December 15, 2014
This post comes later than intended and, very likely, I accidentally omitted some of my favorites or yours. Nevertheless, this will give you a quick list of highly recommended editions of the Bible to check for your Christmas giving and your own Christmas list.
Catholic Study Bible
Catholic Women’s Bible
Little Rock Catholic Study Bible
New Catholic Answer Bible
New Jerusalem Bible
Saint Mary’s Press College Study Bible
The Saints Devotional Bible
Adventure Bible for Early Readers,
Bible storybooks for children
Bibles for children
Catholic Children’s Bible
Catholic Teen Bible
Catholic Youth Bible
ESV Children’s Bible
NIV Teen Study Bible
ESV Study Bible
Gospel Transformation Bible,
Holman Study Bible
Life Application Study Bible
MacArthur Study Bible,
New American Standard Bible, wide-margin, goatskin
African Heritage Study Bible
Anselm Academic Study Bible
Complete Parallel Bible
Common English Study Bible
The Lutheran Study Bible,
New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha
The Message with deuterocanonical aka apocryphal books
NIV Study Bible
Oxford Study Bible, Revised English Bible with Apocrypha
Thompson Chain Reference
©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.
July 31, 2014
Did you know the ever-popular Arch ® Books for children have been around since 1965? I didn’t! To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Concordia Publishing House released some of these favorite Bible storybooks as the Best-Loved Christmas Stories and the Best-Loved Parables of Jesus, both of which the publisher kindly sent me to review.
Each book contains six of the previously published Arch ® Books in a sturdy, lightly padded hardback cover with the original or revised text and accompanying artwork inside. Each book also offers the work of a variety of talented artists and writers, who present Bible stories from various perspectives.
In the Best-Loved Christmas Stories, for example, “Mary’s Christmas Story” gives her view of that first Christmas while “Joseph’s Christmas Story” gives his. Other stories follow the star, shepherds, and wise men until the last story ends with the special joy and celebration found in the homes of young readers on Christmas morning.
You needn’t wait until Christmas, however, to read this book with your kids or grandchildren! As young children often say, “Tell me about when I was born,” they can readily connect, year-round, with stories about Jesus’ birth too.
Children also relate to the parables of Jesus, which give them a good story to remember even if it takes time for the full meaning to unfold. Most likely, that’s what Jesus expected when He first told the stories to grown-ups, who just didn’t get what He was saying! Maybe the meaning would “suddenly” come to them that night or the next morning or weeks later as they turned the stories over and over in their minds.
With the Best-Loved Parables of Jesus, children can do this too. The colorful artwork and poetic texts will help them to envision and recall “The Wise and Foolish Builders” as well as the Good Samaritan, lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son (aka Prodigal.)
The remaining story of “The Parable of the Talents” illustrates the talent from the Master as gold coins put to good use, but….
But Servant Three made a foolish choice:
He went home and dug a hole!
“I’ll put this deep into the ground
And keep his talent whole.”
After the parable has ended, the story goes on to ask young readers about the special gifts and abilities they have been given before closing with this good word:
Whatever our gifts that Jesus has given
Here’s what He has in store:
When we use our talents to honor Him,
He will bless them and give us more.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a traditionally published author of 26 books in all genres, including two poetry books: the Bible-basedOutside Eden and the environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem, which encourages readers to reconnect with nature and be good caretakers of the earth.
Best-Loved Christmas Stories, hardback
Best-Loved Parables of Jesus, hardback
July 19, 2014
As a lifelong lover of the Bible, I’ve read many reader’s editions and many, many study Bibles that helped me to learn a lot about God and God’s Family. Thankfully, that family includes me – and you. However, on the “Welcome” page of Today’s Light Devotional Bible, Jane Fryar reminds us that God is “not so much interested in your learning facts about Him, though that’s certainly part of the process. The holy, all-powerful, infinitely gracious God of the universe wants to reveal Himself to you. To you!”
Isn’t that awesome! Okay, so we live in an era where people call almost everything “awesome,” but God’s Word of love to us truly is!
As I read the review copy of this edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) that Concordia published and kindly sent to me, I wished I'd had it when I first began reading and studying the Bible as a preteen with little clue about what I was reading! Insightful comments by Jane Fryar remedy that situation by providing brief commentaries to help us “Get the Big Picture” then “Sharpen the Focus” for each book and most of the chapters in the Bible.
