September 25, 2017

Bible Promises to Live By for Women

In Bible Promises to Live By for Women, which Tyndale House kindly sent me to review, Katherine J. Butler has collected and grouped relevant scriptures from “Abandonment” to “Worship” into one small book you can easily carry with you for a quick burst of spiritual energy from God’s Word.

As the “Introduction” tells us, “God knows the immense power a promise holds and has filled his Word with promises for his people. Some of God’s promises provide us with strength, perseverance, and encouragement to guide us through everyday life. Others speak to the deep desires inside each of us as we long to know that our future holds joy, security, purpose, value, and companionship. And because God has declared that his Word will last forever, we can trust him to keep…every promise.”

Using the alphabetically arranged table of contents as your guide, you’ll find over 500 verses on topics that mean the most to you at any particular moment. In addition, a brief word of encouragement provides a preface to the Bible verses chosen for this little edition.

And small it is! In about 4.5 x 5.5 inches, the linen-textured gray cover, featured as imitation leather, envelopes the pale blue-green pages with the font in a medium shade of blue-green. Although very attractive, this presentation might be harder for some to read. Also, the book does not lay flat when opened, but it should slip nicely into most purses or shoulder bags to give you a timely word from God’s Word.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

Bible Promises to Live By for Women, linen-look gray cover




August 30, 2017

Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew

Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew by Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer helps us to envision the place where Jesus worshiped with other Jewish leaders and families, giving us a better feeling for being part of the biblical story. For instance, as our thoughts join Jesus on The Temple Porch, we might experience what He felt as a child or young man, looking up to see the gold-covered entrance with its shine rising to the height of an 18-story building.

Using realistic models, drawings, photographs, and descriptive passages to recapture the feel of the magnificent building, the authors show Jesus’ movements as He encountered various people and situations in the Temple complex. For example, as an 8-day-old infant, Jesus would have visited The Court of the Women in His mother’s arms as Mary came for the purification rite required 41 days after her Son’s birth. Then, as the authors point out, “Some thirty years later, Jesus was teaching here as an adult.”

In that same expansive open area, Jesus would also have met the woman accused of adultery, stooping down to write her name in the dust (as the law required some kind of notation) before wiping away all traces of condemnation.

In the back pages of this large, thin paperback, which Hendrickson Publishers kindly sent me to review, a “List of New Testament Links To The Temple” provides numbered headings for locations followed by bullet-pointed references to their corresponding scriptural events. For example, “11. Solomon’s Porch” includes references to Jesus’ walking in Solomon’s Colonade during Hanukkah as noted in John 10:23, and, by Acts 2, the same area had become a “Regular meeting place for believers.” Such details and an abundance of visuals help us to “be there” too.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer reviewer


Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew
, paperback





August 8, 2017

The King James Study Bible


Produced by Liberty University and edited by Dr. Edward Hindson, The King James Study Bible, which the publisher Thomas Nelson kindly sent me to review, now comes in a hefty full-color edition with maps, illustrations, and photos of biblical sites.

Other features of this impressive work include highlighted center-column references, book introductions, book outlines, personality profiles, and well over 5,000 study notes with 100 archaeological summaries.

Evangelical Christians will welcome the “Introduction to Doctrinal Footnotes” for a conservative view of theological issues, and almost every reader will wecome the page “God’s Answers to Our Concerns” with scriptural references to God’s Word on a particular subject.

Besides the easy-to-read fonts, which I greatly appreciate throughout the text and footnotes, my favorite parts can be found in the back of the book.

• “Topical Index to Christ and the Gospels” – with key words from “Abide” to “Zacchaeus” and what Jesus had to say to or about that person or subject

• “Teachings and Illustrations of Christ” – with topics alphabetized for a quick search

• “Prophecies of The Messiah Fulfilled in Christ” – with charts showing the prophecy and the fulfillment of God’s Word in The Word

• “Concordance with Word Studies” – a unique list that includes over 200 words followed by discussions of their meanings in the original Hebrew or Greek language.

Slick color maps in the back matter help Bible students get grounded in time and place, but I wish this edition (and every other study Bible) would include a present-day map of the Holy Lands for those of us who want to follow the biblical history of a place throughout all of history. (Does anyone do that?)

However, so many other valuable study aids have been included, I suspect this edition will be one of the first I grab from my desk when researching a biblical topic I feel led to write about or when getting ready for my Bible study discussion group.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

The King James Study Bible, hardback, cloth over board




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July 8, 2017

How To Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets

In his new book How To Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets, author and OT professor Peter J. Gentry discusses the many literary styles Bible prophets used to wake people up to God’s ways and calling on their lives – so many in fact, he suggests “We might well ask if the literature of the biblical prophets actually constitutes its own genre or type of literature.”

For example, “a Hebrew author begins a discourse on a particular topic, develops it from a particular perspective, and then concludes his conversation. Then he begins another conversation, taking up the same topic again from a different point of view.”

In general, the Old Testament prophets reiterated what God had already said or revealed then showed how that word applied to a situation in their era in hopes of encouraging faith and obedience to God.

The prophets also exhorted the people to seek God’s will and rely on God to help them find it. In Deuteronomy 18, for example, Moses strongly warned against contacting mediums, fortune-tellers, sorcerers, witches, or the dead as other nations had done when wanting to know about or, perhaps, control future events. Such control and oversight belong only to God.

Therefore, biblical prophets often gave predictions “to demonstrate publicly that only Yahweh knows and determines future events.”

