Showing posts with label ESV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ESV. 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




August 14, 2015

The Literary Study Bible, ESV


Since I’ve had the privilege of receiving many review copies of new translations or editions of the Bible, I’ve discovered that each one has something unique to offer. Occasionally though, I see one not available for review that interests me anyway as did The Literary Study Bible, ESV, edited by Leland Ryken and Philip Graham Ryken and published by Crossway Bibles.

This hardback edition intrigued me because of its title and editors. As a Christian poet and writer, I’ve noticed and appreciated the Bible as literature and wanted to know more. So, over the years, I’ve purchased several books by Leland Ryken, an English professor at Wheaton College, who has written over 25 books such as A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible.

As the “Editors’ Preface” tells us, “We need to pay attention to the how of a Bible passage as preliminary to understanding what is said.” With this unique approach, “The commentary in this book is designed to draw readers into interaction with the biblical text instead of merely providing information about the Bible.”

In the “Introduction” we learn, “The goal of literature is to prompt a reader to share or relive an experience. The truth that literature imparts is not simply ideas that are true but truthfulness to human experience.”

We read the Psalms, for example, as we might any poem or prayer and put ourselves into that moment as though it were our own. This personalizes God’s word for us, which we can embrace even more fully because the Bible does not try to cover up the flaws or gross sins of its heroes but shows them to be vulnerable, fearful, courageous, and filled with faith that occasionally wavers. Jesus Christ alone is the exception as He alone embodies the perfection of our Holy God.

And so, we “begin a literary analysis of the Bible exactly where all study of the Bible should begin by accepting as true all the biblical writers say about the Bible (its inspiration by God, its reliability, its complete truthfulness, etc.).”

Inspired by God, “The writers of the Bible refer with technical precision to a whole range of literary genres in which they write – proverb, saying, chronicle, complaint (lament psalm), oracle, apocalypse, parable, song, epistle, and many other” with poetry abounding throughout. Indeed, the Bible begins with poetry, poetic stories, histories, and origins of creation and our covenant relationship with God, which continues throughout our lives and throughout the Bible.

In Revelation then, we find epistles, prophecy, narration, drama, symbolism, and other poetic devices such as imagery, metaphor, simile, and allusion. In case those or other literary terms are unfamiliar to readers, the editors have included a “Glossary of Literary Terms and Genres” in the back of this book, which I highly recommend for poets, writers, and anyone interested in embracing and better understanding God’s word.


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


The Literary Study Bible, ESV, hardback



March 14, 2015

The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, articles, and ESV text


Apocrypha, apocryphal books, deuterocanonical books, literature from intertestamental times, or whatever you call it, this highly recommended edition is unique!

Edited by Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes published by Concordia Publishing House fills the gap between Jewish and Catholic Bibles, between Catholic and Protestant Bibles, and between Old and New Testaments.

Why is that important? Each gap can cause us to slip away from one another or get trapped in debates, but this edition can help us to see where each other is coming from as we build new bridges and do what we can to administer healing to the church.

Similar in appearance to The Lutheran Study Bible, also edited by Rev. Engelbrecht, this slimmer, hardcover edition includes reader-friendly articles on “The Holy Scripture and Other Ancient Writings,” “The Apocrypha in Modern Bible Publications,” “The Historical Setting of the Apocrypha,” and the Judeans during various times in world history.

Before you get to the text itself – or even the Introductions and outlines of each book, you’ll discover “Theological Teachings of the Time between the Testaments,” which, as it suggests, gives insight into the ongoing development of theology. Under the heading “The Doctrine of God,” for example, we’re told that “In the Intertestamental literature, there is a tendency to think of God in terms of His transcendence, of His remoteness from the world. There is also a hesitancy to use the divine name directly, and in its place circumlocutions are employed,” such as referring to God as “heaven,” “the Dwelling Presence” (Shekinah), or “the Name.”

Another heading “The Role of Angels,” tells us that “Instead of God having direct contact with creation, the apocryphal writings assign to the angels the responsibility for lightning, snow, rain, clouds, darkness, cold, heat, and frost. As a caution, one should note that many passages of the Old Testament refer to the role of angels and divinely appointed leaders. The change is one of frequency and emphasis.”

In addition, “The literature from the Time between the Testaments of the postcanonical biblical period has many references to the existence of evil spirits or demons.” This biblical era also develops beliefs in life after death, the Kingdom of God, and the Messianic hope, bringing continuity and bridging the gap between testaments.

Other features in this edition include “Apocrypha Prayers,” variations in titles and arrangements of the books, “The Apocryphal Books in Other Christian Traditions,” and “The Apocrypha and the New Testament,” which I found especially interesting as the article charts possible influences of Apocryphal texts on Jesus and New Testament writers.

Also, in the back matter, appendices give a brief summary of such important documents as “The Dead Sea Scrolls,” the development of midrash, and the biblically relevant writings of Philo, Josephus, and others. “Apocrypha Chronology and World History” charts major events from the fall of Samaria centuries before Christ through the martyrdom of the Apostles, destruction of the Temple, and subsequent revolts. And, for a bridge into our times, “Key Terms and Phrases" provide definitions whereas the section on “Apocrypha Topics” lists citations of the relevant book, chapter, and verse beneath the subject of interest.

