Showing posts with label Bible Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Review. Show all posts

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






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




February 23, 2017

Precious Prayers Bible, NKJV

I love the idea of children developing the habit of regularly opening a “real Bible” from an early age, and the NKJV (New King James Version) makes a good choice because of its kinship with the beloved King James Version (KJV) – but without the heightened language. Regardless of the translation used by adults in a church or family, the NKJV is excellent for memorization. I just wish this edition had taken advantage of that by including sidebars of Bible verses that children do well to learn and recall throughout their lives.

Reportedly, the font in this new edition for children is 9.5 type but appears smaller, especially since the ink seems to be dark grey, rather than black. I mention this because children drawn to the precious art are apt to be younger, so the biblical text may require more eye-focus and reading skill than most early readers have acquired.

That said, the age-appropriate poems, prayers, and blessings written primarily by Jean Fischer appear in kid-friendly print and language with Precious Moments™ artwork on slick paper inserts. Because of those inserts, young readers can turn to prayers that speak well for them, which most, if not all, surely will. Also, the thicker paper makes those pages sturdier than the thinner paper on which the New King James Version (NKJV) translation of the Bible has been printed.

The nicely padded hardcover should hold up well too. And, since this edition includes maps and introductions to each book of the Bible, a child can continue to use the Precious Prayers Bible for years to come.

Review by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017, who received a complimentary copy from BookLook bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Precious Prayers Bible, NKJV, padded hardcover




I review for BookLook Bloggers

February 16, 2017

Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God


When I learned that Tyndale House had published Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God by pastor Ben Patterson, I requested a complimentary review copy, which the publisher kindly sent. Immediately I saw a book meant to be used! The clear font on quality paper sewn into a nice imitation leather cover should hold up well. More important, Pastor Patterson’s response to each psalm gives a book I'm eager to add to my morning devotionals.

As long as I can remember, Psalms have appealed to me not only for the honest, often vulnerable prayers, but for the poetry, wisdom, and profound faith in God. Apparently countless others have felt the same since the Psalms have remained with us at least from the time of King David through the Jerusalem Temple in Jesus’ day and well into worshipful times in contemporary churches or synagogues.

With this amazingly long shelflife, the Psalms speak to and for us with the visual appeal of metaphors and the beautiful sound of rhythmic refrains and a credible speaking voice. Nothing can improve on that! However, some psalms leave us baffled, while others seem too far removed from our own experiences.

In the “Introduction,” Pastor Patterson gives us this encouraging word: “All the joys, pleasures, hopes, fears, despairs, doubts, heartaches, terrors, and longings of which we are capable are mirrored, clarified, sanctified, and transformed in the Psalms, as are all the ways we may pray: supplication, intercession, praise, thanks, lament, and meditation. The Psalms, as many have said, are a mirror; they will reveal you. Yet they are much more. Read them and they will read you. Pray them and they will change you.”

Although every psalm has not been included in this nicely done edition, most of these prayer-poems quote the New Living Translation followed by the author’s commentary, suggestions, and relevant questions, all of which aid us in “Drawing Near to the Heart of God.”

Considering the opening psalms, for example, Pastor Patterson says “The first two psalms have been called the gateway to the book of Psalms. Strictly speaking, they aren’t even prayers but preparation for prayer – meditations on the nature of things in the universe, the world we move in when we pray. So take note and be forewarned: The world of prayer is a world of intense conflict. The enemy is never far away when we pray. Prayer is not escape; it is engagement, and the Psalms are the prayers of a warrior, the Warrior.”

The commentary after the next prayer-poem says, “Psalm 2 reassures us of God’s eventual victory over all evil. The end result is never in question, and because we belong to him, that victory is ours too.”

But maybe we fear we don't belong, or, like the psalmist in Psalm 6, we worry that God might be mad at us! If so, the author reassures us by explaining, “God’s wrath is his rage at the evil that destroys his good creation. The evil is willful, deliberate rebellion against his holy character and will.”

To give you an example of how this book makes the Psalms come alive with relevancy, I’ll turn to one of my favorite psalms – 103:

“Praise the Lord for what he has done for you personally (verse 1-5): He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, and satisfies – list the ways you have known him to do this. Praise him that he loves you from youth to old age, even renewing your youth like the eagle’s.”

Review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017


Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God, imitation leather, sewn-in pages




January 26, 2017

NKJV, Notetaking Bible

When I received my complimentary copy of the NKJV, Notetaking Bible, which Holman Bible Publishers kindly sent me to review, I immediately noticed the attractive cover and high quality of construction in this reader edition.

Besides having sewn-in pages to keep the book from falling apart with heavy, long-term use, the bonded leather cover has been stitched over board, sturdying the overall structure and creating a very attractive black and brown book that reminds me of a well-made diary.

I also like the size – 8.5 high by 6.5 inches wide, which works nicely for writing marginal notes, especially since the pages lay flat.

To aid notetaking, double-spaced lines run alongside the single-column text of the New King James Version of the Bible, which happens to be one of my favorite translations. This would also make an excellent journal for jotting down thoughts that come during reading or for noting the date of prayers using the adjacent scriptures.

As a regular reviewer of new editions of the Bible, I’ve received many fine study Bibles over the years, which I frequently refer to in private study or preparation for my Bible study group. When I lead a discussion, however, I like to make my own notes of information I want to share or points I want to remember, which makes a wide-margin or journaling Bible, such as this, ideal.

