Tag: Pastor

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

TBS Large Print Windsor/Family Bible Review

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

(TBS provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review only an honest one and my opinions are my own.)

 Cover & Binding

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

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

Paper, Layout, and Font

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

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

For Preaching/Teaching

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

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

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

For daily use

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

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

Should you buy

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

Final Thoughts

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

The NIV Open Bibles

The NIV Open Bibles

 

Following the 2019 and relaunch of the NKJV and KJV Editions of The Open Bible, Thomas Nelson has FINALLY released the NIV Edition of the Open Bible, an edition that I have been waiting 20 years for and some have been waiting nearly 40 years to launch

 

Pictures of the Open Bible

Disclaimer:  Thomas Nelson sent one black imitation leather with thumb indexing free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Some information from Thomas Nelson

Product Description

The Open Bible is a great way to explore Scripture with the tools and helpful information that you need to understand it better. It features an easy-to-use topical index of over 8,000 names, places, concepts, events and doctrines. It also includes book introductions and outlines to with information on the historical context and themes of each book in the Bible. The Open Bible is sure to help you glean more from God’s Word.

Features include:

  • Topical index with 8,000 plus names, places, concepts, events, and doctrines
  • Book introductions and outlines provide historical context and themes of each book in the Bible
  • References include both verse and page number
  • Visual Survey of the Bible
  • 9-point print size

 

Layout

We will start with the biggest change first…The layout has always been a double column verse by verse format and that has not changed. Happily, in the NIV Edition, Nelson returned to not having a center column full of references.

There are 3 types of notes, each of which is laid out differently. Translators footnotes are found at the bottom of the right column. References, separated by a solid black line, are located at the bottom of the page, similar to what you will find in the NKJV Preaching Bible, except when there is a section of expositional notes. When expositional notes are provided, the references are placed into a box above the notes.

My review copy includes Nelson’s readily identifiable half-moon thumb indexing tabs.

Cover, Ribbons and Binding

I’m reviewing the imitation leather one but there are also genuine leather and hardcover versions available as well. The text block appears to be sewn as the Bible does not have any issues lying flat where I open it. There is some cockling (that popcorn sound) when you open the book. The cockling sound is a little irritating but it is not overly terrible. Like the NKJV, the cockling sound will go away with more use. We receive two ribbon markers for your daily OT and NT reading.

Font

We have Nelson’s Comfort Print series in 9-point font. The Open Bible is a red-letter edition and the red is really well done. Different publishers will often have trouble with the red lettering but Nelson executed quite nicely; The red letters are deep and rich.  For most people the font should be very easy to read.

The NIV Edition is, to my eyes, more readable than its NKJV cousin, even though it is not verse by verse like its counterpart. With the center column removed, the page looks less busy and if, like me, you need glasses, you will find this much easier to read.

Biblical Cyclopedic Index, now called The Topical Index

This is the standout feature of the Open Bible but it had been renamed for 2019 and is now called the Topical Index. There are 8000 entries cataloguing various topics in scripture. I have always found this to be most useful. It is very similar to the indexing that Kirkbride does with the Thompson but its keyed to NIV Reference System.

I would argue that this is one of the most important features in the NIV Open Bible. Many teachers lack resources for lesson preparation and this Topical Index easily provides a lifetime of lesson preparation material

Paper

The paper is surprising. It is fairly heavy (maybe 30-34 gsms) and quite opaque. This would work really well with colored pencils or with very fine tipped liquid highlighters.

We have similar paper in the NIV and NKJV editions BUT the paper is much less ostentatiously white in the NIV. That, coupled with the darker black in the NIV font makes readability much less of a chore.

Christ in the Scripture

Each book introduction includes a section showing how that book portrays Christ and shows Him throughout the whole of Redemptive History.

Survey

Each introduction also includes a brief survey of the book to be studied. The survey provides an overall summary of the book to be studied.

Exegetical and Expository Notes

Unlike most Study Bibles, the notes in the Open Bible are not commentary but exegetical and expositional in nature. The notes give you a solid foundation for your exegesis of Scripture.

Additional Helps 

The Front and Back Matter includes the Following Articles and Charts

How to Study the Bible

Christian’s Guide to the New Life

Guide to Christian Workers

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Harmony of the Gospels

Laws of the Bible

Miracles of Jesus

Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Christ.

Parables of Jesus

As a Preaching Bible

The Open Bible’s size leaves it ideally suited to preaching ministry, it is challenging for my bifocals and I. A pastor who is not visually impaired should not have any issues. 

Overall Thoughts

The Open Bible is a Bible which I have enjoyed regularly in the past. Overall it will be something I will continue to enjoy.

I am quite glad to see that my dissatisfactions have been addressed. It has been worth waiting 20 years for an NIV Edition.

 

CSB Pastor’s Bible (Recovered Content)

CSB Pastor’s Bible (Recovered Content)

The following content has been recovered and reposted for your enjoyment.

