Tag: study bible

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 now cause to disagree, with the lone exception of the NKJV.

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

Cover and Binding

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

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

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

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

Paper, Typography, Ribbons

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

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

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

Layout

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

Helps

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

25,000 Exegetical and Expository Notes on Scripture

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

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

Book Introductions

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

Overview of Theology

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

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

Maps and Charts

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

 

 

NIV Quest Study Bible Review

NIV Quest Study Bible Review

 

 

Additional Photos

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

 

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

 

Click here to purchase

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

 

Cover and Binding

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

 

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

 

Helps

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

 

Introductions:

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

 

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

 

Question and Answer Side-bar Notes

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

 

Top Questions

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

 

Charts, Timelines, Maps

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

 

Subject Index

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

 

Layout, Font, & Paper

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

 

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

 

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

 

Who should buy the Quest Study Bible?

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

 

As a Discipleship tool

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

 

What’s missing?

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

Jeremiah Study Bible Review (Recovered Content)

Jeremiah Study Bible Review (Recovered Content)

 

The content below was recently recovered following an earlier server failure.

 

Jeremiah Study Bible Photos


(Disclaimer: I have a personal relationship with one of the contributing editors. Also, Dr. Jeremiah is the Senior Pastor of my church)

Note: This Bible was not provided by Turning Point, Shadow Mountain, or Worthy Publishing. It was a gift from my wife. 

Have you ever wondered what the Bible really says, what it means, and/or how it applies to your life? If so, you are in good company and this Bible is definitely for you…

The best way for me to describe the Jeremiah Study Bible is to say that it is an unexpected pleasure. Most study Bibles feel very academic, which is ok since their primary purpose is to guide you through your study of the Bible. The Jeremiah Study Bible, however, feels much more intimate, almost as though Dr. Jeremiah has come into your living room for a personal discipleship session.

Dr. Jeremiah’s own words about the Jeremiah Study Bible:

“I want people to understand what the Bible says, what it means, and what it means for them. These three things are central in my thinking when I prepare to preach, and they serve as the framework for the structure of The Jeremiah Study Bible.”

This is the Bible you want to give to someone who is new to in-depth Bible Study. Why?

This Bible is a 2,200 page one-of-a-kind study tool, featuring insightful and practical content:

Unique introductions

For every one of the 66 books of the Bible, there is a unique and captivating introduction that will open readers’ eyes to the experiences and the background of the Biblical writers through whom the Holy Spirit breathed. Smart-phone and tablet users can utilize a barcode scanner application and access a special video introduction as well as other online content designed to make the Bible come alive in new ways.

8,000 individual study notes

Accompanying the Scripture text in this Bible are more than 8,000 study notes. Relevant issues and key points made in the text have notes to expand upon the thought being developed. These notes are educational, to be sure, but they are not dry and boring as can be the case. I have found many of the notes to show something I have not seen before, despite over 20 years of study and frequently consult other resources as a result. In the interest of full disclosure, the notes are dispensational, pre-tribulational and baptist (Shadow Mountain is in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention)

Sidebars

Word studies, historical insights & more are positioned within the text that offer additional insight beyond the notes. To make these segments even more useful for readers, we have created a sidebar index for the entire Bible. A quick glance will direct you to the biblical topic of your choice. (Many of these are marked off in a box labeled f.y.i)

Essentials of the Christian Faith (Approximately 50+ full-page articles)

Scattered throughout this Bible are more than 50 articles that cover foundational doctrines of the Christian Faith.

Teacher’s Topical Index

The best way to learn is to teach. The Jeremiah Study Bible includes a Topical Index for teachers covering approximately 50 topics in depth.

80 page concordance

I believe this might actually be larger than the standard concordance offered by Thomas Nelson for the NKJV. As with other concordances this is an invaluable tool for gathering references

Lifetime Guarantee from Worthy Publishing

If your Worthy Publishing Bible fails due to a manufacturing defect, you may replace it for free at anytime. If the same Bible is out of print, discontinued, or otherwise not available, we will replace it with a Bible of equal or greater value. However, this guarantee does not apply to normal wear and tear. Most hardcover Bibles do not offer a lifetime guarantee against defect so this is a very nice feature.