If the font were 9 points or larger, this notetaking Bible would be my new companion, but, sadly for me, the 8-point type is hard on my eyes. Nevertheless, the font is crisp and well-inked, which should make it work well for most readers and Bible students who want to take notes of helpful info and insights in a discussion group.

Clear maps in the back matter aid Bible discussions, too, as does the concordance, which I appreciate for looking up themes or topics to see what the Bible has to say about a particular subject. Then the double-spaced lines beside the scriptures gives readers a place to respond to and interact with God’s Word.

Review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

NKJV, Notetaking Bible






January 13, 2017

Standard Lesson Study Bible, NIV


Unlike most study Bibles with small fonts and footnotes, the Standard Lesson Study Bible has a pleasant-to-the-eyes 10-point font in a two-column format with the NIV (New International Version of the Bible) alongside the best of Standard Publishing’s best-selling Bible study lessons. As soon as I heard about it, I immediately requested a review copy, which David C. Cook Publishing kindly sent.

To give you an idea of the type of study helps this edition has, I turned to Genesis 1, which appears in the left-hand column of the page and, to the right, notes such as ”The Bible does not attempt to prove God’s existence. God simply is…” and “The earth was… formless, or unfinished,”and:

“1:3-5 On the first day of creation, God spoke: Let there be light. Light is essential for life. God separated light from darkness, which has no real existence but is simply an absence of light, a ‘without.’ Thus darkness serves as an apt metaphor for the chaos of moral evil and sin – living ‘without God,’ our moral light…”

At the bottom of the right-hand commentary, this edition provides questions for discussion:

“WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Why are the aspects of creation important in understanding both God and our world?

Talking Points for Your Discussion
. Orderliness/design
. Creative power of God
. A world created to be good”


With that same format running consistently throughout, the lessons alongside the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 have this to say:

“13:4-7 Paul defined love by what it was and was not. Obviously thinking of the pride the Corinthians were taking in their spiritual gifts, Paul warned that love doesn’t boast about what one has or envy what someone else has received. Furthermore, love does not lead us to desire, to do, to celebrate, or even to think about anything that dishonor(s) others. Instead love is centered in truth, protecting everything one values, trusts in, and hopes for while awaiting a brighter future.”

In addition to the information and insights in commentary immediately adjacent to the scripture readings, this edition include book introductions to review before beginning the study of a book. For example, part of the introduction to Revelation reads:

“Although separated by 15 centuries, Moses and John faced similar situations. Both dealt with rulers who demanded worship. The plagues of Egypt are best understood not as plagues against people, but against the gods worshipped by them. The Pharaoh saw himself as the chief of these. When we recall stories of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, we gain insight to the similar personality of Domitian Caesar.”

Other unique study aids include a pronunciation guide in the front pages to help Bible teachers pronounce unfamiliar names easily.

In the back matter, I particularly enjoyed “Everyday Expressions That Come from the Bible” such as “apple of my eye,” “drop in a bucket,” “a little bird told me,” and “let justice roll down like water.”

Other articles in the back pages help to teach teachers how to teach more effectively and students at all levels to learn more about God’s Word.

If you love a good laugh, as the Creator of Wit does, you’ll also enjoy the collage of stories expressing “Humor in the Bible.”

Throughout the commentary alongside the scriptures, the question “What do you think?” evokes discussion and reflection, reminding me now to say, I think very highly of this unique study Bible.

Review by poet-writer Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2017

Standard Lesson Study Bible, NIV, hardcover


Standard Lesson Study Bible, NIV, imitation leath, duotone




December 27, 2016

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

When the NIV Zondervan Study Bible came out last year, Zondervan kindly sent me a complimentary copy covered in soft, supple leather to review. This year, they sent a hardback review copy of the new large print version, which, unfortunately for my eyes, is only 9-point. However, if print size isn’t a factor, and you’re looking for an impressively thorough study Bible of encyclopedic proportions, this is it!

In my previous review, I talked about the impressive side bars, in-text maps, color photos, and numerous contributors to the study materials. So this time I want to focus on the articles written by a variety of theologians on such subjects as the glory of God, sin, covenant, law, love and grace.

The article “Prophets and Prophecy” by Sam Storms especially interested me as that’s not a topic typically discussed in study editions. In this one, though, we read, “A prophet’s primary function in the OT was to serve as God’s representative or ambassador by communicating God’s word to his people.” Furthermore, “The primary purpose of prophetic ministry is to strengthen, encourage, and comfort believers.” (See 1 Corinthians 14:3.)

In the article “Justice,” Brian S. Rosner writes, “the concept of justice in the Bible covers more than wrongdoing. It included treating all people not only with fairness but also with protection and care. God calls all people to seek justice for those most vulnerable to suffering injustice.”

In “Wrath,” Christopher Morgan says, “Whether presented as wrath, fury, displeasure, judgment, venegance, or indignation, God’s wrath first takes stage in the biblical story when sin enters.” Regardless of the terminology, “God’s wrath is his holy revulsion against all that is unholy, his righteous judgment against unrighteousness, his firm response to covenant unfaithfulness, his good opposition to the cosmic treason of sin.”

When we think of “Worship,” singing often comes to mind, but as David G. Peterson writes in the article by that name, “It may be best to speak of congregational worship as a particular expression of the total life-response that is the worship described in the new covenant…. Singing to God is an important aspect of corporate worship, but it is not the supreme or only way of expressing devotion to God. Ministry exercised for the building up of the body of Christ in teaching, exhorting, and praying is a significant way of worshiping and glorifying God.

With many other articles and copious notes throughout, this very hefty edition might not get lugged to Bible study but will serve as a major resource for those of us who teach, preach, or write about God’s word. And, in Christ Jesus, that word is “Shalom.”