 

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The most important tool any pastor carries is his Bible and a number of publishers have released special Bibles for pastors, all of which are worth consideration.  Previously, we have reviewed the EVS Pastor’s Bible from Crossway and today we are reviewing the CSB Pastor’s Bible in brown genuine leather. (Note: This Bible was acquired at my own expense; no review has been solicited by Holman Bible Publishers.) 

 

Before we begin, some information from Holman… 

Product Description 

Available in two editions, Genuine Leather or Deluxe LeatherTouch-theCSB Pastor’s Bibleis ideal for pastoral use during preaching, officiating services, or personal study. Helpful features include a single-column setting, large type, wide margins, a special insert section in the middle of the Bible. Also contains outlines for officiating weddings and funerals, and extensive tools and articles from some of today’s respected pastors and church leaders. TheCSB Pastor’s Bibleis a valuable life-long resource for Pastors. 

 

Features include: 

  • Smyth-sewn binding 
  • Single-column text 
  • Footnotes 
  • Black-letter text 
  • 10-point type 
  • Concordance 
  • Presentation page 
  • Two-piece gift box 
  • Over 17 articles on leadership and ministry by experienced pastors and leaders disbursed throughout the Bible’s pages 
  • Outlines for officiating weddings and funerals 

The CSB Pastor’s Bible features the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read and share with others. 

A Few Remarks About CSB 

The choice to preach and teach from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one that more and more pastors are making and I can see why. On a number of occasions, I have described the CSB as the perfect blend of NASB (the most literal) and the NIV (the most popular). CSB is fastidiously literal yet very easy to read. I would estimate at an approximately 8th grade level, which is excellent because it will afford the teacher of God’s word the broadest audience spectrum possible. I have mentioned, in previous articles, that CSB is one of the 3 main translations that I use for regular reading. I am happy to commend the CSB to you; you will find it to be very accurate, readable, and most importantly, faithful to the original text.  

Cover and Binding 

I selected the brown genuine leather version, for myself, and I want to tell you two things about it. 1. Brown genuine leather is a total understatement. This is actually goatskin leather, as you will see stamped on the back of the Bible. 2. This goatskin cover is absolutely exquisite and I cannot believe that you can find a goatskin Bible at this price ($99.99). The brown  goatskin has an ironed cover which provides a smooth texture and a softer feel. The coloration is similar to milk chocolate and is reminiscent of a cup of hot cocoa. Brown is not, normally, a favorite of mine but I really enjoy this. 

The liner is a paste down, which I think contributes to the pricing. Here, in Phoenix, the heat can make a paste down liner a little problematic because if you leave it in your car, you can melt the paste (This has actually happened to me in the past.). 

The block, itself, is sewn. If you know anything about bindings, you know that a sewn binding is the only type that will stand up to the near constant punishment a pastor will subject his Bible to and I can confidently state that the cover will wear out before the sewn binding will.  

One other note, there is no stamping on the front cover and I find it to be most appreciated. The Pastor’s Bible should be a reflection of the pastor, reserved but accessible and focused on the glory of Christ. 

Layout, Font, and Margins 

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The margins are approximately 1-inch. A wide margin is essential for a pastor so that you can mark out your notes and references.  In all honesty, a wide margin is an often overlooked feature In the Bible a pastor chooses but it is a very smart feature to have because it is not always practical to carry notes into the pulpit with you but you can easily put the essential notes into the margins so you are still able to preach a passage.

 

2k/Denmark designed the font and, even though it is officially a 10-point font, it reads more like an 11-point to my eyes. The text is black letter and I have found this to be much more useful in the pulpit than a red letter.  

The single column paragraph format works out well for large scale consumption of the Biblical text and, since consuming the Biblical text is a pastor’s most important undertaking, this format is highly desirable.  

 

Helps 

At the end of the Bible are the various pastoral helps.  These include a “where to turn” section with Scripture references to help (pictured below), “A Brief Biblical Theology of Leadership,” “Eight Traits of Effective Church Leaders,” “Pastor, Find Your Identity in Christ,” “Glorifying God in Your Ministry,” “What is Biblical Preaching?,” “Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures,” “What is Doctrinal Preaching?,” “Four Keys for Giving an Effective Invitation,” “Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing,” “Soul Care: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love,” “Letter to the Church,” “Five Steps to Start and Keep an Evangelistic Culture,” “How Do You Disciple Others?,” “The One Thing You Must Do as a Student Pastor,” and “Sharing the Gospel with Children.”   

 

In between Psalms and Proverbs is where you will find the “Life Events” helps. These are for weddings, funerals and so on.  Noticeably absent are helps for communion and baptism as well as cross-references, which can all be found in the rival ESV Pastor’s Bible. Whether or not missing these helps is problematic will depend entirely upon who you are as a pastor. The helps that are “missing” I have in other books that are in my library. 