In addition, “prediction of the future was necessary to explain the exile.” Also, the prophets wanted to reassure God’s people that deliverance takes time, but God can be trusted – not only by them but by everyone. For example, a message “not only announces future judgment for a particular nation but also indicates how it may find deliverance by seeking refuge in Zion.”

With world events worrying many of us, this book from Crossway, who kindly sent me a copy to review, will help us better understand the God’s prophetic word, which speaks to us even now.

Mary Harwell Sayler
, ©2017, poet-writer and Bible reviewer

How To Read & Understand The Biblical Prophets, paperback




May 22, 2017

KJV Super Giant Print Bible


The KJV Super Giant Print Reference Bible, which Hendrickson Bibles, kindly sent me to review, comes with a huge 17-point font to help visually impaired people read the King James Version of the Bible with greater ease.

This extra-large type also works well those who need a much larger than normal print when reading the Bible aloud in a worship service. Also, the inexpensive, imitation leather cover lays flat, making this a good choice for a pulpit Bible.

A problem may arise, however, due to the thinness of the paper, which causes shadowing or bleed-through on each page, thereby lessening contrast. Even so, I was able to read the text – including the words of Christ in red ink – without my reading glasses.

Other features include a brief “Dictionary and Concordance” with key “words, people, places, and ideas, and where they are found in the Bible.”

Equally helpful are the pages devoted to “Key Bible Promises,” “Miracles of the Old Testament,” “Parables of the Old Testament,” “Old Testament Prophecies of the Passion,” “Miracles of the New Testament,” “Parables of the New Testament,” and color maps.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer, reviewer

KJV Super Giant Print Reference Bible, imitation leather






May 18, 2017

The Children’s Bible retold


The Children’s Bible published by Hendrickson Bibles, who kindly sent me a copy to review, offers the colorful artwork of Jose Perez Montero to illustrate approximately 300 Bible stories retold by Anne de Graaf.

Written on a third to fifth grade reading level, the stories proceed in chronological order, introducing children to biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, poets and prophets, and, of course, Jesus and the first peoples of the church. We see the beginnings of creation, the fall of mankind, and the need from the start for a savior.

Each well-told story helps young readers get to know God as the Lord interacts with people in scenes a child can relate to or circumstances they can envision.

To draw readers into the story, the author uses active verbs, easy-to-picture nouns, a conversational tone, and other good techniques found in the best fiction. At times, this requires imagining how a scene might have been, for instance, “In the evening, Moses wandered among the families.The children ran up to him and he gave them all a pat on the head.”

This type of picturing makes readers feel as though they’re “there” too, which is ideal in helping children relate to biblical heroes, put themselves into the action, and see the importance of trusting God, which, in turn, helps to build faith and character.

The only problem with this method is that liberties must be taken since the Bible does not say that kids approached Moses or that he ever gave them any notice. For that reason, I wish the book had been titled The Children’s Bible Storybook, which would show that it’s not intended to be a new translation into kidspeak.

Despite that objection, I highly recommend these “retold” Bible stories and artwork as they do exactly what a good book for children should do – get them interested in the content, which, in this case, will most likely lead them toward a trusting relationship with God.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer, reviewer

The Children’s Bible, hardback






May 12, 2017

CSB Study Bible

The new CSB Study Bible, which Holman kindly sent me to review, has many of the features found in the previously reviewed award-winning Holman Study Bible. The most notable difference, of course, is its use of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text – the newly published revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translation, which came out in 2004.

As an “optimal equivalence” translation, the CSB provides a word-for-word rendering of scripture unless the meaning might be obscure to most readers, in which case a thought-for-thought translation takes precedence.

To give you an idea of how those options compare, read the HCSB translation of Psalm 1:1 below, followed by the revised text in CSB:

How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
” (HCSB)

“How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
” (CSB)

Besides the implication that women and children may also be “the one” struggling with a choice of peers, the CSB retained the parallelism of walk/ stand/ sit found in most translations.

That same page in the CSB Study Bible includes a sidebar on the Hebrew word “’ashrey” [pronounced ash-RAY] and gives the number of occurrences in the Psalms, along with a definition, shown in part here:

“’Ashrey, an interjection especially frequent in Psalms, means happy (Ps. 1:1) and implies blessed (Ec. 10:17) and happy (DN. 12:12.) It is similar to baruk (“blessed”) but probably more secular. ‘Ashrey is never used of or by God.”

Such sidebars on key words can be found throughout the book. In addition to those word studies, this edition also uses bold type to highlight quotations from scripture found elsewhere. For example, in the third chapter of his gospel, Luke includes a quote from Isaiah 40. The CSB Study Bible then uses a boldface font to call our attention to this as we read, “A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord.”

Both the original and present study editions from Holman provide such excellent features as cross references, introductions to the individual books, helpful footnotes, photos, charts, maps, timelines, and essays on major biblical and theological issues. However, the CSB Study Bible has even more articles, such as “Reading the Bible for Transformation,” “Faith and Works,” and introductions to the Pentateuch, historical books, wisdom books, prophetic books, and the gospels.

Instead of one bookmark, the new edition has two, which I appreciate because of Sunday School discussions on the Old Testament and Wednesday studies on the new. However, both of these Bibles have sewn-in pages, which lay flat on a desk – the most likely place for reading and studying the impressive aids found in both of these highly recommended Holman study editions.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer, reviewer


CSB Study Bible, hardcover