Those ongoing insights make this edition especially recommended for teens, young adults, and newcomers to the Bible. And, all of us will find a helpful layout throughout the text that correlates with the three checklists at the back of the book meant to guide our choices of a one-year reading plan, a two-year plan, or (what I'd like to try next) a plan to read the Bible chronologically.
But, what about the welcoming word that says the “God of the universe wants to reveal Himself to you”? How does Jane Fryar go about getting this across?
The examples extend beyond the space I have here, but to start at the beginning, “Get the Big Picture” says: “Genesis records many firsts – the first people, the first family, the first sin, the first city, the first musician, and more first besides. Today’s reading [One Year (Week 1, Monday) Genesis 1:1-3:24; Two Year (Week 1, Monday) Genesis 1:1-2:25] zeroes in on the first week of our world’s existence and on the first home God gave His human creatures. As you read, note the care God took as He made this home for us – the first paradise.”
Think about it! God gave everything we needed to live in paradise from the beginning of time, rather than the end. Knowing this about God is good to know, of course, but more importantly, good to ponder and sink into our spirits. Then, as this edition encourages us to do, we, too, can "...see God’s power, creativity, wisdom, and tender concern for His human creatures – His children.” Yes, that’s you; yes, me.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a traditionally published author of 26 books in all genres, including two poetry books, the Bible-basedOutside Eden and environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem that encourages us to be good caretakers of the earth as God intended.
Today’s Light Devotional Bible, hardcover
June 13, 2014
When Concordia sent a copy of The Lutheran Study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) for me to review, I noticed the heft, of course, but, more importantly, the sturdiness and quality of this hardback edition, which I later discovered was printed, Smyth-sewn, and manufactured in the United States. Yea!
I greatly appreciated, too, how Concordia wasted no time or space getting to basic beliefs by printing “The Lord’s Prayer” on the inside hardcover followed by a “Brief Service of the Word” (order of worship) and prayers such as this “Prayer to See God’s Ways:”
“Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears. Please show me
now Your ways, that I may gain Christ and be found in
Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes
from the Law, but that which comes through faith
in Christ. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light
to my path. Give me life, O Lord, according to Your
Word, and I will declare Your greatness. Amen.”
In the high quality opening pages, you’ll also find clearly labeled maps of the Holy Lands and a moving painting portraying Jesus, while the back matter include blank pages for writing notes. In between, the paper seems a bit thin, presumably to lessen the overall thickness and weight of the book, but, even with a little bleed-through, the text is easily readable.
As mentioned, the text chosen by Concordia is the ESV, known for accuracy and poetic grace when read aloud. With that translation literally in hand, hundreds of workers from Lutheran churches around the world were asked to read portions of the Bible and present questions, which a team of Bible scholars then addressed in the footnotes. Those questions numbered under 1,500 but resulted in over 26,500 study notes from a Lutheran perspective.
Other unique features to this impressive edition reportedly include “Insights from early church, medieval and Reformation era church fathers,” over 200 informative articles, and “over 2,000 application notes and prayers for every part of the Bible.”
Since I’ve been studying biblical wisdom, I turned to the Book of Job where I found interesting information on the “Legal Language in Job,” which helps to place that poetic debate into context. For ex., “In the ancient Near East, the elders of a community would typically hold court in a city gate (Jb 29:7). In the ancient city of Gezer, archaeologists have found stone benches in the gate chambers where the elders sat…. Parties in dispute would approach them at the gate, explain their case, and count on a wise ruling…. Job served as such an elder, and his friends likely did as well… The Book of Job never mentions that its setting is the city gate, but its dialogues are filled with the legal language of such proceedings (e.g., 10:2, 23:1-7; 29:7-17, 21-25; 31:11, 13, 21, 35-37).”
In Job’s case, however, his “friends” ruled against him. Although Job “was famous for defending the defenseless (29:15-17), he did not have the skill to argue his case before the ultimate judge: the Lord.” When he eventually realized he needed an arbitrator or mediator, he cried, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (19:25).” As a note in chapter 28 attests, “People cannot find wisdom by their own reason or strength. God alone can give it through His declaration – His Word. St. Paul calls Christ Jesus ‘our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.’ (1 Co 1:30).”
To better grasp such terminology common to the Christian faith, a concordance in the back offers scriptural references while, in the front pages, “Luther’s Small Catechism” addresses issues of his day and ours.