 

There are 3 ribbons provided so you can mark your spot in each of the 3 major sections of the Bible: Old Testament, Worship and Wisdom, and New Testament. 

 

As A Carry Bible 

The Pastor’s Bible is not small but it is not overly large, either. I would list it as just right. It fits in my bag easily, I can hold it one handed without my hand/arm getting tired, and it pairs well with my iPad when placed on my pulpit.  

 The Pastor’s Bible is, essentially, in the sweet spot for Bibles. Like many of my brethren, I preach from a tablet but I still carry a physical Bible as I always recommend to my colleagues.

Final Thoughts 

Would I recommend the CSB Pastor’s Bible? Yes. I use different translations (NLT, CSB, & NASB) for different purposes and I definitely plan on moving the pastor’s Bible into rotation as my pastoral care and discipleship Bible. I will also be using it alongside my Tyndale Select NLT Reference Bible for large scale consumption of the Biblical text.  

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition de

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition de

 

 

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The Academic Standard Text of the English Bible has joined the Premier Collection and I am delighted. New Revised Standard Version (hereafter NRSV) has been finding its way into my studies more frequently as I endeavor to be more well-rounded in my studies and in bringing NRSV to the Premier Collection, Zondervan has offered an edition that is equally suitable to the desk and the pulpit. (Incidentally, Zondervan sent this Bible to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own as I was not asked for a positive review, just an honest one.)

Translation Choice

With Zondervan being the primary publisher of the NRSV, it makes sense that they would bring a spectacular offering to the Premier Collection…

NRSV is what we call an essentially literal translation, like its cousins ESV and NASB. There are some notable differences in the three, but by and large NRSV is pretty literal. It does tend more toward the mediating end of the translation spectrum because it is a little more free flowing. It is more formal equivalent than either the NIV or CSB, the dominant mediating translations on the market.

I have referred to the NRSV as the Academic Standard Bible for two reasons: 1. All of the general reference Study Bibles (the standard texts in most seminaries) are offered in NRSV and two because that is how it was presented to me. The Translation Committee included Jews, Catholics, Mainline Protestants and conservative Evangelicals. The NRSV has the broadest spectrum of thought in the realm of textual criticism.

Cover and Binding

If you have never handled a Bible in the Premier Collection, you are in for a real treat. To say the leather is a tactile delight is a beautiful exercise in understatement. There are very few Bibles anywhere which are more touchable than the Premier Collection. Previously, I had thought that Harper Collins had used their best leather on the NASB Bibles in the Premier Collection-I was incorrect. The NRSV has the most incredible goatskin that I have ever touched, even beating the leather used by Cambridge University Press, the leader in the Premium Bible Market.

The grain is nicely pronounced; it lights up every nerve ending in your fingertips. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I could sit and just run my fingers over the cover for hours on end. Naturally, as with all of its cousins in the Premier Collection, this is a leather lined cover, making the cover incredibly flexible but still sturdy.

The binding is, of course, sewn, BUT, it is not sewn as tightly as in the rest of the collection. It is almost as if Zondervan had designed this Bible for a peripatetic pastor. It is perfectly balanced for one handed use. Adding to the durability of the Bible, Zondervan has provided overcast stitching on the first and final signatures. This overcasting not only reinforces the binding, it also helps with laying flat in Genesis and Revelation.

Layout

This Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format with a couple surprises in the layout. Zondervan’s Complete Cross Reference System is placed in the outer margin and that margin, incidentally leaves 1 inch of space for annotations, symbols etc. Previous to receiving my copy, I had not been told that it was wide-margin (my preferred feature in a Bible geared toward study) and I was pleasantly surprised to find wide margins. Margin space has been my biggest complaint with the offerings for NRSV. For a Bible billed as the Academic Standard, wide-margins are essential and I am glad to see that Zondervan has finally added them.

In the footer, you will find the Translator’s Footnotes. Unlike its NASB cousin, the NRSV Single Column  Reference Bible includes the full set of Translator’s Footnotes. You may be asking why this is important and here is why, it is not always possible to go back to the Greek or Hebrew so having an insight as to why a particular choice was made is most helpful. As with all Zondervan Bibles, the Translator’s Footnotes include variant readings from the source text as well as textual variants from other original language manuscripts.

Comfort Print Font and Paper

Like the rest of the Premier Collection, this Bible is in Harper Collins’ Comfort Print Font. For reasons unknown to me, I find the NRSV’s Comfort Print the easiest to read followed by the NKJV Comfort Print Font (NKJV is published by Zondervan’s older sister, Nelson Bibles). Ironically I have not seen a comfort print from the 3rd Imprint under Harper Collins Christian Publishing, Harper Catholic Bibles though it is possible that is still in the works.

