March 4, 2013

Bible editions for research and accuracy

As a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church, I’m happy to see interest shown by the television or movie industry of the best script ever written – Holy SCRIPTure. I keep hoping, however, for high aims in biblical accuracy with inspired interpretations of details based on solid research and a spiritually clear view of our holy but loving God at work in the world.

Dramatic stories in the Bible abound! So writers, editors, publishers, and producers of Bible-based material have no real work cut out for them except to research well Bible times, people, and places.

Place names often change over the centuries, but a Bible atlas with the location of current and past locales will aid your research, while Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias produced by respected publishing houses will provide trustworthy data about individuals and the eras in which they lived.

For accurate translations of the Bible itself, the article “Which Bible would Jesus choose?” addressed some options when this blog began last year. Since then, I’ve read other versions not included in that article, which also offer a unique approach to Holy Scripture. So I recommend a variety of translations to help us hear the widest possible range of the inspired Voice behind each book.

No matter which translation you prefer, you will learn more and more about biblical settings, conditions, and cultures in the articles and footnotes included in each study edition of The Bible the more you read them. In years past, those notes sometimes sermonized or, worse, pushed propaganda to present one denomination over another! Thank God, though, many ecumenically-minded publishers of study Bibles now list several possible interpretations to help readers decide for themselves what to believe and why. Such information helps us to understand where other denominations are coming from, but, more importantly, they give us The Big Picture of God’s forgiving love.

Most Bible lovers have their favorites, of course, but here are mine:

NIV Study Bible
from Zondervan in the new NIV (New International Version) publishes the excellent footnotes and study aids found in the 1984 edition but with an updated version of the Bible that’s more inclusive than the original NIV.

Archeological Study Bible, also from Zondervan, includes footnotes similar to the above but adds color plates and informative articles based on archeological research. At present, this outstanding study edition only comes with the 1984 version of NIV, but I’m hoping it will eventually be updated.

ESV Study Bible published by Crossway comes in the English Standard Version, which has traditional gender usage and an evangelical approach, but this study edition includes scholarly footnotes and impressive study aids.

Holy Bible NAB Revised Edition, published by Oxford, presents the New American Bible, recently updated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with excellent notes placed at the end of each book, rather than the bottom of each page, to keep from interrupting your reading and mine.

© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler
Bible Consultant with an ecumenical view

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