Tag: Sunday School

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

NASB MacArthur Study Bible 2nd Edition, Premiere Collection

 

 

The 2nd Edition the MacArthur Study Bible has finally been released in Dr. MacArthur’s favorite translation, the New American Standard Bible. Like the NKJV, it has been added to the premier collection. (Note: Thomas Nelson provided this Bible to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review only an honest one and my opinions are my own.)

Disclosure: John MacArthur is my favorite Bible teacher and the MacArthur Study Bible is my favorite study Bible.

 

Additional Photos

Translation Choice

This particular edition of the MacArthur Study Bible is offered in the New American Standard Bible (NASB). NASB is considered, by many, to be the gold standard for Bible translation and study and I see now cause to disagree, with the lone exception of the NKJV.

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

Cover and Binding

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

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

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

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

Paper, Typography, Ribbons

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

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

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

Layout

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

Helps

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

25,000 Exegetical and Expository Notes on Scripture

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

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

Book Introductions

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

Overview of Theology

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

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

Maps and Charts

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

 

 

NIV Quest Study Bible Review

NIV Quest Study Bible Review

 

 

Additional Photos

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

 

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

 

Click here to purchase

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

 

Cover and Binding

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

 

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

 

Helps

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

 

Introductions:

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

 

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

 

Question and Answer Side-bar Notes

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

 

Top Questions

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

 

Charts, Timelines, Maps

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

 

Subject Index

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

 

Layout, Font, & Paper

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

 

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

 

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

 

Who should buy the Quest Study Bible?

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

 

As a Discipleship tool

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

 

What’s missing?

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

What is Dispensationalism (guest post from James Quiggle)

What is Dispensationalism (guest post from James Quiggle)

Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. Every household is run in a particular way, which we might call an “economy.”

From time to time God changes his economy—the way in which he runs his household—as human civilization develops. Those different economies are called “dispensations.” For example, we can see God ran his previous economy, the dispensation of the Mosaic Law, different than the way he runs his present economy, the dispensation of the NT church.

Dispensationalism as a theology is defined by three basic beliefs.

  1. The consistent application of the Literal hermeneutic (method of interpretation) to every Scripture and every doctrine. (In contrast, Reformed theology does not apply the Literal hermeneutic to eschatology—end times prophecy—but interprets by allegory or spiritualizing.)
  2. The NT church is not a new Israel, but a different people group in God’s plans. Dispensationalism believes God has a continuing plan for national ethic Israel and a different (but in some ways related) continuing plan for the NT church. (In contrast, Reformed theology believes the NT church has become the new Israel and God has transferred to the NT church all the promises he made to national ethic Israel, most now to be fulfilled spiritually, not literally.)
  3. The purpose of God in the world is his own glory. In contrast, Reformed theology, while it believes in God’s glory, believes God’s purpose in the world is salvation. Dispensationalism believes God gets glory not only from salvation but also from his justice on unsaved sinners, and how God leads his saved people in the world to victory over sin.

That is the basic outline.

CSB Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible Review

CSB Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible Review

 

One of the top two Study Bibles, AMG’s Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible, has combined with one of fastest growing translations on the market, the Christian Standard Bible. Admittedly, the two have been together for a while but this is the first opportunity I have had to review the combination. This review, however, was not solicited by AMG but is, rather the result of a gift to our ministry.

 

Click for Photos

 

Why is the Keyword Bible important?

I have said that the Keyword Study Bible is one of the top two Bibles and want to explain why I think it is a vital investment for many Christians.

 

Most of the teachers in any particular church are not seminary trained, and in reality, the bulk of pastors around the world are not seminary trained, so they will have limited experience with the original languages of the Bible for lesson preparation. This is where AMG really shines in the Christian publishing world, it makes the original languages more accessible to the average Bible teacher. More on that when we get to the tools.

 

The Translation

The Keyword Bible is finally available in the Christian Standard Bible, one of the fastest growing translations on the market, one that I suspect will soon rival NIV. A couple of unexpected colleagues have recently adopted the CSB which prompted my looking a little further into the translation.

 

Similar to the NIV, CSB is a mediating translation. This is a blending of the rigidly literal word for word translation style of Bibles like he NASB and the free flowing meaning based style of translations of Bibles such as the NLT. There are areas where CSB is very literal, precise, and technical and other areas where it is free flowing and more meaning based. CSB calls this Optimal Equivalence; optimal is quite a fitting word for the translation.

 

Cover and Binding

This is a very highly grained genuine leather cover with a paste down liner. This is one of the few Bibles where I prefer a paste down liner, which AMG did give to us. Of course they sewed the binding; you cannot have a good quality study Bible without a sewn binding as they will not last.

