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Life Application Study Bible Red Letter

Life Application Study Bible Red Letter

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The 3rd Edition of the Life Application Study Bible has finally been released in a red-letter edition, bringing it in line with the other iterations of the Life Application Study Bible, Today I am reviewing both the NIV and NLT Editions

Disclaimer: Tyndale sent copies of each edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and my opinions are my own.

Features Include:

  • Enhanced, updated, and with new content added throughout
  • Now more than 10,000 Life Application® notes and features
  • Over 100 Life Application® Bible character profiles
  • Introductions and overviews for each book of the Bible
  • More than 500 maps & charts
  • Dictionary/concordance
  • Side-column cross-references
  • Index to notes, charts, maps, and profiles
  • Refreshed design with a second color for visual clarity
  • 16 pages of full-color maps
  • Durable Smyth-sewn binding, lays flat when open
  • Presentation page
  • Single-column format
  • Christian Worker’s Resource- a special supplement to enhance the reader’s ministry effectiveness
  • Full text of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT) or New International Version (NIV)
  • Single Column text for Scripture, Double Column for Notes and Side Column References
  • Words of Christ in Red
  • Text Size: 8.5 Point and Note Size: 7 Point

 

Translation Choices

Currently the 3rd Edition LASB is available in the New Living Translation and the New International Version. While not confirmed by Tyndale, I have to imagine that this is because these are the dominant two English Translations of the Bible in the English Speaking World. In my case, it is an embarrassment of riches because I love both translations and use both, NLT in the church service and NIV at home for personal devotions. In either case, you get the same great study content. Since some will ask, the NLT will get the most use in my situation as a huge percentage of my audience uses NLT as their main Bible.

Cover and Binding

Both of my review copies are Leather-touch a.k.a imitation leather. The NLT is black and onyx with silver foil stamping and the NIV is brown and tan with gold foil stamping. Insofar as I can tell, the binding is glued so do be mindful of the heat. With proper care, it should last several years but if you are concerned about the binding it can be sewn by a professional re-binder.

Font, Layout, and Text Coloration

The text is a little small for my taste, but that has more to do with me approaching 40 and having eyesight issues than anything else. The Scripture portion is 8.5-point font size, similar to the Wayfinding Bible and the current edition of the NLT Study Bible. We have the notes and cross-references at 7.5. Again, a little small for my taste but still manageable. LASB has matured and, now, is nearly the same size as the NLT Study Bible and so the font needs to be a little smaller to keep the size of the book manageable.

This time around we have a red-letter edition for the New Testament. The red is very well done, perhaps better than in any other Tyndale Bible. There are times when I rather enjoy a red-letter edition and there are times when it can be a distraction but this edition is not one where the red lettering distracts. My favorite edition of the LASB is the Holman Christian Standard Bible which is also a red-letter edition. I am quite used to it and, in fact, have come to expect the red letters.

Before I discuss the features, I want to deal with an important question: Would I, a pastor, buy and actually use the LASB?

. I, regularly, use the LASB in my sermon preparation. There are 3 questions that I answer in every sermon: What does it say? What does it mean? What do I do about it? The LASB is quite helpful for the 3rd question as it is the application question.

Features

THE TEXT

In offering meaning based translations of the Bible, the LASB makes the Scripture more accessible to the average reader. Of the two, I prefer the New Living Translation. It is true that NIV is the dominant English Bible (NLT a very close second) but I find the NLT to be more easy to read, especially since it feels less academic.

FOOTNOTES

Tyndale provides two types of annotations and both are equally important in a Study Bible.

Translators’ Footnotes

For both the NLT and NIV, the translator’s footnotes include alternate readings, manuscript variants and so forth.

Study Notes

There are 10,000 annotations provided, in a double column format below the text. These notes do not simply explain the text, they help with application of the Scripture to your daily life. Of the three questions that we endeavor to answer with the Scripture, these annotations answer the most important question, What do I do about the text/How does it apply to my life?

BOOK INTRODUCTIONS

Each introduction contains several sections designed to help open the Scriptures for you.

Mega-themes

Mega-themes showcase the most important ideas of each book of the Bible. These ideas are the essential concepts for understanding the various books of the Bible.

Overview

The overview section provides a summary of the book. It also provides general application lessons for the Scripture.

Blueprint

The Blueprint section of the introduction is fairly straightforward; they are outlines of each book of the Bible. For the Bible teacher, this outline provides a solid teaching structure while the student receives an excellent starting point to break the book into manageable pieces for study.

