Showing posts with label Crossway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crossway. Show all posts

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




August 11, 2016

ESV Single Column Journaling Bible


My review copy of the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, which Crossway kindly sent me to review, came in an attractive case matching the “summer garden” pattern on its hardback cover. The other option for this large print edition is a brown leather cover with closing strap as shown below.

I prefer the easy-on-the-eyes font found in both editions over the smaller type most Bible publishers use today, but, despite its current labeling, I’d wouldn’t call 9.5 point “large print.” Basically, it’s the text size of my older Bibles when “large print” was at least 12-point type with the standard size around 9 or 10.

The purpose of this single-column edition, though, is to give us a place to make notes to ourselves in the margins, which run an ample two inches on the outside edge of each page. Writing small will be necessary, however, as the lines allow a little over half the space of college rule.

Since I already have a hard-to-find leather-bound Bible with a 10-point font and wide margins all around, I’ll probably continue to use that for making notes before and during my Bible study class, but this journaling Bible makes me want to take another approach. When I first opened my copy, for example, I felt drawn to write haiku or aahcoo in the space beside the scriptures that evoked a poem. Or, I thought of claiming Bible prayers by writing down the date and the name of a person or event that came to mind upon reading. Or, I might jot down thoughts or insights relevant to the adjacent text.

You’ll probably think of other uses that haven’t occurred to me. Regardless, if you don’t have a wide margin Bible and would like to carry on a conversation with an accurate translations of God’s Word, this edition from Crossway makes a fine choice.

Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016, poet-writer reviewer


ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, large print in summer garden hardback



ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, large print in brown leather with strap




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



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





December 2, 2015

Psalms: Jesus’ prayer book makes a great Christmas gift!


My Bible study group at church has been studying the Psalms – the prayer book of God’s people from pre-Temple days through the early church. Not only do these prayer-poems connect us with Jewish and Christian worshipers throughout the ages and today, the Psalms also comprise the prayers and poetry read, memorized, recited, and prayed by Jesus and His disciples.

Think, for example, of Psalm 22, which Jesus spoke from the cross. Although He didn’t recite the whole psalm, the opening verses reminded His followers to consider each line as they wept. Most likely, this reminder of the full psalm brought hope. And, now, once we have heard the 22nd Psalm, the 23rd Psalm gains even more significance and offers even more comfort.

After reading the latter in our study group today, we had a fresh and insightful discussion as we compared various translations and talked about word choices, metaphors, and what we learned about God from the poem.

For example, the psalm begins with the reminder that, with God as our Shepherd, we have everything we need – physically, mentally, and spiritually. We have nothing to fear with God providing for us, protecting us, caring for us, and giving lavish gifts – a banquet where the Lord God treats us – you and me – as honored guests!

Wow! We should be honoring God with every part of our lives, but Psalm 23 reminds us that God honors us, welcomes us, and takes care of every need.

Many of these joys in fellowship with God had occurred to us at one time or another, but with our commitment to read, pray, and study the Psalms, we saw amazing details we’d never noticed. For instance, verse 6 tells us:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me
all the days of my life.”


In the previous verse, we’re in the presence of enemies – people who want to do us harm! And yet this psalm and others assure us that we’ve nothing to fear. Not only can we totally count on God’s presence to be with us, we can count on the Lord's goodness and mercy to follow us around!

Can you picture it? Goodness and mercy follow us. Goodness and mercy pursue us. Goodness and mercy stalk us!

Even if we’re surrounded by ill will, enemies, and evil, Goodness and Mercy WILL follow us all the days and nights of our lives.

Well, I hope this gives you an idea of why I wanted a separate book of Psalms to read, study, and use as my prayer book – maybe an edition with room in the margins to write “Claimed” and the day's date beside promises or space to make a note, such as writing “stalks” or “pursues” beside verse 6.

You might have heard by now that I also appreciate quality paper with pages sewn into a supple top-grain leather cover that feels great to the touch and should last for generations.

Searching the Internet, I found one such edition of Psalms that fits all of the above – and fits nicely into my hand! So I bought the Psalms in ESV (English Standard Version) published by Crossway for myself, but oh, what a great Christmas gift this would also make for other lovers of prayer and God’s Word. Praise God!