In the article “Shalom,” Timothy Keller tells us “Shalom is one of the key words and images for salvation in the Bible. The Hebrew word refers most commonly to a person being uninjured and safe, whole and sound. In the N.T., shalom is revealed as the reconciliation of all things to God through the work of Christ…. Shalom experienced is multidimensional, complete well-being – physical, psychological, social and spiritual; it flows from all of one’s relationships being put right – with God, with(in) oneself, and with others.

If you want to begin your new year with a renewed commitment to Bible study, I hope you’ll order this hardcover edition to keep on your desk or study area, which is what I plan to do. May your prayerful reading of God’s word and the adventures of a new year fill you with shalom.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016

NIV Zondervan Study Bible, hardcover


December 16, 2016

Battlefield of the Mind Bible

Some years ago, I took to heart Romans 12:2, which says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so you may discern what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

Although I’d read the Bible regularly since childhood, I began reading it, cover to cover, in every English translation I could find in hopes of giving my mind a biblical make-over. This not only began to work for me, it’s apparently worked well for the popular Christian writer-speaker Joyce Meyer.

Now, Joyce’s articles and commentary on the Amplified Version (AV) of the Bible have been included in the new Battlefield of the Mind Bible, published by FaithWords – a division of Hachette Book Group, who kindly sent me a complimentary copy to review.

In the opening pages, “A Personal Word from Joyce Meyer” clarifies a belief with which I heartily agree:

“Everything in life – the decisions we make, the words we speak, and the actions we take – begins in the mind. Before we say or do anything, we think about it. The fact that our thoughts are so powerful and wield so much influence over every area of our lives is why the enemy, Satan, attacks our minds so often and so strategically.”
She goes on to say, “I have developed this study Bible because I have learned from personal experience that the only way to win the battle of the mind is with the Word of God.”

Throughout this edition “Winning The Battles Of The Mind” articles appear, representing the author’s “teachings on the battlefield of the mind, the power of thoughts and words, and the importance of aligning mind-sets with God’s Word.”

For example, “The First Battle of the Mind” article concludes:

“Most of our problems are rooted in thought patterns that produce the problems we experience. This is where Satan triumphs at times. He offers wrong thinking to all of us; it’s not a new trick devised for our generation. Eve lost the first battle for the mind; we have continued to fight for it since that time. But because we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us think according to God’s Word, we can win – and keep winning.”

“A Prayer For Victory” follows each of these articles. For instance, the article “Know What God Says About You” closes with this prayer:

“Lord God, in light of what You say about me in Your Word, forgive me for not always embracing Your words with all my heart. In the name of Jesus, I receive these truths as my own and choose to focus on Your words. Amen.”

I receive Bible truths as my own.

I choose to focus on God’s Word.


As we put those thoughts in our minds, we call them into action as we believe not what an unkind person has said about us nor what we’ve felt or feared. Instead, we renew our thinking with scriptures such as:

“You are a new creature in Christ; old things have passed away and all things are made new, (see 2 Cor. 5:17).”

“God created you and everything He created is good (see Gen. 1:31).”

“We are called God’s beloved (see Rom. 9:25).”


How can we speak against someone who’s beloved by God? How can we speak ill of ourselves?

In addition to the articles cited, other features such as “Keys to a Victorious Life,” “A Prayer To Renew Your Mind,” and “Powerpoint” sidebars help each reader’s renewal – a word which, according to some dictionaries or thesaurus, translates as “regeneration” or “rebirth.”

When people seek to be “born again” in Christ Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit does not stop there but continues to help us renew, refurbish, renovate, or revamp our minds in accordance with God’s Word.

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


Battlefield of the Mind Bible, hardcover



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



July 14, 2016

Africa Study Bible

Reportedly, over 80% of the peoples in the U.S. say they’re Christians, whereas in Africa, one in four has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Almost 500 million Christians live in Africa, yet few have Bibles with footnotes or study aids relevant to their lives and cultures.

What’s ironic is that many key events in the Bible took place on that beautifully diverse continent. Also, its past and present peoples, places, and cultures can help us to understand more about our biblical roots and our ancestry as God’s people.

Such thoughts urged me to request a copy of the Africa Study Bible (ASB) from Oasis International, who kindly sent me their attractively published Book of Genesis to review. Its well-chosen text from the New Living Translation (NLT) was completed a few years ago, of course, by the Tyndale House Foundation, but Oasis International has not yet finalized the ASB study notes being prepared by over 300 individuals from 50 nations.

The first book, however, clearly shows how the ASB aims to bring us “God’s Word through African Eyes.” For example, “Proverbs and Stories,” applications of the text, and sidebars of “African Touch Points” give us fresh insight into Genesis, such as the note regarding “The Fall” in chapter 3:

Most parents would punish their disobedient children. The Bangolan people in Cameroon say a parent should punish a rebellious child with a rebuking left hand and draw him or her closer with a loving right hand. That is exactly what God did to humans in and after the Fall.

Below the text for the Cain and Abel story in chapter 4, “Proverbs and Stories” urge us to “Build Up, Not Tear Down” with this word:

A Sierra Leonean proverb says, ‘If a person is tallker than you, do not chop off his legs so that you will be equal. Rather, grow up’.”

Next to the biblical text for Genesis 10, an “African Touch Point” discusses the infamous “Sons of Ham” with this important clarification:

Because Ham was the father of the African people, some Christians, Jews, and Muslims have misued this passage to justify enslaving Africans. But the passage only says that Canaan is cursed. Even though the rest of Ham’s sons settled in Africa, Canaan did not. Much later, God told Israel (descendants of Noah’s son Shem) to conquer the land of Canaan, and Canaan’s descendants became servants, just as Noah had said.”

