New Interpreter’s Study Bible Review (Recovered)

New Interpreter’s Study Bible Review (Recovered)

 

New Interpreters Bible Photos

 

Recently Abingdon Press sent me three Bibles to review, The Common English Bible Study Bible, The Wesley Study Bible, and the New Interpreter’s Study Bible. The CEB Study Bible review has already been completed and today we will be discussing the New Interpreter’s Study Bible. 

 

Before we get into the review, a little information from the publisher: 

 

Product Description 

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible brings the best of biblical scholarship to the service of the Church. In this new study Bible, based on The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with Apocrypha, sixty distinguished scholars have provided background and insight on the biblical text. Features of this valuable new study Bible include extensive historical and theological annotations on the biblical text; brief introductions and outlines for each biblical book; excursuses giving further background and insight regarding particular themes and passages; and nineteen newly commissioned maps detailing the biblical world at various historical periods. 

 

Features: 

  • Double-column format
  • Article, “Canons of Scripture”
  • Guides for Interpretation articles:

Reliability of Scripture 

Authority of the Bible 

Inspiration of Scripture 

Guidelines for Reading and Interpretation 

Varieties of Readings and Interpretations of the Biblical Text 

Culture and Religion Among Ancient Israelites 

  • Sectional headings
  • Book introductions and Outlines
  • Black letter edition
  • 19 color maps with index
  • Glossary
  • Old and New Testament Chronologies
  • 9-point text size
  • 50″ x 7.50″ x 1.75″

 

And now, let’s dive right in… 

 

Font Size, Paper, and Layout 

NIB’s font size is impeccable; it’s 9-10 point and incredibly readable, being laid out in a double column paragraph format. This, for me as well as many others, is one of the top three considerations when choosing a Bible. I don’t have the greatest eyesight and if I find myself straining to make out the text on the page, I won’t bother. I, personally, think that the text size is ideal for a study edition of the Bible, small enough that you are not carrying around too much weight and large enough to not cause headaches.  

 

The paper is a very bright white. Some white papers actually discolor after quite a bit of handling but that is not the case here. I have handled the paper extensively, turning every page several times to get a feel for the material and thus far there has been no discoloring from the oil on my hands.  

 

The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals 

This, I confess is new to me. My biological father was a catholic and my wife is a former catholic yet I can say that until this Bible I had never really looked into these books. As their name suggests, these are not part of the generally accepted canon by most Protestants. At the same time, I have been able to ascertain that some denominations actually do accept them. 

 

Of the Apocryphal books, I find the Books of the Maccabees to be the most interesting. Without going into a great deal of detail, there are a couple things I noticed: 

 

  1. It is in the Books of the Maccabees that we learn about the Feast of Dedication/Channukah.
  2. The most substantiation for the Antichrist having already come seems to be found here. If Antiochus IV was the Antichrist, the case would most certainly and most clearly laid out here. However, I do not see anything else in Scripture to suggest that Antiochus was the Antichrist, most especially since Jesus and Paul both spoke of him in a future tense. 
  3. The additions to Esther do not appear in all Greek texts of the Old Testament and they do not appear in the Hebrew OT at all, which leads me to question, seriously, the validity of including them in the Scripture.
  4. Beland the Dragon and Tobit bot appear to be works of fiction. If that is the case, their inclusion in a Bible would be most suspect. 

 

Overall, I am not opposed to Christians reading the Apocrypha; I certainly would not call these works authoritative but I cannot find the harm in reading them since they did comprise a part of Church History.  

 

Text Excursus 

This is a feature that I have only seen in one other Bible, the CEB Study Bible. These are kind of like a side-bar or a more in-depth foot note but they have less detail than a full article. Nearly every book of the Bible has at least one; in some cases, Ephesians for example, they provide interesting background information that most likely was not known otherwise.  

 

Special Note Section 

These are similar to the Text Excursi but much more bite sized. A number of them appear to be word studies.  

 

Introductions, Outlines, and Study Notes: 

In order to get more of a feel for the layout, I acquired a New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) from my local thrift store. NOAB is the main Bible used in Mainline Protestant Seminaries, is also a New Revised Standard Version Text, and could pass for the older sister of the NIB. Unless you are a teacher you will probably find it hard to get excited about an outline; I find myself rather enjoying them. In some study Bibles, the outlines will run a couple pages per book. Thankfully that annoying problem is not present in the NIB. These outlines are succinct without lacking substance. All of the essentials that you need to know to comprehend a book are outlined for you and you could use them as an expository teaching guide without leaving your congregation lacking or use them as a starting off point for an intensive in depth study. 

 

As to the Study Notes themselves, it is quite obvious that NIB is meant as an academic text. That is not bad but it does cut some people out of the prospective market. It, most assuredly does not have the pastoral feel of a MacArthur or Jeremiah Study Bible but that is quite ok. This is the one that you will reach for when you are looking for solid academics and not necessarily pastoral care.  

 

There are a couple features that are found in other Bibles that I would love to see Abingdon poach for this version: 

  • Interpretive Challenges (found in MacArthur Study Bible)
  • Christ in Scripture (Found in Nelson’s NKJV and Open Bible Study Bibles)
  • Major Themes of each Book (found in ESV Study Bible)
  • Word Studies (Found in Holman CSB Study Bible, Nelson NKJV Study Bible, and AMG Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible. 

 

The addition of those features could easily make this the ultimate Study Bible.  

 

The Book Introductions are a little different from what you may be used to. As I have already pointed out, this is one of the most academic study Bibles I have ever encountered. It is obviously assumed that the user of this Bible will fall into one of a few categories: an Undergraduate Student, a Seminary Student, a pastor, or a teacher in a church. Because of that assumption, the Introductions really shine in the NIB. There is the usual historical background and outline as well as a bit of commentary on the author but something I found, here, that I do not usually notice in other study Bibles is the theological commentary. Granted it is Mainline Protestant Theology and I am a Conservative Evangelical but I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to have the remarks on theology as a starting point for discussion. Many Christians have little idea what they actually believe or why; they don’t have any idea of what their Christological, Soteriological, Pneumatalogical, or Eschatological beliefs are or if they are even supposed to have one. This is not because they are defective Christians (we are all defective but I digress) rather it is because they don’t have any point of reference upon which to build. That being the case, I am glad to see theological opinion in the introductions, even if I don’t always agree. 

 

Translation

This is offered in the New Revised Standard Version, the academic standard text for mainline protestant seminaries. Though it does contain the Apocrypha, it is not the Catholic Edition (abbreviated NRSV-CE)

 

Overall, the New Interpreters Study Bible is a pleasant surprise. Because I am so conservative, I did not think I would like the NIB and I was nearly certain that I would not like the translation. NRSV is not a translation that would normally find its way onto my shelf nor would an “ecumenical” study Bible. There is enough valuable information inside, however, that the New Interpreters Study Bible has earned a place on my shelf and if you are a student of the Word, you may want to give it a look too.  

 

 

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