My 3 New Favorite Study Bibles

I’ve found that one of the key elements when it comes to reading through and understanding the Bible has been to have a good study Bible that is filled with helpful footnotes, explanations and cross-references. (Here's a review of the study Bible I use, as well as a review of the study Bible that my husband uses.)

This past year, I got the chance to receive a handful of study Bibles to add into my quiet times, so that I could share my thoughts and experiences with you this year. There are a ton of different study Bibles out there, and my hope is that by getting to compare a couple, you might be able to find the perfect one for you (or at the very least, a good addition to your Bible-study library!).

Here's a look at three of the new study Bibles that I got to try out this year that I loved the best:

Chronological Life Application Study Bible (NLT): I have always wanted a study Bible like this, particularly after doing my chronological Bible reading plan for the two previous years. Essentially, the entire Bible is organized in a chronological pattern based on the order the events are believed to happen (rather than the order they were written or recorded). This is especially helpful when reading things like the Gospel accounts about Jesus, to see side-by-side how the different writers recorded Jesus' sayings and actions.

Interspersed throughout are really in-depth profiles, illustrations and explanations about things like specific characters (Hezekiah), places (Solomon's temple) or even just interesting details, such a photograph of the Appian Way, a main highway during the days of Paul that he likely traveled. It pulls in lots of archeological facts, information, full-color photographs and maps that really help you wrap your head around the history of it all. (I should point out that I loved the fact that this Bible was printed in full color; the pages are heavier to accommodate that, so you don't feel like you're going to rip them with every turn.)

Then, along the top of the pages runs a timeline, showing you during what Biblical "era" (such as during the Birth of Israel or its Exile or once its Return & Diaspora) the section you are reading occurred. Finally, as with any study Bible, littered along the bottom of the pages are specific insights about specific verses. It is not exhaustive—there were still times I was left wondering about what a certain passage meant—but it is very helpful.

The biggest drawback is that it is not a Bible friendly to flipping through (so probably not good for Sunday morning services unless you'll only be staying in one spot in Scripture); the passages are scattered about depending on the chronology so it's harder to locate a passage without going to the directory in the front of the Bible. That being said, I loved this Bible (it was my hands-down favorite of the three) and think it is incredibly handy and insightful for bringing the historical and cultural elements of the Bible to life during your daily quiet times.

NIV Essentials Study Bible: This Bible takes six different resources (the NIV's Study Bible, Quest Study Bible, Archaelogical Study Bible, Student Bible, Great Rescue Bible, and Essential Bible Companion) and weaves them together to utilize the best of each one. There are built-in devotional sections that prompt you to "Reflect and Respond," pulled from The Great Rescue Bible. Or a section answering hard questions like, "Does God Choose Some People and Reject Others?" that comes from the Quest Study Bible. There are character profiles, maps, and archaeological insights, as well as your standard study-Bible call-outs for specific Scriptures at the bottom of every page.

Even though it pulls from all these different resources, it doesn't pull everything from each one; so it isn't exhaustive and you'd still likely find yourself wanting to purchase one of the specific ones to get it's full benefit. That being said, if you don't know what kind of study Bible you want, this can be useful to gauge that or simply to provide a variety to your studies. I do think it provides more in-depth info and call-outs than your standard study Bible, making it a solid resource.

Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life: This is the "lightest" of the study Bibles and I don't know that I would really call it a study Bible, in the truest sense; there aren't the call-outs running along the bottom of the pages that you would typically be expecting. Instead, the call-outs are integrated into the text. That is what sets this Bible apart and what made me really like it: They collaborated not only with Biblical scholars but also writers and artists to create a Bible translation ("The Voice") that is written in a way that translates not only word for word but also the tone of voice and intentions of the original text.

So sometimes a word may not be in the original text and would have been implied, but in our modern texts we'd leave it out since it wasn't there; The Voice will add it back in to aid comprehension, but in italics so that you're aware of the addition. I found that this really did help me understand a text, in context, without having to jump around or stop to read footnotes.

Another element of The Voice is that any dialogue is written in screenplay format that identifies the speaker but then eliminates the repetition of things like "then he said" that can clutter up a text. It took some getting used to, but I did find it made larger dialogue texts much easier to follow along with. Finally, they integrate additional explanatory text into the text as sidebars; so for example, in Proverbs, there's a call-out that explains that many of the proverbs are written in a Hebrew poetic form known as parallelism.

At first I didn't think I would like how everything was integrated into the text directly, but I have found that it really does make reading and understanding the text much easier when you don't have to jump around for explanations and insights. The only drawback is that other study Bibles (such as the other two I've reviewed here) are able to incorporate more information and details. Still, I oftentimes find myself reaching for this one first when I'm reading a text to get a really solid understanding of the text first, and then using the others to provide additional insights that bring the text to life even more.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Next Post Previous Post
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...