Tag: CSB

CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible Review

CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible Review

 

The newcomer into the field of Archaeological/historical study Bibles comes from the fastest growing English translation on the market, the Christian Standard Bible. Holman Bible Publishers sent me a copy of the CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one and my opinions are my own.

 

Photos of the Holy Land Illustrated Bible

 

The Concept

The Holy Land Study Bible takes a look at the land of the Bible, both current and past. Many of us wonder what it would be like to walk where Jesus walked or to sojourn through the wilderness where the Children of Israel walked but will not get that chance until after the Lord returns. This is where Bibles in this category come into play- helping you to visualize and internalize the land of the Bible.

The Translation

As mentioned in its name, this Bible is offered in the Christian Standard Bible. Since the 2017 release/update, the CSB has pretty well taken the market by storm as that juggernaut that is the oldest Bible publisher in America, Holman Bibles, has flexed its muscles and given us amazing Bibles.

CSB is a mediating translation at approximately 7th grade reading level. It is very well suited to study, devotional reading, and public reading.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper has a somewhat newsprint feel. It will most likely have no issue with writing. It seems to be a muted white, almost gray,

The CSB text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. We have an approximately 9-point font in a black that is very well done, a deep onyx that is very easy on the eyes. Translator’s Footnotes can be found at the bottom right of the page. In a little bit of an “easter egg,” chapter numbers are cranberry which provides a nice break-up of the reading experience.

1,100 images, maps, and illustrations with descriptive captions Few Bibles offer more to delight visual learners than the CSB Holy land illustrated Bible. There are photographs of places and artifacts to make the world of the Bible to come alive. Maps are included but that is rather painting the peacock. I confess that, to my surprise, I found these photos to be more engaging than in other similar Bibles. If you were to pair this with the ESV Archaeology Bible, you would have such an immersive experience as to make you feel like you were walking the land of the Bible and dialoguing with the experts.

275 full-length articles There are times when I am reading a passage and think to myself, “I would like to dig a little deeper on this.” As it happens, the Holy Land Illustrated Bible hits almost every one of those areas with a full-length study article. It is very nice to not need to pick up a second tool to dig a little deeper into a passage.

 40+ “Digging Deeper” call-outs These are bite sized articles containing cultural and historical notes to help whet your appetite for further study.

66 “Non-traditional” Book Introductions  These introductions cover the Circumstance of Writing, Contribution to the Bible and the Structure. These are far more circumspect than in other Study Bibles. However, they lack nothing that would be essential to grasping the Bible.

The Study Bible That Isn’t

Normally, when you think of a study Bible, you think of commentary notes, word studies, charts and graphs, exegetical aids etc. Here, though, Holman has made a study Bible that does not feel coldly academic. It is visually arresting- no matter where you turn, there is something to catch your eye and help you to internalize the Bible.

 

The Experience

Every Bible in this class offers its take on the ultimate Bible reading experience. Many times, I have heard, “I just can’t picture it, or I really don’t understand the significance of this idea.” There is no way to experience that with the Holy Land Illustrated Bible. You need not worry about being able to picture something, it’s right there in front of you and the historical significance is presented in the call out articles.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t what I expected. While I do enjoy other Bibles in this category, they can be a touch dry and academic. I am very pleased to not have that be the experience with the Holy Land Illustrated Bible. I love all things Bible so it should be no surprise that I enjoy this.

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.
CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible Reviw

CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible Reviw

 

Anyone who knows me will know that a verse by verse format is my preferred format for a Bible. Single column verse by verse is my ultimate but double column works just as well. In this article, we are reviewing the CSB Verse by Verse Reference Bible, which Holman Bible Publishers was good enough to send me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.

 

Click me for photos

 

A Fun Fact to Start:

A.J. Holman is the oldest Bible publisher in the U.S. They beat out Thomas Nelson by just a couple years. With over 200 years publishing, they are one of the oldest Bible publishers still in operation (Cambridge University Press is still the oldest with nearly 500 years of experience.) Nowadays AJ Holman Company is the H in B&H publishing or Broadman and Holman if you like to use the formal name.