That sidebar goes on to explain:

As Africans, we are not descendants of Canaan, but of Ham’s other sons – Cush (Egypt and Sudan), Mizraim (Egypt) and Put (Libya or Somalia).”

In an “Application” for Genesis 44-50, footnotes briefly discuss Joseph's enslavement because of the harsh treatment of his jealous brothers, and yet he remained faithful to God, eventually rising to power at a crucial moment in the life of his people. By the time he saw his brothers again, he had come to recognize God's hand on his life. As the footnotes say:

Many people have assumed positions of power over those who have wronged them greatly. Some people desire to take revenge and continue the cycle of violence. Others, like Joseph forgive and say, ‘It was God who sent me here, not you’.

Forgiveness brings peace. Let us be like Joseph with people who have rejected us and caused us harm. We must not continue the cycle of violence by seeking revenge. We must see our lives as controlled by God. Only then can we be at peace.”

Yes! And may all of God's people say, "Amen."

Bible review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016


Africa Study Bible, Book of John







June 2, 2016

Large print ESV from Crossway


Praise God! Crossway has just published the Holy Bible, Large Print, English Standard Version (ESV), and as I can readily see from the copy the publisher kindly sent me to review, I can readily see!

With a highly readable 11-point font, this new edition provides welcome relief from the prevailing 8-point type found in too many Bibles, including those for young children, who much prefer this size or larger, as I do. For general readers, 9 to 10-point type might be fine, but anything less than that or larger than 14 seems to be out of touch with what most people want or need.

Besides encouraging us to read without eye strain, this reader edition also includes color maps and a 10,000-entry concordance to aid Bible study – alone or in a group. The page layout with its double-column paragraph format also assists comprehension, whereas either flap on the dust jacket can become an immediately accessible “bookmark” in lieu of fraying ribbons.

In case you haven’t yet read the ESV, this translation has been lauded for being accurate but readable – and familiar too. For instance, The Translation Oversight Committee opted to retain the word, “Behold!” which often occurs in both testaments because, as the Preface informs us, this one-of-a-kind attention getter “helps us read more carefully.”

Also in the Preface, the “Special Notes in the ESV Bible” explain the infrequent footnotes added for clarification. For example, the first note in this edition says, “The Hebrew word used here for man includes both men and women (see 1:27) and refers to the entire human race.” Similarly, “The note on Romans 8:14 shows you that ‘sons’ also includes ‘daughters’.”

Footnoted or not, this edition – like the content of the Bible in any language – welcomes all who come to read and heed God’s word.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016

Holy Bible, ESV, large print, hardback



May 9, 2016

Slimline Bibles for youth, NLT


One of my favorite renderings of the Bible into English is the New Living Translation (NLT) because of its contemporary language, poetic flow, and ease of use in discussions when others have different translations.

Since I also recommend the NLT as an excellent choice for youth in mainline denominations, I requested the Girls Slimline Bible, NLT, from Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a copy to review.

I chose the girls’ edition rather than the Guys Slimline Bible, NLT, because of the bright cover covered by the word, “Love,” which also covers us and a multitude of sins. If, however, you want to give a copy to a boy, just remove the packaging on this edition or consider the one shown below.

Regardless, the back matter in these editions will help young people in a youth discussion group or Sunday School class. For example, the back pages include:

• Dictionary/Concordance
• Great Chapters of the Bible
• Great Verses of the Bible to Memorize
• 365-Day Reading Plan
• Colorful Maps

Another blessed help can be found inside the front cover, which has Ephesians 3:12 printed in large caps:

Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”

Amen!

Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer


Girls Slimline Bible, NLT



Guys Slimline Bible, NLT



March 12, 2016

The Passion Translation


Unlike some versions of the Bible, The Passion Translation (TPT) by Dr. Brian Simmons relied on Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts in “a groundbreaking attempt to reintroduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader.”

As the Introduction also tells us, the TPT “doesn’t merely convey the original, literal meaning of words,” since this cannot be done adequately for lack of equivalent words between languages, but clearly and openly “expresses God’s passion for people and his world….”

Published by Broadstreet Press, who kindly sent me copies to review, the present offerings include individual books of the Bible, some of which contain pages for an 8-week study, and an 8-book boxed set entitled “Encounter the Heart of God,” which contains paperback editions of Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Matthew, Luke and Acts, John, letters from Paul, and Hebrews and James.

Since my Wednesday morning Bible study has just finished studying Psalms and is now focusing on Matthew, I read those two books with special interest and joy. In The Psalms, for example, we find Poetry on Fire, which can be seen through familiar poem-prayers such as the 23rd Psalm, entitled here as “The Good Shepherd.”

“The Lord is my Best Friend and my Shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure,
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name….”


Besides the fresh wording, Dr. Simmons provided a user-friendly introduction to each book, beginning with an overview, then a profile describing the likely author(s) and audience followed by “Major Themes” and “Outline.” For the latter, for instance, the translator showed how the five divisions of Psalms correspond to the Pentateuch:

Psalms 1-41 (Genesis) – Psalms of man and creation.
Psalms 42-72 (Exodus) – Psalms of suffering and redemption.
Psalms 73-89 (Leviticus) – Psalms of worship and God’s house.
Psalms 90-106 (Numbers) – Psalms of our pilgrimage on earth.
Psalms 107-150 (Deuteronomy) – Psalms of praise and the Word.