Although I've read other apocryphal books I recommend, this unique edition, which Concordia kindly sent me for review, not only includes a highly recommended encyclopedia on the Apocrypha, it presents a heavily footnoted translation of the text in the English Standard Version (ESV), known for its accuracy and beauty.


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

The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, hardcover



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





July 19, 2014

Today’s Light Devotional Bible


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

The Lutheran Study Bible


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




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




August 27, 2013

Gospel Transformation Bible in ESV

When I think about Christian publishers such as Crossway, the word “integrity” comes to mind. For example, two of their books recently reviewed on the Christian Poets & Writers blog show the integration to aim for between Christianity and the arts. Lord willing, such resources will encourage us as communicators for Christ to gain a glimpse of the God-empowered effect our poems and writings can have in a literary realm.

But it’s the integrity - the integration of the spiritual realm with everyday life that comes to mind in Crossway’s new presentation of the English Study Version (ESV) in the Gospel Transformation Bible.

We’ve talked about the ESV in “Bible editions for research and accuracy” and also the “ESV Study Bible gives you a one-volume library.” Besides that edition, which I turn to for research before beginning a new writing project or leading discussions in my Bible study group, I found a reader edition in an incredibly soft lambskin cover for summer reading and, okay, I admit it, an occasional hug.

Obviously I’m a fan of ESV and the quality produced by Crossway. So when I heard of their new themed edition of ESV, I requested a review copy and got a sampler of this soon-to-be-released treasure.

Unlike other releases of ESV or other editions, what’s different about the Gospel Transformation Bible (GTB) is its approach. Instead of repeating or condensing the background information in the notes and study aids of the ESV Study Bible, the GTB takes a new tack. It focuses on the transforming power of God’s love.

Even if we read a Bible story dozens of times, we might still feel disconnected or short-circuited from God’s love, a love meant to be The Transformer – power source, energy supplier, convertor, and converter of our lives. With the goal of reconnecting us to that love in the GTB, the Introduction states, “Every text, seen in its redemptive context, is reflecting an aspect of humanity’s fallen condition that requires the grace of God.”

Grace of God! Grace of God – how often have we called upon that loving mercy when we deserved, well, nothing. But that ongoing Grace did not suddenly appear with Jesus’ birth. From the beginning of time, God has provided for, loved, and proclaimed goodness over creation, over us. And shortly after the Fall, God began a plan of redemption we can track from Genesis to Revelation, especially with the notes in this edition to guide us as we read.

What a faith-builder! What a Holy Presence we find throughout Holy Scripture when our eyes have been opened to see! And what integrity the GBT brings to our reading and our Christian lives by showing us how “the unfolding gospel truths in any given passage of Scripture motivate and enable believers to honor their Savior from the heart – in short, how grace transforms.”

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler



According to the information I’ve received, Crossway plans to release the Gospel Transformation Bible by the end of September but until September 2 will offer a 50% discount on paperback and quality leather-covered copies. In case you see this after those dates, I’ll post an Amazon ad for GTB in hardback.



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April 18, 2012

ESV Study Bible gives you a one-volume library!

Bible teachers, Bible students, and Evangelical Christians will especially welcome this edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) published by Crossway. Most Bible lovers will love it too!

In one thick volume, Crossway has packed scholarly but reader-friendly articles and extensive footnotes not usually found in a single study edition. For example, resources include:

Biblical Doctrine: An Overview
Biblical Ethics: An Overview
Interpreting the Bible
Reading the Bible
The Canon Scripture
The Reliability of Bible Manuscripts
Archeology of the Bible
The Original Languages of the Bible
The Septuagint
The Bible in Christianity
The Bible and World Religions
The Bible and Religious Cults
History of Salvation in the Old Testament
Concordance
Daily Bible Reading Plan
Weights and Measures
Map Supplement


And those are just the main headings.

Under each primary topic, you might find two well-researched articles – or a dozen! For instance, the section on “Reading the Bible” includes five articles on five perspectives: reading theologically, reading as literature, reading in prayer, reading for personal application, and reading for preaching and worship.

ESV: The editors deem the ESV “an essentially literal translation,” and I agree, considering it to akin to the New American Standard Bible but more contemporary and updated, which makes sense since it’s a few decades younger.

Binding: The ad shows a hardback cover that works well for any study edition as thick as this. However, the leather cover will last longer, which is important as this edition is one you'll want to carry to Bible study and read a lot.

Size: We’re talking big! So you might want to get two to equalize your balance and get a beneficial workout as you carry a hefty copy in each hand. To be more precise, Amazon stats weigh in the 2752 info-packed pages at 4.3 pounds compressed into 9.6 x 6.8 x 2.2 inches.

Font: The readable text comes in a serif font with the smaller but still readable footnotes in san serif.

More Notes on Notes: The amazingly thorough footnotes occasionally include maps, charts, or whatever is needed to illustrate the text on that particular page. Also, I find that the extensive information in this single volume might take 3 or 4 other study Bibles to find – if then! In addition, this ESV edition should include a code you can use to access the study materials online.


© 2012, ©2015 Mary Harwell Sayler


ESV Study Bible, hardcover



ESV Study Bible, genuine leather, indexed


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