I was expecting a deep rich ebony for this black letter text and that is exactly what I got. It is no secret that I prefer a black letter text because I annotate in blue or red ink. Besides that, red letter can be a bit distracting in the pulpit, especially since it is, frequently inconsistent. 2k/Denmark plied their trade as master craftsmen and, in the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, gave us the most readable NRSV that I have set my eyes on. Though it is not billed as large print, it most certainly is large print at approximately 10.5-point font. To my surprise I had no issues with reading the text. (I wear bifocals and anything below a 12-point is a challenge). I did not experience the expected eye fatigue, a welcome relief since sermon prep requires I spend hours with any given text every week. I am pleased to say that the text did not stress my eyes at all.

The paper is a crisp white and very opaque, 38 gsm I believe. If you did not know, a higher number on the gsm indicates a heavier paper and one which will stand up better with underlying and annotations. There will be absolutely no issues annotating in pen, colored pencil, or standard pencil. Clearly Zondervan wants you to write in this Bible and, for that matter, so do I. There is no sight more beautiful than a heavily marked up Bible. You will enjoy marking up this Bible and making it your own.

There is another delightful surprise, one that would go unnoticed by a good many people. The edge gilting is purple under gold. Traditionally, the gilting it either red under gold or blue under silver. The purple under gold is a nod to whimsy {we don’t normally think of academicians as being fun_ but it also a nod to the majesty of the Scriptures. Purple is the color of royalty and, beloved, the Bible reigns over all othre books as King so it is proper and fitting that the color of royalty should be on the most regal of all books.

Which NRSV?

There are 3 Editions of the NRSV: The Protestant Canon, The Catholic Canon, and the Orthodox Canon. Each canon has a different number of accepted books and, for this Bible, Zondervan relied on the Protestant Canon. As it happens, the Protestant Canon is not in dispute which is to say that all 3 traditions will recognize and accept those 66 books. If you are Catholic or Orthodox and reading this article, I would encourage you to not be disappointed that the Protestant Canon was chosen. In doing so, Zondervan can actually get the Bible into the hands of more people since we all know and read those 66 books.

For use as a preaching Bible

Many denominations use NRSV for their weekly liturgy and this would be a logical choice for preaching in those churches. I was surprised to find it be easy to use. There is nothing wrong with a single column; I just happen to not be used to it in the pulpit. The font size and lay out lead me to believe that this Bible is designed to be equally practical for the Expositor as well as the general reader. It is very easy to do what I did-sit in your favorite recliner with this Bible open and just read for a couple hours.

Should you buy this Bible?

Decide, first, if the NRSV will be a main translation that you will use. The Premier Collection is not inexpensive but it is worth every penny. Ergo, if NRSV is either your translation or choice or a major use translation, then yes, this is absolutely the NRSV to own.

If you are in seminary, using the NRSV is probably not even a question and I have a twofold recommendation for this particular Bible- get the edition that is not in the Premier Collection for your classwork and get the Premier Collection edition for your time in the Pulpit, your preaching Bible does not necessarily have to be your workhorse.

Final Thoughts

I must confess to a gripe- I am annoyed that there are no lined notes pages included in this or any other in the Premier Collection. The Premier Collection is the ideal choice for anyone who teaches the Bible, regardless of whether that is Sunday School, Preaching, Classroom or any other capacity and I cannot fathom a logical reason for the exclusion of notes pages.

Other than that, as I told my contacts at Zondervan, I can sum up my opinion of the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition, in a single sentence: Finally, an NRSV worth the money!

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.”

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.

 

 

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.

Baylor Annotated Study Bible Review

Baylor Annotated Study Bible Review

 

The newest member of the General Reference/Academic Study Bible category is the Baylor Annotated Study Bible, an interesting new offering which is a joint venture between Baylor University Press and Tyndale House Publishers.  (Before we continue, I want to mention that neither Tyndale House nor Baylor University solicited this review, nor did they provide a copy for review; I sourced my copy on my own.)

Baylor Annotated Study Bible Photos

 

This may be a fairly lengthy review as there will be some comparisons between Baylor’s offering and the other Bibles in the category. Those Bibles are New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Interpreters Study Bible, Harper Collins Study Bible, CEB Study Bible.

 

Translation

With one exception, the Academic/General Reference Bibles are offered in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). Another publisher, Abingdon offers two Bibles in this category, the New Interpreter’s Study Bible and the Common English Bible Study Bible.

The NRSV is, widely, considered to be the most ecumenical of the Bible translations. This is proven accurate by its acceptance by Protestants, Catholics, and the various Eastern Orthodox Communities. The Old Testament is superbly done but the New Testament is not really a favorite of mine.

I am reviewing an edition with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical which I wish more Christians would read as there is some very helpful historical information contained in them.

 

The Physical Form

Cover and Binding

My copy is a green hardcover with dust jacket. There is also an imitation leather option available. Both should prove fairly sturdy.