Paper and font

On the back of this Bible, it indicates a full size font, which appears to be 9 point. The paper is moderately opaque; there is only slight ghosting and I do not see much bleed through. The black is extremely clear and easy to read, I only wish I could say the same of the red. In direct light I had a bit of difficulty with the hue.

Overall Impression

I do have a small complaint, and I hope I do not offend anyone. I, personally, would have chosen HCSB for this study Bible, simply because it is an “easier to understand” translation.

That being said, from time to time, people ask me if I can recommend a good Bible study resource so they can begin in-depth study. The Jeremiah Study Bible has become my primary recommendation for new students. It is academic without being dull and boring, practical and easy to understand without being simplistic. Overall it is a great choice if you are new to Bible Study or if you simply want a different perspective. Having listened to Dr. Jeremiah for ten years before having the opportunity to worship at Shadow Mountain, I can assure you that every time you turn to this Bible, you will find a nugget that you hadn’t seen before. In fact if I could sum up this resource in one sentence it would be this;

The Bible: Read it again for the first time.

 

Large Print Life Application Study Bible 3rd Edition

Large Print Life Application Study Bible 3rd Edition

 

Additional Photos

 

Everything you love about the Life Application Study Bible, 3rd Edition is now available in an option for those of us with visual limitations, Large Print with a 10-point font. Tyndale sent me a copy of the genuine leather edition free of charge in an exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own.

 

The Translation

Currently, the 3rd Edition is available in New International Version (Published by Zondervan) and New Living Translation, the two most popular as well as easiest to understand English translations of the Bible available. The edition being reviewed today is the NLT.

 

NLT is a meaning based translation in English that rates at a 6th grade reading level. It is incredibly easy to understand and works very well across the ministry spectrum.

 

Cover and Binding

This edition is black genuine leather. It includes a rich pebble grain which provides much tactile delight. The cover is not overly thick but the paste down liner gives it a more sturdy feel. In a Bible this size, you definitely want a paste down liner as an edge to edge leather liner might make the Bible a little unwieldy.

 

Tyndale sewed the binding on the Life Application Study Bible, a decision I advocate vigorously. The sewn binding ensures a lifetime of use (I have seen sewn bindings which have been in use more than 100 years.).

 

Paper & Font

The Paper is thin but nicely opaque. There is a minimal amount of show through but nowhere near as bad as on some other Bibles. You will definitely have no issue using a ball-point pen or colored pencil for your markings.

 

The font has been upgraded to 10-point in the Scripture text and 8.5 in the notes. It is much more readable than the standard or personal sizes, ensuring that this edition will get much more use, by me, in lesson prep.

 

The Scripture text is still in a single column with the notes in a double column format. I would love to see Tyndale release a Bible in a verse by verse format but the font size in this edition more than compensates for the paragraph format.

 

Use Case for LASB

I was quite glad to see that one of the world’s foremost expositor’s, Dr. Steve Lawson, uses a Life Application Study Bible and for the same purpose I do, to bring the week’s lesson to a close with application ideas.

 

Of the 3 major expository questions, the one I most often struggle with is, “What do I do about it?” The Life Application Study Bible far excels at answering that question.

 

I also find the personality profiles to be most helpful. Many Christians have told me that they find the Bible difficult to relate to but the personality profiles overcome this by highlighting the main characters of Redemptive History and makes them more relatable by putting their good and bad points on display.

 

Who is this Bible for?

In general terms, Life Application Study Bible is for everyone; in a more specific sense it is for the person struggling to see how the Bible fits every-day life and to find their place in Redemptive History. It might sound a little cliché but LASB really does answer the question, “Does God have anything to say to me?”

