November 25, 2016

The KJV Expressions Bible

The KJV Expressions Bible published by Hendrickson, who kindly sent me a complimentary copy to review, brings us a quality hardback edition of the King James Version of the Bible with double-spaced lines in 2” margins on nice cream paper. The side spacing provides room to note interesting information or insightful comments in a study group, jot down thoughts that come to you as you read in private, or write down the date as you claim a scripture in prayer.

The 8-point type is a bit smaller than I prefer now, but it’s a clean font with ample black ink and words of Christ in red.

In the back matter, this reader edition includes:

Harmony of the Gospels
Miracles of the Old Testament
Miracles of the New Testament
Parables of the Old Testament
Old Testament Prophecies of the Passion
Parables of the New Testament

Around the attractively designed brown hardcover, a cardboard wrapping mentioned a concordance and end-of-verse cross references, which my review copy does not have. But if you're looking for a journaling edition to “Catalog your spiritual journey and God’s redemptive plan in your life,” as the cover wrap suggests, this makes a good choice and a nice gift too.

Mary Harwell Sayler

The KJV Expressions Bible, hardcover

November 19, 2016

The Complete Jewish Study Bible

The Complete Jewish Study Bible comes to us with the theme of “Insights for Jews & Christians” and the goal of “Illuminating the Jewishness of God’s Word.” What a treasure this provides in one volume – something I’ve been hoping for since my husband bought me The Complete Jewish Bible and separate commentary, which I reviewed a few years ago.

This hardback edition published by Hendrickson Bibles, who kindly sent me a copy to review, offers “Features Unique to The Complete Jewish Study Bible” (CJSB) such as “New Bible Book Introductions” from a Jewish perspective and “Study Notes” in the bottom margins “to help readers understand the deeper meanings behind the Jewish text.”

Additionally, over 100 color-coded articles in sidebars throughout the text focus on these twelve significant themes:

Anti-Jewish Scriptural Interpretations
Jewish Customs
Jewish-Gentile Relatons
Messianic Prophecy
The Name of God
The Sabbath (Shabbat)
Salvation and Atonement
The Holy Days of Israel
The Land of Israel
The Tabernacle (Mishkan)

In his introduction, translator and scholar David H. Stern, who provided us with this biblical text in English, begins by asking “Why is this Bible different from all other Bibles?” bringing to mind a traditional question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” asked by the youngest person at the Passover Seder.

And why is this Bible different? The CJSB “restores the Jewish unity of the Bible,” giving Messianic Jews the opportunity to see Jesus’ Jewishness in the New Covenant and Christians a fuller view of Jesus in the Torah.

For example, a footnote to Genesis 2:15 comments on the phrase “To cultivate and care for it” as coming from “The Hebrew word for ‘work,’ avodah,” which “is the same for ‘manual labor’ and ‘worshipping God.’ The picture we see here of the human’s work is that it was also a form of worship.”

To give you an example of the importance of Jewish insight into the New Testament, Nicodemus was more confused by Jesus statement “You must be born again” in John 3:3 than most of us Christians ever realized. According to Pharisaic Judaism, a person had six ways to be born again:

Converting to Judaism
Becoming bar mitzvah
Being ordained as a rabbi
Heading a rabbinical school
Being crowned king

Since (Nicodemus) “Nakdimon had gone through every process available in Judaism to being ‘born again’….” Jesus (Yeshua) had “the opportunity to explain some spiritual truths to this already ‘born again’ teacher of Is’rael, primarily that he still needed to be spiritually ‘born again’.”

I would be delighted to give you more and more examples of how the CJSB blesses readers who love God’s Word, but I pray you’ll see for yourself. Since I'm posting this review on the last day of National Bible Week, it's a great time to find out!

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer

The Complete Jewish Study Bible, hardcover

November 18, 2016

NKJV Know The Word Study Bible

For those of us who really, really want to know The Word of God, any reputable study edition will help us toward that goal. The new NKJV Know The Word Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson differs mainly by making that goal a strong focus as we read.

Having received a complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers for my always-honest review, I like how this edition emphasizes three ways to study the Bible:

Book by Book
Verse by Verse
Topic by Topic

If you choose the latter as your starting point, the front matter immediately provides that option, right after the Table of Contents, rather than in the back matter, which typically occurs near the index. This upfront placement gives clear access to God’s Word by highlighting key topical verses and “Topic-By-Topic Articles” on the Trinity, Love, Salvation, Suffering, and other vital subjects.

For a Book-by-Book study, the edition offers introductions to each book with a Summary, How To Study that particular book, and the highlights covered in the text, which most study editions also provide.