 

The Translation

This Bible is in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Previous to licensing to AMG for the excellent Keyword Bible, which I also reviewed, Holman was the exclusive publisher.

 

CSB is a mediating translation of the Bible, though Holman calls this Optimal Equivalence (OE). An OE translation strives to give the best balance between fastidiously literal (think NASB) or free flowing and meaning based (think NLT) . It is fastidiously literal where it needs to be and very free flowing where it needs to be. It reads, and sounds, fairly close to the NIV with the major distinction being that the Christian Standard Bible leans more toward the literal end of the translation spectrum than does the NIV. Both translations are on a middle school comprehension level; if you like to be technical, I would rate it as 8th Grade on the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Matrix. Most of parishioners will not have any comprehension issues with the CSB but the younger crowd will, naturally, need to grow into it.

 

Is it a scholarly translation? Well, that depends on what you mean by scholarly. It is not ecumenical and most definitely is not liberal. It is very well suited for discipleship and study. Here are just a few of the Bible teachers, seminary presidents, and university faculty who endorse/approve of the CSB: Dr. Danny Akin, Dr. Ed Hindson, Dr. Tony Evans, Allistair Begg, Robby Gallaty, Dr. David Dockery, Dr. Gary Coombs, Pastor Matthew Bassford, Pastor and Theologian Kofi Adu-Boahen, and me, Pastor Matthew Sherro. Do not forget that a major and extremely conservative publishing house, AMG, has licensed the CSB for their Keyword Study Bible.

 

All that to say…In the pulpit, in the classroom, or in your living room, you can trust that the CSB is a faithful and accurate translation. You can build your teachings and devotions on the CSB without worry.

 

Cover and Binding

There are two options available, brown bonded leather (which I am reviewing) and black goatskin. The bonded leather has a paste down lining with a bit of a pebbled grain. To the touch, this is a higher quality of bonded leather than what other publishers are using so I do not think it will wear out quite as fast.

 

Most Bible publishers have gone back to sewing their text blocks which is outstanding. Now if they would just print and bind in the U.S.A. There are publishers who do and yet keep the prices affordable but I digress… The sewn binding ensures the text block will hold up well over the years.

 

Layout, Paper, and Font

The layout is double column verse by verse with each verse beginning on a new line. The Bible looks to be line matched which lends to the readability of the text. Verse numbers are in cranberry red to aid in finding the number.

 

Why is verse by verse important? Verse by Verse is the ideal format for those who preach and teach. Each verse begins on a new line making it much easier to locate the verse which you will use for preaching.

 

The font was designed by 2k/Denmark. Many Bible publishers have been using them and a single glance is all that is necessary to understand why. Their fonts are the perfect blend of utility and aesthetics. This Bible is no exception, in my estimation, it is the most reader friendly font offered in a Holman Bible. Of course this is a black letter edition, however, the chapter headings, verse numbers, and page navigation are all in cranberry to make navigating the text easier.

 

The paper is soft white, far more muted than in other Bibles, and, so, is very easy on the eyes. Being gloriously opaque does not hurt that Bibles cause at all.  Sometimes Bible paper can reflect the dazzling brightness of the sun into your eyes if reading outside. Thankfully this does not happen here.

 

It is a wide-margin edition, hitting two of my sweet spots in Bible design. Margins measure approximately 1.1 inches wide. I am using this Bible in conjunction with the Bible from AMG so I have not decided, yet, if I will write in this one as well. I do like the option and may add some mini word studies which I would not want to forget in the pulpit. It is not a journaling Bible, the margins are too small for that. Rather, it is clear to me that Holman desired to give the Bible teacher his best tool possible.

 

Helps

Footnotes

Holman is well noted for having the most translation footnotes in a mainstream translation at around 30,000 annotations depending on edition. The NET does have twice as many but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of pastors I know who are in possession of an NET Bible full notes edition (I actually have it on 3 different software platforms but I am a huge nerd.)

 

It looks as though we get the full body of footnotes and I am delighted to see that. We are treated to alternate translations, manuscript variants, etc. Got a question about the text? Look at the bottom of the page and chances are the translators have provided it for you.

