further into the Scripture. Several pastors both well-known (Steve Lawson) and not well known (me) consult the MacArthur Study Bible on a regular basis. I would go so far as to say that if a person desired to understand and teach the Bible to others, the MacArthur Study Bible would sufficiently stand on its own and need no other tools

Book Introductions

The MacArthur Study Bible’s introductions provide a wealth of information for the student. We are treated to the usual information such as author, circumstance of writing, audience, etc. The difference in the MacArthur Study Bible’s introductions is the Interpretive Challenges Section. Several books of the Bible are difficult to interpret (think Revelation if you don’t believe me) and the MacArthur Study Bible deals with those challenges head on by identifying the challenges and then addressing them in John MacArthur’s signature direct approach.

Overview of Theology

This section does not appear in any other Study Bible, including Crossway’s excellent Systematic Theology Study Bible or Ligonier’s Reformation Study Bible. I absolutely love this feature. It is a very succinct Systematic Theology, ideal to educate the new disciple or for a seasoned pastor to teach through. The closest comparison is found in the Ryrie Study Bible’s Survey of Christian Doctrine.

I would advise that any study in the MacArthur Study Bible should begin here. Each subsection is well sourced with Scripture, succinct and logical. I can think of no better foundation for a new disciple than this Overview of Theology.

Maps and Charts

The maps and charts provided give contextual insight into the Scripture and provide aids for those who are visual learners. (It is always hard to comment on maps and charts because they are very plain and straightforward.)

 

Final Thoughts

If you had not guessed by now, I love the MacArthur Study Bible. I have multiple Editions: the NASB, NIV, ESV, 1st and 20th Anniversary Limited editions in NKJV, and digital copies on two different software platforms. By any stretch, the MacArthur Study Bible is my most oft reached for tool and it should be yours as well. If I were to find any negative in the MacArthur Study Bible, it would simply be nitpicking. As I have said, it is the Premier Study Bible and now in the Premier Collection it comes in a format worthy of the ultimate study Bible.

 

 

NIV Quest Study Bible Review

NIV Quest Study Bible Review

 

 

Additional Photos

Zondervan has quite an impressive array of Bibles available in the New International Version and one of the most interesting they offer is the Quest Study Bible, the only Question and Answer based Study Bible available. The were kind enough to send me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

Edition being reviewed: Black Leathersoft, Thumb- indexed. ISBN: 9780310450832

 

Click here to purchase

Translation: As mentioned the Quest Study Bible is offered in the New International Version (NIV). NIV is one of the mediating translations currently available. Mediating translations are exactly as the name implies, in the middle of the translation spectrum, not as woodenly literal as a formal equivalence translation and not as free flowing as a dynamic equivalence translation. NIV is, statistically, the best selling English translation on the planet; outside the United States, it is THE Bible for the Anglophone Nations (KJV gives it a good run for its money, here in the States.).

Cover and Binding

This is a black leathersoft edition and I have found that Zondervan is really doing well with their imitation leather Bible covers. The imitation leather is becoming more and more convincing. I would argue that a leathersoft cover is actually preferred to a leather cover since the polymer based cover is less likely to degrade with time.

We are given a sewn binding, which not only speaks to the quality of the book but also happens to be the only acceptable choice for biding the book block.

Helps

This is the most important feature in any Study Bible so I want to call out each individual section.

Thumb-indexing

A thumb-indexed edition can be very helpuf, especially for those new to the Bible. The indexing tabs in this edition are black half-moon and eact tab contains 3 books of the Bible for rapid location of your passage.

Introductions:

The introductions present and answer 6 Questions: Why read this book? Who wrote the book? When was it written? To whom was it written? Why was it written? What should I look for in this book? These questions are foundational to the understanding of any book in Scripture; they present the cultural and historical background of the book.

Instead of an outline of the book, we receive a timeline for when the book was written. Often, Christians forget that the Bible is not presented in chronological order so the timeline help us with the understanding where the books fit together.

Question and Answer Side-bar Notes

This is the feature that gives the Quest Study Bible its name. 7,000 of the most commonly asked questions about the Bible are laid out in the sidebars along with answers which make the information easily accessible. Utilizing these Q&A notes, a Bible teacher can easily anticipate many of the questions which will be encountered and have answers ready for learners of any age or any level of proficiency.

Top Questions

The 350 most asked questions are laid out beneath the Scripture text and side bar notes. These questions provide more in-depth answers than the sidebar notes. If you were to address just one question per day, you would have grasped the answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Bible and be prepared to give an answer when asked.

Charts, Timelines, Maps

Like any good Study Bible, the Quest Study Bible offers resources for visual learners. In-text maps, charts, and timelines will help visual learners to internalize the message of the Bible including the historical and cultural contexts.

Subject Index

Any good teacher will tell you that a good subject index is vital for teaching the Bible and the one provided with the Quest Study Bible is excellent. There are two obvious routes to go with this Subject Index, teaching one specific topic at a time or utilizing the Subject Index for a topical excursus while teaching each book of the Bible. In either case, the Subject Index will be a most valuable tool.

Layout, Font, & Paper

The Quest Study Bible is laid out in single column paragraph format with the Q&A  Study Notes in the side panels. Generally, I do not care for single column formats due to readability issues. However, this edition is comparatively readable due to the enhancements of the Comfort Print Font Family.

Naturally this is a black letter edition for the text of Scripture. I realize there there are those who are devotees of red letter editions which do serve a purpose but a black letter edition is a wiser choice in a Study Bible; it makes for more ease of use when annotating, especially with colored pencil.

The paper is comparatively thin but not so thin as to have much show through or bleeding when writing.

