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

March 14, 2020

ESV Seek and Find Bible


When Crossway kindly sent me a review copy of the ESV Seek and Find Bible for children, its many features made me regret the categorization for kids 5-9. This hardback edition of the English Standard Version is so sturdy and well-done, older kids might want to read it -- and I do too!

Consider these features listed on the inside fold of the slick, attractive cover:

The complete ESV Bible text
provides a reliable translation in a readable font.

130 full-page, full-color illustrations
depict Bible people and scenes realistically in full color.

A simplified Bible story retelling for each illustration
For example, “Deborah’s Message from God” depicts the story found in Judges 4-5, with an era-friendly illustration and the words in this excerpt:

After twenty years of living under the mean King Jabin, the people of Israel cried out to God for help. God listened to their prayers and sent them help through a judge named Deborah. Every day Deborah sat near a palm tree in the desert and helped the people of Israel with their problems.
God told Deborah exactly what to do.”

Reflection questions for each story to help kids understand and apply God’s Word
In the story “Jesus Calms the Storm” from Mark 4:35-41, “Key Questions” include:

Why were the disciples afraid when the storm was raging?
What did Jesus say, and what happened when he said it?
Why should Jesus’ miracles fill us with faith?

Related Bible readings for each of the 130 stories
For the story of Jesus’ calming the storm, readers are encouraged to look up relevant scriptures in Luke 8:22-25 and John 6:16-21.

50+ illustrated profiles of major Bible characters from Adam and Eve to Timothy
For example, a side bar in the Gospel of John introduces readers to Andrew:

“Andrew was a fisherman who listened eagerly to the teaching of John the Baptist. John told people that they must repent and get ready for the promised Messiah. When John called Jesus the Lamb of God, Andrew knew that he must now follow Jesus the Messiah. Andrew found his brother, Simon Peter, and brought him to Jesus, too. So Andrew and his brother Simon Peter became two of the 12 disciples, who were Jesus’ closest friends and helpers.”

Introductions to each book of the Bible
The Introduction to Psalms, for example, lets readers know the book, “written by different authors over a period of centuries” became the hymnal of God’s people.

“…Some psalms praise God with great joy for victory (Psalm 18); others for his acts of creation (Psalm 104) or for his provision and care ((Psalm 105). Others are laments, songs of mourning that praise God by bringing to him deep feelings of sadness (Psalm 88). Many psalms are cries for protection against persecuting enemies (Psalm 7). Other psalms confess sin and pray for forgiveness (Psalm 51). Still others express deep longings to know God better and follow him more closely (Psalm 27). The longest psalm praises the Word of God from many different perspective (Psalm 119). Several psalms look ahead to the Messiah in his sufferings (Psalm 22) and in his glory (Psalm 110). The book of Psalms is one of the best loved books of the entire Bible, having something for every believer, no matter what their specific circumstances or feelings.

Alongside that Introduction (as with all the others intros), each page briefly includes information on:

  • Author(s)
  • Date
  • People
  • Purpose
  • Central Themes
  • Memory Verses


20+ illustrated facts about Bible objects, structures, and places
including the Jerusalem Temple, its main contents, and the city at various times. As children see what these look like, the Bible text becomes more real to them. One picture, for example, is of a “Galilean Fishing Boat” with these words beside the illustration:

“Jesus and his disciples probably used a boat like this one that fishermen typically used. It could have held 15 men and was 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet high.

Key verses to memorize
has a little key drawn within a circle and placed next to verses such as this one from John 8:12:

…Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

A few pages later, the Bible story of “Jesus Heals the Blind Man” includes that verse, so the above key verse shows the page number to that event. The problem I had, however, was finding that and other pages by number – ironically because the generous illustrations and other fine features utilize the same space in this highly recommended edition of God’s Word.


Reviewed by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2020.



March 3, 2020

Conversing with God’s Word


We’ve talked about the God’s Word (GW) translation of the Bible before, but recently God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society sent me two newer editions attractively covered in flexible Duravella – one a two-tone gray and the other a two-tone burgundy and gray.

Both editions have large print, but the latter also has wide margins, which encourage us to respond to God’s Word with whatever thoughts or prayers come to mind. This “conversation” becomes a spiritual diary of sorts as we claim a Bible verse or prayer, especially if we add the date as a reminder. And, it can become a private study edition as we jot down insights and relevant notes, making this a priceless heirloom to hand down to the next generation.