 

Layout, Font, & Paper

The Keyword Bible has a double column format with center column references. The verses are laid out in a paragraph format as opposed to a verse by verse, where each verse would begin on a new line. We are also given a 1-inch margin although my copy is thumb indexed making the margins a little smaller but I won’t miss the margins

The font is crisp and deep ebony for the black letter and a rich cranberry for the red letters.

 

The Keyword Bible is one of those Bibles which demand to be written in and marked up (I have a brand new set of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils waiting to do just that.) and the paper is quite opaque and a little thick. I would guess about 32 GSMs on the paper. Were I to describe the color of the paper, I would call it eggshell white; your colored pencils will work out very nicely on the paper.

 

Tools

 

What really makes this Bible different and sets it apart are the grammatical codes and notations. There are numbers, letters, and underlining within the Scripture text. Words that are underlined have the Strong’s number. You can look these numbers up in the dictionary in the back. If the number is bold, the entry will be expanded (annotated). If the number is not bold, it’s just the regular Strong’s entry. Not every word gives the Strong’s number. There are lots of them on every page, but there will always be one that I want to be coded that’s not coded. For these words I have to look them up myself and write the number over the word. Grammatical codes are a string of letters that appear before the word. They are only found in the New Testament. These codes show the part of speech for that word. There is a list of grammatical codes in the back and on a supplied bookmark.

Book Introductions

The book introductions are about a half a page each. They cover the history and customs (limited) of the people the book was written to or about, and gives information of the significance of the book. I cannot speak for others but this is one area that I would have liked to see developed a little more. Since Dr. Zodhiates is, himself, Greek, it would have been very nice to have some material on Greek culture. If nothing else, a 1 page article could have gone a long way towards helping to understand the New Testament better.

Notes Section

The notes at the bottom of the page discuss theological, exegetical, historical, and geographical points from the text. This is not like a standard study Bible with lots of commentary on every page. The main function of this study Bible is to be a linguistic aid rather than a commentary packed into a Bible. If you are looking for commentary, this Bible probably is not for you; if you want to better understand Scripture (especially if you are a Bible teacher) then this is not a should have it is a must have. If I could only have 2 Bibles for the rest of my life, this and the Thompson Chain Reference Bible are what I would choose. Between the two, you will find that you have everything necessary to grow in your knowledge of the Bible and of the Lord.

The study notes are provided by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates the founder of AMG. They are fairly influence free and exhibit mainstream evangelical thought. Unlike most study Bibles, though, this Bible does not provide notes on most passages of the Bible. Rather it provides notes on key passages of scripture and every verse has a keyword noted and linked to the dictionary in the back. On a side note, it is quite useful to understanding the New Testament that Dr. Zodhiates was Greek. Who better to explain a Greek Text than a native Greek?

 

Grammatical Codes

The Grammatical Codes section contains a page with all of the codes and 3 pages of examples. The codes show the verb tense forms of the Greek. The information explaining how to use the codes is found in the next section – Grammatical Notations. I would recommend placing the Grammatical Codes after the Grammatical Notations, so the explanation on how to use them comes before the codes themselves. The information is in this Bible, it’s just a little confusing at first because it looks like two separate sections when it really should be one section.

Grammatical Notations

The Grammatical Notations section is 20 pages and explains how to use the Grammatical Codes. The focus is on verbs. It covers the five features of verbs (tense, voice, mood, person, and number. They are written so that anyone can use them).  Each of the features are explained and plenty of examples are given. They give enough information to be helpful and get you started, but it doesn’t give you everything you need to know. This section is very clear about that and gives references to other works to help learn Koine (New Testament) Greek. This section is the most technical and difficult to use.

 

Pastoral Use

I have Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bibles in three of the four translations I use most-NIV, NASB, and Now CSB. I had an NKJV as well but passed it on to another pastor (replacing that one is on my agenda). As a pastor, and this would work out well for any other Bible teacher, I study with the Keyword Bible and preach from a somewhat smaller Bible.

 

The Keyword Bible calls out the essential Hebrew and Greek words for your audience to know. You could almost build your lessons around just those but I do not want you to do that. Historical and cultural backgrounds must be added to the original languages.