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a poet, writer, and lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the Church in all its parts.

Psalms, ESV, bound in top grain leather




September 12, 2015

ESV Big Picture Bible


After a child has outgrown Bible Storybooks, what then? The ESV Big Picture Bible provides an excellent edition for children ready to "graduate" to the actual Bible text but still in need of something more than solid blocks of text to keep them reading.

This highly recommended hardback includes 225 new illustrations in color to keep young readers interested and to help them better envision the biblical text and context too. The red ink used to highlight the headings and subheadings added to the text will also help children to locate topics and keep their place on the page.

Most importantly, the English Standard Version of the Bible, which is published by Crossway, who kindly sent me a review copy for an honest review, can be trusted for accuracy and readability. Its proximity to the King James Version (KJV) also makes the verses good choices for memorization.

For unique features, this children's Bible includes a blue ribbon marker, and instead of the maps often added to back matter, the book has a five-part catechism with 45 questions children will want to know followed by relevant scriptures.

For example:

Part 1 God Creates His Kingdom begins with “1 Who created the heavens and the earth?” followed by a quotation of Genesis 1:1.

Part 2 God Begins His Promise by asking “10 How did the Lord begin his promise to rescue all peoples on earth?” then quotes Genesis 12:1-3.

Part 3 God Continues His Promise calls into question, “Did Israel keep their promises to God” with 1 Samuel 8:7 provided as the response.

Part 4 Jesus Fulfills God’s Promise highlights how heavenly and earthly beings announced Jesus as the Christ.

Part 5 God Completes His Promise lets young readers know that, eventually, God will dwell with us as promised in Revelation 21:3.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, a lifelong student of the Bible, is a freelance and assignment writer, who likes to write Bible-based poems and manuscripts.


ESV Big Picture Bible, hardback



December 15, 2014

Christmas gifts for all sorts of Bible readers


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 readers
Catholic Study Bible
Catholic Women’s Bible
Little Rock Catholic Study Bible
Jerusalem Bible
New Catholic Answer Bible
New Jerusalem Bible
Saint Mary’s Press College Study Bible
The Saints Devotional Bible

Children
Adventure Bible for Early Readers,
Adventure Bible,
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

Evangelical readers
ESV Study Bible
Gospel Transformation Bible,
Holman Study Bible
Life Application Study Bible
MacArthur Study Bible,
New American Standard Bible, wide-margin, goatskin

General readers
African Heritage Study Bible
Amplified 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.


...

October 16, 2014

ESV Single Column Heritage Bible


Adapted from the beloved RSV (Revised Standard Version) of the Bible, which remains a perennial favorite in countless Protestant and Catholic Churches, the English Standard Version (ESV) also aims to provide an “essentially literal” and accurate translation.

The quality of language and poetic flow make this such a highly readable and recognizable version that Crossway publishes the ESV in a variety of formats to appeal to a broad readership. As discussed in previous posts, for example, you can find ESV in the Today’s Light Devotional Bible, Global Study Bible, Spanish-English Parallel, ESV Children’s Bible, and Women’s Devotional Bible.

Or, if you want a study Bible with extensive footnotes, in-depth articles, and other study aids, your ESV choices range from The Lutheran Study Bible, published by Concordia, to a variety of evangelically oriented editions published by Crossway such as The MacArthur Study Bible, Gospel Transformation Bible, Global Study Bible, and the ESV Study Bible.

For well over two years now, I’ve received review copies of all but one of the above – the highly impressive ESV Study Bible, which my husband bought for me, covered in the finest grade of leather. So, why would anyone who has all of these editions and many more be interested in the ESV Single Column Heritage Bible?

There comes a time when Bible lovers just want to read the Bible!

Instead of lingering over footnotes or reading articles about the Bible or getting distracted by lots of very, very helpful information, sometimes I just want to read the Bible, cover to cover, as I would any good book.

The ESV Single Column Heritage Bible encourages you to read.