The most important feature of the GW translation, however, is its readability. In an accompanying brochure, the “Word Choice” column says: “The translation team chose words that were natural in context and as easily understood as possible without sacrificing accuracy or faithfulness to the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible.”

When it comes to “Gender References,” the brochure explains that “GW avoids using words like man and he if the Hebrew of Greek is speaking about people regardless of gender.” If, however, the text refers to a specific group such as the Jewish council, which consisted exclusively of men, the text will reflect that.

As a poet and writer, I particularly appreciate GW's “Translation Philosophy,” which does not “attempt to make all books or passages function on the same level. The more difficult books of the Bible are translated to the same level of difficulty as the original languages. In addition, abstract concepts in Greek and Hebrew are translated into abstract concepts in English, and concrete concepts remain concrete in translation.

Both of these editions include an A to Z topical reference to scriptures on “The Teachings of Jesus,” providing an excellent resource for Bible study. Both also contain A to Z topics with their biblical references for “Life Applications.”

If you consider the Lenten season leading up to Easter as a time of intense reflection, you might turn to Psalm 51 as a memory-booster prior to corporate or private confession. Many churches refer to that psalm during Lent, but one of my favorite guides into reflection or meditation is The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, which helps to align our attitudes with the ones the Lord wants us to have. Thanks to the high readable GW translation, the Beatitudes become even more accessible:

Blessed are those who recognize they are
spiritually helpless.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Blesses are those who mourn.
They will be comforted.

Blessed are those who are gentle.
They will inherit the earth.

Blesses are those who hunger and thirst for
God’s approval.
They will be satisfied.

Blessed are those who show mercy.
They will be treated mercifully.

Blessed are those whose thoughts are pure.
They will see God.

Blessed are those who make peace.
They will be called God’s children.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing
what God approves of.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you,
lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you
because of me.
Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward
in heaven!
The prophets who lived before you were persecuted
in these ways,” (Matthew 5:3-12.)


May God help us to take God’s Word to heart, soul, mind, and spirit in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Sayler, ©2020




January 3, 2020

The Enduring Word Bible: ESV


The Enduring Word Bible, which Concordia kindly sent me to review, makes a blessed beginning for the New Year or any time. 

This edition of the highly acclaimed ESV (English Standard Version) of the Bible invites you to make God’s Word your own as you color memory verses and pencil in prayers, insights, and other responses in the wide margins provided alongside the readable 9.5-point text.

Besides the 350 line-art illustrations in the margins of the book, this edition includes ten full-page illustrations for you to color, preferably with colored pencils or other medium that won’t smear or bleed through the thin pages.

Since the idea is to encourage you to meditate on God’s Word and use the margins to remind yourself of those close encounters with the Lord, you might want to add a date each time you jot down whatever comes to mind. Those reminders can continue to be a blessing in years to come as you recall your unique relationship with the Lord and pass along to loved ones this ongoing evidence of faith  and devotion to God.


Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2020, poet-writer, reviewer




December 16, 2019

The Growing in Faith Bible for children and beyond


Does it seem strange to you to call a Bible “delightful”? But that’s the word that came to mind when Concordia Publishing House sent me a review copy of  The Growing in Faith Bible for children in the highly accurate ESV (English Standard Version) which says:

 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them,” Psalm 111:2.

As caretakers of the earth blessed by vital waterways and vivid sunsets, we study those delightful works of the Lord in nature. However, the Bible itself is a work of God to be studied and to fill us with delight.

In this edition for children and (my assessment) beyond, the colorful artwork and unique features will surely help readers to find God Himself delightful. One such feature, the “Verse for Life,” highlights Bible verses for children to memorize and recall throughout their lives. For example:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4.

The front pages of the book list the features with an explanation for each, starting with “Parent Connections,” which could also be applied to teachers and other caretakers and says:

“Teach your children the important message and theme in each book of the Bible, raising them to be a child of Jesus Christ, their Savior.”

As the heading implies, “Bible Narratives” give important Bible stories to show “how God loves, forgives, guides, and protects us in our everyday lives.” Then “Christ Connections” reveal “places in the Old Testament that point ahead to Jesus….” while another feature, “Big Questions and Answers,” reflects on things children wonder about and want to know.

To help readers find these features, numerous pages in the back of the book provide lists and related page numbers as well as a concordance and maps.

