Tag: Sunday School Teacher

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.

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.

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.

NIV Giant Print Reference Bible Review

NIV Giant Print Reference Bible Review

 

The New International Version is one of the two best-selling English Translations of the Bible and I have enjoyed reviewing a number of them. This time around I am reviewing the Giant Print Reference Bible with Comfort Print, which you may recall seeing in my pulpit. Note: Unlike other Bibles, Zondervan did not provide this Bible for review. It was acquired at my own expense.

Additional Pictures

 

Cover and Binding

When selecting this Bible, I opted for the Burgundy Bonded Leather edition as it was the highest quality cover that is available. It has a paste down liner, making it a little stiff. The stiffness is not too bad and, as all leathers do, it will soften up a bit over time. If you plan to make this a daily Bible, know that bonded leathers tend to need their covers replaced after 5-10 years, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the quality of the base leather used in the bonding process.

 

This Bible does have a sewn Binding. For the purposes that I have selected this Bible, a sewn binding was absolutely essential, otherwise it would be useless within about 36 months.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

The paper is fairly crisp white. There is mild reflection in bright light but nothing that would irritating. It features half-moon style thumb indexing. I realize that many dislike this feature but I find it almost necessary to my purposes. I did memorize the order of the books of the Bible way back in second grade but in the pulpit, indexing makes for faster access to the text needed. I would say that the paper is sufficiently opaque for marking and, as I tend to do, I recommend the use of ball point pen for marking.

 

The text is laid out in double column paragraph format; translators footnotes are in a column at the bottom right corner of the page. The verse numbers are both large enough and dark enough to find with relative ease.

 

The Comfort Print font is extremely well done in this edition. The black letter portion is a deeper richer ebony than you find in many of Zondervan’s other Bibles. The red letters really impress me, especially at this Bible’s price point. In far too many cases, red-letter Bibles turn pink but not so here. The red is very well done, consistent, deep, rich and most importantly, easily readable in the pulpit.

 

For Preaching

I have a few NIV, including the Premier Collection Large Print Thin-line (11-point font) which is a phenomenal choice for preaching. However, middle age and diabetes wear on my eyes, leading me to reach for the 13.5 font size in the Giant Print.

 

It is a very versatile Bible. I tend to be peripatetic and this edition is very well balanced for one handed use. The Giant Print edition also works out well on the pulpit in that it does not add to eye strain when laid on the pulpit for reading.

 

In many reference Bibles, the references can be found in center column and that is the format I am most used to. However, the end-of-verse reference format is far preferable to a center column format as the references are still available for rapid use but do not get in the way of the flow of reading the text.

 

Helps

The NIV Giant Print Reference Bible offers a limited scope of helps, a fact which I find refreshing. There are so many NIV Bibles, covering a wide range of needs, with multiple helps that it is quite a relief that we get the essential helps but not a ton more.

 

Cross-References

The cross-references are located following the verse, hence the moniker End-of-Verse references. The reference system in this particular Bible is a condensed version of the Zondervan Reference System, around 12,500 references or so. It is rare for me to use references in sermon prep though there have been situations where I had forgotten a passage I wanted to reference and seeing the reference jogged my memory.

 

Lined Notes Pages

Lined Notes Pages? I am delighted. The presence of lined notes pages begins to answer my wish that every Bible included them. We get about a half dozen pages, certainly not enough for sermon notes but more than adequate for more important notes like the Romans Road etc. If Zondervan would give me my way, they would release an edition of this Bible with 4-5 lined notes pages per book. Pastor’s write in our Bibles, why not have sufficient room.

 

Dictionary Concordance

A condensed version of John Kohlenberger’s excellent concordance is provided for us. Key terms are defined and then given the corresponding textual references for further study.

 

Final Thoughts

I am quite pleased with this Bible. For the price point, you get a very good value for the money. I would like it to have a higher grade leather but that is a niggling little detail easily corrected by a re-binder.

 

I would tweak a few things but they are more aesthetic than utilitarian. I realize that an NIV Preaching Bible is forthcoming in the near future (I am already committed to review) and I think it will be excellent but for preaching, the Giant Print NIV really knocks it out of the park. At its price-point, this Bible is well done and well worth the money.

 

A special note to my pastor brethren: In the pulpit, one should have the largest font possible without forfeiting practicality. If you are preaching from NIV, this is an excellent choice.

 

 

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.