Vital Statistics

Vital Statistics are straight facts about the book: author, date, place of writing etc. These are basic background to the book and are primarily intended as a starting point for further study of the Scripture.

General Thoughts:

There are two roadblocks that I have found people to run into more than any other: “I don’t understand the Bible” and “the Bible is not really relevant to today.” Both are based on the faulty assumption that the Bible is nothing more than an ancient book. Thankfully, the Life Application Study Bible blows that idea out of the water. The LASB helps the pastor to accomplish our two most important tasks: helping disciples to understand the Bible and helping disciples respond to the Scripture to the glory of God.

I know that a number of pastors frown on the use of a Study Bible but I disagree with them. As a general rule. I advise believers at all levels of maturity to own and use a study Bible. For new believers, this is a great choice in a study Bible to own and use.

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

NET Abide Bible and Journal Review

The Abide Bible and Journals are a very interesting offering from Thomas Nelson. They are not a study Bible system and neither are they a devotional system. Rather, I would describe them as a personal worship system. The Abide Bible is offered in both New King James Version (NKJV) and New English Translation (NET) and the Abide Bible Journals are offered with the NET. In this article we will review the Abide Bible in the NET alongside the 1st and 2nd Peter journal. (Both Bible and journal were provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are my own.)

 

 

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Abide Bible_Thomas Nelson Official Page

Abide Bible-Taylor University

From Thomas Nelson on the Abide Bible Journal

The Abide Bible Journals are designed to help you experience the presence of God and grow in your relationship with Him as you read and interact in Scripture. Each volume contains a book or section of Scripture in a clean, single-column format along with powerful passage-specific journaling prompts. And most important, right within the Word, lightly lined pages invite you to respond to what you’ve read and abide with God in active prayer and reflective response through the act of putting pen to paper.

The prompts within the text are based on four ways of engaging deeply with the Bible:

Praying Scripture: Pattern your prayers after biblical texts

Picture It: Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant

Journal: Focus and reflect on Scripture and its meaning for your life

Contemplate: Follow the simple 4-step practice of feasting in God’s Word

 

The Concept:

The concept for the Abide Bible comes from John 15:4,

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

As I understand from Thomas Nelson, the Abide Bible is designed to take you beyond simple reading of the Bible and to move you into the arena of actually living the Bible; having a vital, active relationship with Holy Scripture and more importantly, its author.

 

The Translation

I am reviewing the New English Translation. I have commented on this translation before, if you will recall, I rather like it. NET is a meaning based (dynamic equivalent/thought-for-thought) translation completed by the students and faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary. They Full Notes Edition carries with it all 68,000 translators’ notes, a fact which makes in the most heavily annotated English Bible available.

 

Many of my colleagues will say that a meaning based translation is not suitable for study but in the case of the Full Notes Edition, I could not disagree more. It is designed for study.

 

In the case of the Abide Bible, the footnotes are not provided, not that such a deprivation would negatively impact your experience with the Bible. While I love the NKJV, I think that the NET is a better choice for the Abide Bible. Given its intended use, I want a translation that does not require me to reach for a lexicon but instead, I want a translation that feels like I am with friend, which you definitely will get from the NET. I am also quite glad that the journals are in the NET Translation for the same reason, I want something that is easy to use.

 

Cover and Binding

The journal is softcover with an adhesive binding. I would have preferred to see a hardcover option but I understand that it would be enormously impractical given the groupings of the books.

 

The Abbie Bible that I was sent is the brown leathersoft. Thomas Nelson has really stepped up their game with their imitation leathers. Having handled many leathers over the years, I could tell from the touch that it is not real leather but I am not sure most people would pick up on that-it is very convincing. The binding appears to be sewn. I am glad to see sewn bindings return to the Thomas Nelson Lineup. Sewn bindings wil, literally, last you a lifetime of use.

 

Paper Layout and Font in the Journal.

The paper is a crisp white but not so bright as to cause glare. It performs very well in most light settings, including the Arizona sun, which is quite unforgiving.

On the left page we have the text of Scripture in a single column. On the right page we have the Abide Journaling Prompts and a lined column for journaling. Following the last page of journaling prompts we have an additional 15 lined pages for additional thoughts.

The font in the journal is quite a bit larger for the Scripture portion than what is found in the Abide Bible. I would gauge it at 9-point font while the journaling prompts come in at 8-point. Both, though, are quite readable.