With similar headings introducing the other books that have been translated so far, the “Purpose” for the first gospel pointed out that “Matthew is a natural bridge between the Old Testament and the New because it has the most Jewish character. From the first verse to the last, Matthew establishes Jesus as a direct descendant of King David, preserving and fulfilling his royal line as the rightful heir as well as a descendant of Abraham, the father of Israel.” More importantly, “Matthew portrays Jesus as the new and greater Moses, who not only upholds the Jewish Torah but intensified it – not in a legalistic way, but in a spiritual way, because following his teachings is the way into his heavenly kingdom realm.”

Separate from the 8-book boxed set but available as an individual title, Mark: Miracles and Mercy has this introduction:

“This is a gospel of miracles! Eighteen miracles are recorded here with two unique to Mark’s gospel. There is a freshness and vitality about this gospel that is gripping to the reader,” so if you can read this short book in one sitting, “you’ll be on the edge of your seat!”

While Matthew wrote primarily for Jewish readers, “Early Christian tradition closely identifies Mark’s gospel with Rome,” giving it a more universal appeal.

Similarly, the introduction to Romans: Grace and Glory states, “Rome was the power center of the known world when Paul penned this letter. It was the most influential city on earth at that time. Although Paul had not yet been to Rome, he would one day be martyred there.”

In writing to the people of Rome, Paul’s letter reached many peoples and cultures in that major city as he addressed these “Major Themes”:

The Gospel
Salvation
The Love of God
Justification
The Righteousness of God
The Law
The Flesh vs. The Spirit
The Destiny of Israel


Regarding the latter, the introduction to Romans reminds us that “God will bring all of Israel to salvation once the full number of non-Jews have come into God’s family.”

The book of Romans ends with a word to all nations but begins in chapter One with one man, who wrote:

“My name is Paul, a loving and loyal servant of the Anointed One, Jesus.”

I mention that here because, in the footnote for that word “servant,” Dr. Simmons tells us: “The Greek word doulos signifies more than a servant; it is one who has chosen to serve a master out of love, bound with cords so strong that it could only be severed by death.”

Other concise but instructive notes can be found in the lower margins of each book, but the individual paperback edition of Romans also includes a couple dozen pages in the back as an 8-week Bible study with three main goals:

Encounter the Heart of God
Explore the Heart of God
Share the Heart of God


Lord willing, the questions and suggestions in the study, as well as the highly readable text in each book of The Passion Translation, will kindle our passion for reading God’s word.

I look forward to seeing the full translation of TPT bound in one volume, and yet I suspect the individual paperbacks will attract children, young people, and adults who have felt too intimidated by the immensity of the Bible to attempt reading, cover to cover. However, the individual books in these unique, heart-felt translations will hopefully bring individual readers into a heart-to-heart with God.

Review by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016

The Passion Translation, boxed set, 8 paperbacks


The Psalms: Poetry on Fire, TPT Bible, paperback


Romans: Grace and Glory, TPT Bible with 8-week Bible study, paperback


February 29, 2016

Holy Bible for Kids, ESV


The Holy Bible for Kids, which Crossway kindly sent me to review, now comes in this two-column “large print” edition, which is not very large but, nevertheless, a nice font size for the young eyes of the intended readership.

Adapted from the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the text in the English Standard Version (ESV) is easier to comprehend than the King James Version used in some church school classes, but similar enough to both of those classical editions that children can keep up with either.

Maps and a concordance in the back of the book will help young readers to stay grounded in the biblical setting and times, but what makes this edition especially child-appealing is the lively cover and the many back-to-back illustrations of colorful Bible scenes.

The first illustration, for instance, depicts the baby Moses being taken out of his basket floating in the river with a circular inset showing “The Birth of Moses” and reference to Exodus 1:1-2:10 where that particular story can be found. On the back of that artwork, readers will find the white-haired “Moses and the Burning Bush” with reference to Exodus 2:11-4:31.

Since these realistically rendered illustrations can be found throughout this edition of the Bible, children could flip to the artwork then look up the scriptures to find the whole story. Such searches will help them to become more familiar with the location of each book and, hopefully, encourage them to read the whole Bible.

Reviewed by poet-writer Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016.


Holy Bible for Kids, ESV, large print, hardback





February 16, 2016

The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible: KJV with Apocrypha


In a recent post on The Word Center blog, I challenged readers to read the Bible cover to cover during Lent. For those of you who haven’t done this before, I recommend you choose a reader’s edition (no study notes) in your favorite contemporary translation. If you don’t yet have one, just scroll through the previous reviews here, and you’ll surely find an edition you’re drawn to read.

This year, however, the beginning of Lent coincided with the arrival of The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible in the King James Version with Apocrypha. I ordered a copy as shown below because I was glad to see the restoration of the apocryphal books which were originally included in KJV but later removed during the Reformation when denominational squabbles caused publishers to omit books not in the Hebrew Bible. That decision created a time gap between the old and new testaments mainly because biblical writers no longer knew Hebrew! i.e., After the Babylonian exile, people spoke and wrote in Greek or Aramaic as they continued to do during the age of the New Testament.

While I’ve looked forward to reading the restored KJV, I don’t necessarily recommend this for reading straight through during Lent since the apocryphal aka deuterocanonical books add to the length, which can be discouraging for Christians used to reading the Bible in pieces, rather than as a whole.

Also, as you know, archaic words in the KJV can be difficult to understand, but this edition remedies that by placing contemporary synonyms or quick definitions in the inner margins. This has the added effect of creating a couple inches of white space between the pages, giving room for tightly written notes.