 

References

There are around 63,000 organic references in the Scriptures (One verse illuminates another without being part of a topical chain.) and Holman gave us all of them. On each page, they can be found at the bottom of the right hand column. I have grown to prefer this as it prevents the flow of the text from being interrupted.

 

Full Concordance

Holman has provided a full concordance (though not an exhaustive one). It runs to 75 pages with 3 columns of entries per page. Sufficient content is provided to teach on just about any topic you can imagine.

 

Actual Use Scenario

I am pairing this with AMG’s Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible with the latter for study and this for preaching and teaching. I have told a number of colleagues that if there were a verse by verse CSB available, I would use it more and I aim to make good on that promise. I have also made the statement that this is what the CSB Pastor’s Bible ought to have been in the first place. Allegedly most pastors want a single column paragraph Bible for preaching, but I have not met a single one who shares that sentiment. The CSB Verse by Verse is the ideal CSB Preaching Bible and Holman should change the name and call it exactly that, the CSB Preaching Bible.

 

Should you buy it?

For CSB users, this is one of two must haves. If you have been paying attention, you have already deduced the other. I will go a step further…If you preach from CSB, don’t take any other Bible into the pulpit than this.

CSB Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible Review

CSB Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible Review

 

One of the top two Study Bibles, AMG’s Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible, has combined with one of fastest growing translations on the market, the Christian Standard Bible. Admittedly, the two have been together for a while but this is the first opportunity I have had to review the combination. This review, however, was not solicited by AMG but is, rather the result of a gift to our ministry.

 

Click for Photos

Why is the Keyword Bible important?

I have said that the Keyword Study Bible is one of the top two Bibles and want to explain why I think it is a vital investment for many Christians.

Most of the teachers in any particular church are not seminary trained, and in reality, the bulk of pastors around the world are not seminary trained, so they will have limited experience with the original languages of the Bible for lesson preparation. This is where AMG really shines in the Christian publishing world, it makes the original languages more accessible to the average Bible teacher. More on that when we get to the tools.

The Translation

The Keyword Bible is finally available in the Christian Standard Bible, one of the fastest growing translations on the market, one that I suspect will soon rival NIV. A couple of unexpected colleagues have recently adopted the CSB which prompted my looking a little further into the translation.

Similar to the NIV, CSB is a mediating translation. This is a blending of the rigidly literal word for word translation style of Bibles like he NASB and the free flowing meaning based style of translations of Bibles such as the NLT. There are areas where CSB is very literal, precise, and technical and other areas where it is free flowing and more meaning based. CSB calls this Optimal Equivalence; optimal is quite a fitting word for the translation.

Cover and Binding

This is a very highly grained genuine leather cover with a paste down liner. This is one of the few Bibles where I prefer a paste down liner, which AMG did give to us. Of course they sewed the binding; you cannot have a good quality study Bible without a sewn binding as they will not last.

Layout, Font, & Paper

The Keyword Bible has a double column format with center column references. The verses are laid out in a paragraph format as opposed to a verse by verse, where each verse would begin on a new line. We are also given a 1-inch margin although my copy is thumb indexed making the margins a little smaller but I won’t miss the margins

The font is crisp and deep ebony for the black letter and a rich cranberry for the red letters.

The Keyword Bible is one of those Bibles which demand to be written in and marked up (I have a brand new set of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils waiting to do just that.) and the paper is quite opaque and a little thick. I would guess about 32 GSMs on the paper. Were I to describe the color of the paper, I would call it eggshell white; your colored pencils will work out very nicely on the paper.

 Tools

What really makes this Bible different and sets it apart are the grammatical codes and notations. There are numbers, letters, and underlining within the Scripture text. Words that are underlined have the Strong’s number. You can look these numbers up in the dictionary in the back. If the number is bold, the entry will be expanded (annotated). If the number is not bold, it’s just the regular Strong’s entry. Not every word gives the Strong’s number. There are lots of them on every page, but there will always be one that I want to be coded that’s not coded. For these words I have to look them up myself and write the number over the word. Grammatical codes are a string of letters that appear before the word. They are only found in the New Testament. These codes show the part of speech for that word. There is a list of grammatical codes in the back and on a supplied bookmark.