 

Paper, Layout, and Font in the Bible

I am told that the paper is 36 gsm. You can see that it is quite opaque so it should work rather well for marking, highlighting, or journaling. There is a little bit of a newspaper texture to the paper which makes it rather easy to turn the pages.

Unlike the NKJV edition, this is a black letter Bible. The text is laid out in single column paragraph format, which is ideal for the intended use of the Abide Bible.

The Abide Prompts are in the outer column. Many of the pages, I would guess about half, include ample space for journaling.

Helps and Prompts

Introductions

 Each Introduction includes the usual material  including historical and literary context. It also adds a section called Prepare which is designed to help you to engage with Scripture.

Journaling Through Scripture

This section is not for a personal journal or even prayer requests. Instead, guided prompts help you to interact with scripture and to record/catalogue insights that you gather. Journaling is a critical component of Inductive Study which is the essential method to understand and internalize the Scripture.

Engage Through Artwork

“Consider a classic piece of art—photograph, sculpture, painting—and let it deepen your meditations on scriptural truths.” The Bible, itself, is art; it is God’s masterpiece and has inspired countless artistic works over the years. The artwork provided does not simply help us to visualize what we see in scripture, it spurs us on to worship by bringing the text to life.

 

Praying the Scripture

“Pattern your prayers after biblical texts, personalizing the prayer and gaining language for the thoughts and emotions you want to express.” This is a similar concept to the Prayer Book used by some denominations. Many of us do not really know how to pray but the Abide Bible helps to guide us through the process.

Picture It

“Place yourself in a biblical narrative as a bystander or participant in important events.” The Bible IS literature, among other things, and the best literature invites us into the story. We identify with the characters and, on varying levels, the story speaks to us.

Contemplate

We are given a  4-step practice of reading, meditating on, praying, and contemplating a passage of Scripture.

Assorted Articles

There are some articles explaining how to engage with Scripture, studying vs engaging, and why we read the Bible. These are more of background material rather than what will take you through the process.

 

Final Thoughts

The Abide Bible and Journal  is an excellent resource when used as a complete system. Could you use each one separately? Yes but they are better together.

My preference is for the NKJV for study and teaching though the NET will do quite well for understanding and internalizing the Scripture.

It is important to remember that this will take time and discipline, but this is to be expected; nothing worth having comes easily. I think you, dear reader, will enjoy the Abide Bible and Journal and they will help you with your growth.

Literary Study Bible Review

Literary Study Bible Review

 

Of all the ways to study the Bible, considering it as literature is probably the most overlooked. Crossway has answered that for a second time by re-releasing the ESV Literary Study Bible. It comes back to us in a slightly smaller format but maintaining all of the study tools from the original version.

(Note: Crossway provided a copy of the ESV Literary Study Bible in hardcover free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review-my opinions are my own.

 

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From Crossway:

In order to understand the content of the Bible, readers first need to understand how the content is expressed. The literary forms and features of the Bible are a crucial part of understanding the Bible’s message—both for its original audience and for readers today. Compared to conventional study Bibles that answer the what of a passage, the ESV Literary Study Bible guides readers through the Bible text, showing how to read the passage. Combining over 1,200 insightful notes with the complete ESV Bible text, this volume highlights literary features such as genre, images, plot, setting, stylistic and rhetorical techniques, and artistry so readers can more richly understand the unity, flow, and profound depth of the biblical text. First published in 2007, the ESV Literary Study Bible has been refreshed with an all-new typesetting while retaining all the same content that helps readers discover and teach the message of the Bible embodied in its literary forms and features.

 

Reader Friendly Format

The Literary Study Bible is laid out in a single column paragraph format. The layout very much resembles a novel; it is very close to the ESV Reader’s Bible but different enough to classify it differently.

 

The literary study Bible has an 8.5-point font. The updated edition is quite a bit darker than in the original, which makes it more readable. Both editions are black letter texts, a preference of mine as red letters can be quite distracting. One change that Crossway made I do not understand-they took away the wide margins.

 

Each book gets an introduction outlining the book at a glance, literary genres covered by the book, theological themes, literary inferences etc. Interspersed among the text, you will find study notes on items of literary note, around 1200 in all. These notes appear to be adaptations of the materials from Ryken’s Bible Handbook, which would make sense considering that Leland and Phillip Graham Ryken are the editors of the literary study Bible.