The Baylor Annotated Study Bible includes a smythe sewn binding. This binding is even more important in a textbook. For a Bible that is required for classroom use, which this is, you need a strong binding that will hold up to very rigorous daily use in the classroom.

Paper

Of the 5 Bibles in this category, Baylor offers the best paper. It is very similar, if not exactly the same, as the paper in the Tyndale Living Bible shown in the photos. I estimate it at about 36gsms. It is nicely opaque and will hold up to writing very well. My recommendation in this particular case would be colored pencil. Since it may be used in multiple classes, colored pencil will make it easier to keep track of your personal annotations.

Layout & Font

The Bible text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. The notes are laid out in a single column beneath the text. As with the Oxford Annotated and Harper Collins Study Bibles, the cross references are interspersed among the notes. Baylor, it seems, offers more cross references than either of the two “Academic Standard” Bibles.

Font size looks to be 9.75-10.5 for the Scripture and 8.75-9.5 on the footnotes. As you would expect in a textbook, we have a black letter text. Any serious student will tell you this is the preferred coloration as you will most likely color code your notes.

For reasons unknown to me, none of the 5 Bibles in this category offer notes pages or wide margins. I find this curious since they are intended for college and seminary students.

Content

Bible Timeline

This feature stood out more than any other feature. There is a 10-page Bible timeline/chronology. Visual learners will appreciate the timeline as it helps to lend understanding to Redemptive History.

 

Introductions

A standard feature of study Bibles, all 66 of the books in the Protestant Canon include an introduction. The introduction appears to be brief, but this is a trick your eyes are playing on you. In addition to the Author and some background information, the Introduction actually is the outline. The major sections of the book are broken down in the introduction for your convenience.

I would like to see interpretive challenges discussed but this is not a deal breaker for me. No doubt in the classroom, the professor will have access to the various interpretive challenges and present them to the class.

Annotations

There are approximately 5000-7500 annotations, mostly on par with the Oxford Annotated but quite a bit less than New Interpreters (Approximately 15000) and Significantly less than CEB Study Bible (around 18000-20000 notes). The annotations, while broadly academic, do have a distinctly Baptist flavor. This is not surprising given Baylor’s status as the World’s largest Baptist University.

The notes on Genesis 1 are acceptable to me as a conservative Baptist. They provide background and reference other creation narratives from the ancient world, but they do not seem to attempt to discount the veracity of the Genesis narrative nor do they attempt to detract from it as history. Instead they shed more light on how the ancients would have viewed creation and also look at God superintending creation.

In Revelation, the notes took a turn I did not expect. Like the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, they take the Idealist Approach to Revelation while the other three take more of a historicist and/or preterist approach. Many, perhaps even most of my conservative Dispensational Baptist colleagues, would take issue with the idealist approach but I cannot. To the best of my knowledge and research, a blend of futurist and idealist approaches is the best understanding of Revelation.

Like the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, the notes are conversational in nature. I actually find myself talking to the text in the Baylor as it causes me to think out loud. Can I reason through the text and arrive at the thoughts in the text? Do I disagree with the text? Am I reading my own biases into the notes? If you are the type that likes to interact with the supplementary material, you will enjoy the Baylor Annotated Study Bible.

Interestingly, the Apocrypha is not annotated whereas it is in the other Bibles in this category. I really do not have an opinion one way or another on this. The Apocrypha will never feature in a sermon from my pulpit as I only use it for historical reference.

Glossary and Concordance

No true textbook could ever be without a glossary and a topical index (concordance).

The glossary is 12 pages and covers terms related to textual criticism and historical context. It is very helpful.

The full NRSV Concordance is provided and it really does not need comment. It is an excellent subject/topical reference to the Scriptures.

Compared to the CEB Study Bible

Baylor’s offering is superior in that it offers a more widely acceptable translation and the notes are more thought provoking.

CEB Study Bible is the only one in the group that is full color, but it also features a very new translation of the Bible. It also tops Baylor in the numbers of notes and cross references offered.

Which would I choose? I have to choose Baylor vs CEB. NRSV is a formal equivalence translation where Common English Bible is a very dynamic equivalence translation. For academics, a literal translation is the preferred choice; one of what you are learning is how to interpret the text.

Both of these Bibles should be owned but the Baylor is to be preferred.

Compared to the New Interpreter’s Study Bible

The comparison here is much more difficult. New Interpreter’s does have more study tools available, but the notes are very close to the Baylor Annotated Study Bible despite New Interpreters being designed by a Methodist Publishing House.

I cannot choose one over the other and, fortunately, I do not have to since I have both. The Baylor Annotated Study Bible is my first reach and then I immediately go to the New Interpreter’s Study Bible to compare. I grew up in the Wesleyan tradition but later in life became a Baptist. They are very similar, and I find the notes in both cases to be like learning from an old friend.