Book Introductions

The book introductions are about a half a page each. They cover the history and customs (limited) of the people the book was written to or about, and gives information of the significance of the book. I cannot speak for others but this is one area that I would have liked to see developed a little more. Since Dr. Zodhiates is, himself, Greek, it would have been very nice to have some material on Greek culture. If nothing else, a 1 page article could have gone a long way towards helping to understand the New Testament better.

Notes Section

The notes at the bottom of the page discuss theological, exegetical, historical, and geographical points from the text. This is not like a standard study Bible with lots of commentary on every page. The main function of this study Bible is to be a linguistic aid rather than a commentary packed into a Bible. If you are looking for commentary, this Bible probably is not for you; if you want to better understand Scripture (especially if you are a Bible teacher) then this is not a should have it is a must have. If I could only have 2 Bibles for the rest of my life, this and the Thompson Chain Reference Bible are what I would choose. Between the two, you will find that you have everything necessary to grow in your knowledge of the Bible and of the Lord.

The study notes are provided by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates the founder of AMG. They are fairly influence free and exhibit mainstream evangelical thought. Unlike most study Bibles, though, this Bible does not provide notes on most passages of the Bible. Rather it provides notes on key passages of scripture and every verse has a keyword noted and linked to the dictionary in the back. On a side note, it is quite useful to understanding the New Testament that Dr. Zodhiates was Greek. Who better to explain a Greek Text than a native Greek?

Grammatical Codes

The Grammatical Codes section contains a page with all of the codes and 3 pages of examples. The codes show the verb tense forms of the Greek. The information explaining how to use the codes is found in the next section – Grammatical Notations. I would recommend placing the Grammatical Codes after the Grammatical Notations, so the explanation on how to use them comes before the codes themselves. The information is in this Bible, it’s just a little confusing at first because it looks like two separate sections when it really should be one section.

Grammatical Notations

The Grammatical Notations section is 20 pages and explains how to use the Grammatical Codes. The focus is on verbs. It covers the five features of verbs (tense, voice, mood, person, and number. They are written so that anyone can use them).  Each of the features are explained and plenty of examples are given. They give enough information to be helpful and get you started, but it doesn’t give you everything you need to know. This section is very clear about that and gives references to other works to help learn Koine (New Testament) Greek. This section is the most technical and difficult to use.

 Pastoral Use

I have Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bibles in three of the four translations I use most-NIV, NASB, and Now CSB. I had an NKJV as well but passed it on to another pastor (replacing that one is on my agenda). As a pastor, and this would work out well for any other Bible teacher, I study with the Keyword Bible and preach from a somewhat smaller Bible.

The Keyword Bible calls out the essential Hebrew and Greek words for your audience to know. You could almost build your lessons around just those but I do not want you to do that. Historical and cultural backgrounds must be added to the original languages.

 

Final Thoughts

Pick your translation and own one- there is no excuse for a Bible teacher to be without a Keyword Bible. The Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible is far and away the best study Bible you can own, especially in light of how accessible it makes the original biblical languages. My friend and colleague up in Oregon, the noted pastor-scholar Kofi Adu-Boahen has called this the most underrated Study Bible on the market and he is absolutely correct- many of my fellow teachers have said they have never considered the Keyword Bible and that is a tragedy that they should willingly cheat themselves out of such an excellent tool. Another colleague, the eminent pastor, Randy Brown, speaks of the Keyword Bible in more even more glowing terms than I do. To repeat, every Bible teacher should own one.

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

This morning we have a guest post from a colleague, Pastor Matt Bassford at Jackson Heights Church of Christ. Matt recently adopted the Christian Standard Bible as his preaching and teaching Bible and he has been gracious enough to share his thoughts. (More information can be found at Matt Bassford’s Blog

Why I Switched to the CSB

English-speaking Christians are blessed with a plethora of good translations of the Bible. Of course, translation is an art, not a science. There are no perfect translations, nor will there ever be.

However, practically every translation that we’re likely to encounter is more faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek texts we have than the Septuagint is to its Hebrew originals. If the Holy Spirit thought the Septuagint was good enough to incorporate into the New Testament, whatever we’ve got is good enough to get us to heaven!

