August 31, 2015
When the new NIV Zondervan Study Bible arrived, which the publisher kindly sent me to review, all I could say was, “Wow! Oh, wow!” Besides the impressive size (2,880 pages!), I first noticed the deliciously soft but sturdy premium leather cover with its beautifully reinforced spine to secure a wealth of smyth-sewn pages.
The main joy, of course, came in opening the pages of the updated NIV (New International Version), which is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine for reading silently or aloud.
Prior to the NIV text, the Table of Contents includes an Introduction for each book as well as articles introducing the Old Testament and New. Next comes a list of many maps placed in relevant positions throughout the text to help readers better envision the locale, but a quick check of the back matter showed that, yes, full-page color maps have also been included.
In addition to info on the geographical terrain, other sidebars illustrate the text with a timeline of “Old Testament Chronology,” a diagram of the “Tabernacle Floor Plan,” a chart of “The Eight Visions of Zechariah,” and much more. For example, illustrations show a model of the Ark, an “Artist’s Rendition of Babylon,” a “Model of the Pool of Bethesda,” and I could go on and on.
Leafing through the yummy pages, I see a color photograph of “Mount Nebo, where Moses gave his speech to the Israelites” as told in Deuteronomy 32:49, which helps me to envision the rocky terrain awaiting nimble feet. A page turn reveals a photo of a “Life-size replica of the tabernacle,” whereas the adjacent page shows a fourteenth-century tapestry of the New Jerusalem.
Many pages later, an actual picture of the “En Gedi, where David hid from Saul” helps me to see how difficult movement would have been on those rugged, barren slopes, but, oh, what a view! Later still, a photo shows “Part of Nehemiah’s Wall in Jerusalem,” which I doubt I’ll get to see in person but am glad to know how it looks.
I’m also happy with how the format looks. With poetry and poetic prophecies set in poetic lines, a single column used for the biblical text, and cross-referencing placed in the outer margins, each page has at least an inch of white space on its outside edge, which could be penciled in with brief notes. (I highly recommend a mechanical pencil for such notes-to-self and also underlining as the graphite doesn’t bleed through and can be erased if needed.)
This edition has so many notes itself, however, that many pages have more notes than scripture! Although I haven’t yet read them all, the content helps to expand the context and expound on passages that might otherwise be difficult to understand. I found the font a bit hard on the eyes, but, nevertheless, readable.
Appropriately placed as the title implies, an article entitled “The Time Between the Testaments” presents interesting information about the rise of various powers and sects with an instructive chart and color illustrations to clarify even more. Then, over 60 pages of additional articles appear in the back matter, ranging from “The Story of the Bible” to such topics as “The Glory of God,” “Worship,” “The Kingdom of God,” and “Love and Grace.”
Much more can be said about this Bible and biblical library packed into one hefty volume, but perhaps the most important is to let you know that this edition is not a revision or expansion of the ever-popular NIV Study Bible, also published by Zondervan.
Over 60 contributors from diverse backgrounds worked with editor-pastor-professor D.A. Carson to produce this impressive new edition with the aim of being “Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message.”
As I mentioned earlier, my copy came covered in premium leather, which I haven’t yet found on Amazon, probably because it’s already on backorder due to all the readers who have been eagerly awaiting its release. However, if you think you might have trouble with the size and weight, a hardcover copy works best on a desk, so I’ll add a link for that too.
©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.
NIV Zondervan Study Bible, hardcover
NIV Zondervan Study Bible, premium leather