 

Compared to the Harper Collins Study Bible

I confess that of the 5 Bibles in this category, the Harper Collins Study Bible is the one I like least. The Harper Collins is similar in size and content to the Baylor, but it is much more liberal in the annotations. Because of its association with the Society of Biblical Literature, the Harper Collins Study Bible is billed as “the standard general reference for understanding the Bible.” I emphatically disagree and I will bear that out in another article.

The Baylor Annotated Study Bible, while not truly conservative has far less bias in the notes than the Harper Collins. If I were asked to choose, Baylor wins hands down.

 

Compared to the New Oxford Annotated Bible (The Scholar’s Choice)

This, again, is a very difficult comparison. Oxford offers more supplemental content in terms of articles for understanding the Bible. Oxford also offers in text maps and charts where Baylor does not. Oxford does offer some timelines and chronologies but the offering from Baylor is superior, offering more content.

Oxford gives more material in the introductions but, I feel like Baylor prompts you to think through the text more. It seems to me like Oxford give more of the answers.

As was the case with the New Interpreter’s, I do not recommend trying to choose one over the other. They are similar but different enough to merit owning both.

 

For Everyday Use

The size of the book, paper, and font lend themselves nicely to the idea of the Baylor Annotated Study Bible being an everyday carry Bible. I have thousands of resources in the cloud as well as in various software programs, but I confess that the Baylor will continue to be in my briefcase alongside my preaching NIV. I have not begun to mark in it (I need to get some new colored pencils in my preferred brand, Prang, first) but I do intend to do so.

It works very well in most lighting situations. I do prefer to use it at my desk instead of in my reading chair as I find myself reaching for my notepad frequently while reading it.

 

For Pastoral Use

Could I actually use it during sermon preparation? Yes, and more than the others in this category. The background information and textual criticism notes fill a need in lesson prep. There are ideas here that are not treated in the pulpit but need to be. I would encourage pastors to own a copy.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like it. There are some minor changes I would make but all in all it is quite satisfactory. It goes without saying that I recommend college and seminary level students to own a copy. Sunday School Teachers; I also recommend that pastors own a copy.

 

Oxford Annotated Bibles Combined Review (Recovered and Updaated)

Oxford Annotated Bibles Combined Review (Recovered and Updaated)

 

 

(There are two version of the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) that are available, NOAB 4thEdition in NRSV, both with and without Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal books and the NOAB Expanded Edition in the RSV) .

 

NOAB 4th Edition (NRSV) Photos

NOAB Expanded Edition (RSV) Photos)

Before we get into the review, some technical information:

Product Information

Type: Ecumenical/General Reference/Academic/Seminary-Grade Text

Translation Choices: NRSV (NOAB 4th Edition) and RSV (NOAB Expanded Edition)

 

Number of Pages (NOAB 4th Edition) 2416

Number of Pages (NOAB Expanded Edition) 1904

There are approximately 500 more pages of content in the NOAB 4th Edition vs the Expanded Edition. The Expanded Edition is much closer to the original Oxford Annotated Bible (which was also RSV and which I also own). I leave it to the reader to decide whether or not this is a positive.

 

Features (from the OUP Bibles Official pages)

  • Wholly revised, and greatly expanded book introductions and annotations
  • Annotations in a single column across the page bottom, paragraphed according to their boldface topical headings
  • In-text background essays on the major divisions of the biblical text
  • Essays on the history of the formation of the biblical canon for Jews and various Christian churches
  • More detailed explanations of the historical background of the text
  • More in-depth treatment of the history and varieties of biblical criticism
  • A timeline of major events in the ancient Near East
  • A full index to all of the study materials, keyed to the page numbers on which they occur
  • A full glossary of scholarly and critical terms
  • 36-page section of full color New Oxford Bible Maps, approximately 40 in-text line drawing maps and diagrams
  • 10-point type for NOAB Expanded Edition, 9-point for NOAB 4th Edition

 

Product Description from Oxford University Press

The premier study Bible used by scholars, pastors, undergraduate and graduate students, The New Oxford Annotated Bible offers a vast range of information, including extensive notes by experts in their fields; in-text maps, charts, and diagrams; supplementary essays on translation, biblical interpretation, cultural and historical background, and other general topics. Extensively revised (NOAB 4th Edition)—half of the material is brand new—featuring a new design to enhance readability, and brand-new color maps, the Annotated Fourth Edition adds to the established reputation of this essential biblical studies resource. Many new and revised maps, charts, and diagrams further clarify information found in the Scripture text. In addition, section introductions have been expanded and the book introductions present their information in a standard format so that students can find what they need to know. Of course, the Fourth Edition retains the features prized by students, including single column annotations at the foot of the pages, in-text charts, and maps, a page number-keyed index of all the study materials in the volume, and Oxford’s renowned Bible maps. This timely edition maintains and extends the excellence the Annotated’s users have come to expect, bringing still more insights, information, and perspectives to bear upon the understanding of the biblical text.