 

Final Thoughts

Pick your translation and own one- there is no excuse for a Bible teacher to be without a Keyword Bible. The Hebrew Greek Keyword Study Bible is far and away the best study Bible you can own, especially in light of how accessible it makes the original biblical languages. My friend and colleague up in Oregon, the noted pastor-scholar Kofi Adu-Boahen has called this the most underrated Study Bible on the market and he is absolutely correct- many of my fellow teachers have said they have never considered the Keyword Bible and that is a tragedy that they should willingly cheat themselves out of such an excellent tool. Another colleague, the eminent pastor, Randy Brown, speaks of the Keyword Bible in more even more glowing terms than I do. To repeat, every Bible teacher should own one.

Jeremiah Study Bible Review (Recovered Content)

Jeremiah Study Bible Review (Recovered Content)

 

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

 

Jeremiah Study Bible Photos


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unique introductions

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

8,000 individual study notes

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

Sidebars

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

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

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

Teacher’s Topical Index

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

80 page concordance

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

Lifetime Guarantee from Worthy Publishing

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

Paper and font

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

Overall Impression

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

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

The Bible: Read it again for the first time.

 

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

Pastor Matt Bassford on Switching to CSB

This morning we have a guest post from a colleague, Pastor Matt Bassford at Jackson Heights Church of Christ. Matt recently adopted the Christian Standard Bible as his preaching and teaching Bible and he has been gracious enough to share his thoughts. (More information can be found at Matt Bassford’s Blog

Why I Switched to the CSB

English-speaking Christians are blessed with a plethora of good translations of the Bible. Of course, translation is an art, not a science. There are no perfect translations, nor will there ever be.

However, practically every translation that we’re likely to encounter is more faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek texts we have than the Septuagint is to its Hebrew originals. If the Holy Spirit thought the Septuagint was good enough to incorporate into the New Testament, whatever we’ve got is good enough to get us to heaven!

Because we are so spoiled for choice, though, those of us who care about the Bible are likely to move from translation to translation, looking for one that is maybe a little bit more perfect than the rest. In my time as a preacher/Bible reviewer, I’ve preached and taught from at least 10 different translations, and at various times, I’ve used three translations (NASB, NKJV, and ESV) for my primary text.

A couple of months ago, though, I decided to try out a fourth translation for my every-day Bible—the Christian Standard Bible, or CSB. When I switched from NASB to ESV a few years ago, the CSB was a strong second-place finisher, and my occasional use of it ever since gradually swayed me to adopt it. Several factors played into this decision:

VOLUME QUALITY. My copy of the CSB is bound in edge-lined goatskin that Holman sent me as a promo copy in 2017 when they rolled the translation out. It’s true that I love edge-lined Bibles, and once you’ve gotten used to one, it’s tough to go back to paste-down.

However, it’s really the quality of the setting of the CSB that influenced me here. My CSB was set by 2K, a Danish shop that is world-famous for its Bible designs, and the quality shows. It’s better designed than the ESV I was using before. My CSB is prettier, easier to read, and has cross-references that are easier to use. As far as I’m concerned, anything that makes reading and studying the word more pleasant is well worth adopting!

STYLISTIC QUALITY. I love the English language and rejoice in good writing. As a result, I struggle to love translations that prioritize faithfulness to the words of the Greek (and sometimes even to Greek grammar) over making clear sense in English. Brethren often are fond of these translations (I think because they appear to remove human judgment from translation, though in truth they do not), but they often pose obstacles to our understanding. These obstacles can be surmounted in verse-by-verse study (as when the preacher reads a verse and then pauses to explain what it means in normal English), but they often make Bible reading difficult, especially for new Christians who don’t speak fluent NASB.

By contrast, the style of the CSB is accessible and lively. Instead of talking like Bible characters, speakers in the CSB sound like real people. For instance, in Luke 6:46 in the CSB, Jesus says, “Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and don’t do the things I say?”

The CSB also is full of aptly phrased renderings. Consider the difference between Ruth 2:12 in the NASB (“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”) and the CSB (“May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”). The NASB undeniably sounds more Hebraic, with idioms like “your wages be full”, but it’s the CSB that sounds like good English. That’s important!

TEXTUAL FAITHFULNESS. It is, of course, possible for translators to take accessibility too far. Unlike most brethren, I’ve used the NLT extensively (I read the whole thing cover-to-cover a few years back), and though I like it for reading, I feel like the translators take too many liberties, especially in the New Testament, for the translation to be suitable for close study. When I’m reading from the NLT, there are a dozen places in the book of Romans alone where I stop and say, “Man; they sure booted that one!”

The translators of the CSB are much more careful. So far, at least, I feel that the translation sacrifices little in the way of nuance and faithfulness in exchange for great gains in style and clarity. Of course, there are CSB renderings that I don’t like, but there are renderings in every translation I don’t like. To this point, they are infelicities I can live with.