 

Let’s break down the format:

  1. Format.The ESV text is single-column, black text set in 8.5-point Veritasfont. The Veritas Font Family is quite a bit more readable than the Lexington Crossway normally uses.
  2. Introductions and overviews. Each book of Scripture receives a detailed introduction and content overviews. The overall literary genres and styles are summarized at the beginning. This section is where we are introduced to the particular literary contexts that are addressed in each book.
  3. Subsection prenotes.Before each subsection of Scripture (normally one chapter in OT and every half chapter in NT), the editors provide important literary notes and an overall snapshot of the upcoming content. These are like prenotes, compared to the footnotes common in study Bibles. These prenotes peak interest and drive the reader into the text. “This literary Bible is a guide to the Bible that pushes the reader into the text instead of providing mere summaries of the content that readily become substitutes for reading the Bible” (xvii). These chapter notes reinforce the literary styles mentioned in the book introductions, provide overviews of upcoming Scripture content, and function well in helping the reader chomp through large sections of Scripture in single settings.
  4. New reading plan. The daily readings include one section from each of the four categories: Psalms and Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch and the History of Israel; Chronicles and Prophets; and Gospels and Epistles. But four important books – the Psalms, Isaiah, Luke and Romans – are read twice annually (It could be argued and I do, that these 4 books are the most foundational to a well-rounded understanding of the Scripture). The readings through the OT are arranged chronologically, and the NT readings by author.

 

The Bible as Literature

From the introduction:

“To approach the Bible as literature as this literary Bible does is not like dessert — something pleasurable to add to more important aspects of the Bible. The literary approach is the first item on the agenda — the starting point for other approaches to the Bible. This has been a point of neglect among Bible readers and Bible scholars that this literary Bible aims to correct” (ix).”

 

Dr. Ryken goes to length explaining, including rebutting the idea that Literary Study Bible reduces the Bible to mere literature.

Dr. Ryken suggests  “meaning is conveyed through form, starting with language itself but moving beyond that to a whole range of literary forms and genres” and “There is no meaning without the form in which a piece of writing is expressed” (vii). Forms directly impact interpretation.” When you stop and think about it, this is precisely why we study Greek-styles and forms impact how we understand that Scripture.

 

Cover and Binding

The new edition of the Literary Study Bible is offered in a hardcover format with smythe-sewn binding. It is everything we have come to expect from Crossway.

 

The Bible Experience

The best literature invites us into the story. We see ourselves in the hero and are pulled into the action. The Literary Study Bible does this for us to a degree. The format invites us to consume large portions of the Scripture and “get lost” in the story.

Again quoting the introductory matter,

“The goal of literature is to prompt a reader to share or relive an experience. The truth that literature imparts is not simply ideas that are true but truthfulness to human experience. The implication for interpretation is that Bible readers, teachers, and expositors need to be active in re-creating experiences in their imagination, identifying the recognizable human experiences in a text (thereby building bridges to life in the modern world), and resisting the impulse immediately to reduce a biblical passage to a set of theological ideas” (xi).

 

I very much concur with Drs, Ryken; far too often we reduce study of the Bible to cold and impersonal facts. The Bible is described as a living book (Hebrews 4:12) and it draws us into it because the Bible is not only the story of God, it is also the story of the Redeemed.

 

A Use Case Scenario

The Literary Study Bible is suited to the classroom, ideally so. As we progress through our schooling, we are exposed to literature, how to understand it, and its impact on our lives. It happens that the Bible should be read in community and the Literary Study Bible lends itself to communal reading and study rather well.

 

Final Thoughts

The Literary Study Bible is a novel concept. I rather like it and happily recommend it to others.

He Reads Truth Bible

He Reads Truth Bible

 

A Bible that I have been asked about several times, recently, is the CSB He Reads Truth Study Bible. Having not seen one, I was not really sure if I had an opinion. Thankfully, my wife got me one for my birthday and, having spent a few days with it, I am offering this review.

Note: This was a birthday gift. Neither Christian Standard Bible nor Holman Bibles had any part in my decision to review this Bible. My opinions are my own.

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The Translation

The He Reads Truth Study Bible is offered in the Christian Standard Bible translation, which is owned by Holman Bibles. It is one of the two major mediating translations currently available. CSB is literal where it needs to be and meaning based where it needs to be. It is very well suited for study and devotional reading.

