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









April 21, 2017

more on The Message

The more I get to know The Message, the more I want to encourage you to check it out! As you might recall, I’ve previously reviewed a Catholic/ Ecumenical edition, which includes (as the original King James Version of the Bible did) the books often referred to as the Apocrypha. We’ve also talked about a special edition of The Message 100, which arranges the books of the Bible by the dates they were most likely written, rather than the sequence typically found in a Protestant Bible.

Instead of hoping for a review copy this time, I bought myself a present to read during Lent – a large print, reader edition of The Message in a premium leather cover as shown below.

Why leather? I want a reader edition that’s comfortable and pleasant to hold, which hardbacks just aren’t. However, I prefer hardback study Bibles on my desk to do the research needed for writing projects and to find the background information and insights that enliven a weekly Bible study discussion group.

When I’m just reading cover to cover, my Bibles and I often have conversations in the margins and, more important, develop a relationship that’s like the tangible presence of a spiritual being. Since John 1 tells us that Jesus Christ IS The Word, a huggable Bible is the closest I can come to a physical touch or embrace.

If that seems foreign to you, it's possible The Message will too! i.e., It’s not a word-for-word translation in heightened vocabulary and Shakespearean tempos (aka iambic pentameter.) It’s everyday language with rhythms that convey the inspiration, passion, and conversational tones of Bible times yet keep current readers reading and relating.

It’s real. It’s huggable.

To give you an example fresh from Lent, consider the opening lines of this penitential psalms:

Psalm 51
“Generous in love – God, give grace!
Huge in mercy – wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.”


Long before reading those lines – or any other in The Message – I felt God leading me to prayerfully paraphrase psalms and scripture (prayer-a-phrases.) For decades I’ve been studying the Bible at home and in almost every church denomination, but I don’t have the advantage of knowing the original languages in which the Bible was written.

Dr. Eugene Peterson does. Not only did he study Hebrew and Greek, he taught those languages on a university level for several years. In addition, he pastored a church for decades where he brought members of his congregation into the life and heart of the Bible. Once I learned of those qualifications and saw Holy Spirit inspiration in his work, The Message became a totally unexpected favorite.

It’s real. It’s huggable.

Since Lent has now ended in Easter, let’s look at the resurrection story in John 20:19-23 to give you an idea of the language:

“Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, ‘Peace to you.’ Then he showed them his hands and side.

The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: ‘Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.’

Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’ he said. ‘If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?’”


Good question! Frankly, I’d rather let the forgiveness found in Christ Jesus take care of me and those I need to pardon! Otherwise, I have no good place to stack and store my lack of forgiveness.

The Bible is all about the forgiveness, restoration, and redemption culminating in Christ. To clarify this, my copy of The Message has an article in the back matter on “The Story of the Bible in Five Acts,” which includes Creation, The Fall, Israel, Jesus, and The New People of God.

Another unique feature of this Bible comes in the Introductions, which introduce us to the spirit of the message in each book. Take, for example, this intro to Philippians:

“This is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves – the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us.”

Then in verses 9-11 of the first chapter, we read:

“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that yu will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.”

May the grace of God be with us to do exactly that!

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer reviewer, appreciates your clicking the ad on each Bible Reviewer post to order the Bible that best suits your present needs.


My copy in premium leather, large print

471681MI: The Message, Large Print Premium Leather, Black  - Imperfectly Imprinted Bibles The Message, Large Print Premium Leather, Black - Imperfectly Imprinted Bibles

By NavPress




genuine leather, large print




April 18, 2017

KJV Thinline Bible, large print, hardback


BookLook Bloggers sent me a copy of the large print KJV Thinline Bible in a colorful green hardback to review, and I really like the sturdy quality, double ribbon markers, words of Christ in red, and especially, the rounded, well-inked 10-point font that the publisher, Thomas Nelson, commissioned for their production of the King James Version of the Bible.

Although this edition does not have all of the books included in the original KJV (aka Apocryphal books), it does include clear, colored maps and "30 Days with Jesus" to take readers through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord.

As you probably know by now, I prefer quality leather covers for regular reading, but I requested this particular reader edition for several reasons:

• A sturdy hardback works best on the bookshelves in our Fellowship Hall as this won’t flop around like a paperback or get musty as quickly as some leather covers might.

• The easy-to-read font works well for church members who forget their study Bibles and/or their reading glasses.

• The attractive green cover brings to mind Christ as the Vine and we as the branches who have no spiritual life or power apart from Him.

• This thinline edition is easy to carry and makes an excellent choice for reading in a waiting room, on a train or plane, or anywhere you happen to be.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, is a poet-writer, reviewer who welcomes review copies of new editions and translations in 10-point type or larger, reader editions in premium leather, sturdy hardback study Bibles, Bible storybooks, children’s Bibles actually designed for children, and Bible resources such as a Bible dictionary, atlas, or encyclopedia. Send your review copy to Mary Sayler, P.O. Box 62, Lake Como, FL 32157.