I also like the balance that the CSB has struck on gender equality. The translators generally render the Greek _adelphoi_ as “brothers and sisters” (unless the context makes it clear that only males are under discussion), and they replace “how blessed is the man” in Psalm 1:1 with “how blessed is the one”. However, the pronoun throughout Psalm 1 is “he”, and the translators preserve the singular “son of man” in Psalm 8:4 (compare “human beings” in the NIV). It remains to be seen whether the upcoming 2020 revision of the NASB will fare as well.

I certainly don’t insist that every Christian out there needs to switch to the CSB Right This Minute. It almost certainly is true that the Bible you’re using right now is get-you-to-heaven good (though if you struggle to adhere to a Bible-reading program, consider that your choice of translation and setting may be at fault). However, for those who are looking for another Bible or simply are curious, the CSB is well worth checking out.

Should I Use A General Reference/Ecumenical Study Bible?

Should I Use A General Reference/Ecumenical Study Bible?

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

 

CEB Study Bible

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

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

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

Major Seminary: Fuller

Publisher: Abingdon Press

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

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

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

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

Major Seminary: Oxford

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

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Harper Collins Study Bible

Translation Offered: NRSV with Apocrypha

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

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

Major Seminary: Unknown

Publisher: Harper One

 New Interpreter’s Study Bible

Translation Offered: NRSV with Apocrypha

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

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

Major Seminaries: Asbury, Duke, Grand Rapids, Fuller

Publisher: Abingdon Press

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

 

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

New Interpreter’s Study Bible Review (Recovered)

New Interpreter’s Study Bible Review (Recovered)

 

New Interpreters Bible Photos

 

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

 

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

 

Product Description 

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

 

Features: 

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

Reliability of Scripture 

Authority of the Bible 

Inspiration of Scripture 

Guidelines for Reading and Interpretation 

Varieties of Readings and Interpretations of the Biblical Text 

Culture and Religion Among Ancient Israelites 

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

 

And now, let’s dive right in… 

 

Font Size, Paper, and Layout 

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

 

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

 

The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Text Excursus 

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

 

Special Note Section 

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

 

Introductions, Outlines, and Study Notes: 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Translation

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

 

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

 

 

Halley’s Study Bible Review

Halley’s Study Bible Review

 

 

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

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

 

More Photos

 

My only complaint

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

Now that we have that out of the way…

What makes this study Bible different

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

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

 

The Translation

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

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

Cover and Binding

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

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

 

Paper, Layout, and Font

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

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

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

 

The Helps

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

Book Introductions

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

Full color photos

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

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

6000 study Notes

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

NIV Concordance

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

What’s missing

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

Shold you buy it?

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

Overall Impression

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

God’s Word Translation Wide Margin Bible Review

God’s Word Translation Wide Margin Bible Review

 

I love a good wide margin Bible and the one I am reviewing, here, is one of the best that I have seen at this price point. Before we go any further, I would like to point out that God’s Word to the Nations Missions Society provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review and I was not obligated to provide a positive review. My opinions are my own.

The Translation

I am opening the review by revisiting the translation first. God’s Word Translation (hereafter GW) is done in a style called Closest Natural Equivalent.  It is a type of meaning based translation that, as its name suggests, attempts to render the original languages into the closest English possible. If I had to put in a reading comprehension scale, I would say probably 4th to 6th grade.

As English has become one of the two most used languages on the planet, GW is uniquely placed among English translations of the Bible because of its ease of comprehension.  Many of my readers have English as a second or third language and when one of them asks me to recommend a Bible, GW is one of my top choices (I always give three recommendations so that the choice belongs to the reader.)

Comparatively speaking, GW is very close to NLT on the Dynamic Equivalence end of the spectrum. I have been pairing it side-by-side with my NKJV and the experience has been very enlightening. I would compare it this way: NKJV is like talking to my peers (NKJV and I are both 37 and somewhat academic) and GW is like telling the same story to an Elementary Grade Sunday School Class. I would not say that it has a commentary feel when read in parallel but it does feel more like having a conversation with “regular people” as opposed to my theologically trained peers.

GW is a translation you can know and trust. Its position in my ministry is evolving. Currently, I am using it with new believers but I foresee it taking a more active role in my pulpit ministry. In many cases it will provide an excellent supplement to my NKJV. As a matter of fact, I can easily see the God’s Word Translation becomming one of my three main translations.

I find myself liking this translation much more than expected. It’s like spending time with my niece; I always come away more energized and having loved the time we spent together.

