Showing posts with label NLT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NLT. Show all posts

November 2, 2017

God’s Word Through African Eyes

A little over a year ago, I had the joy of reviewing one of the books in the forthcoming Africa Study Bible, which numerous companies and organizations such as Oasis International partnered to produce. I’m happy to say the publisher, Tyndale House, has now kindly sent me a review copy of the full text of the NLT (New Living Translation) with footnotes and articles presenting “God’s Word Through African Eyes.”

This amazing study edition received the input of 350 contributors from 50 countries, who provided Touch Points that “reveal uniquely African perspectives” and Proverbs and Stories that “relate Scripture with wisdom from Africa.” Articles applying biblical counsel to our lives and copious notes on Christian values have been included, too, along with a timeline that “highlights God’s work in Africa.”

Does that matter to anyone other than African-American Christians? Most definitely! The places, perspectives, and cultures highlighted in this highly recommended study Bible help our understanding of scriptures that might otherwise perplex readers who only have a typical Eureopean-American view.

Equally important is our recognition and embrace of the heritage we share in such early Christian leaders and theologians as St. Augustine, Athanasius, Cyril, and Origen – each of whom came from Africa.

But, did you know that Joseph, Moses, and Solomon married African women, and the famed Queen of Sheba probably came from the region now known as Ethiopia? Jesus spent His early childhood in Africa, which, at the time, was under Roman rule.

As Jesus stumbled on the way to crucifixion, Simon of Cyrene, an area now known as Libya, lifted the heavy load of the cross. After Jesus’ resurrection from death and ascension into heaven, Acts 2:9 tells us that the Holy Spirit poured onto the crowds of people gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, including disciples from Egypt and areas of Libya. Later, the Apostle Philip led to Christ an official of the royal court in what’s most likely the Sudan. According to Acts 11, believers from Libya preached the gospel to Gentiles, then leaders from the area commissioned Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries. By the second century A.D., at least 3 Bishops of Rome (Popes) came from North Africa, and shortly thereafter (before the invention of English!) the Bible was translated into an African language.

The list goes on and on, as does Christianity in Africa, but I want to get back to the unique and highly relevant perspective of the articles and footnotes in this edition. For example, the article “Land, Labour, and Inheritance” points out that, in Israel, “Land was not to be sold permanently to ensure that the rich would not use it to take advantage of the poor.”

The article also reports that “Today there is tension over land between local people and foreigners. Non-African multinational companies are buying huge pieces of land to meet their business needs.”

Unfortunately, land “becomes practically useless if people do not work the land to provide for themselves, their families, and the poor in the community.” Also, “In Africa, land is the basic asset for human flourishing. Ideally, it should be owned by families and passed on from generation to generation, much like land ownership in biblical Israel.”

Bible people passed along important histories and stories too, and, even today, “Storytelling is common in Africa. Elders use stories to pass on lessons and values to their community…. Many Christians tell their stories in testimonies that show how gracious God has been to them. Such testimonies help others to learn about God…. We must be careful, however, not to dwell on stories of wrongs done to us. Such stories have been used to fuel conflict among ethnic groups. By telling stories of God’s care for us, we preserve our cultural heritage and also spread the news about the goodness of God. Telling the stories of God’s work and blessings in our lives is certainly a part of what Jesus meant when he said, ‘And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere’ (Acts 1:8).”

God’s Word brings salvation to all people everywhere. In the Name of Jesus, we become one family in Christ through communion – our common union. This vital part of our spiritual health and spiritual empowerment brings us together as one in the Body of Christ.

“Most African cultures and ethnic groups also emphasize the importance of community: A Zulu proverb says, ‘Umuntu ngumubntu mgamuntu,’ which means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’ This expresses the concept of Ubuntu, a principle of caring for each other’s well-being.”


May God uses this excellent study Bible to draw us into a close, caring relationship with one another and God’s Word in the family of Christ.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer reviewer

Africa Study Bible, hardcover




February 16, 2017

Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God


When I learned that Tyndale House had published Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God by pastor Ben Patterson, I requested a complimentary review copy, which the publisher kindly sent. Immediately I saw a book meant to be used! The clear font on quality paper sewn into a nice imitation leather cover should hold up well. More important, Pastor Patterson’s response to each psalm gives a book I'm eager to add to my morning devotionals.