Because we are so spoiled for choice, though, those of us who care about the Bible are likely to move from translation to translation, looking for one that is maybe a little bit more perfect than the rest. In my time as a preacher/Bible reviewer, I’ve preached and taught from at least 10 different translations, and at various times, I’ve used three translations (NASB, NKJV, and ESV) for my primary text.

A couple of months ago, though, I decided to try out a fourth translation for my every-day Bible—the Christian Standard Bible, or CSB. When I switched from NASB to ESV a few years ago, the CSB was a strong second-place finisher, and my occasional use of it ever since gradually swayed me to adopt it. Several factors played into this decision:

VOLUME QUALITY. My copy of the CSB is bound in edge-lined goatskin that Holman sent me as a promo copy in 2017 when they rolled the translation out. It’s true that I love edge-lined Bibles, and once you’ve gotten used to one, it’s tough to go back to paste-down.

However, it’s really the quality of the setting of the CSB that influenced me here. My CSB was set by 2K, a Danish shop that is world-famous for its Bible designs, and the quality shows. It’s better designed than the ESV I was using before. My CSB is prettier, easier to read, and has cross-references that are easier to use. As far as I’m concerned, anything that makes reading and studying the word more pleasant is well worth adopting!

STYLISTIC QUALITY. I love the English language and rejoice in good writing. As a result, I struggle to love translations that prioritize faithfulness to the words of the Greek (and sometimes even to Greek grammar) over making clear sense in English. Brethren often are fond of these translations (I think because they appear to remove human judgment from translation, though in truth they do not), but they often pose obstacles to our understanding. These obstacles can be surmounted in verse-by-verse study (as when the preacher reads a verse and then pauses to explain what it means in normal English), but they often make Bible reading difficult, especially for new Christians who don’t speak fluent NASB.

By contrast, the style of the CSB is accessible and lively. Instead of talking like Bible characters, speakers in the CSB sound like real people. For instance, in Luke 6:46 in the CSB, Jesus says, “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and don’t do the things I say?”

The CSB also is full of aptly phrased renderings. Consider the difference between Ruth 2:12 in the NASB (“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”) and the CSB (“May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”). The NASB undeniably sounds more Hebraic, with idioms like “your wages be full”, but it’s the CSB that sounds like good English. That’s important!

TEXTUAL FAITHFULNESS. It is, of course, possible for translators to take accessibility too far. Unlike most brethren, I’ve used the NLT extensively (I read the whole thing cover-to-cover a few years back), and though I like it for reading, I feel like the translators take too many liberties, especially in the New Testament, for the translation to be suitable for close study. When I’m reading from the NLT, there are a dozen places in the book of Romans alone where I stop and say, “Man; they sure booted that one!”

The translators of the CSB are much more careful. So far, at least, I feel that the translation sacrifices little in the way of nuance and faithfulness in exchange for great gains in style and clarity. Of course, there are CSB renderings that I don’t like, but there are renderings in every translation I don’t like. To this point, they are infelicities I can live with.

I also like the balance that the CSB has struck on gender equality. The translators generally render the Greek _adelphoi_ as “brothers and sisters” (unless the context makes it clear that only males are under discussion), and they replace “how blessed is the man” in Psalm 1:1 with “how blessed is the one”. However, the pronoun throughout Psalm 1 is “he”, and the translators preserve the singular “son of man” in Psalm 8:4 (compare “human beings” in the NIV). It remains to be seen whether the upcoming 2020 revision of the NASB will fare as well.

I certainly don’t insist that every Christian out there needs to switch to the CSB Right This Minute. It almost certainly is true that the Bible you’re using right now is get-you-to-heaven good (though if you struggle to adhere to a Bible-reading program, consider that your choice of translation and setting may be at fault). However, for those who are looking for another Bible or simply are curious, the CSB is well worth checking out.

