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

May 26, 2020

NIV First-Century Study Bible

The NIV First-Century Study Bible from Zondervan gives us an edition of the New International Version which broadens present-day understanding of the Bible by including “Ancient Texts Relating to the Old Testament,” Hebrew words studies, “Day in the Life Articles,” and other study notes, sidebars, timelines, and illustrations meant to introduce us to biblical times, places, and peoples.

For example, the word study for Genesis 16:13 says:

el roi    אל-רועי
"This has a double meaning: 'God of seeing” and “God of my seeing'.”

In Ruth 4:1, the word study sidebar offers this description of a word familiar to Christians yet perhaps not with the full understanding of the original biblical perspective:

goel     גואל
"The goel fulfilled the legal obligation of reacquiring property lost by family members because of difficult times."

Most Christians who have read the books of the Hebrew prophets see the connection between Isaiah 40:3 and John the Baptist who was likened to “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord…” The footnote for that verse tells us, “This was an important passage for both the Dead Sea Scrolls community and John the Baptist…” Then the opposite page has a photograph of “The Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found,” which helps us to envision that place.

Just prior to this illumination of the text, however, the footnote for 40:1-2 refers to “The consolation of Israel,” which brings to mind the fulfillment acknowledged in Luke. As that footnote states:

“The idea that Israel had served its time of hard service and would be restored and comforted seems to have influenced a man named Simeon who recognized Jesus as the coming Messiah (see note on Luke 2:25-35).

Turning, then, to that footnote in Luke 2, we read:

"The ‘consolation of Israel’ (v. 25) probably alludes to Isa 40:1-2, which not only has Messianic implications but also inspired the Dead Sea Scrolls community to flee to the desert to await the consolation, or salvation, expected in the Messianic age. Simeon’s words in verse 32 went further than predicting the salvation of Israel; they included the salvation of Gentiles….”

Looking for an example of the “Day in the Life,” my Bible opened to an article on the “Galilean Fisherman,” relevantly placed alongside John’s account of the apostles’ fishing after Jesus’ Resurrection. The article details the many aspects of a fisherman’s day, while the adjacent page illustrates “An artist’s reconstruction of a first-century fishing boat.” The article also informs us that Bethsaida “where at least three of the disciples were from…” means “house of fishing.”

In the back matter of this edition, the “Study Helps” section lists a “Topical Index to Articles” as well as a glossary, concordance, index to the maps that were scattered throughout the text, and full-page maps of world empires and the travels of God’s people.

Those travels come full circle in Revelation 22, when Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End,” (v. 13.) The footnote for that verse goes on to tell us:

Here Jesus takes on the title used for God at the beginning of the book…. This appears to be a culmination of John’s revelation, not an afterthought. Jesus is synonymous with the one Lord and God.”


December 11, 2018

Compact but Info-packed Bible Commentary

I love my study Bibles, and Lord knows, I have a bunch! Sometimes, though, I just want a trustworthy commentary packed with information and insights that might not otherwise come up in my Bible study group. So when I saw that Thomas Nelson still published the Nelson’s Quick Reference: Chapter-By-Chapter Bible Commentary by pastor and Bible teacher Warren W. Wiersbe, I ordered a copy.

The contents of this fat little 4x5.5” book do not disappoint. However, the chunky size seems apt to come apart, even though the pages appear to be sewn into the coated paper cover. Despite my wish for a more manageable size that would easily stay open on a desk, you can carry this edition in a purse or book bag.

Since my Sunday School class is studying 1 Samuel, I turned to the comments on chapter 12:

“Samuel’s message was the combination of a coronation address, a revival sermon, and a farewell speech. He pointed out the greatness of their sin in asking for a king and then called for new dedication. A key theme in the address is witness (vv. 3,5).”

The author goes on to list and define:

“The witness of a godly leader (1-5).
The witness of history (6-15).
The witness of God’s power (16-18).
The witness of the covenant (19-25).”

In expounding on the latter, Rev. Wiersbe says:

“The people had forsaken God, but He would not forsake them, for He is true to His Word. They had the assurance of God’s faithfulness as well as the prayers and ministry of Samuel. Had the king maintained his friendship with Samuel and obeyed the Word, he would have led the nation to victory.”

That did not happen, of course, until David replaced King Saul as leader of the nation. Centuries later, King David’s descendant Jesus began His kingly reign over us, as we reside in the ever-present Kingdom of God.

The beloved Apostle John beautifully speaks to the reign of Christ throughout his gospel, but since my Wednesday morning Bible study group is on chapter 20 this week, I’ll focus on that commentary.

John 20

Confusion (1-10). Mary jumped to conclusions and soon had Peter and John on the run. They were busy, but they had nothing to say and were accomplishing little. They saw the evidence for the Resurrection, but it did not change their lives. They needed a meeting with the living Christ.

Love (11-18). Unbelief blinds our eyes to the Lord’s presence. When He speaks His word to us, faith and love are rekindled. Mary was changed from a mourner to a missionary when she met the living Lord.

Peace (19-23). Locked doors will not give you peace, nor will they keep out your loving Savior. He comes with the message of peace based on His sacrifice on the cross (v. 20, Rom. 5:1).

Faith (24-31). The Lord tenderly deals with our doubts and unbelief. We today cannot see Him or feel His wounds, but we have the Word of God to assure us (vv. 9, 30-31). When your faith falters, do not ask for signs. Open His Word and let Him reassure you.”

Besides ordering this recommended commentary for deeper study of God’s Word, search through the posts on this blog to find THE edition of the Bible that best suits your present needs and those of the people on your Christmas list.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer and Bible Reviewer

Nelson's Quick Reference Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Commentary: Nelson's Quick Reference Series
, paperback

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:

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