 

For Christian Workers and Bible Teachers

There are a couple items I wish to call out which did not get much mention in my standard size LASB Review.

 

How to Follow-up with New Believers

There are 14-points outlined to help you follow up with a new disciple. Each one includes some “homework” to help the new disciple be firmly established in the faith-walk. You will also find a scripture passage that is germane to the point you are working through.

 

 

So you have been asked to speak

There is nothing scarier than your first lesson. It has been almost 24 years since my first and, sometimes, I still struggle with the same fears and uncertainties I had 24 years ago. This section provides six steps to putting together a compelling lesson for your audience.

 

Compared to the Standard Lesson Teacher’s Study Bible

The Life Application Study Bible and the Standard Lesson Teacher’s Study Bible have to be the two most helpful Bibles for teachers. (Truly there are Bibles that go more in-depth in exposition but they can easily overwhelm.)

 

The Teacher’s Study Bible and the Life Application Study Bibles are not competitors; they are complimentary to one another. The Teacher’s Study Bible excels at the first two Expository Questions, What does it say? and What does it mean? The Life Application Study Bible excels at answering the 3rd Expository Question, What do I do about it?

 

Should you buy the Life Application Study Bible?

Most assuredly. In fact, if you are a teacher, you would do very well to own both of the Bibles mentioned above. A Bible teacher should have many tools in his belt.

 

If you are not a Bible teacher, you should still own a copy of the Life Application Study Bible. It makes the Bible very easy to understand and that, after all, is the key to a life pleasing to God, knowing and understanding His word.

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.

 

Harper Collins Study Bible Review (Recovered)

Harper Collins Study Bible Review (Recovered)

 

This review was originally published in 2015 and was lost during a server failure. It has been recovered and is being republished for your convenience…

 

Harper Collins Study Bible Photos

I am bringing a different review from my normal tract, but it is one that I think is important and because of its importance, I am going to go a little more in-depth than I may have previously.

I will  be looking at the Harper Collins Study Bible which is published by Harper Collins in association with the Society of Biblical Literature. Without any gilding the lilly or adieu whatsoever, let us dive right in to this review of  the Harper Collins Study Bible…

The Harper Collins Study Bible falls into the category of an Ecumenical Study Bible. The dictionary defines ecumenical as being interdenominational, in the connotation of there being a single church. and the Harper Collins Study Bible certainly fits into that mold; it is designed to appeal to both Protestant and Catholics. The publisher identifies it as a general reference Bible and like many of the general reference Bibles it tends to go toward the Historical-Critical Method of Textual Criticism, also known as higher criticism. 

From Theopedia…

Higher criticism, arising from 19th century European rationalism, generally takes a secular approach asking questions regarding the origin and composition of the text, including when and where it originated, how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced, what influences were at work in its production, and what original oral or written sources may have been used in its composition; and the message of the text as expressed in its language, including the meaning of the words as well as the way in which they are arranged in meaningful forms of expression. The principles of higher criticism are based on reason rather than revelation and are also speculative by nature. 

Translation Choice

The Harper Collins Study Bible uses the New Revised Standard Version. The official NRSV website, http://nrsv.net offers the following:

The NRSV is the only Bible translation that is as widely ecumenical:

•The ecumenical NRSV Bible Translation Committee consists of men and women who are among the top scholars in America today. They come from Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. The committee also includes a Jewish scholar.

•The RSV was the only major translation in English that included both the standard Protestant canon and the books that are traditionally used by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians (the so-called “Apocryphal” or “Deuterocanonical” books). Standing in this tradition, the NRSV is available in three ecumenical formats: a standard edition with or without the Apocrypha, a Roman Catholic Edition, which has the so-called “Apocryphal” or “Deuterocanonical” books in the Roman Catholic canonical order, and The Common Bible, which includes all books that belong to the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox canons.

•The NRSV stands out among the many translations available today as the Bible translation that is the most widely “authorized” by the churches. It received the endorsement of thirty-three Protestant churches. It received the imprimatur of the American and Canadian Conferences of Catholic Bishops. And it received the blessing of a leader of the Greek Orthodox Church.