Classic but not stodgy, up-to-date but not trendy, The New Oxford Annotated Bible: 4th Edition is ready to serve new generations of students, teachers, and general readers.

 

Initial Thoughts

OUP sent me the NOAB 4th Edition in the New Revised Standard Version, without Apocrypha, free of charge in exchange for an honest review and I acquired, at my own expense, a copy of the NOAB Expanded Edition in the Revised Standard Version. Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with the NOAB and there are a number of things about it that I like.

 

I find myself being surprised at liking the Apocrypha. Some of it is fictional but there is a wealth of historical information regarding the segment of world history that transpired between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Update (May 2020): Many conservative/evangelical readers are almost entirely unfamiliar with the Apocrypha. After reviewing it for a couple years, I am convinced that there is historical value that informs our understanding of the period between the Old Testament and the New. I recommend all Christians read it, keeping in mind of course, that it is not canonical Scripture.

Translation Choice:

The NOAB is available in both Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version. Let’s look at some information on each translation:

RSV: (from Wikipedia and other sources)

The Revised Standard Version (RSV) is an English-language translation of the Bible published in several parts during the mid-20th century. The RSV is a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV) authorized by the copyright holder, the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

The RSV posed the first serious challenge to the popularity of the Authorized (King James) Version (KJV). It was intended to be a readable and literally accurate modern English translation, not only to create a clearer version of the Bible for the English-speaking church but also to “preserve all that is best in the English Bible as it has been known and used through the centuries” and “to put the message of the Bible in simple, enduring words that are worthy to stand in the great Tyndale-King James tradition.

 

The Isaiah 7:14 dispute 

The RSV New Testament was well received, but reactions to the Old Testament were varied and not without controversy. Critics claimed that the RSV translators had translated the Old Testament from a non-Christian perspective. Some critics specifically referred to a Jewish viewpoint, pointing to agreements with the 1917 Jewish Publication Society of America Version TaNaKH and the presence on the editorial board of a Jewish scholar, Harry Orlinsky. Such critics further claimed that other views, including those of the New Testament, were not considered. The focus of the controversy was the RSV’s translation of the Hebrew word עַלְמָה (‘almah) in Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman” rather than the traditional Christian translation of “virgin”.

Of the seven appearances of ʿalmāh, the Septuagint translates only two of them as parthenos, “virgin” (including Isaiah 7:14). By contrast, the word בְּתוּלָה (bəṯūlāh) appears some 50 times, and the Septuagint and English translations agree in understanding the word to mean “virgin” in almost every case.

 

NRSV: (from nrsv.net and Wikipedia)

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Christian Bible is an English translation released in 1989. It is an updated revision of the Revised Standard Version, which was itself an update of the American Standard Version.

 

The NRSV was intended as a translation to serve devotional, liturgical and scholarly needs of the broadest possible range of religious adherents. The full translation includes the books of the standard Protestant canon as well as the books traditionally included in the canons of Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity (the so-called “Apocryphal” or “Deuterocanonical” books).

The translation appears in three main formats: an edition including only the books of the Protestant canon, a Roman Catholic Edition with all the books of that canon in their customary order, and The Common Bible, which includes all books that appear in Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox canons. Special editions of the NRSV employ British spelling and grammar.

Principles of revision for NRSV

Improved manuscripts and translations

The Old Testament translation of the RSV was completed before the Dead Sea Scrolls were available to scholars. The NRSV was intended to take advantage of this and other manuscript discoveries, and to reflect advances in scholarship.

 

Elimination of archaism

The RSV retained the archaic second person familiar forms (“thee and thou”) when God was addressed but eliminated their use in other contexts. The NRSV eliminated all such archaisms. In a prefatory essay to readers, the translation committee said that “although some readers may regret this change, it should be pointed out that in the original languages neither the Old Testament nor the New makes any linguistic distinction between addressing a human being and addressing the Deity.”

Gender language (This is what makes the NRSV somewhat controversial, though it is no secret that NIV and NLT do similarly)

In the preface to the NRSV Bruce Metzger wrote for the committee that “many in the churches have become sensitive to the danger of linguistic sexism arising from the inherent bias of the English language towards the masculine gender, a bias that in the case of the Bible has often restricted or obscured the meaning of the original text”. The RSV observed the older convention of using masculine nouns in a gender-neutral sense (e.g. “man” instead of “person”), and in some cases used a masculine word where the source language used a neuter word. The NRSV by contrast adopted a policy of inclusiveness in gender language. According to Metzger, “The mandates from the Division specified that, in references to men and women, masculine-oriented language should be eliminated as far as this can be done without altering passages that reflect the historical situation of ancient patriarchal culture.”