 

The Paper Issue

There is one big challenge with the CSB He Reads Truth Study Bible and I want to address it right away- Holman Bible made a very poor choice on the paper. Yes it does need to be thin so the Bible is not unwieldy but in this case, the paper is so thin that you get terrible see through, commonly called ghosting. It is possible to use a thin paper without having so much ghosting. (See Cambridge’s Concord Reference Bible for an example. I would not be comfortable writing in this Bible with any instrument; I am almost certain it will show through to the other side.

In some lighting situations, the ghosting is not all bad and in others it is beyond obvious. I have to say I am rather surprised. I do not expect something like this from Holman.

 

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the black leather-touch edition. Holman Bibles really shines here. The imitation leather is very  convincing and should hold up well for quite a few years. The Binding is Sewn to ensure that it holds up to rigorous everyday life.

Features:

66 hand-lettered key verses

66 verses you should memorize are offered in stenciled lettering, each on its own page. Not only do these add visual appeal, they also serve as memorization aids.

These key verses are designed to show the arc of redemption in the Bible.

 

17 full-color timelines

The timelines cover essential dates for understanding the Bible. They are fairly detailed for maximum reference

21 maps

These are rather different from most maps you will encounter in a Bible. Instead of being inundated with geographic information, these are whittled down to include only the information that is germaine to what you are currently reading.

122 charts,  infographics, and lists

As with other study Bibles, the charts, infographics, and lists are provided to help visual learners to acclimate to the Bible and to internalize it more. They are actually fairly detailed, I think they actually rival those found in the NIV Study Bible. The information presented is somewhat technical. (Go figure. Most men enjoy technical things.)

Illustrations

There are 3 illustrations. Each one is a line drawing (almost a pencil sketch) and detailed information about the illustration.

Reading plans for every book of the Bible

So many well-meaning Christians get bogged down in a one year reading plan and the He Reads Truth Study Bible provides the perfect remedy to that problem. Each book of the Bible includes its own reading plan. Now, instead of getting bogged down around Leviticus, you can check off one book at a time. I, personally, recommend reading one OT book and then one NT book so that by alternating back and forth, you are able to traverse the whole of Scripture without getting bogged down.

One-year Bible reading plan

For those who prefer the more traditional approach, a “normal” one year reading plan is included.

Book introductions

There are 66”detailed” book introductions that actually aren’t. The outlines have a good amount of wasted space although they are very easy to follow. Each introduction contains the curated reading plan for the book in a section called read and understand. There is also a section with abbreviated background along with the message and purpose of the book.

The introductions are not inadequate, they are just fairly basic.

Two colored ribbon markers

There are two ribbon markers provided to help you traverse your Old Testament and New Testament readings.

Wide margins

Ideally, these are for adding your own notes to the Bible as you go along. However, I do not recommend writing in the  He Reads Truth Study Bible given the amount of ghosting.

How to Read the Bible

It might seem obvious to include a section on how to read the Bible but you would be surprised at just how many Christians do not understand how to read and interpret the Bible. Again, this is a very basic presentation but, in truth, it is probably intermediate to advanced level for many Christians.

What is the Gospel

This section provides a basic outline of redemption history. It features teaching on creation, the fall, our need for a savior, the savior’s coming, and in invitation to yield your life to Christ. All in all, I am pleased with this section. At times, we can overcomplicate the message of the Gospel but the He Reads Truth Bible offers a very succinct presentation of the Gospel. This presentation could even be used in a group Bible study situation.

The Languages of the Bible

This section gives a brief overview of the languages that the original autographs were written in. It makes them feel a little less foreign and whets the appetite so to speak to dig deeper.

 

Is this really a study Bible?

Yes but not the way you think. As I mentioned earlier, there is not commentary or exegetical notes. Instead, the study  material is designed to help  you create your own exegetical notes and place them in the margins. You won’t get overwhelmed by notes and yet there is still enough material to challenge you and stimulate your growth.

In Practice

Despite the paper issue, the He Reads Truth Study Bible is pretty useful. We are not overloaded with commentary and opinion. Neither, for that matter, are we inundated with thousands of cross-references and exegetical notes. The study material is very well curated, just enough to make you want to dig more.

As I mentioned, the paper situation can be overcome by tweaking the light a little. If you will write in it, I would advise using a pencil, not just any pencil though. The only pencil I would recommend is a Papermate Sharpwriter. A Sharpwriter will be dark enough for you to see your notes but light enough to avoid show through.