Besides providing a highly accessible translation, my review copy had a quality cover of cloth over board outside and a reader-friendly layout inside with single columns such as you find in novels and nonfiction books of all types. And, speaking of types, a 9-point font eases your reading too.

If you want to look up a biblical locale, you can do so with the clear maps at the back of the book, but otherwise, only the presentation pages and brief introductory front matter take up space. The rest is devoted to the actual Bible text, which, in this edition, is no more than the size of a typical library book you might read within a week or two. And, why not?

Reading the Bible straight through gives a sweeping view of God’s love and merciful interactions with us since the beginning of time. If you haven’t done this before, I highly encourage the practice and recommend this edition as one to practice on – and on and on.


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible and traditionally published author of 27 books, including her book of Bible-based poems Outside Eden.


You can order the ESV Single Column Heritage Bible from Crossway or Amazon.


ESV Single Column Heritage Bible, cloth-covered hardback




September 5, 2014

Women’s Devotional Bible


The review copy of the Women’s Devotional Bible I received from Crossway came in a nice Trutone® cover as shown below, but it comes in hardback too (also shown.) I mention this early on in case you recall that I’m not particularly fond of imitation leather! This one, however, has a nice feel and attractive birch design.

The important part, of course, comes inside any cover, which, here, would be the full text of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, widely acclaimed for its accuracy and generally preferred by evangelical and conservative Christians and other readers who also tend to study the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and/or the New International Version (NIV.)

In addition to the ESV, this edition provides 365 devotionals relating to the adjacent text and 16 articles created for this edition, which will especially appeal to young women or women of all ages who are new to the Bible and/or new to Christ and the church.

Throughout the text, for example, readers will find brief, but info-packed sidebars with profiles of such outstanding Bible characters as Adam, Eve, Abraham, Hagar, Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, and others in the Old Testament and Mary, Elizabeth, Martha, Lydia, and others in the New Testament with more than half of the Bible people featured being women.

This edition does not aim for the in-depth study you can have, by yourself or in a group, with the extensive information and impressive aids provided by the ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway, so you will find few footnotes at the bottom of the pages. However, the back matter contains the new articles I mentioned earlier and recommend for the range of subjects - from getting the most out of your Bible study to praying with Psalms to considering “The Church and Women At Risk.”


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and lifelong Bible lover, is a traditionally published poet and author of 26 books in all genres, many of which can be found on Amazon.


Women’s Devotional Bible, Trutone® imitation leather



Women’s Devotional Bible, hardback





August 2, 2014

Bible prophecy: past, present, future


To understand current events in the world, a newscast won’t be as enlightening as the book of Genesis! Whether shaken or fruitful, the beginning of each family tree follows a foreseeable trajectory from ancient times into today. So, instead of fretting about what’s happening or asking, “Where will it all end?” we might look at where it all began. At least, that’s what I wanted to do when I requested review copies of these two books:

The Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets by Nancy Guthrie, published and given to me for review by Crossway

The Holy Land Key: Unlocking End-Times Prophecy Through the Lives Of God’s People in Israel by Ray Bentley with Genevieve Gillespie, published by Waterbrook Press and sent to me by Blogging For Books

Hopefully, you recall I’ve mentioned Nancy Guthrie’s 10-week Bible study before and highly recommend her series of “Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament,” especially the study of Psalms and other wisdom books and, now, this book on the words of the Lord through the prophets.

As p. 19 explains, “The prophets did not communicate their own ideas or agenda. They were called by God to be spokesmen for God.// And, amazingly, though the books by the prophets were God’s message to his people in their day, they are no less God’s message for you and me today.” The author goes on to discuss “The Problems with the Prophets We Must Overcome,” for example, “First, we’re unfamiliar with the history and geography.”

Maps and a Bible atlas will help, but “another obstacle we have to overcome to study the Prophetic Books” is that they’re not placed in chronological order. Although this study does not have space to discuss all sixteen of those books, it covers nine in the order in which they occurred.

As the series title of “Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament” suggests, the author focuses on the foreshadowing of Christ with a list on pages 30-31 that gives us a helpful overview:

• In Jonah we’ll see by contrast the compassion of Jesus, who ran toward those under judgment rather than away from them.