In the interest of candor, I have not really formed a definitive opinion on the NRSV; I certainly am not in favor of the level to which they have taken the gender inclusive language but by and large I am not 100% opposed to it nor am I 100% in favor of it. It is one of the translations that I reference when studying and I will leave it at that. 

Update (May 2020): Having spent more time with the NRSV, I find the Old Testament to be very well done indeed. One of my focus areas for study is in the realm of OT, specifically the Messianic Prophecies and NRSV is one of the best, if not the best OT translations available.

Notes

This Study Bible is clearly intended as an academic textbook and the notes certainly bear that out; the academic flavor is quite obvious. For some of my readers, this will pose a problem, for others it will not.  I find that, for lesson preparation, I do like the academc feel of the notes. I want to know what the scholars say about a text, what the pastors say about a text, what lay people say about a text and then I bring all of that together into my lesson,.

Just like the text, the notes are laid out in a double column format and it is here where you will find any cross references that are provided. The notes offer quite a bit of historical background to the text. If one were to couple the notes that are provided here with the Bible Background Commentary from InterVarsity Press, you would have a very solid foundation laid with the historical and cultural background of the Scripture. 

There are a few problems with the notes. For example, in Acts Chapter 9, the notes provided reference both 3rd and 4th Maccabees but I am not really sure why. When I checked the references, they do not really seem to bear on the text in Acts 9. The notes on Revelation seem to be preterist, including a chart that identifies the Emperor Domitian as the “Neronic Antichrist.” This is an interesting point of view (and one I emphatically disagree with). Also, like The Common English Bible Study Bible and the New Interpreters Study Bible, the Harper Collins Study Bible does not seem to take the Prophet Daniel to have been a literal person. I find this curious but it does seem to be a catholic point of view and this being an ecumenical study Bible I am not surprised to see such a position being taken. 

The best way that I can describe the notes is to call them interesting, which they certainly are. If you are not familiar with the points of view taken here, you will most likely be intrigued by what you find here.

Some of my more conservative pastoral colleagues advise avoidning these types of notes. Here is the issue I have with that approach: your congregation will encounter these ideas from other Christians so you need to be prepared. There are areas where we can disagree and still be Christians bothers and sisters and areas where we cannot disagree. If there is that which you disagree with in the notes, better to have an open honest discussion with your congregation than to have them ill prepared for a lively discussion.

Introductions

Surprisingly missing from the Harper Collins Study Bible are the outlines that you will find in most of the major study Bibles that are on the market. I actually find myself not missing them; I prefer the Inductive Study Method and one of the key points of Inductive Study is to develop your own outline of the text that you are studying. 

The largest two sections of the Introductions tend to be about the historical background and the literary aspect of the text being treated. This is very useful since, as I said earlier, it is important to understand the historical and cultural background of the original readers and to translate that into application for people thousands of years after and thousands of miles away from when it was originally written. 

Update (May 2020) The historical and cultural background portions of the introductions are invaluable. Withhin the stream of Christianity, different people groups have approached the text differently throught the lens of theri cultures and historical backgrounds. HCSB does an excellent job of presenting thse views.

Articles

There are some articles included that are intended to help the reader understand the Bible. There are articles about strategies for reading the Bible, Israelite Religion, The Context of the New Testament, and the Bible and Archaeology. When approaching the Scripture from an academic standpoint, these will be some fairly useful resources. 

Physical Form

The text is presented in a double column format with no cross references in the text itself. Instead they are found in the commentary/notes in the bottom section of the page. The font size is around 9.5/10. We are given a sewn binding, not that anything else would make sense for a textbook. The paper, despite being fairly thin is opaque enough to prevent any annoyances from ghosting or bleed through.

Final Thoughts/Should you buy it?