 

As a Carry Bible

Let’s be real, here. This Bible weighs in at 3 ½ pounds in the leather-touch and possibly more in a hard cover so it will not be practical to use as an everyday carry Bible for a good many Christians. It can be done, but realize that this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a small Bible.

Overall Thoughts

I would rate the He Reads Truth Bible 8.5 out of 10. The concept is terrific but the execution leaves a little to be desired. A few minor tweaks from the publisher (more opaque paper, more detail in the introductions) and you would have an outstanding Bible. I do not want to come across as not liking this Bible. It suits its purpose, getting men into the Word of God every day, very well.

I think it is a Bible worth owning. As an impartial reviewer, I have to point out shortcomings not just sing the praises of the Book.

Do I recommend it for men?

Without hesitation. Niggling little details aside, I think this is a Bible many men will enjoy. It does not pander to any particular image of what a man should be other than to drive home the fact that manhood and Christlikeness are sysnonymous.

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

 

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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 Holy Land Illustrated Bible Review

CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible Review

 

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

 

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The Concept

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

The Translation

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

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

Paper, Layout, and Font

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Study Bible That Isn’t

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

 

The Experience

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

Final Thoughts

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

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition de

NRSV Single Column Reference Bible, Premier Collection Edition de

 

 

Click Me for Photos

 

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

Translation Choice

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

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

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

Cover and Binding

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

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

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

Layout

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

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

Comfort Print Font and Paper

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

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

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

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

Which NRSV?

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

For use as a preaching Bible

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

Should you buy this Bible?

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

NIV Study Bible 2020 Revision

 

 

NIV Study Bible Photos (Click Me)

 

 

 

For nearly 40 years, the NIV Study Bible has been Zondervan’s flagship study resource for those using the New International Version of the Bible. In 2020, it has been revised and updated with 100 new articles and over 1,000 new study notes. Zondervan sent me a copy, in black bonded leather, free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

Translation:

New International Version, NIV for short, is the dominant English translation of the Bible for Anglophone Christians. The NIV is available in two types, Anglicised (published by Hodder and Stouhgton) and American Standard English edition published by Zondervan. These two families cover both sides of the English speaking world.

 

NIV is one of the two most recognizable mediating translations available. A mediating translation strives to strike a balance between Formal Equivalence (literal) and Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought). NIV’s most similar competitor, Christian Standard Bible, leans more toward the literal side of the spectrum while NIV leans more toward the easy to read thought for thought end of the spectrum.

 

NIV as A Preaching Bible

NIV is an excellent choice for preaching. The translation rates around 6th-7th grade on the Flesch-Kincaide scale. The language is sufficiently technical and sophisticated so as to appeal to the more academically inclined disciple but it is also sufficiently easy to read so as to appeal to those disciples who have English as a second or third language. When bringing an expository sermon, NIV requires fewer restatements and definitions than other English texts.

 

NIV for Study

Some of my colleagues do not consider NIV to be good for study but I cannot agree with them. I find that NIV eliminates some steps when approaching study. Just as in preach ing, when studying a text, the NIV requires less restatement and fewer definitions. Additionally there are a host of commentaries, hand-books, study Bibles, and dictionaries based on the NIV including the powerhouse NIV Application Commentary, the New American Commentary, Holman’s Old Testament and New Testament Commentary and the premier single volume resource on understanding the Bible, Halley’s Bible Handbook.

 

Why choose a study Bible?

The choice to use a study Bible is one of practicality. Most Bible teachers are limited in the number of resources that are available for use, often having only one Bible and few, if any, study aids, which makes the acquisition of a study Bible a very helpful choice.

 

Why the NIV Study Bible?

The NIV Study Bible feature set makes it an excellent choice for a study Bible

 

Cross-References

The most important feature for Bible Study is a good cross referencing system, since the fundamental rule of hermeneutics is that the Scripture interprets the Scripture. In the NIV Study Bible, Zondervan provides around 68,000 references.

 

Translator’s Footnotes

       NIV Study Bible includes the full complement of Translator’s Notes. These include textual variants,  alternate translations, etc. I would say that the footnotes are a large portion of what makes the NIV so Easy to use.

 

Exegetical Study Notes

       Where many study Bibles contain what amounts to commentary, the NIV Study Bible has somewhere in the neughborhood of 25,000 exegetical study notes. The notes include explanations of the text, some cultural and historical background, alternate interpretations of the text , all of which is geared toward drawing out the meaning of the Scripture.