• In Hosea we’ll see Jesus as our faithful bridegroom, who paid the price of his own blood to redeem us, his unfaithful bride, from our slavery to sin.

• In Micah we’ll see the humble justice and mercy of Jesus as the one whose life and death answers Micah’s difficult question: ‘What does the LORD require?’ (6:8.)

• In Isaiah we’ll see Jesus as the divine King seated on the throne Isaiah saw in the year King Uzziah died, as the suffering servant who will be punished in place of his people, and as the coming conqueror who will put an end to evil.

• In Habakkuk we’ll see that Jesus is the one by whom sinful, faithless people are credited the righteousness needed to live by faith.

• In Jeremiah we’ll see Jesus finally fulfilling God’s promise of a new covenant that will implant in us a heart that wants to obey.

• In Daniel we’ll see Jesus as the glorious Son of Man who has received from the Ancient of Days a kingdom that will never oppress and never pass away.

• In Ezekiel we’ll see the promised presence of Jesus with us, never to leave us, in a new city called ‘The LORD is There’ (48:35).

• And, finally, in Malachi…we’ll see Jesus, who makes it possible for us to say with confidence, ‘I will be able to stand when he appears – not because I am clean or good or worthy in myself, but because the Word of the Lord who came has come to me and made me his own.’

When Christ comes again, “The Lamb of God will have taken away the sin of the world. The Son of David will be seated on David’s throne. The Wisdom of God will have overcome the foolishness of the world. The Word of the Lord who came will come again. This time,” however, “instead of coming to die for us, he will come to live with us.”

Until then, The Holy Land Key gives us a way of “unlocking end-times prophecy through the lives of God’s people in Israel.” How would the author know this? As the back jacket blurb tells us, “For decades, author and pastor Ray Bentley has partnered with God’s people in Israel, including Judea and Samaria, the area known as the West Bank. There, he witnesses the fulfillment of prophecy firsthand.”

Far beyond giving us his personal experience, Pastor Bentley calls us from page 1 to “look at certain passages of Scripture from a Hebrew perspective.” And, from the start, he makes his intentions clear: “We also will study what God has written in the heavens and what the Bible says about these heavenly revelations. We will look at the testimony of history, we will study the Jewish calendar and the biblical feasts, and we will even find startling insights based on research done by NASA on blood moons.”

The author also reminds us that “One of the clearest and most enduring signs is God’s unbroken relationship with the Jewish people." And so, “When we look at Israel, we see God’s intentions for the world.” Whether “Jewish or Gentile, Christian or otherwise,” Pastor Bentley acknowledges modern-day Israelis as “answering the call of God on their lives.”

In Part 2, “How Prophecy Is Being Revealed Today,” Rev. Bentley shows how “Ruth personifies the Gentiles” then goes on to discuss what he’s been “Learning from the Descendants of Ishmael.” As this compelling book goes back and forth in time, interweaving biblical prophecies, historical events, and modern stories, the theme generally clarifies and occasionally muddles but continues to grip and challenge us as readers and peoples of God.

On the last page, for example, the author clearly states: “We have an opportunity to replace centuries of replacement theology, persecution, neglect, and ignorance – and to do this with love and gratitude…. The gospel was born in Jerusalem. Now it is time to bring it home.”

Admittedly, I do not fully understand all this book presents, but I know it’s an important and timely “read” I recommend. More importantly – and timely too, I recommend we pray the Lord’s Prayer/ Our Father with a fuller conscientiousness of Jesus' words: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.” And as Psalm 122:6 continues to ask of the people of God: “Pray for peace in Jerusalem.”


© 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.


The Holy Land Key: Unlocking End-Times Prophecy Through the Lives Of God’s People in Israel, paperback



The Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets, paperback, single copy



The Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets, paperback, 10 copies at a nice discount as of this writing





July 8, 2014

Psalms and The Wisdom of God


We’ve talked about the Psalms before in The One Year Book of Psalms, a daily devotional from Tyndale, highly recommended for individual use. Recently, Crossway sent me review copies of the Psalms: A 12-Week Study and also The Wisdom of God, a 10-week study which includes 5 weeks on the Psalms. Whether for personal use or group study, I highly recommend both books.