Despite the fact that many of my conservative colleagues are sure to lambast me for this, I find myself liking this particular Bible. Should you buy it? Well that depends on what you want out of your Bible. If you are solidly grounded in your faith, buy it. If you are new to faith, there are better places to start. That is not to say that this Bible will harm your faith but starting here would be kind of like trying to do algebra before you learn arithmetic. It would be better to start with a simpler study Bible and eventually graduate to the Harper Collins Study Bible.  

My overall impression is that it is an interesting Bible; I would give it an 8. 

Disclaimer: Harper Collins Christian Publishing sent this Bible free of charge in exchange for a review. I was not asked to give a positive review, only an honest one.

Should I Use A General Reference/Ecumenical Study Bible?

Should I Use A General Reference/Ecumenical Study Bible?

I am asked, from time to time, about the use of General Reference Bibles aka Ecumenical Study Bible and, with me being extremely conservative and extremely Baptist, my answer generally surprises people.  As it happens, I do recommend their use by pastors, Sunday School teachers and the like.  There is some content which is available in a General Reference Study Bible that is not available in the Evangelical Study Bibles.  Today I will be highlighting four, all of whihc have been reviewed here…

 

CEB Study Bible

Translation Offered: Common English Bible, a Dynamic Equivalence (Meaning-Based Translation)

Grade Level: 6th Grade for Biblical Text, 10th Grade for Study Notes

Stand-out Feature: Full color study Bible, 1000 Pages, total, of explanatory articles, introductions, and outlines, 10,000 annotations

Major Seminary: Fuller

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Oxford Annotated  and New Oxford Annotated Bibles (These are actually two different Bibles, though both are called the Oxford Bible by some)

Translation Offered: RSV for Oxford Annotated Bible, Expanded Edition and NRSV for New Oxford Annotated Bible

Stand-out feature: OAB is offered with the full Apocrypha (including for the Orthodox  church), NOAB is offered in two ecumenical options (protestant canon only and full ecumenical edition including the Full Apocrypha, Catholic and Orthodox editions)

Grade Level: 9th Grade for Biblical Text and 12th Grade for Study Notes

Major Seminary: Oxford

Special Note: The New Oxford Annotated Bible is considered the Premier Academic Study Bible and is in use in virtually every mainline seminary.

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Harper Collins Study Bible

Translation Offered: NRSV with Apocrypha

Stand-out Feature: Only study Bible endorsed by the Society of Biblical Literature

Grade Level: 9th Grade for Biblical Text and 12 Grade for Study Notes

Major Seminary: Unknown

Publisher: Harper One

 New Interpreter’s Study Bible

Translation Offered: NRSV with Apocrypha

Stand Out Feature: Condensed version of the Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Set

Grade Level: 9th Grade for Biblical Text and 11th Grade for Study Notes

Major Seminaries: Asbury, Duke, Grand Rapids, Fuller

Publisher: Abingdon Press

There is one more to come, the Baylor Annotated Study Bible. However I cannot comment on it as I have not seen my review copy yet.

 

Why do I recommend using a General Reference Study Bible? Franky, there is content that you won’t get in an Evangelical Study Bible. You will see more of a cultural and historical context in a General Reference Bible. You will also be exposed to alternate methods of textual criticism and other interpretive traditions.  There will be other articles on this topic, but for now, this is a good start. 

New Interpreter’s Study Bible Review (Recovered)

New Interpreter’s Study Bible Review (Recovered)

 

New Interpreters Bible Photos

 

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

 

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

 

Product Description 

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

 

Features: 

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

Reliability of Scripture 

Authority of the Bible 

Inspiration of Scripture 

Guidelines for Reading and Interpretation 

Varieties of Readings and Interpretations of the Biblical Text 

Culture and Religion Among Ancient Israelites 

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

 

And now, let’s dive right in… 

 

Font Size, Paper, and Layout 

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

 

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

 

The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Text Excursus 

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

 

Special Note Section 

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

 

Introductions, Outlines, and Study Notes: 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Translation

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

 

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

 

 

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.