As long as I can remember, Psalms have appealed to me not only for the honest, often vulnerable prayers, but for the poetry, wisdom, and profound faith in God. Apparently countless others have felt the same since the Psalms have remained with us at least from the time of King David through the Jerusalem Temple in Jesus’ day and well into worshipful times in contemporary churches or synagogues.

With this amazingly long shelflife, the Psalms speak to and for us with the visual appeal of metaphors and the beautiful sound of rhythmic refrains and a credible speaking voice. Nothing can improve on that! However, some psalms leave us baffled, while others seem too far removed from our own experiences.

In the “Introduction,” Pastor Patterson gives us this encouraging word: “All the joys, pleasures, hopes, fears, despairs, doubts, heartaches, terrors, and longings of which we are capable are mirrored, clarified, sanctified, and transformed in the Psalms, as are all the ways we may pray: supplication, intercession, praise, thanks, lament, and meditation. The Psalms, as many have said, are a mirror; they will reveal you. Yet they are much more. Read them and they will read you. Pray them and they will change you.”

Although every psalm has not been included in this nicely done edition, most of these prayer-poems quote the New Living Translation followed by the author’s commentary, suggestions, and relevant questions, all of which aid us in “Drawing Near to the Heart of God.”

Considering the opening psalms, for example, Pastor Patterson says “The first two psalms have been called the gateway to the book of Psalms. Strictly speaking, they aren’t even prayers but preparation for prayer – meditations on the nature of things in the universe, the world we move in when we pray. So take note and be forewarned: The world of prayer is a world of intense conflict. The enemy is never far away when we pray. Prayer is not escape; it is engagement, and the Psalms are the prayers of a warrior, the Warrior.”

The commentary after the next prayer-poem says, “Psalm 2 reassures us of God’s eventual victory over all evil. The end result is never in question, and because we belong to him, that victory is ours too.”

But maybe we fear we don't belong, or, like the psalmist in Psalm 6, we worry that God might be mad at us! If so, the author reassures us by explaining, “God’s wrath is his rage at the evil that destroys his good creation. The evil is willful, deliberate rebellion against his holy character and will.”

To give you an example of how this book makes the Psalms come alive with relevancy, I’ll turn to one of my favorite psalms – 103:

“Praise the Lord for what he has done for you personally (verse 1-5): He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, and satisfies – list the ways you have known him to do this. Praise him that he loves you from youth to old age, even renewing your youth like the eagle’s.”

Review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017


Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God, imitation leather, sewn-in pages




November 10, 2016

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT


People everywhere are hurting. If you are too, the Beyond Suffering Bible has you in mind.

Published by Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a complimentary copy to review, the Beyond Suffering Bible emphasizes the hope found in God as presented in the highly readable New Living Translation (NLT.)

In an opening letter from Joni Eareckson Tada of the Internatonal Disability Center, Joni thanks members of the Christian Institute on Disability (CID) team “who have worked diligently” to bring “a Bible that speaks directly to the hardship of handicapping conditions.” In addition “It showcases the righteousness and mercy of God on behalf of those who struggle under the weight of illness, poverty, and injustice.”

Suffering in silence has often been a common condition for many people with chronic pain or worry, but suffering with dignity, purpose, and prayer deepens a person’s spiritual life and relationship with the Lord.

More than any analgesic, relief comes in applying God’s Word as an ointment, and this edition shows you how. With “A Word from Joni,” devotionals, and articles for caretakers and people with disabilities, disadvantages, or pain, this Bible emphasizes the comfort God brings and also provides resources on the theology of suffering and sanctity of life.

Besides helping readers to connect God’s Word to their daily lives, the edition provides Book Introductions, Profiles, and helpful reading plans.

As those of us with good fortune and minimal pain read the articles and devotionals, we just might find our awareness increasing and compassion needing the relief of prayer and a commitment to help others in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT, paperback



July 14, 2016

Africa Study Bible

Reportedly, over 80% of the peoples in the U.S. say they’re Christians, whereas in Africa, one in four has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Almost 500 million Christians live in Africa, yet few have Bibles with footnotes or study aids relevant to their lives and cultures.