In addition to relevant prayers at the end of each Bible story scattered throughout the book, the “Topical Prayers in the back matter also have children and young people in mind. Those prayers include the reader’s church, pastor, family, and enemies! And the section “For My Needs” reminds readers to pray for themselves too. For instance, “When I’m Scared” says:

“Lord God, heavenly Father, please help
me; I’m scared. Remind me that You
are stronger than anything You created –
and You control everything that happens.
Take away my fear for Jesus’ sake, and
give me quiet trust in You; through
Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

Not only does this prayer give a frightened person an appropriate prayer to pray, the words themselves are comforting, faith-building, and filled with delight!

Although there's no Lutheran Church in my small town, and I attend a non-denominational church accepting of all parts of the Body of Christ, I was happy to see the addition of “Martin Luther’s Small Catechism,” which brings up important points for every Christian to consider. Regardless of our age or denominational preferences, we need to know what we believe and why, and this excellent word will help us to do just that.  For example, we receive this word of advice:

…with young people, keep to a single, fixed, and permanent form and wording, and teach them first of all the Ten Commandments, the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, etc., according to the text, word for word, so that they can repeat it after you and commit it to memory. 

The brief catechism goes on to explain each aspect of those faith-building tools from God’s word. 

With this and other unique features meant to meet a child’s spiritual needs throughout childhood and beyond, this edition comes in a sturdy hardback that should last for many decades of delightful use.




October 29, 2019

Holy Bible: Contemporary English Version


Most of the Bibles I discuss on this blog come as review copies from Bible publishers, who have just released a new translation, study edition, or children’s Bible. This time though, I bought the Holy Bible: Contemporary English Version (CEV) from Amazon because I often choose this version from many, many choices on Bible Gateway when I need the wording of an easy-to-read translation.

Unlike Bible paraphrases, which usually group verses together, thus making them impossible to follow the readings in a Bible study group, the CEV has verse-by-verse numbering typical of most translations. Chapter and verse numbers, of course, were not in the original biblical texts in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, but they’re helpful additions that enable us to follow along, even if someone reads from a translation we’re not using.

Besides that feature, the word choices in CEV are familiar enough for non-CEV readers to follow. Take, for example, the Lord’s Prayer (aka Our Father) in the favorite version recorded in Matthew 6:9-13:

“Our Father in heaven,
help us to honor
your name.
Come and set up
your kingdom,
so that everyone on earth
will obey you,
as you are obeyed
in heaven.
Give us our food for today.
Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.
Keep us from being tempted
and protect us from evil.”

A footnote in my paperback copy of CEV (hotlink below) goes on to say, “Some manuscripts add, ‘The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen’.”

Most contemporary translations omit that verse, too, but some include it with a footnote to let you know it was not part of the original Gospel text. It is, however, biblical and was an established part of the church liturgy in King James' day.

To give you another example of the CEV translation, look at Psalm 23. As you read, notice now the word choices are true to the intent and meaning of this beloved prayer-poem, while being so much clearer in meaning:

“You, Lord, are my shepherd.
I will never be in need.
You let me rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
and you lead me
along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
and your shepherd’s rod
makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast,
while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
and you fill my cup
until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with me
each day of my life,
and I will live forever
in your house, Lord.”

And, finally, I wanted a copy of CEV because it's the translation I chose for the one Bible verse I posted beside my desk. This beautiful reminder of God’s love for us is shown so clearly in Zephaniah 3:17, CEV!

“The LORD your God
wins victory after victory
and is always with you.
He celebrates and sings
because of you,
and he will refresh your life
with his love.”

Amen!

review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019


Click this link to order. 



May 9, 2019

KJV Giant Print Bible


If you love the
King James Version of the Bible (KJV), you might want to check out the KJV Bibles Store, who kindly sent me a review copy of the reasonably priced leather burgundy KJV Bible in giant print, published by Christian Arts Publishers.

The box itself is impressive as though each Bible is a gift, which the Word of God surely is!

Thumb-indexing will hasten your search for a particular book of the Bible during a study, class, or discussion group and simply help you find what you’re looking for as you read – and re-read this reader edition – at home.

To ease your topical search for specific verses, this Bible offers a concordance and unique “Verse Finder,” which is divided into sections, topics, and locations of chapter/verse. For example:


  • When You Need – has headings of “acceptance,” “forgiveness,” “mercy,” or “wisdom.”
  • When You Feel – includes such headings as “afraid,” “burned out,” criticized,” “tempted,” or “worried.”
  • What The Bible Says About – subjects such as “angels,” “astrology,” “confession,” “parenting,” “pride,” “work,” or “worship.”


Although I prefer thicker paper, the 14-point font is clear and amply inked. The cover has a nice feel, allowing the book to lay flat when opened, and, compared to the high cost of other leather-covered Bibles, this one comes at a premium price!