 

Introductions and Outlines

       The Introductions and Outlines in the NIV Study Bible are a little more in depth than in other study Bibles. Each introduction contains a detailed outline of the content of the book. Author, date of writing, purposes & emphases, and a timeline are all included. There is a small box containing “A Quick Look” at the book which highlights the theme, original audience, author, and approximate date of writing

 

Full color Maps and Charts

       Recognizing the needs of visual learners, Zondervan has included around 350 maps, charts, and photographs designed to make the world of the Bible come alive to your mind so you can behold the wondrous things in the Word of God.

 

Kholenberger’s Full Concordance

The complete NIV Concordance, created by John R. Kholenberger III is included. This topical study resource includes 4500-5000 entries with explanations and references.

 

       Index to Study Notes

There is a separate index to the study notes. This index is a topical breakdown of concepts addressed in the study notes, essays and articles to aid in understanding what the Bible has to say on a particular topic.

 

Expository Essays

There are over 100 expository essays included with the NIV Study Bible. These essays provide a more in-depth look at certain important concepts in our study of the Scripture.

 

Paper, Layout, Font and Binding

The paper is a crisp white which makes the red lettering very easy to see. Zondervan gives us a 9-point comfort print font. I, personally find the font a touch small BUT given the amount of content, a larger font would make this volume qite unwieldy.

 

Both the text and study notes are laid out in a double column paragraph format. The columns of Scripture Text are separated byt the center column references and the notes are separated from the Scripture by a bold black line.

 

The binding is sewn to ensure that it can stand up to the rigors of daily use.

 

How do I use the NIV Study Bible?

I am often asked if I regularly use the Bibles that I review and the answer to that is yes. I actually have a particular order in which I use resources, for a very specific reason, and the NIV Study Bible is used twice in lesson prep-it is my third and last resource. I start with the Teacher’s Study Bible and Halley’s Bible Handbook because I want to make sure that I have gotten a good handle on the minimum needed to understand the text. I turn to the NIV Study Bible, next, so that I can look for specific concepts that need a deep dive. Following this are commentaries and lexicons. Lastly I turn to my Study Bibles to compare what I have learned from the text to what other scholas have found with regard to the meaning and explanation of the text.

 

Who should buy the NIV Study Bible?

It is true that NIV Study Bible is for everyone but there is a particular group that I feel would benefit from the NIV Study Bible more so than others, Sunday School Teachers/Small Group Leaders. These wonderful saints serve Christ’s church faithfully, often without the benefit of Bible College and/or Seminary training. For them, a feature enriched study Bible is going to be very helpful.

 

Final Thoughts

I got my first NIV Study Bible in 1996 as a gift celebrating my baptism. In 1996, I began teaching Sunday School and  the NIV Study Bible informed my lessons. In 2005, I upgraded to the 10thanniversary edition. Later I upgraded to the full color edition. Currently, I use the digital version on OliveTree Bible Software. NIV Study Bible has proven a faithful and reliable companion.

 

NIV Study Bible gives you a full library of study materials. You can trust that, when you choose NIV Study Bible, you are choosing a resource that will help you to understand the Scriptures. This is a Bible worth your investment.

 

 

NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible Review

NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible Review

 

Additional Photos of the Spirit Filled Life Bible

 

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The NKJV Spirit Filled Life Bible is a very interesting study Bible geared toward those in the Pentecostal Tradition, specifically Classical Pentecostalism. Dr. Jack Hayford leads a team of  Pentecostal scholars in bringing us one of the two most popular study Bibles for Pentecostal Christians

Thomas Nelson provided a copy of this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review; my opinions are my own.

Disclaimer: I have a strong Pentecostal background having come of age in the Assemblies of God, even though I no longer attend that denomination. There are certain contributors to this Bible that I vigorously disagree with but I still found  much of the material to be helpful.

A Pentecostal Study Bible? Answering mockers and skeptics

It is true that there are many in the Pentecostal Movement with weird ideas but there are also some very well-known scholars and pastors who are very well versed in the Scriptures; Dr. Gordon Fee and Dr. Wayne Grudem (more charismatic than full Pentecostal) come to mind.

Translation Choice:

This 3rd Edition is offered in the New King James Version, previous editions were also offered in the NIV and the NLT. NKJV is a very conservative, essentially literal translation. It is ideally suited for the Bible teacher who prefers systematic exposition of the Bible.