As previously mentioned, studying psalms and wisdom books of the Bible gives an excellent foundation for prayer, poetry, and biblical insights into the people of God, who have turned to these books over the centuries for guidance. More importantly, both books from Crossway show how Psalms provide insight into the mind of Christ as they repeatedly point to Him, prophetically and poetically.

From Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series, Psalms: A 12-Week Study coordinates somewhat with the ESV Study Bible, but any translation you or your Bible study group chooses will, of course, be fine as you proceed numerically through the Psalms.

Beginning with the “Week 1: Overview,” the text offers a helpful outline of the five “books” within the book of Psalms. For instance, Book 1 includes Psalm 1-41, many of which were written by King David where “Prayers issuing from a situation of distress dominate” and are “punctuated by statements of confidence in the God who alone can save.”

In Book 2, Psalms 42-72 present the Korah collection where “Once again, lament and distress dominate the content of these prayers, which now also include a communal voice.” In Book 3, the “tone darkens” as it brings “most of the psalms of Asaph (Psalms 73-83), as well as another set or Korah psalms (Psalm 84-85; 87-88).” However, Book 4 (Psalms 90-106) “may be seen as the first response to the problems raised by the third book.” Then Book 5 (Psalms 107-150) “declares that God does answer prayer (Psalm 107) and concludes with five Hallelujah psalms….”

In addition, a footnote in this Overview tells us “the basic type of psalms can be summarized as laments (presenting a trouble situation to the Lord), hymns of praise (calling believers to admire God’s attributes) and hymns of thanksgiving (thanking God for an answered prayer). There are also hymns celebrating God’s law…, wisdom psalms…, songs of confidence…, historical psalms…, and prophetic hymns (echoing themes found in the Prophets, especially calling God’s people to covenant faithfulness).”

Throughout the study guide, a consistent format considers the setting, glimpses of the Gospel, theological terms, and personal implications with ample room for writing responses in “Reflection and Discussion.” Besides the high quality of information provided, Bible students and discussion groups will appreciate the high quality of the paper, cover, and print in this well-done series.

In the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series, previously included in a review of Bible Study Resources, Nancy Guthrie gives us insight in studying The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books.

As a 10-week study that also includes the books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, five of those weeks focus on the Psalms. Instead of a sequential study, however, the author groups the psalms, not by book, but by divisions of “Psalms: The Songs of Jesus,” “Blessing and Perishing in the Psalms,” “The Royal Psalms,” “Repentance in the Psalms,” and “The Suffering and Glory of Messiah in the Psalms.” The wise insights and personable writing style make you feel as though you’re having a deep conversation with Nancy about the scriptures, but this series works well in group study too.

If you’re as interested in the psalms and wisdom books of the Bible as I am, you might decide to do what I did: Soak up both of these excellent resources from Crossway.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible, writer in all genres, and poet-author of the Bible-based book of poetry Outside Eden


Psalms: A 12-Week Study from the Knowing the Bible series, paperback



The Wisdom of God (A 10-week Bible Study): Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Book, paperback



Outside Eden,paperback


March 19, 2014

The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV


The hardback edition of The MacArthur Study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) published by Crossway provides readers with a sturdy, well-made Bible with profuse study notes written from a conservative Christian perspective, sometimes referred to as a fundamentalist view.

In studying the Bible for forty years, the editor and well-known pastor John MacArthur gained a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, which he shares in almost 25,000 footnotes in the study Bible that bears his name. Although I’m personally not fond of seeing the name of any individual on the face of any Bible, the footnotes show insights and a clear understanding of the times, culture, and spiritual environment.