The Paper and Margins

The paper in this Bible and the margins are the shining stars. The paper feels to be about 36gsm. However, I have been advised that it is 39gsm. This is important becasue you want a thicker paper in a Bible that is designed for journaling etc. The paper is fairly heavy and opaque but the pages are still very easy to turn. The paper is kind of an off-white, not as cream colored as what Crossway uses but not a bright white either. I took it out into the Arizona sun and had no issues reading off the page; the glare that I expected was not there and neither was there much see through.

The margins are 1.5” and among the best that I have encountered in a wide margin Bible. My regular readers will know that I love a wide margin Bible and even had my favorite wide margin rebound in Bison Leather. Most Bible publishers consider a 1” margin to be wide but I don’t go less than 1.25” to call it a wide margin Bible so the margin size, here, makes it very easy to recommend the GW wide margin Bible to someone who wishes to get into Bible journaling. There is not really an inner margin (gutter) which I don’t consider an issue since I never write in the gutter anywhere.

In point of fact, I consider a wide margin to be the best format for a Bible. In a wide margin you have a true study Bible as you make a record of your studies and grow in your walk with the Lord.

The Cover, Font, Layout, and Binding

The GW wide margin is offered in a type of imitation leather called duravella. Much like trutone, it is a polymer based imitation leather that will easily hold up for 20 years or so. Depending on your usage it may last longer or you can follow some of my colleagues and rebind it in a more premium leather.

It is a sewn Binding which surprised me considering the price point. Sewing the binding matters because it ensures the Bible will last through years of use.

The layout is a line-matched single column paragraph format in a 10.5-point font. It is totally black letter, which in the case of a wide margin Bible is to be preferred. Many, myself included, annotate in red ink and a red letter Bible would most probably be a distraction. I would say, without reservation, that Crossway has found a rival in the typography department. Single-column paragraph format is not generally a favorite of mine due to visual acuity issues but this Bible is very easy on the eyes and a delight to read.

Would I Change Anything

There are a couple things I would add but they are mostly niggling details. I would like to see, at least, a second ribbon or, preferably, three ribbons total. The ribbons are frequently used to mark your place in a reading plan so I think we should always have at least three ribbons in a Bible.

The other addition that I would make is less niggling but I am not really certain how others would feel about it…I would like to see lined notes pages. I would, personally, prefer a couple lined pages with each book of the Bible and if not there, some at the end of the book itself. A Bible that is so clearly designed for note taking really demands that there be as much space as possible for doing just that.

How to Use

First and foremost, for pastors and other teachers, I would put lesson notes in the margins. Since we cannot always have lesson notes with us (I frequently find myself teaching with no advance notice) it is a definite plus to have teaching notes in the margins. As it happens, I like to place small word studies and key phrases in the margins of my Bibles.

For my non pastor friends, I recommend annotating points from sermons that you wish to remember. Symbols are often helpful and some even make drawings/charts to help remember.

As a Carry Bible

Some wide margin Bibles do not really lend themselves to being an Every Day Carry Bible. Thankfully, that is not the case with the GW wide margin Bible. At 6” x 9” it is fairly portable. I am pleasantly surprised, not by the portability of the Bible but at its readability. Normally, you do not get such a readable layout in this size of a Bible.

It’s fairly lightweight, maybe 32oz but I am not 100% certain. It is extremely easy to use one-handed. If you were so inclined, you would not have any issue using this as your main Bible.

Writing in the GW Wide Margin

I wrote in 2 places, for the review, and with 2 different pens. I do not, as a general rule, use a fountain pen to write in a Bible but I used a Pelikan m600 Souveran fountain pen with Diamine Imperial Purple ink on the presentation page. There was moderate show through but it is not in an area which will impact enjoyment of the Bible.

For the other writing, I used my normal Bible writing implement, a Uniball Jetstream. The Uniball did not leave any show through and I was rather impressed with that fact.

Many of my friends and colleagues use colored pencil for their marking and color coding, I recommend Prang as a 1st choice and Crayola as a 2nd choice, and the paper seems to be quite ideally suited to that.

I cannot recommend use of a Pigma Micron Archival Pen this time around. It is virtually guaranteed to bleed through

Final Thoughts

Overall I am much more pleased than I had expected. Considering a price point below $75, I had not expected the quality of paper that we are presented with. I am happy to say that I was wrong. The font and margins were in line with my expectations.

I would have to say, this is the perfect choice for 2020: a new format in a new translation that you may not have considered before. You may or may not make it your primary translation, but you should definitely use it. I think you may find the Bible speaking to your heart in new and exciting ways.