Tony Evans Study Bible Review

Tony Evans Study Bible Review

Photos

 

 

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

 

Translation Choice

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

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

 

Cover and Binding

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

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

 

Font, Paper, Layout

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

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

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

Helps

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

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

 

Here are some ways I use the Tony Evans Study Bible

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Overall Impression

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

 

CSB Ultimate Bible Guide

CSB Ultimate Bible Guide

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

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

Translation:

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

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

Content

Key Text

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

Key Term

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

One Sentence Summary

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

God’s Message

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

Christ In

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

Background Information

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

Literary Features

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

Themes

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

Cover and Binding

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

Buying the Book

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

Final Thoughts

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

 

 

 

CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible

CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible

 

CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible

 

It is a joy to be able to bring you reviews of various Bibles and in this review, I am looking at the CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible, the Bible that lets you learn alongside the Church Fathers. (Holman Bible Publishers sent me a crimson leather over board {hardcover edition} in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.

 

Features/About the Book from Holman

Publisher’s Description (condensed)

This CSB Study Bible for men and women features study notes and commentary from the writings of the church fathers of the second through fifth centuries to help you understand and apply their rich, biblical insights to your life, for preparation to teach or for Bible studies. Also included in the CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible are “Twisted Truth” call-outs describing where some ancient thinkers drifted from orthodoxy, over 25 feature articles highlighting a key selection from one of the early church fathers on an essential Christian truth, and biographies of 25 of the most influential patristic church fathers.

The study Bible’s commentary and writings are from: Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Jerome, the Cappadocian Fathers, and more. Features of this CSB Bible include: Study notes from the early church, exclusive feature articles, profiles of patristic fathers, “Twisted Truth” call-outs, author index to easily find commentary from individual church fathers, presentation page, book introductions, two-column text, 10.25-point type size, 8-point study notes, black-letter text, smyth-sewn binding, Bible ribbon markers, full-color maps, and more.

Product Information

Title: CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible–soft leather-look, crimson
Format: Imitation Leather
Number of Pages: 2000
Vendor: Holman Bible Publishers
Publication Date: 2019
Dimensions: 9.75 X 7.00 X 2.00 (inches)
Weight: 3 pounds 6 ounces
ISBN: 1535940484
ISBN-13: 9781535940481
Text Color: Black Letter
Text Size: 10 Point
Note Size: 8 Point
Thumb Index: No
Ribbon Marker: Yes
Spine: Sewn
Page Gilding: Gold
Stock No: WW940481

 

As you can see, Holman and the Christian Standard Bible teams have put a great deal of thought and effort into this study Bible and it should bring a wealth of insight to the serious student of the Bible.

 

Initial Thoughts

I am really impressed with the concept as I have often wondered what it would have been like to be taught by the Patristic Fathers, especially Irenaeus and Polycarp though I must confess that I find Origen’s anti-Jewish tendencies bothersome (thankfully those tendencies do not shine through in the study notes). I want to address my only real complaint, here, so that we can get the “negative” out of the way up front. The notes on Revelation tend to have a bent toward Amillennialism. The problem being, that a host of the Church Fathers, Ephraim the Syrian as an example, were chiliasts and held to a literal millennial kingdom and thus a literal reign of Christ on earth. The Chiliastic Fathers would be the ancient forerunners of what we know today as Historical Premillennialists, cousins of sorts with Dispensationalists. Even the great preacher, Spurgeon, was a chiliast and so I am saddened to see the Chiliastic Fathers all but excluded from the notes. That being said, my eschatological disagreement with Holman Bible Publishers is not enough for me to disqualify this Bible from use.

 

Translation

I confess that I have an on again-off again relationship with the Christian Standard Bible but that is a question of habit rather than any problems with the translation, I have taught NKJV and NASB more; the CSB is growing on me. For my anniversary, I was gifted a CSB Pulpit Bible and decided to make a concerted effort to teach from the CSB more often.

 

What I enjoy about the CSB

The CSB is a mediating or optimal equivalence translation and I have to say that this is the biggest attractor for me. I love the fact that I can use this translation and have successful conversations with both new disciples and seasoned believers. It is as literal as possible but without sacrificing the thought. As I recently explained to my wife, I love the CSB because it sounds like a normal modern day person telling a story the way a normal person would talk. It’s familiar without being common and reverent without being stodgy.