Almost every edition of KJV I’ve seen has each verse numbered and separately spaced, but this edition published by Cambridge uses regular paragraphs on each page as most books do. This eases reading and makes this edition of the KJV a do-able reading challenge for Lent – unless you would rather give yourself or someone else a copy for Easter.

The one I bought came covered in a thick, silken-to-the-touch calfskin leather that should hold up beautifully for many years of reading cover to cover and many years of reading at a repetitive, reflective, meditative pace. However, I’ve also included a link to a hardcover edition in case you prefer that.

Regardless of which cover you choose, cover to cover Bible reading can bog down somewhere around Leviticus. By then the initial enthusiasm has ebbed while commands and directives flow from page to page. As the Bible itself explains, Moses gave the people this lengthy rule book so the promised “land spew not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you,” Leviticus 18:28.

God required specific acts of obedience, which Moses set forth clearly in any language or translation. Reading these rules in Leviticus, my thoughts took another turn as I thanked God for letting us know what we need to be holy and perfect – something we cannot possibly do! Leviticus makes this abundantly clear! But reading the book draws us into praising our Lord Jesus Christ for being the Perfect Priest and the Perfect Sacrifice.

Oh!

What a perfect book Leviticus is to read during Lent! It makes us aware of our total need for the One Who wholly kept the rules on our behalf.

Did I mention that the New Testament gives evidence that Jesus knew the apocryphal books? Take, for example, Ecclesiasticus 20:30, which reminds us of Jesus’ exhortation to let our light shine.

Wisdom that is hid, and treasure that is hoarded up,
what profit is in them both?
Better is he that hideth his folly
than a man that hideth his wisdom.


Speaking of wisdom, which Ecclesiasticus, like Proverbs, often does, the first verses of chapter 25 personify Wisdom:

In three things I (Wisdom) was beautified,
and stood up beautiful both before God and man:
the unity of brethren,
the love of neighbours,
a man and a wife that agree together
.”

And, speaking of three’s, “The Song of the Three Holy Children” in the KJV Apocrypha tells us what Daniel’s three friends did when they were thrown into the fiery furnace:

Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed God in the furnace, saying:
‘Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers:
and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
And blessed is thy glorious and holy name:
and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holy glory:
and to be praised and glorified above all for ever’
,” verses 28-31.

These blessings continue into a call to “all ye works of the Lord” to bless the Lord, Who:

even out of the midst of the fire hath he delivered us.
O give thanks unto the Lord, because he is gracious:
for his mercy endureth for ever:
O all ye that worship the Lord, bless the God of gods,
praise him, and give him thanks:
for his mercy endureth for ever
,” verses 66b-68.

Amen

© 2016, Mary Harwell Sayler


The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with the Apocrypha, calfskin leather



The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with the Apocrypha, hardcover



September 25, 2015

New Catholic Version for all Christians


My current study of Psalms caused me to do an online search for separate editions of the book, which led me to discover the New Catholic Version Psalms, Saint Joseph Edition that’s been around since 2002, but I didn’t know existed. Once I’d made that glad discovery, I immediately requested a copy for review, which the Catholic Book Publishing Co. kindly sent me.

Along with the Psalms, the publisher sent an almost pocket-sized paperback of the newly published, © 2015, New Testament, New Catholic Version (NCV) also in a St. Joseph Edition, which the Preface describes like this:

“The St. Joseph Edition is an editorial sytem developed over a span of fifty years. It consists in a series of features intended to ensure that a text (particularly a biblical or liturgical text) is user friendly, leading to great readability and easier understanding.”

In the NT, those notes have been placed after each book, whereas they’re treated as footnotes in the edition of Psalms.

Both books include the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur to show approval by the Catholic church, but I highly recommend these editions for all Christians and students of the Bible, not only because of the study notes but also because of the clear translation of the NCV.

For example, the NCV translates Romans 8:14-17 like this:

“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery, leading you to fear; rather, you received the Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided that we share his sufferings so that we may also share his glory.”

Then, at the end of the book, the notes about that passage say:

“Because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in them, Christians possess a new life as well as a new relationship with God. They have become adopted children of God and heirs through Christ, sharing both in his sufferings and in his glory.”

Although suffering is not to be sought, the New Testament tells us it’s to be expected. The book of Psalms shows this, too, as about a third of the poetic prayers express some type of lament.

Whether a cry to God or a prayer of thanks, the Psalms belong in the category of Hebrew poetry, which this edition discusses in the Introduction. More importantly, in the Preface, we read:

“The Psalms may be looked upon as the prayerbook of the Holy Spirit” as “…the Spirit of God inspired the psalmists (typified by King David) to compose magnificent prayers and hymns for every religious desire and need, mood and feeling. Thus, the Psalms have great power to raise minds to God, to inspire devotion, to evoke gratitude in favorable times, and to bring consolation and strength in times of trial.”

Also in the Preface, the section “Jesus and the Psalms,” reminds us that Jesus prayed the Psalms, quoted them, and knew them well. Likewise, the Psalms knew Him!

“This Messianic meaning was fully revealed in the New Testament and indeed was publicly acknowledged by Christ the Lord when he said to his apostles: ‘Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled’ (Lk 24:44).”

Since Jesus “inhabited the Psalms,” this edition encourages us to begin “Praying with the Psalms in the Name of Christ,” “Praying with the Psalms in the Name of the Church,” and “Praying with the Psalms in Our Own Name.”