 

As it happens, I prefer the RSV though it is hard to explain why. The NRSV’s Old Testament is very well done, perhaps even better than the NIV as is its parent, the RSV. NRSV feels somewhat more like a Dynamic Equivalence translation even though both RSV and NRSV are essentially literal.

Update (May 2020) I have warmed to the NRSV more than at the time of the original publication of this article. However, I still prefer the RSV to the NRSV. I have neither qualitative nor quantitative explanation for this fact other than to state it as a fact.

 

Content:

The supplemental articles are essentially the same in both editions, despite the fact that the last update on the RSV was in 1977. There are articles on interpretation of the text, source materials (original language texts used), contemporary methods of Bible study and others.

An estimated number of footnotes is not provided; I would guess at between 8,000-10,000 notes. They are comparable to the Harper Collins Study Bible (Incidentally a much better name is needed for this) or to the NIV Study Bible, but nowhere near the monstrous 20,000+ study notes that are provided in the ESV Study Bible. I would say that the closed comparable Bible in terms of content would be the New Interpreter’s Study Bible from Abingdon Press.

The Book Introductions are fairly brief in both versions, no more than just a couple paragraphs really. They cover mainly historical background information. I have to say that the introductions were a major disappointment for me. In a Bible that bills itself as the Academic Standard, there are some points that I would expect to see treated in the book introductions that are just not there. I would expect to see interpretive challenges being addressed, especially the “disputed” letters from Paul (Colossians and Ephesians which some question Pauline authorship of), such as in the Reformation Study Bible or the MacArthur Study Bible. I would also expect, in the Academic Standard, that you would see a section in each book introduction of how Christ is portrayed in that book and how that book fits, overall, into the Scriptures. Perhaps I am over reacting but if the point of studying the Bible is to better know Christ, then a section on how each book of Sacred Writ describes Him seems to be quite essential.

 

There are no conspicuous cross-references (center-column or end of verse) and I am completely annoyed by that fact; yes there are references in the footnotes but that is hardly the point. I have a number of reference Bibles that I use (first choice is Thompson Chain followed by KJV Westminster) and so, the lack of obvious cross-references is not a deal breaker for me; this too is beside the point. Most of America has only one Bible and they use that daily. Oxford certainly has enough room to include center column references or end of verse references; they could even go in the gutter.

I realize that in an edition with the Apocrypha, the inclusion of references will make it gigantic but there are other study Bibles (NIV Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, ESV Study Bible) which all include extensive references and, frankly more content, than Oxford includes in its Annotated Bibles

 

Paper, Layout, and Binding

Like Cambridge University Press, Oxford still sews its Bibles and this is an absolute must with a study Bible. The paper has a slight feeling of cotton when you touch it and I love that. The paper is more opaque in the RSV Expanded but the NOAB 4th Edition has nothing to complain about. I did not see any ghosting and I feel safe in saying that you can write in this Bible with no issues.

 

The text, in both Bibles, is black letter for optimum visuals, especially if you color code your notes. We have a double column for the text notes and a single column for the annotations. I actually prefer this layout as it breaks up the page nicely but still gives me that solid textbook feel.

I really wish there were wide margins; AMG was able to pull off serviceable margins for their study Bible and I am confident that if they tried, OUP could as well.

Update (May 2020) The lack of wide margins and/or notes pages continues to aggravate me. Again, Oxford bills the Annotated Bible as the Premier General Reference Bible so why is such a glaring omission made, especially in light of the fact that the college and seminary student is almost guaranteed to add their own notes in the text.

Overall Impression

My minor complaints notwithstanding, these are fairly good Bibles to own. I like it better than the Harper Collins and the CEB Study Bibles, and for no other reason than ease of carry. NOAB 4th Edition is slim enough to fit in my laptop bag with a handbook, dictionary, and some other tools while NOAB Expanded Edition, being more of a hand sized Bible can be easily carried outside of my bag, allowing me a larger complement of study resources.

For daily use (Added May 2020)

I find the NOAB Expanded Edition to be the version that gets the most use. The larger font is easier on my eyes for longer periods of study. Additionally, I have the NOAB 5th Edition in Accordance Bible Software so I am never without the notes since I always have Accordance with me (iPhone, iPad, or MacBook -one of the three is always within reach).

 

Should you buy the New Oxford Annotated Bible

If you are a student of the Word, yes. Any student or teacher should have multiple study resources to use when approaching the Scriptures and I can see why many seminaries consider this to be the Academic Standard. Should it be your primary Bible? I cannot answer that, except to say that I think your main Bible should be as free of commentary as possible. As my mentor Doug tells me, “I want to hear what God has to say to me first. Then I will see what he told someone else.” I could not agree more. Study Bibles are a good, valuable tool when used properly but no source of commentary should ever be consulted before the Holy Spirit; if He can write the book and preserve it for thousands of years, He can certainly tell you what he means.