Those features and a manageable size (less than 6x9”) make this two-column Bible pleasant to hold as you read and a joy to hold onto as you study God’s Word.


Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-writer, Bible reviewer


Premium Leather Burgundy KJV Bible Giant Print, thumb-indexed







February 13, 2019

New Testament TransLine: A Literal TRANSlation In outLINE Format


The NewTestament TransLine published by Wipf & Stock, who kindly sent me review copies of the two-volume set, is “A Literal TRANSlation in outLINE Format,” which, as author Michael Magill explains in the Introduction, is “not only to translate the words, but also visually display the flow of thought contained in the Greek words” in which the New Testament was written.

Although this TransLine edition probably isn’t one we’ll want to use to just sit down and read cover to cover, it’s an excellent resource for those of us who want greater clarity and deeper insight into God’s Word. As the Introduction tells us:

“Think of it this way. When you hear a foreigner first learning to speak English, you commonly hear such a person rendering the forms and sentence structures of their native language in English words. It sounds foreign to English-speakers. It is improper English. Sometimes it is difficult to understand. As the person learns more English, they adopt the commonly understood Englsh patterns of expression. In a similar way, since the NewTestament TransLine is seeking to give the English reader more insight from the Greek point of view, the Greek forms and structures are retained to a greater degree than proper in good English, but not to such a degree that the meaning is obscured.”

In addition to this approach to translation, the author provides outlines of the text to demonstrate the Greek way of thinking as one thought flows into another. For example, verses in the fourth chapter of Matthew show this thought process:

3B. “You are the light of the world
1C. “A city lying on a hill is not able to be hidden
2C. “Nor do they burn a lamp and put it under the basket, but on the lampstand – and it shines on all the ones in the house
3C. “In this manner, let your light shine in front of people so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in the heavens.”

Those verses also include references to corresponding footnotes on the adjacent page.  For instance, the note for “light” says, “That is, the source of spiritual truth, reflected from God, lighting the darkness. Note Phil 2:15.”

As that footnote clearly shows, we don’t light up ourselves, but God does. And our part is to refrain from hiding that light.

Then, if we think in terms of the “lamp” available during the time of Christ, we know such lighting fixtures had no electricity, unwieldy cords, switches, or breakable bulbs! And so, the word “burn” and its corresponding footnote remind us of the kerosene lanterns used between Jesus’ cultural era and ours, but with either type of “lamp” relying on fire, which brings to mind one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit. In this manner we’re to glow through the glory of the Lord where all can see and be drawn to the light of Christ.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-writer, reviewer


To order, click here:





September 28, 2018

ESV Story of Redemption Bible


Those of us who love reading the Bible and learning more about God’s Word most likely enjoy having a variety of study editions to add light and insight to our readings. If that’s the case for you, the Story of Redemption Bible: A Journey through the Unfolding Promises of God from Crossway might be one you’ll want to add to your collection.

Since the publisher kindly sent me a review copy this week, I’ve had a chance to skim through, but not read the entire book. My first impression, however, is that this edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) will be most helpful to new Christians, young people, or readers new to the Bible. For example, the Introduction says:

“The goal for the ESV Story of Redemption Bible is to allow the reader to see the majesty and beauty of the Bible. May this resource launch the reader into a lifetime of reading, cherishing, learning from, and better understanding the Scripture. Our hope is that the reader will increasingly stand in awe at what God has done to save humanity from its sin. Most of all, we pray that the reader will come away with an understanding of how Jesus Christ stands at the center and pinnacle not just of the Bible’s storyline but of human history itself.”

The Preface then goes on to discuss translating the Bible from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages into English and to explain the decisions translators must make to use a “thought-for-thought” method or “word-for-word” (as the ESV aims to do) or something in between.

With almost 900 notes from pastor Greg Gilbert scattered throughout this edition, readers get an introduction to each book such as this one prefacing Genesis:

“The whole history of the universe begins right here in the book known as Genesis.The word genesis literally means ‘origin’ or ‘beginning,’ and that is exactly what this book describes – the beginning of everything.”