For example, “By bringing our own experience of life to the praying of the Psalms we makes these ancient prayers our own.” Also, “Because our life is constantly changing, we bring something fresh to the Psalms every time we pray them.”

Furthermore, “In praying the Psalms this way, we must realize that God not only speaks to us but also inspires our response,” making the experience a unique opportunity to grow ever closer to God – and also to one another in Christ Jesus our Lord.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler


New Catholic Version, Psalms, Saint Joseph Edition, leatherlike cover

September 21, 2015

CEB Student Bible

The CEB Student Bible, which Abingdon kindly sent me to review, is a great find for young people, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it too!

The contemporary and ecumenically-minded CEB (Common English Bible) translation makes a good choice for children, teens, young adults, and virtually any-aged Bible student who wants to grasp the complexities and paradoxes of God’s Word.

Added to the easy-to-read text, this edition includes several unique features about which the “Introduction” says:

“As you read, you’ll notice textboxes throughout. Some are written by scholars – pastors, seminary professors, and students who have devoted a lot of time over the years to wrestling with the difficulties of the Bible. They’ve highlighted certain passages, provided a bit more information about the context for these passages, and asked some questions that these passages raise. Other textboxes are written by young people – people who aren’t experts but are just faithful people like you who are willing to dig into the Bible and ask God what it means.”

Each book begins with an overview, which includes “Key Themes,” “Tips for Reading,” and “Quick Facts" about the author, setting, and approximate date. Then each book ends with a relevant “Wresting With” section.

In Psalms, for example, the overview tells us that this anthology of “150 favorite songs of ancient Israel…. express a tremendous range of feelings, from guilt to adoration, exaltation to utter misery. After thousands of years, we’ve lost the tunes to these songs. Though only lyrics remain, these songs still have the power to speak for us and to speak to us today about the way we live our lives in relationship with God.”

The key themes list various types of psalms such as lament, wisdom, and songs of trust followed by “Tips For Reading,” which urge readers to “Pay Attention to the Unique Style of Hebrew Songwriting” such as structure, placement, and figurative language.

At the end of the book, the section “Wrestling with the Psalms” asks such pertinent questions as “How does the particularly human perspective of the Psalms influence your interpretation of them as part of the biblical canon? What is their purpose within the large biblical text?” and “What do these prayers teach us about how we relate to God?”

Following this, another unique feature “Reading Differently” encourages readers to write their own psalm, try putting the lyrics of a favorite psalm to a familiar tune, and practice lectio divinia (meditation or contemplative prayer) with Psalm 8:1 or 139:8-10.

In addition to suggestions for interaction with the text, sidebars include prayers by young people and info by Bible scholars to enhance reader involvement and comprehension. For instance, a sidebar in the Gospel of John discusses “Doubting Thomas,” who has a bad rep despite being a faithful follower of Jesus.

The insert also reminds us that “All the great Christian saints, from Martin Luther to Mother Teresa , have faced doubts. But rather than letting your doubts drive you away from faith, consider Thomas and how his doubts drew him closer to an encounter with God in Jesus.”

To find these sidebars on all sorts of topics important to our faith, the back matter of this highly recommended edition includes an “Article Index,” divided by testament and book, followed by the locations of “Well-Known Bible Passages and Stories” and “Less Well-Known Bible Passages and Stories.” These additions help to deepen faith, lift spirits, and even show that a delightful sense of humor begins with God.


© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, author, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, poetry, and the church. Her latest writings are posted as Praise Poems.


The CEB Student Bible, paperback



August 7, 2015

The NET Bible

Unless you use the KJV (King James Version) of the Bible in the public domain, you can only quote X number of scriptures on your blog or in your book without gaining permission from the publisher. This can become problematic for sites who post a great deal of scripture, as happened with Bible.org.

To overcome this problem, Bible.org produced an entirely new translation called The NET, which can be quoted at great length without special permission. That does not mean you can copy the whole text, but if you’re, say, writing a devotional or other book relying on long passages or numerous scripture, you needn’t worry about profusely quoting The NET.

As the Introduction states: “The NET Bible was created to be the first major modern English translation available free on the Internet for download and use in Bible studies and other teaching materials so that the opportunities provided by the Internet could be maximized.”

Not only are those downloads available through the website, but so are almost 61,000 notes by the translators! Those notes can help us to understand variations of biblical interpretations among Christian denominations, which I see as a good and healing thing. i.e., The more we know the mindset of our brothers and sisters in Christ, the more empathetic, accepting, and embracing we might be. Such a response to one another is vital to the Body of Christ if we’re to stand together, healed and empowered to minister God’s love and forgiveness to one another and to a wounded world.

With so many translations of the Bible, “proof texts” might be easy to find to prove one's personal bias. However, a new and unfamiliar to us translation can help to bring us together again – not so we’ll all think or worship exactly alike, but so we’ll be respectful of one another and become a living testimony to the power of God’s love and Holy Spirit, Who enables diverse peoples to get along!

To become familiar with The NET and its fresh wording, I got a reader’s edition with almost no notes to hinder my reading the text straight through within a few weeks. Then, to avoid spending more time at my computer, I ordered the full edition with all 60,932 notes by the translators and editors in a print copy.

Besides those notes and the heft added, the full edition presently comes in a “premium bonded leather,” which is okay but not the real thing. That study copy also came with an odor, which thankfully evaporated within a few hours. Conversely, the genuine, top grain leather of the reader’s edition has a sturdy, supple feel, which I like with thin but smooth pages and a very readable font.

