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Thompson Chain Reference Bible by Zondervan

Thompson Chain Reference Bible by Zondervan

 

 

Thompson Chain Photos

 

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

 

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

Translations offered:

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

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

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

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

 

What makes the TCR unique?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Paper, layout and font

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

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

Cover and Binding

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

Thompson and Key Word Bible, Perfect Together

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

 

For Every Day Carry

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

For preaching and teaching

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

What about the NIV Thomason Chain?

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

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

Do I recommend it?

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

 

 

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

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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.  

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.

Halley’s Study Bible Review

Halley’s Study Bible Review

 

 

This review has been 20 years in the making. Before I explain, let me disclose that Zondervan sent this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked for positive remarks and my opinions are my own.

How has this review been 20 years in the making? In 2000 at the age of 18, I got my first copy of Halley’s Bible Handbook. It was a graduation gift from one of the men in the church. I loved that little blue book and used it till it fell apart. It was with me, along with my NIV Study Bible, every day. I said at that point, it would be amazing if that handbook had the whole Bible together with it. Now, 20 years later, it does. Shall we see if it meet’s expectations?

 

More Photos

 

My only complaint

I have but one complaint and it is more a gripe against me than it is against Zondervan- the font is a bit small for me. That is not really Zondervan’s fault; it’s more to do with moving into middle age and the attendant changes in eyesight.

Now that we have that out of the way…

What makes this study Bible different

Halley’s Study Bible is different because it is based on a handbook, the world’s best-selling Bible handbook for that matter. Zondervan makes some of the most in-depth study Bibles on the market today: The NIV Study Bible, The Biblical Theology Study Bible, the Quest Study Bible and a host of others. The Halley’s Study Bible is a counter balance in that it focuses on the essential material needed to understand and teach the Bible. There is nothing deficient, at all, about Halley’s Study Bible. In fact, it is everything I want in a study Bible.

We could call this a concise Study Bible. It is not overly technical with word stdies etc but neither is it as basic as one might expect givien that it is based on a handbook. The material is on  a intermediate level. Even for someone who has 20 years and over 1000 lessons on the books, I found the material helpful. I have been using Halley’s Bible Handbook for 20 years and, despite knowing the material well, it frequently jogs my memory; it also forces me to make sure that what I am teaching is readily understandable.

 

The Translation

The Halley’s Study Bible is offered in the New International Version. What else would you pair the world’s best selling Bible Handbook with if not the best-selling English translation? NIV is accurate, readable, and reliable. The paring is obvious but still delightful.

 Some people dislike the 2011 Edition of the NIV and I do understand some, not all, of their concerns. That being said, NIV IS the BIble to most of the Egnlisth speaking world and the content in Halley’s Study Bible explains that BIble quite nicely, which is, of course, the goal.

Cover and Binding

This Bible has a sewn binding complete with nylon threads. In several sections, Zondervan has made the sewing quite obvious. I love that. You can tell from looking at it that Zondervan intends this Bible to be very heavily used and thus gave the best binding option.

There are two cover options available, jacketed hardcover and leathersoft. Burgundy leathersoft is what Zondervan sent me and it is delightful. It is an imitation leather but it is very convincing. This cover should hold up quite nicely.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font

Zondervan’s 9-point Comfort Print font is on display in a double column paragraph format. Compared to other offerings from Zondervan, this is much more readable. The font appears to be in some type of Serif family. The notes are in an 8-point font.

As for the paper, it is a crisp white that catches the light nicely. This coupled with the darker font makes the text highly readable. Even the red letters are quite well done.

If you write in this Bible, which I do recommend, a colored pencil or ball-point pen are your best choices.

 

The Helps

This is where the Halley’s Study Bible really shines. The amount of content is just right. There are some things left out which are normally included in a study Bible but their absence in no way detracts from Halley’s Study Bible.

Book Introductions

Each book includes a one page introduction with full color photo, author and theme information. There is no outline provided which I don’t mind as someone who has been properly taught inductive study should be able to create their own outline. One feature of the introduction that I really enjoy is the key verse, the essential verse of each book being given its own call out.

Full color photos

There are more than 150 full color photos included. The choice to include photographs is a natural one given that so many Christians are visual leaners.

These are not infographics which could be helpful in and of themselves but they do illuminate the Bibilical world in a way that many other study Bibles do not and probably could not.

6000 study Notes

Drawing from the most excellent content in the Halley’s Bible Handbook, we are given 6000 explanatory notes on the text. 6000 notes is comparable to the number of notes in the KJV Study Bible from Zondervan’s older sister, Thomas Nelson Publishing. They are enough to answer the most important questions and to then get you to go deeper into the text. I would point out, there is enough material in these notes to help you put together a solid Bible Study, probably 3 years’ worth of teaching material.

NIV Concordance

I would not call this a concise concordance though it isn’t a full concordance either; it is somewhere in between. The inclusion of a concordance is an important one-many of the questions that you will encounter have to do with what the Bible teaches on a particular topic. The Concordance is the ideal tool for answering those questions.

What’s missing

There are no cross references or notes pages. I confess to being surprised at the lack of notes pages but not the lack of cross references. Cross references can be an unnecessary distraction in the text and do not always follow the flow of thought for the expositor.