KJV Thinline Bible, large print, cloth over board hardback




I review for BookLook Bloggers

April 8, 2017

NEW! The Amplified Study Bible

At last! The updated Amplified Bible comes with over 5,000 footnotes in a new study edition from Zondervan, who kindly sent me a complimentary copy to review. What impressed me first, however, was the nice 10.5-point font in the body of text and an easy-to-read font for the footnotes even though this isn’t the large print edition, which is also available.

Despite the extra space needed by the use of larger, more readable fonts, the Amplified Study Bible demonstrates clear interest in the biblical text over anything scholars can say about it. I mention this because some study editions have gotten so carried away with commentary, they only allot a few hard-to-find verses per page, which seems worrisome to me – or, dare I say “arrogant”?

The Bible is the Word of God – not our words about it.

In addition, biblical words and their usage change from one century to the next and also from one language to another, which means the earliest Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible offered thoughts and expressions familiar to their original readers, but not necessarily to us. Furthermore, each language, including English, has various options for word substitutions as seen in synonyms and colloqualisms. These connotations of a word or the clearer context for an outdated phrase is what makes the Amplified Bible a unique translation of God’s Word.

Since I love to play with words and explore their fullest meanings, I’m delighted to have the Amplified Study Bible, which I plan to refer to often in my Bible studies and poetry writing. A lovely surprise, though, comes in the spiritual depths of the footnotes. For example, the note for Genesis “1:26 in Our image” says:

“Since God is spirit (Jn 4:24), there can be no ‘image’ or ‘likeness’ of Him in the normal sense of these words. The traditional view of this passage is that God’s image in man is in specific, moral, ethical, and intellectual abilities. A more recent view, based on possible interpretation of Hebrew grammar and the knowledge of the Middle East, interprets the phrase as meaning ‘Let us make man as our image.’ In ancient times an emperor might command statues of himself to be placed in remote parts of his empire. These symbols would declare that these areas were under his power and reign. So God placed humankind as living symbols of Himself on earth to represent His reign. This interpretation fits well with the command that follows – to reign over all that God has made.”


Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, reviewer and poet-author of PRAISE! published March 30, 2017 by Cladach Publishing

Amplified Study Bible, 10.5-point font, hardcover



Amplified Study Bible, large print, 12-point font, hardcover



..

March 27, 2017

The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV, large print


Although I’d previously reviewed The MacArthur Study Bible, which Crossway kindly sent, I welcomed a review copy of the newer large print edition, also from Crossway.

With an 11-point font for the ESV text (English Standard Version) and 9-point type for the study notes, this edition is easy on the eyes, which aids comprehension as does the wealth of in-text maps and drawings that help readers to envision what’s being read.

In addition, Dr. John MacArthur provided book introductions and almost 25,000 notes with pertinent information and insights based on his 40 years of biblical studies. In the Introduction to Leviticus, for example, we read:

“The most profitable study in Leviticus is that which yields truth in the understanding of sin, guilt, substitutionary death, and atonement by focusing on features that are not explained or illustrated elsewhere in OT Scripture. Later OT authors, and especially NT writers, build on the basic understanding of these matters provided in Leviticus. The sacrificial features of Leviticus point to their ultimate, one-time fulfillment in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.”


Then, a footnote to Leviticus 1:1-7:38 explains:

“This section provides laws pertaining to sacrifice. For the first time in Israel’s history, a well-defined set of sacrifices was given… to the people and the priests….”

However, a footnote for Hebrews 9:8 reminds us “The Levitical system did not provide any direct access into God’s presence for his people…. Nearness had to be provided by another way.”

That way, of course, was The Way of Christ Jesus, Whose “death was necessary for the fulfillment of the older covenant and the establishment of the new” (as stated in the footnote for Hebrews 9:13-22.)

In the back matter, an “Overview of Theology” discusses the uniqueness of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and the creation of mankind in God’s image but, corrupted by sin, in need of salvation, regeneration, and justification through the power of Christ and His righteousness.

The next article gives readers an “Index to Key Bible Doctrines” with major headings such as “The Holy Scriptures” and “God the Father” followed by numerous subheadings that lead you to Bible verses on those themes. For instance, under the heading “Last Things,” you’ll find scriptures on the antichrist, eternal death, final judgment, heaven, hell, resurrection from the dead, reward of believers, and second coming of Christ – the latter of which required two columns to list relevant verses.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for in that list of biblical doctrines, the topic has most likely been included in the concordance to follow.

Since this study edition may turn out to be an often-used favorite, the Smyth-sewn binding assures you of a book meant to last.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, poet-writer, reviewer, and lifelong student of the Bible

The MacArthur Study Bible,
ESV, hardback, large print