Study Helps:

  • Word Wealth–Far and away, my favorite feature of the Spirit Filled Life Bible is the Word Wealth Section. There are more than 650 word studies (including over 100 new ones) which shed light on key terms, drawing important meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew. Each of these is a single paragraph that explains the basic meaning of the word. The Strong’s Number is provided for additional research, either by the pastor or the student in the audience.
  • Kingdom Dynamics –Kingdom Dynamics illuminates the present aspect of Christ’s Kingdom, here, on earth and prepares us for His future millennial reign.
  • Truth-In-Action –This is one of the most interesting features that I have encountered in a study Bible. These are 1-page articles that provide help with practical application of the particular truths presented in each book of the Bible.
  • Praying the Word –192 guided prayers based on significant passages throughout Scripture
  • Book introductions and outlines The traditional materials covered in a normal study Bible are here but there are three unique sections that I have not found in any other study Bible: Personal application (How can apply the truths of this book to my life?), Christ Revealed (What does this book teach us about the person and work of the Lord Jesus?), and Holy Spirit at Work (What is the Holy Spirit doing to advance the work of Christ’s Kingdom, even if not obvious?)
  • Full color in-text maps, diagrams, and charts offer the opportunity to visualize where the events happened.
  • Verse-by-verse study notes There are approximately 10,000 study notes designed to illuminate the scriptures for the reader.
  • Nelson’s Complete Cross Reference System with Concordance All 72,000 of Nelson’s cross references are provided to help the Scripture to interpret the Scripture. Nelson also provides a full topical concordance for those who like to find what the Bible teaches on a particular topic.

 

 

Cover and Binding

This edition is the brown leathersoft with sewn binding. Thomas Nelson has really improved the quality of their imitation leather and this one will last for years.

Paper, and Font

The paper has kind of a newsprint feel. It has a matte finish which is very easy on the eyes. Interestingly, the paper also has a soft cottony feel to it and it is very easy to turn the pages.

This Bible is a red letter edition with red that is surprisingly well done. There is no fading of the red and it doesn’t turn pinkish in any areas. The comfort print font is very readable for a 9-point font.

As a Carry Bible

It is a very portable Bible at 6” x 9” and about 2 pounds. I did not notice any issues with carrying it.

Should you buy?

Yes, even if you  are not Pentecostal. Certain of the helps are immensely helpful and you will not notice any bias.

Why Standard Lesson?

Why Standard Lesson?

I recommend resources from Standard Lesson on, at the very least, a monthly basis and I am, often asked why. The question goes like this “Matt, I’m seminary trained, why should I use Standard Lesson?” or “Matt, Standard Lesson isn’t from your denomination, why do you recommend something that isn’t Baptist?”

I would like to offer some answers to those questions:

 

  1. The material is very easy to understand and is accessible to most audience members. I am not seminary trained and neither is most of your audience. (I have acquired a seminary grade understanding of Scripture via self-study of a host of resources plus I am mentored by several men, two of whom are seminary professors.) When we amass great learning we can miss the forest because of the trees. Standard Lesson’s resources remind me to keep it simple when I teach.

 

  1. It is very theologically conservative and broadly evangelical. When you read the commentary notes, the study Bible notes or other resources, you can see that the writers take Scripture seriously. Equally important, they take the command to make disciples seriously. Integral to making disciples is teaching and these resources will be most valuable in lesson prep.

 

  1. Resources are available in KJV and NIV. Standard lesson offers resources in KJV for the most staunchly conservative and the NIV for those desiring a more broadly evangelical audience. KJV and NIV are the two most widely read English translations of the Bible and pairing resources with those translations ensure that you are able to reach the most people possible.

 

  1. It takes the fear out of teaching. The Standard Lesson Commentary not only provides expositional commentary on the Scripture, it also provides a complete lesson for those who are new to teaching. The Standard Lesson Study Bible provides expository notes on the Scripture AND it adds discussion questions. The Standard Bible Dictionary provides insight on 2,000 foundational terms your students should be familiar with.

 

  1. There is a Uniform Series. The Standard Lesson Commentary follows the International Sunday School Lesson Uniform Series. This is important because on any given Sunday, churches around the world are teaching the same lesson. You can, literally, walk into any Sunday School that uses Standard Lesson Commentary and pick up right where you left off. Additionally, the Standard Lesson Commentary will take you through every book of the Bible in 6 years, not every single verse but you will get every book.

 

There are more reasons to choose Standard Lesson Resources but these are the reasons I give when I recommend Standard Lesson to pastoral colleagues and Sunday School Teachers