 

The Physical Book

I haven’t the faintest idea how, but Holman managed to make it look like an old book. The shading on the cover has a look as though it has been on the shelf of a revered theologian for decades. The paper, though, really knocked me for a loop. It is a beautiful manila/cream color and looks mildly sun faded. I do not know if is psychosomatic or not but the paper even smells like an old book.

 

The Content

The notes are quite interesting. I was impressed with being able to see how the Patristic Fathers interacted with the Old Testament. It is also quite helpful to see some of the differing interpretationns of the Scripture as the Fathers developed orthodoxy.

 

Each book’s introduction includes the usual information on author and circumstance of writing. They also include a paragraph on the book’s contribution to the Bible and a paragraph or two from one of the Fathers about the book. By way of example, the Book of Mark’s Introduction includes comments by Eusebius on the book of mark.

 

There is no outline provided, which makes perfect sense as there were no chapters and verses in the days of the Church Fathers. In all honesty, I am surprised that Holman included chapters and verses in the text block given than it is meant to look ancient. Subject headings are provided and I find their familiarity comforting. The Commentary Notes are in three columns and specify each Father who is commenting on the Scripture.

 

Twisted Truth call-outs are set apart in a solid border and cover deviations from orthodoxy that the Church Fathers dealt with including, as an example, Modalism which was advocated by Sabellius and is a deviation from the Doctrine of the Trinity.

 

The Front Matter includes 3 articles which are best read before starting into the Scripture. They are Reading the Bible with the Church Fathers, Christology of the Ecumenical Councils, and the Participation of the Trinity. The Back Matter provides both the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed.

 

There are approximately 25-30 full page articles contributed by the Church Fathers on essential issues of the Christian Faith. Also, there are biographical sketches on the the Church Fathers who are quoted in the notes. These are quite helpful for realting to men long ago given to the ages.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am rather impressed. IVP makes a commentary set, which these notes are drawn from and whose cost, around $1500, is out of reach of most Christians. It is, then, wonderful to see these notes available to the average Christian. I do think that every pastor should own a copy, at the very least; it will make sermon prep all the more effective as we encourage our congregations to stand on the historic faith.

 

CSB Restoration Bible

CSB Restoration Bible

 

This review is going to be a little different from my other reviews. Instead of simply commenting on the book and its features, which I will do, I am also going to suggest some real life uses for the book, the CSB Restoration Study Bible. (Note: Holman Bible Publishers provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.) It is available in paperback, brown leathersoft (I am reviewing this edition) and an e-book.

As is our habit, let us begin with some features from the publisher:

Features Include:

  • Over 450 guided, devotional-style notes with Restoration-centered themes
  • Seven Life Restoration Principles
  • A “First 30-days” Restoration devotional
  • Book introductions highlighting “Restoration Themes” in each book
  • 66 restoration profiles of biblical characters
  • 10 full page features filled with scriptures highlighting biblical themes related to restoration
  • Index of all features for quick and easy reference
  • One and three year Bible reading plans
  • 52-week Scripture memory plan
  • Topical concordance
  • Two-column text
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation page
  • Full-color maps

Translation:

The Restoration Bible is offered in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. CSB is what is called a mediating or optimal equivalence translation meaning it endeavors to be as literal as possible while still capturing the original meaning as would be understood by the original reader. I have remarked before that if you could merge the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version into a single volume, this is what you would get.

CSB offers a host of translator’s footnotes; it continues the tradition of its predecessor, HCSB, of being one of the most well annotated versions of the Bible available. Because of this, CSB works very well for lesson preparation whether that is the Sunday Sermon, a small group study, or one on one discipleship. The CSB is very trustworthy and it is a translation which I reference weekly in my lesson prep.

Cover and Binding

This is brown leathersoft, an imitation leather, and I have to tell you, if the box did not tell me that it was imitation, I would swear this were a calfskin Bible; the imitation is that convincing. It includes a sewn binding for lifelong usage. Holman categorizes this as a deluxe Bible, meaning it has more premium materials than a hardcover or paperback Bible but it does not rise to the level of a premium (genuine leather, calfskin, or goatskin). The binding is quite satisfactory. I have tossed it into my back a few times with no issue. It will easily last for your entire ministry career.