For example, a footnote regarding the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5:1-7:29 says, in part: “Christ plumbed the depth of the law, showing that its true demands went far beyond the surface meaning of the words…and set a standard that is higher than the most diligent students of the law had heretofore realized.” In commenting on the individual verses included in that famous discourse, we read that the phrase “those who mourn” in Matthew 5:4 refers to “mourning over sin, the godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation without regret.” And, in 5:5, the footnote regarding the meek says, “Gentleness or meekness is the opposite of being out of control. It is not weakness, but supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”

In addition to interesting comments in footnotes throughout this study edition, another feature I particularly liked was “The Progress of Revelation,” listing books of the Old and New Testaments in their most likely time sequence. For instance, Job probably preceded Genesis – not by the date of the subject matter, of course, but according to the time written. And, in the New Testament, the book of James was most likely written prior to the four gospels.

Another unique feature in this study edition is an “Introduction to the Prophets” with a chart showing, for example, that Obadiah ministered to the peoples of Edom around 850 to 840 B.C. Most students of the Bible know that the prophet Jonah reluctantly spoke to the people of Nineveh around 784 to 760 B.C., but as this timeline shows, Nahum did, too, over 100 years later.

In the back pages, additional study helps have been provided in the maps, concordance, list of “Key Bible Doctrines” by topics with relevant scriptural references, and an “Overview of Theology” written from a conservative Christian perspective. Apparently, these study aids by MacArthur can be found in other translations, too, but the review copy which Crossway kindly sent me uses the ESV, highly recommended for its accuracy and poetic flow.

© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer


The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV, hardback




February 18, 2014

Global Study Bible


In any translation, the Bible begins with God, the story of creation, and the intersection of heaven and earth in the Garden of Eden. In that ideal beginning, all mankind – male and female – were meant to remain in close relationship with God as caretakers of the earth or, to put it another way, to be divinely appointed Gardeners. Unfortunately, that career careened off track, but the original intention remained: to fill the earth with Gardeners for God.

Similar to the Gospel Transformation Bible, the Global Study Bible from Crossway turns our thoughts and study to the original purpose of creation, giving us insights, from Genesis to Revelation, into God’s ongoing plan for cosmic redemption and restoration. To further emphasize this purpose, the Global Study Bible includes comprehensive coverage of key Bible topics written by scholars from Cameroon, South Korea, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Zambia, the USA, and other countries.

In addition, highly informative introductions, footnotes, sidebars, profiles, maps, and charts have been interspersed throughout this edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) which contains much of the scholarly information found in the ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway, but, perhaps, with a more reader-friendly tone that draws us into the Bible story as our story.

As explained in the introduction to Exodus, for example, “God’s main purpose in delivering the people of Israel out of Egyptian oppression was so that he ‘might dwell among’ them (Ex. 29:46).” And, in “The Global Message of Leviticus” we see that the “purpose of Leviticus is to instruct Israel concerning how to maintain holiness within the community, so that the Lord would continue to dwell among them.”

In the Book of Numbers, we learn that the original Hebrew title of the book, “In the Wilderness,” describes “the essence of the book” as the “original purpose of Numbers was to warn the second generation of Israel not to lapse into the rebellion and unbelief of their first-generation parents…. Yet its deeper purpose was to encourage them that the Lord was with them.”

Again and again, this highly recommended study edition emphasizes God’s desire to be with us as expressed, for example, in the mosaic law and then the Davidic covenant, which instituted the monarchy and the temple. Or, we see God’s calling us to prayer and praise and wisdom in the Psalms, Proverbs, and other “wisdom books,” then re-calling us to fellowship through the sages and prophets, ending with John the Baptist who prepares the way of repentance before the coming of the long-awaited Messiah.

As we await Christ’s coming again, the Gospels (Good News) and Epistles (Letters) give us strength and courage as individuals and as the church Body of Christ with the Book of Revelation reminding us that “in the cosmic war currently being waged between the forces of good and evil, the outcome is secure.” Even though “the church faces internals squabbles, difficult cases of church discipline, or afflicted consciences due to sin, we remember that we are under the Lordship of the one who shed his blood for us.”

Forgiven, we can now forgive one another and ourselves.

With spiritual life rooted and revived in the Garden of Gethsemane, this Bible shows us a cosmic landscape where we’re to cultivate our lives in Christ as we await the arrival of our Global Gardener Who’s been waiting for us and loving us since the beginning of time.