Shold you buy it?

Yes. I cannot think of a single scenario where I would not recommend it. I would, actually, recommend that you get the Handbook and the Study Bible. There is a lttie overlap and the Handbook does have a little more ocntent than what the study Bible offers. As I said, the Study Bible contains the minimum you should know.

Overall Impression

It is everything you want in a study Bible and nothing you don’t. I recommend Halley’s Study Bible more than any other Bible that Zondervan offers.

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

Zondervan NASB Side Column Reference Bible

premier scr

Additional Photos

 

For 24 years I have used and loved the New American Standard Bible. Now, my favorite NASB edtition has been released in incredible new packaging. Zondervan has brought the Side Column Reference Bible into the Premier Collection. (Pursuant to law, I disclose that this Bible was provided in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, I was not asked to give a positive review.)

The Translation:

For those that are new to the New American Standard Bible (NASB) let me open with a little information. NASB stands in the lineage of the most literal English Bible ever produced the Revised Bible, American Standard Version (1901). There have been incremental changes to make it more readable but it remains fastidiously literal, so much so that I have had seminary professors say that it could easily be used to cheat in Greek  class. Setting it apart from other translations, the NASB renders the Greek Aorist tense exceptionally well and also handles the Second Person, in English, nearly as well as the KJV which is remarkable since we rarely use the Second Person anymore. Regardless of your primary teaching translation, every Bible teacher should have a copy of the NASB.

The Format:

This is my preferred layout for preaching, single column verse-by-verse with side column references and wide margins. While I was still in my very early days as a Sunday School Teacher, I discovered the single column verse-by-verse layout and immediately fell in love.

Each verse begins on a new line with spacing at 1.5 lines. The margins are 1-inch wide. To the right of the text block you will find the references in a vertical column much the same as you would find in a center column edition. You don’t get much in the way of a gutter margin but that is not a problem for me. I tend toward being peripatetic when preaching and frequently read one handed.

Cover, Binding, Paper

Goatskin. I do not really need to say more but I will. The Premier Collection all include goatskin. Amazingly, the NASB Editions have the best feeling leather, with the exception of the 2nd Edition of the MacArthur study Bible. The grain is mildly pronounced and the leather is softer than cool whip. I was impressed with the NKJV Premier Collection Editions but the NASB Editions take 1st Prize. Of course the leather is black, the obvious choice for the solemn office of Pastor. There is an imitation leather edition as well, in brown. Of late, Zondervan has been putting out some very convincing imitations with their leathersoft Bibles.

The binding, as you would expect, is sewn. For some reason I still get asked why this is important so here are two reasons: 1) The Bible will lay flat anywhere you open it. 2) By sewing the Bible, it will last for a considerably long time. I have seen Bibles from the 1700’s that are still intact because of the sewn binding.

Post 2007, the SCR has had some challenges with the paper selected. I am happy to say that Zondervan has remedied that problem. There is minor show through but nowhere nearly as bad as in the 2013 and 2017 editions. It is a bit shiny and is bright white which provides a great contrast to the black ink. I am not sure of the gsm but the pages turn rather easily. It is thick enough that you will not have issues with writing.

Font

The font is listed at 10-point Comfort Print. It is a black letter text which reads very well. Subject headings and chapter numbers are in a deep cranberry which offsets the black of the text very well.

The font is the same as in Zondervan’s NASB Preachers Bible. The SCR is easier to read, however because of the layout.

Helps

95,000 Cross References

The NASB is one of the most heavily cross referenced Bibles on the market. To the best of my knowledge, only the Thompson Chain Reference and Westminster Reference Bibles are more heavily cross referenced. I have seen some gripes about the fact that the Translator’s Footnotes have not been provided. My answer to that gripe is this: those of us who use the NASB in lesson preparation should have enough facility with the original languages as to make them unnecessary. Also, there are a host of other NASB editions with the footnotes added so complaining about them being missing is really, in my estimation, looking for something to be dissatisfied with.

Introduction with Outline

Several Zondervan Bibles (Amplified and NIV) have a one page introduction with brief outline and that feature now finds its way into the NASB Side Column Reference Bible. The introductions are just a couple paragraphs but there is enough provided to give an overview of each book of the Bible.

Parables of Jesus & Miracles of Jesus

There are a couple other charts but these two are worth a call out. Each one is a single page pointing out significant miracles and parables which Jesus performed.

Dictionary/Concordance/Thesaurus

Laid out in three columns, the dictionary/concordance/thesaurus combines three of the most needful study tools into a single section of the Bible. Pastors from less developed regions who are able to get their hands on an SCR will find themselves very well resourced for the preaching of the word.

Final Thoughts

Not one complaint. Not a single one. Since I was introduced to goatskin Bibles, I have wanted a copy of the SCR that was bound in goatskin.

I have loved the New American Standard Bible, as much as I have loved my New King James Version, and with the new SCR, I love it all over again in new ways. I had made the statement that the new SCR makes the choice between NASB and NKJV infinitely more difficult. It must be a tie. I had already possessed my ideal in NKJV and now I possess my ideal NASB.