Paper, Font, and Layout:

The paper is soft white, a little thin but still sufficiently opaque, and very soft and smooth to the touch. It feels a little like cotton but is very clearly still Bible paper. You should be able to mark in the text with a ball-point pen or a colored pencil. As a general rule, I do not recommend a liquid highlighter in a Bible as the paper is sufficiently thin to allow the liquid to bleed.

The font is a crisp black and I would estimate at approximately 9-point font. I actually find this text block to be easier to read than the large print ultrathin reference Bible which has a very similar font. The Restoration Bible is a black letter edition, meaning that they do not place the words of Christ in red. Red letter editions a just fine to use but since I always write my notes in red pen, they can be challenging so black letter is a better choice for studying and preaching.

Speaking of study and preaching, the text is laid out in a double column paragraphed format as opposed to a verse by verse format; each paragraph starts on a new line. Verse by verse is my preference but there are practical issues which frequently pose challenges.

Lastly, there is are two ribbon markers to help you remember your place, one for the Old Testament and one for the New.

For the remainder of this review, I will be commenting on the content and ways to use it.

 The Restoration Bible is clearly designed to be used with others, especially in Biblical Counseling, and I recommend that both the counselor and counselee have their own copy of this Restoration Bible for use together.

The Restoration Principles

In the front materials (what precedes the Biblical text), we find an article outlining the Restoration Principles. It is a 2-page article listing each principle, using the acronym R.E.S.T.O.R.E., offering a brief explanation, and then the primary Scripture from which the principle is drawn.

Restoration Devotional

A 30-day devotional is offered to give us an overview of the Restoration Principles and to show us how they are drawn from the Scripture to develop a Christlike mindset. There are several ways this could be used and I will suggest two: 1st the devotional can be used consecutively and, in a counseling/discipleship session, 7 days could be treated. As an alternate, this could be used as a 30 week overview so that the disciple and mentor can cover each devotion in one week. In either case, the Restoration Devotional offers a very solid foundation to develop Christ exalting thoughts and habits

In-text articles

Every book of the Bible contains in-text articles, in a green box, treating various restoration principles found in the text. In studying a particular book, systematically, you could deal with each article as they come up. Alternately, you have the option to study directly through each restoration principle.

Book Introductions

Each book of the Bible includes a 3-page introduction. Page one provides an overview of Spiritual Reformation in that particular book. Page two offers the usual information on author, setting, intended audience , outline, etc. Page three is really unique- it is a RESTORE Chart listing each principle and the appropriate passages from the book to guide you in your study of the Restoration Principles.

Topical Index

Instead of a Concordance, we are given a Topical Index. A Topical Index is more appropriate for this Bible as it specifically treats subjects (i.e. addictions, sins, spiritual wounds) and guides through the specific Scriptures related to that subject. While I recommend book by book teaching, this Bible is geared toward discipleship and counseling and as such, a topical study will probably be more practical as it enables teaching to be tailored  to the needs of each disciple.

The Reading Plans

There are 3 plans: a three year plan for more in-depth reading, a one year plan to get every word of the Bible in a “normal” reading plan, and thirdly, a 52 week reading plan geared toward committing Scripture to memory. The last plan is, to me, the most important; the only way to experience true restoration from sin is to overcome it with the Scripture which we have committed to memory.

Final Thoughts

The existence of the Restoration Bible is a great comfort to me. As a pastor, I encounter the hurting on a daily basis and this is one of a select few tools which I turn to every time I minister. Again, I recommend that both teacher and disciple have a copy, together, so that they can follow the Scripture simultaneously.

I am grateful to New Life, who designed this Bible, and to Holman, who published it. The only true pathway to healing, hope, and joy in Christ is through the means He offered to us, the Bible, and this Bible, especially, focuses on caring for Christ’s wounded lambs and restoring them to relationship with the Loving Shepherd.

 

To my pastoral brethren, I am going to go a step further than a simple recommendation and say that you NEED the Restoration Bible. The demands on our time are many and intense and we can turn to this tool to refresh ourselves and to help those entrusted to our care be restored to fellowship with our glorious Lord. Please, find yourself a copy and use it regularly.