©2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer


Global Study Bible, paperback


Mobi-ESV Global Study Bible, Kindle e-book edition


January 22, 2014

ESV Children’s Bible

What an excellent transition the ESV Children’s Bible from Crossway provides for young people between the ages for reading Bible storybooks and study editions for adults! For example, “The Bible, God’s Message to Us” introduces children to this “ancient book full of God’s mystery and truth. Full of wonder and power,” then goes on to explain why the Bible was written and some ways to respond.

Additional front matter also helps children get grounded before going on to the highly accurate but readable ESV (English Standard Version) text, while the back pages include such helpful information as “Who is God? What is God Like?”

The back matter also shows ways “God Makes Himself Known” and lists the Ten Commandments with explanations for each. Going “From Old To New Testament,” the study aids discuss “Jesus: God’s Righteous Son” and the meanings of the Gospel, salvation, and sanctification. In addition, a dictionary defines words often used in Sunday School, church services, and Bible classes with clear definitions for the A to Z terminology ranging from “abide” to “zeal.”

A defining moment for this edition, however, occurs in the lively Bible storybook illustrations interspersed throughout the text. That format makes the ESV Children’s Bible a good choice for children just learning to read and also those who absorb information better through pictures than words. For children who have begun to look up Bible books, chapters, and verses themselves, the layout eases the search with a red banner across the top of each page to highlight the actual Bible text.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, Bible Reviewer


ESV Children’s Bible, hardback




November 25, 2013

What is Biblical Theology?

Waiting for new study editions of the Bible to arrive, I received a review copy of the newly released book, What Is Biblical Theology? published by Crossway. Author James M. Hamilton, Jr. teaches on this topic at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but I encourage Christians from every church background to pick up this slender volume and read it straight through.

As our denominational preferences connect to one another in the Body of Christ, the stories in the Bible connect to one another, too, coming together in one body of stories about the same story – The Story – of God’s redemptive love.

Often, though, we view Bible stories from our own 21st century perspective, which means we might miss what the original writers intended to convey. Dr. Hamilton addresses this throughout the book, explaining, for example, in Part I, “If we can see what the biblical authors assumed about story, symbol, and church, we will glimpse the world as they saw it.”

That glimpse is what this book enables us to see. Divided into “Part I. The Bible’s Big Story,” “Part 2. The Bible’s Symbolic Universe,” and “Part 3. The Bible’s Love Story,” the book shows us how to “adopt the perspective of the biblical authors” so we can “read the world from the Bible’s perspective, rather than reading the Bible from the world’s.”

As part of the “Big Story,” the chapter entitled “The Narrative” discusses the setting, characterization, and plot found in any well-written story, which shows us, for example, that “the Bible’s plot can be summarized in four words: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration,” culminating in the return of Jesus. Meanwhile, an understanding of biblical conflicts, episodes, and themes helps us to recognize the overall plot of this ongoing story of our relationship with God.

In Part 2, we see how symbols, imagery, and patterns use the known to help us envision the unknown. From the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden to the tree in Revelation whose leaves will be for the healing of the nations, we get an image of the well-rooted, fruitful life God intends us to have. As Dr. Hamilton explains: “These symbols are given to us to shape our understanding of ourselves. They show us who we are. They give us our identity. They tell the story of our lives in the real world.”

In community and in our common union, that story continues in Part 3 where we see the identify, setting, plot tension, and resolution of the church, biblically and metaphorically drawn as the “Sheep of the Shepherd,” “Bride of Christ,” “Body of Christ,” “The Adopted Family of God,” and “The Temple of the Holy Spirit” – images that cause us to reflect on such questions as: “What part does the church play in the Bible story? Who is she? What is her setting? What creates the tension in her part of the plot as the wider narrative develops? How is that tension resolved?”

With the Bible as the primary resource for such crucial questions, Dr. Hamilton helps readers to see that “Biblical theology is not just an interesting topic. It informs who we are and how we live.”

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

What Is Biblical Theology? paperback



What Is Biblical Theology? e-book