Other notes, however, offer background information not obvious in the text. For example, a note in Psalms says:

“Psalm 72 is the only psalm attributed to Solomon, and it is doubtlessly placed here at the end of Book Two for a reason. Throughout this section, David’s cries for divine help have focused a bit less on his own personal distress and more on the nation’s need for God’s deliverance. Further, it has become clearer and clearer that the ideal of God’s king worshiping in God’s temple in the center of God’s city would finally be realized through God’s reign over Israel. Psalm 72 represents, without doubt, the high point of that vision…”

Other features include an attractive and reasonably readable 9.25-point font, a single column format, and over 80 new maps and timelines designed by illustrator Peter Voth. In addition, a “Story of Redemption” foldout in the back of the book produces a timeline that’s helpful but a little hard to follow as it seems to read up and down, rather than linear.

Also, the “Intertestamental Period” between 400 and 5 B.C. is labeled as “400 years of silence” – an assumption many will be likely to protest if they find any spiritual value whatsoever in the “Apocryphal” (aka deuterocanonical) books written primarily in Greek during those particular years.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer


ESV Story of Redemption Bible, hardback




July 30, 2018

God’s Word: The Apocrypha


Using natural English and the closest equivalent to the primary languages of the Bible, God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society has provided a contemporary version of The Apocrypha, which they kindly sent me to review.

The word “apocrypha” means “hidden” or “secret,” but the books really weren’t. They first gave hope and inspiration to God’s people during their exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, where the people learned to speak, think, and read in Greek, rather than Hebrew. However, Jewish scholars decided not to include the books written in Greek when they canonized the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) many centuries later.

Nevertheless, during the time of Jesus most people - both Jews and early Christians - accepted the books as inspired, and New Testament writers even quoted them. Many more centuries later, the King James Version (KJV) of an English translation of the Bible included the books, where they remained until the Reformation.

Happily, these “deuterocanonical” books are now being returned to many English versions, giving us a clearer view of biblical times and situations that occurred between the old and new testaments. In addition to those historical texts, such as 1 and 2 Maccabees, the apocryphal books include wisdom writings relevant to today. Consider, for example, this passage from the God's Word translation of the Book of Wisdom, Chapter 1:

Verse 1. “Love justice, you rulers of the world.
Consider that the Lord is good.
Be sincere in your search for him.
Verse 2. Those who don’t test him will find him.
He will reveal himself to those who obey him
.”

Verses 6b-7. “God is a witness to people’s hidden feelings.
He has keen insight into what they think,
and he listens to what they say.
The Lord’s Spirit fills the world.
The Spirit holds everything together
and understands everything people say.


For another example, Wisdom 3 begins, “People who worship the true God are in God’s hands.” And verse 9:

Those who trust the Lord will understand what truth is.
Those who are faithful will live in a loving relationship with him,
because he is kind and merciful to the people he has chosen.


Another spiritually insightful book, Sirach, (one of my favorites) has this to say in Chapter 1, verse 13:

Everything will end well for people who fear the Lord.
They will be blessed on the day of their death
.”

Or Chapter 4:20 & 21:

“Don’t be ashamed to be yourself.”
“Don’t remain silent when one word could make things right.”


Or Chapter 10:11:

“All authority on earth is in the Lord’s hands.
He will appoint the right leader for the right time."

Amen!

Mary Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer

God’s Word: The Apocrypha





June 23, 2018

God’s Word: The Bible in clear, natural English


Translated directly from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, GOD’S WORD Translation Large Print Bible: The Bible in Clear, Natural English comes to us as CNE:

Clear, Natural English

and

Closest Natural Equivalent


Even the title of this translation is clear, natural, and the closest equivalent to the anthology of books we call the Bible -- God’s Word (GW.)

To produce the fresh, reliable, relevant translation aimed for, biblical scholars and reviewers followed these guidelines established by God’s Word to the Nations Mission Society:

“The first consideration for the translators of GW was to find equivalent English ways of expressing the meaning of the original text, ensuring that the translation is faithful to the meaning of the source text. The next consideration was readability; the meaning expressed in natural English by using common English punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and vocabulary. The third consideration was to choose the natural equivalent that most closely reflects the style of the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text.”


What more could we ask?

And yet, there is more! Not only does this quality paperback use a 12-point font that aids our eyes and understanding, the single-column format provides the natural flow of text with which we’re familiar as we read any book in English. Chapter headings and sub-headings then help us to locate a passage easily and keep our place as we read privately or study with a discussion group. The book lays flat when opened too.

Free of distracting footnotes, the “Bible Study Helps” in the back of this reader edition offer such unique features as an A to Z topical guide with scriptural references on “The Teachings of Jesus” followed by an “Application Index” of Bible verses and the topics to which they refer.

But it’s the translation itself I love and appreciate. For example, Jeremiah 17:14-15 says:

“Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed.
Rescue me, and I will be rescued.
You are the one I praise.
People keep asking me,
‘Where is the LORD’s word?’
Let it come’.”