For a Verse-by-Verse investigation of God’s word, footnotes offer insights and information that add to our understanding of the text, which, in this case, is the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible – one of my favorite translations.

The light font and bleed-through on thin paper make this edition harder to read than some, but it’s exactly the Bible I’ve been wanting to place on the bookshelf at church. When members of our study group forget to bring a Bible from home, they’ll have a good edition with helpful notes to contribute to the class discussion, and the Topic-by-Topic feature provides a fine choice for guiding future studies.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer, ©2016

NKJV Know the Word Study Bible

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November 14, 2016

Favorite Bibles for Christmas!

National Bible Week began Sunday, reminding us we still have time to order Bibles as Christmas gifts for others and ourselves! But which ones?

Having received many dozens of Bibles from Christian publishers over the last few years, I’ve had the blessing of reading and reviewing all sorts of translations and editions for children and adults.

The hotlinks to these previously published reviews take you to study Bibles you won’t want to miss:

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

NLT Illustrated Study Bible

Award-winning Holman Study Bible

Africa Study Bible

The Didache Bible - THE Bible for Catholic Christians

Lutheran Study Bible

Thompson Chain Reference Bible, NKJV

For reader editions without study notes:

The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible: KJV with Apocrypha - my favorite for reading cover to cover

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT - THE Bible for Christians dealing with hardships or disabilities

Tyndale Select NLT - my other favorite reader edition

For children, my all-time favorite is the one my grandson and I regularly read together, and it's his favorite too:

The Rhyme Bible Storybook

Other excellent editions for children include:

The Sweetest Story Bible, The Berenstain Bear's Storybook Bible, Adventure Bible Storybook (reviewed together)

Just Like Jesus Bible Storybook

Kids Study Bible, NRSV with Apocrypha

Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible For Kids, NIV

For all age groups, this beautifully done edition of the Psalms is my daily prayer book and devotional guide:

Psalms: Jesus’ prayer book makes a great Christmas gift!

posted by Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer, ©2016

November 10, 2016

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT

People everywhere are hurting. If you are too, the Beyond Suffering Bible has you in mind.

Published by Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a complimentary copy to review, the Beyond Suffering Bible emphasizes the hope found in God as presented in the highly readable New Living Translation (NLT.)

In an opening letter from Joni Eareckson Tada of the Internatonal Disability Center, Joni thanks members of the Christian Institute on Disability (CID) team “who have worked diligently” to bring “a Bible that speaks directly to the hardship of handicapping conditions.” In addition “It showcases the righteousness and mercy of God on behalf of those who struggle under the weight of illness, poverty, and injustice.”

Suffering in silence has often been a common condition for many people with chronic pain or worry, but suffering with dignity, purpose, and prayer deepens a person’s spiritual life and relationship with the Lord.

More than any analgesic, relief comes in applying God’s Word as an ointment, and this edition shows you how. With “A Word from Joni,” devotionals, and articles for caretakers and people with disabilities, disadvantages, or pain, this Bible emphasizes the comfort God brings and also provides resources on the theology of suffering and sanctity of life.

Besides helping readers to connect God’s Word to their daily lives, the edition provides Book Introductions, Profiles, and helpful reading plans.

As those of us with good fortune and minimal pain read the articles and devotionals, we just might find our awareness increasing and compassion needing the relief of prayer and a commitment to help others in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT, paperback

September 17, 2016

Holman NKJV Giant Print Reference Bible

Almost everyone in the last few Bible study groups I’ve led or attended has needed reading glasses, but with the small fonts many Bible publishers now use as standard, a lot of squinting is going on!

Thankfully, Holman Bible Publishers has just released a giant print edition of the New King James Version (NKJV) in a very readable 14-point font on good quality paper. Even better, Holman kindly sent me a copy for review.

In addition to offering one of my favorite translations, this Bible includes color maps, a concise concordance, and one-year Bible reading plan.

You’ll also find a couple of unique features: Instead of the usual thumbnail-shaped index tabs, this edition has squared out corners, which I suspect will keep their shape longer. This does make the book names a bit harder to see, but if you hold the Bible in your hand and let the pages drape down, you can read the tabs readily.

This edition drapes nicely in the hand – as genuine leather is apt to do. But when I first took the Bible from its sturdy box, I wrinkled my nose at the slight chemical odor that overcame the expected smell of genuine leather.

The cover feels as though it has a light coating. And yet, that feature, stitched edging, flexible leather, and a sewn spine make me think this well-made edition is meant to last for years.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer

Holman NKJV Giant Print Reference Bible, Leather, indexed