 

Who should buy the Quest Study Bible?

The ideal choice for a user of the Quest Study Bible is the New Disciple. New believers will have many questions and the Quest Study Bible is designed to anticipate those questions and to present the answers in the most user friendly format possible.

As a Discipleship tool

If you had not considered the Quest Study Bible as a discipleship aid, you definitely need to reconsider. There is, perhaps, no Study Bible more ideally suited to one on one discipleship than the Quest Study Bible.

What’s missing?

For reasons unknown to me, the Quest Study Bible, like most of Zondervan’s offerings, lacks any real place for notes. There is an edition, exclusive to Costco, which includes a very nice journal. I would love to see more notes pages, at least 3-5 pages per book, maybe following the introduction.

 

Final Thoughts

Much like my Teacher’s Study Bible, I am already intimately familiar with the content included with the Quest Study Bible. If one bears in mind the intended audience, the Quest Study Bible is well done. I would venture to say that around 1/3 of my audience may be too advanced to benefit from the Quest Study Bible but creative teachers will find good uses for this Bible.

NRSV Giant Print Thin-line Bible Review

NRSV Giant Print Thin-line Bible Review

Zondervan has finally released an edition of the NRSV that I can read with no issues, while I wait for my bifocals to arrive, and I am glad to review it for you today. If you click on this ISBN, 9780310454113, you will find an affiliate link which will enable you to purchase your own copy. For the lawyers: Zondervan provided this copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

 

Photos of this Bible

 

Zondervan’s Product Description

Easy to Read. Easy to Carry.

Explore God’s Word without suffering from eyestrain, with the NRSV Thinline Bible Giant Print. Not only will the 13 point type size enable you to read Scripture with ease, but it has also been paired with Zondervan’s Comfort Print typeface, which has been heavily tested and specifically designed to present the verses of the Bible in an as easy-to-read print as possible. We invite you to experience a smooth reading experience that complements the foremost Bible translation vetted by Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Jewish scholars.

Features:

  • The full text of the New Revised Standard Version (66-book Protestant canon), vetted by an ecumenical pool of Christian academics and renowned for its beautiful balance of scholarship and readability
  • Only an inch thick
  • Double-column format
  • Presentation page
  • Satin ribbon marker
  • Exclusive Zondervan NRSV Comfort Print typeface
  • 13-point print size

 

 

Readability

This edition stands far above its colleagues. Most NRSV Bibles are fairly smallish, especially the study editions, and cause eyestrain or other fatigue when attempting to read for long periods of time. Zondervan’s Comfort Print font greatly reduces the eyestrain; for some it eliminates it entirely, as it did in my case. The font in the Giant Print Thin-line is 13-point where the Large Print Thin-line comes in at 11-point. Both have the Comfort Print font and yet the difference in readability is incredible, just remember the Giant Print Thin-line adds about 20% to the thickness of the Bible. The only other NRSV that comes close to this in readability is the Baylor Annotated Study Bible. Naturally, I recommend both.

 

The Layout and Paper

The Giant Print Thin-line is laid out in a double-column paragraph format with semi-bold verse numbers. As far as NRSV Bibles go, this will be one of the easier Bibles to use in preaching.

 

This is a text only edition of the Bible so there are no distractions in the text itself. In the bottom left or right of the page you will find the Translator’s footnotes. NRSV happens to be one of the more heavily footnoted translations, partially because of its widespread use in academic circles. The foot notes include alternate translations and textual variants.

 

The paper is around 28gsm and it is a crisp white. It offsets the black letters quite nicely causing the Bible to perform well in most settings. You should have no issues with carrying the Bible.

 

Cover and Binding

The edition I am reviewing is the black leathersoft and it is also available in burgundy. In this edition, the polymer feel is considerably more obvious than in other Zondervan editions; it isn’t so bad though. I would really like to see this in a genuine leather cover, a Bible so clearly designed for preaching should have a nice cover. I understand Zondervan’s decision, though. NRSV is not the most popular translation; Christian Bookseller’s Association puts NRSV at 7% market share which does not put in the top 10 best-selling Bible translations. Meanwhile Zondervan also publishes the two best-selling English translations on the planet, KJV and NIV so I can understand not committing many premium options into the market. For the leathersoft to be the top level offered is a smart play.

 

The Bible appears to have a sewn binding so it will last for quite a while. If you plan to use it for a daily carry Bible, it should hold up well.

 

For Preaching

The NRSV is not a main preaching translation for me. That being said, this is the only NRSV that I would actually be comfortable to recommend for preaching. The font size and readability lend to its usefulness in the pulpit.

 

I can easily see this edition in the classroom; it will pair very well with the Baylor Annotated Study Bible, the Harper Collins Study Bible, the Oxford Annotated Bible or the New Interpreter’s Study Bible. In point of fact, that would be my recommended use case for this Bible, in the classroom.

 

For Every Day Carry

At 1” thick, this is one of the easier NRSV Bibles that you will try to carry. It is very lightweight, lending to ease of use with single handed carry. I have quite a few books in my bag and this fit in quite nicely. It definitely lives up to Zondervan’s claim of being easy to carry and easy to use.

 

Should you Buy?

Yes, assuming the NRSV is a translation is a translation you use regularly. The price point is very attractive and you receive a good value for the money.

 

Final Thoughts

This particular NRSV Bible guarantees that I will use the translation more. Whether or not it becomes a preaching Bible remains to be seen. I do love the NRSV’s handling of the Old Testament so I am quite happy to have an easy to read edition; it will make my study that much more productive and enjoyable.

 

I would like to this edition available in both hardcover and genuine leather to give it more audience appeal.