For instance, in asking “What does this mean?” of sanctification, the catechism explains: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith./ In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith./ In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers./ On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ./ This is most certainly true.”
The many prayers, quotes from church fathers, and contemporary articles in this highly recommended edition consider the challenges we all have as Christians while letting us know that members of the clergy, laity, academia, and community of faith around the world join us in our struggles and our common faith.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible and traditionally published author of 26 books in all genres, including two poetry books, the Bible-basedOutside Eden and environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem.
The Lutheran Study Bible, hardcover
The Lutheran Study Bible, black bonded leather, thumb-indexed
April 4, 2014
A few days ago, we talked about Bible stories for young readers in the Arch Books series from Concordia. These nicely done but inexpensive little paperbacks make wonderful gifts to drop into an Easter basket or give children in a religion class or church school.
You’ll also find the text for some of the Arch Books in Spanish, for instance, this story of Ruth and Naomi:
Rut & Noemi, Spanish edition, paperback
Since Noah is in the news now, young children might welcome one of these editions:
El arca de Noe, Spanish Edition, paperback
Noah's 2-by-2 Adventure, English Edition, paperback
As spring gardens get started, this timely story tells Jesus’ parable of the sower. With kid-friendly artwork and lively language, this little book seeds deep biblical truths that encourage young readers 5 to 9 to hear God's Word and grow into a lifelong love for the Bible.
The Parable of the Seeds, paperback
© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer
April 1, 2014
In the best-selling Arch Books series, Concordia Publishing House presents inexpensive but nicely done Bible stories for elementary school children, grandchildren, Sunday School classes, and religious study groups in parochial schools.
The colorful illustrations and child-appropriate language in rhythmically rhyming text make each of these little paperbacks a good gift for children 5 to 9 to read to themselves, but the word to "Dear Parents" at the end of each book in the series encourages parents and teachers to act and interact too.
For example, The Great Commission: “Jesus Said, Go and Tell!” shows that even a child can lead others to Christ. The especially well-written text and appealing artwork make this title highly recommended for use with children in any church denomination.
The Great Commission: “Jesus Said, Go and Tell!” paperback
With Easter coming, another highly recommended choice is Good Friday, which helps young children familiar with the term to understand why such a sad day could be good.
Good Friday, paperback
Another excellent choice to read with children just before Easter is John’s Easter Story as told by the apostle who stayed near the cross, witnessed the empty tomb, and took Jesus’ Mother Mary into his home.
John’s Easter Story, paperback
© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer
March 13, 2014
In the last review we saw how My Bedtime Story Bible by Zonderkidz can be enjoyed one on one with children, helping them to connect with God’s people by establishing nightly routines of ending each day with a Bible story and a prayer. On the other hand, The Story Bible from Concordia makes an excellent option for small churches and children’s Bible classes where monies, teaching supplies, and experienced Bible teachers are most likely to be limited.
In this hefty edition, The Story Bible provides “130 Stories of God’s Love” to help children come to know, as stated in the opening pages, “The love of Jesus, our Savior. The Bible is all about Jesus and you. This Story Bible will show you how and why this is true.”
On each slick page, the beautifully detailed illustrations draw children into the text with colorful, realistic art, except, perhaps, for the consistently light-skinned people seldom found in the Middle East or Africa where most Bible stories occurred.
Despite that lament, a parent, teacher, or other caretaker can hold the book, point to pictures that illustrate the story being read, and utilize the sidebars with vocabulary words from the text along with questions and activities to Ask, Do, and Pray.
For example, “The Birth of Isaac” asks a follow-up question on “How old was Abraham when his son was born?” with a “Do” suggestion to “Count to 100. Did it take a long time? Abraham had to wait a long time for a son.” This effective format consistently helps children to connect with the information included in each story before ending with a pertinent prayer.
For another example, the story of “The Passion of Christ” as found in Matthew 27, includes vocabulary words such as “passion,” “innocent,” and “crucified” in the outer margin of the page, allowing parents or teachers to discern what their children are ready for and when. For those being introduced to Christ’s sacrifice, the prayer included says: “Dear Jesus, I am sad when I see pictures that show how people are mean to You. Thank You, Jesus, for suffering and dying on the cross to take away my sins and give me a home in heaven. Amen.”
After closing the stories with “John’s Vision of Heaven” as shown in Revelation 21 and 22, the book ends on this life-giving word from John 20:31: “These stories are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” So be it! Amen.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer
The Story Bible, hardcover