An unusual feature in both editions is having the chapter and verse numbers for each verse together and in a boldface font, which makes it easier to find the scripture you’re looking for in a Bible study group.

Also, both editions are Smyth sewn, which makes for a longer lasting binding than glued-in pages. However, the user maps in the back are so thick they’ve already separated that section in my reader edition.

About those maps: As fitting for this edition, the maps are also highly unusual. Instead of the typical colored ink drawings we’ve come to expect, these are satellite images that show the terrain of Bible lands such as Galilee and the hills of Samaria.

The freshest feature, though is that the full edition shows the thought processes that occur and countless decisions that must be made in translating the Bible into English. Unlike my usage of other study Bibles, I doubt that I’ll read the full edition straight through because that would be overwhelming! However, I suspect the full edition will become a favorite when I’m researching scriptures for a new book, poem, or Bible study.

I would show you what I mean here, but the notes typically include words in Greek or Hebrew, which I’m not technologically-minded enough to figure out how to type. So I recommend you look at the website, visit the notes, see if this edition will serve you well, then come back here to click one of the ads below. (Thanks!) Although most of the Bibles I review come to me as free review copies, I bought these and get a small percentage of each purchase.

If you enjoy reading and studying via the Internet, you might prefer the reader’s edition, which I like and have also shown below. To give you an idea of the clarity in this translation, here’s The NET version of a familiar Psalm:

23 The LORD is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.
23:2 He takes me to lush pastures,
he leads me to refreshing water.
23:3 He restores my strength.
He leads me down the right paths
for the sake of his reputation.
23:4 Even when I must walk through
the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff reassure me.
23:5 You prepare a feast before me
in plain sight of my enemies.
You refresh my head with oil;
my cup is completely full.
23:6 Surely your goodness and faithful-
ness will pursue me all my days,
and I will live in the LORD’s house for
the rest of my life.



© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a traditionally published author of 27 books in all genres, including two poetry books: the Bible-basedOutside Eden and the environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem.


The NET, premium bonded leather, Tuscany (brown)


The NET, premium bonded leather, burgundy



The NET, reader edition, genuine top grain leather, black




August 1, 2015

NLT Study Bible


If you need a compact, inexpensive, nicely balanced study Bible in a highly readable translation with a poetic thought-for-thought flow and comprehensive footnotes, the NLT Study Bible from Tyndale House Publishers makes an excellent choice. Since I bought the personal size paperback edition, that’s what I’ll describe, but if you need large print, that’s also available in hardcover.

Re font size: It’s small but surprisingly clear, even in the footnotes. The boldface font used to show the chapter: verse in those notes helps, too, as that highlighting draws the eyes to the comments.

Most of you are probably familiar with the NLT (New Living Translation), but in case not, I’d compare it to the NIV (New International Version) rather than The Living Bible (TLB),which Tyndale House also produced. Unlike the TLB, the NLT is not a paraphrase but an actual translation.

As the “Introduction To The New Living Translation” explains: “On the one hand, they (the translating team) translated as simply and literally as possible when that approach yielded an accurate, clear, and natural English text…. On the other hand, the translators rendered the message more dynamically when the literal rendering was hard to understand, was misleading, or yielded archaic or foreign wording. They clarified difficult metaphors and terms to aid in the reader’s understanding.”

The results brought us an understandable yet beautifully worded text that’s become a personal favorite. If Tyndale would make this Bible available in a top quality leather, I’d be thrilled, especially if they'd send me a review copy. Sigh!

Back to the paperback edition at hand, I find introductions for each book of the Bible with a quick overview. Those introductory pages also include information about the setting, a map inset to show that setting, a summary of the book, outline, and info on authorship. Then, in the outer margin, a timeline identifies the era to show how Bible history fits into world history. So, even before you begin reading the text, you’ll have a good idea of what’s going on, where, why, and when.

Those introductions also include a “Meaning and Message.” In introducing Genesis, for example, a subheading under “Meaning and Message” discusses “Blessing and Curse,” saying:

“The entire message of Genesis turns on the motifs of blessing and cursing…. These motifs continue throughout the Bible. Prophets and priests spoke of even greater blessings in the future and an even greater curse for those who refuse God’s gift of salvation and its blessings. The Bible reminds God’s people not to fear human beings, but to fear God, who has the power to bless and to curse.”

A sidebar within the first chapter of Genesis reminds us that “The creation account in Genesis is foundational to the message of the entire Bible…. Understanding the early chapters of Genesis is thus crucial to forming a biblical worldview.”

Into the text, you’ll see additional study helps such as the “Word Study System” for a couple hundred Greek or Hebrew words and “Person Profiles” of Bible people whose experiences, choices, and relationships with God help to inform ours.

You’ll find cross-references in the outer margins of most pages, and biblical references might also occur at the start of a new chapter to indicate parallel passages. For example, if you’re reading about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:2-3, you’ll see that 2 Chronicles 29:1-2 also introduces us to that king’s reign.

To help readers envision various scenes or situations, this edition has numerous side bars and visual aids such as charts, maps, diagrams, or illustrations. So, except for my wish that the NLT included the deuterocanonical books (aka apocrypha), all it lacks for me is a soft, sturdy premium leather cover on Smyth Sewn (aka Section Sewn) pages, preferably sent to me as a review copy.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler – a poet, writer, and lifelong lover of the Bible – has purchased so many, many top quality editions over the years, she’s truly delighted when Bible publishers send her free ones to treasure, read, read, read, and review.



NLT Study Bible, personal size, paperback




NLT Study Bible, large print, hardcover