Yes! Let it come! And, as it does, may we truly listen and readily understand what God is saying to us.

Mary Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer

God’s Word: The Bible in clear, natural English, paperback




May 26, 2018

CSB Worldview Study Bible


When I requested the CSB Worldview Study Bible from BHBloggers, I wasn’t sure how the worldview theme/ focus would be handled. After receiving my copy, which Lifeway kindly sent me to review, I still wasn’t sure. The articles seem to go on a bit, but I did find helpful clues.

The Introduction, for example, offered this insight:

“In the book of Job, we see how a false worldview results in false comfort." As Job went through terrible trials and suffering, his well-meaning friends “accused Job of having sinned. The friends shared a worldview that said, ‘Everything happens because of cause and effect. Do bad things, and bad things will happen to you. Do good things, and good things will happen to you.’ This worldview was the lens through which they viewed Job’s suffering. The book of Job challenges this perspective in light of an all-powerful, all-wise God who permits things to happen that are beyond our understanding.”

Another helpful example of intent in the Introduction considers Ecclesiastes where the worldview was “a life without meaning and purpose in the face of death.” And so the author “wrote a book that helps us understand the mind-set and worldview of someone who lives as though this life is all there is.”

Scanning the articles interspersed throughout this edition reveals theological and philosophical views expressed over the ages. The content of those articles and their placement between portions of scripture make the book most appropriate for reading and studying alone, unless, of course, your group aims to discuss religion and philosophy from a world view. For those of you who live in cosmopolitan areas where people come from all sorts of cultural and religious backgrounds, this edition should be well-suited to your goal of reaching others for Christ.

For example, the article “Speaking To A Non-Christian About Jesus” says,

“Knowledge of the background, culture, and worldview of one’s audience assists Christians in meaningfully sharing about Christ. Demographics are changing and peoples from all over the world are now neighbors to evangelical churches across America, especially in the larger urban centers. Christians, therefore, must increase their ‘CIQ’ - Cultural Intelligence Quotient - in order to successfully and meaningfully share Jesus with others.”

The article goes on to say, “Paul adapted his method of sharing Christ with unbelievers based on the audience.” Furthermore, “Sharing Christ in today’s world involves understanding the worldview of the people we are seeking to reach.”

Knowing scripture and what we believe are prerequisites for comfortably and accurately talking to others about Christ. If you haven’t yet read the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text chosen for this edition, I highly recommend it. In fact, the CSB Study Bible is one of my all-time favorite study Bibles.

To give you a glimpse of its readable, accurate text, let’s look at Psalm 1, which could become a motif for this present edition:

“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!
Instead, his delight is in the
Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.”

May God help us to receive His Word, instruction, and love more fully and show us how to extend that forgiving, redeeming love to others in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018

CSB Worldview Study Bible, leatherflex


February 23, 2018

Christian Standard Bible: Kids Bible


Shortly after I’d featured the CSB Giant Print Reference Bible I bought to read during Lent, B/H Lifeway Bloggers kindly sent me a free review copy of the new Kids Bible edition of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB.)

This accurate and readable text not only invigorates my straight-through reading, it’s ideal for children ready to read and/or for parents to buy beyond Bible storybooks. With its clear language, large print, and a sturdy colorful cover, this edition will appeal to children from grade school on, especially since it includes a variety of features they can grow into such as study helps, maps, and a “Bible skills checklist.” Also, the CSB text corresponds well enough to other translations that it makes a good choice for encouraging memorization.

Scattered throughout the book, colored inserts provide important suggestions kids might not otherwise know such “How Do I Have Quiet Time With God?” or “The Names Of God” with biblical references to various characteristics Bible people used to describe and/or call upon God.

Another page features “The Ten Commandments” and, yet another, “The Books of Poetry” in the Bible. On the flip-side of the latter, “Psalms For All Times” lets children know to turn to “Psalm 8 & Psalm 19 (to) help you praise God for His creation,” whereas “Psalm 37:3-8 can help you trust in God.”

The New Testament has similar inserts such as “The Names Of Jesus” (Immanuel, Holy One, Chief Cornerstone, King of Kings), “The Miracles Of Jesus,” and also a double-page spread on the apostles. If some of these features are new to you, remember, you’re one of God’s kids too, so there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your own copy! Otherwise, I highly recommend this as an excellent Easter gift for children of all ages.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018

Kids Bible, Christian Standard Bible, hardback







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



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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




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