What’s ironic is that many key events in the Bible took place on that beautifully diverse continent. Also, its past and present peoples, places, and cultures can help us to understand more about our biblical roots and our ancestry as God’s people.

Such thoughts urged me to request a copy of the Africa Study Bible (ASB) from Oasis International, who kindly sent me their attractively published Book of Genesis to review. Its well-chosen text from the New Living Translation (NLT) was completed a few years ago, of course, by the Tyndale House Foundation, but Oasis International has not yet finalized the ASB study notes being prepared by over 300 individuals from 50 nations.

The first book, however, clearly shows how the ASB aims to bring us “God’s Word through African Eyes.” For example, “Proverbs and Stories,” applications of the text, and sidebars of “African Touch Points” give us fresh insight into Genesis, such as the note regarding “The Fall” in chapter 3:

Most parents would punish their disobedient children. The Bangolan people in Cameroon say a parent should punish a rebellious child with a rebuking left hand and draw him or her closer with a loving right hand. That is exactly what God did to humans in and after the Fall.

Below the text for the Cain and Abel story in chapter 4, “Proverbs and Stories” urge us to “Build Up, Not Tear Down” with this word:

A Sierra Leonean proverb says, ‘If a person is tallker than you, do not chop off his legs so that you will be equal. Rather, grow up’.”

Next to the biblical text for Genesis 10, an “African Touch Point” discusses the infamous “Sons of Ham” with this important clarification:

Because Ham was the father of the African people, some Christians, Jews, and Muslims have misued this passage to justify enslaving Africans. But the passage only says that Canaan is cursed. Even though the rest of Ham’s sons settled in Africa, Canaan did not. Much later, God told Israel (descendants of Noah’s son Shem) to conquer the land of Canaan, and Canaan’s descendants became servants, just as Noah had said.”

That sidebar goes on to explain:

As Africans, we are not descendants of Canaan, but of Ham’s other sons – Cush (Egypt and Sudan), Mizraim (Egypt) and Put (Libya or Somalia).”

In an “Application” for Genesis 44-50, footnotes briefly discuss Joseph's enslavement because of the harsh treatment of his jealous brothers, and yet he remained faithful to God, eventually rising to power at a crucial moment in the life of his people. By the time he saw his brothers again, he had come to recognize God's hand on his life. As the footnotes say:

Many people have assumed positions of power over those who have wronged them greatly. Some people desire to take revenge and continue the cycle of violence. Others, like Joseph forgive and say, ‘It was God who sent me here, not you’.

Forgiveness brings peace. Let us be like Joseph with people who have rejected us and caused us harm. We must not continue the cycle of violence by seeking revenge. We must see our lives as controlled by God. Only then can we be at peace.”

Yes! And may all of God's people say, "Amen."

Bible review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016


Africa Study Bible, Book of John







May 9, 2016

Slimline Bibles for youth, NLT


One of my favorite renderings of the Bible into English is the New Living Translation (NLT) because of its contemporary language, poetic flow, and ease of use in discussions when others have different translations.

Since I also recommend the NLT as an excellent choice for youth in mainline denominations, I requested the Girls Slimline Bible, NLT, from Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a copy to review.

I chose the girls’ edition rather than the Guys Slimline Bible, NLT, because of the bright cover covered by the word, “Love,” which also covers us and a multitude of sins. If, however, you want to give a copy to a boy, just remove the packaging on this edition or consider the one shown below.

Regardless, the back matter in these editions will help young people in a youth discussion group or Sunday School class. For example, the back pages include:

• Dictionary/Concordance
• Great Chapters of the Bible
• Great Verses of the Bible to Memorize
• 365-Day Reading Plan
• Colorful Maps

Another blessed help can be found inside the front cover, which has Ephesians 3:12 printed in large caps:

Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”

Amen!

Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer


Girls Slimline Bible, NLT



Guys Slimline Bible, NLT



May 3, 2016

The Complete Evangelical Parallel Bible


My mid-week Bible study group welcomes different translations of the Bible since we’ve found this gives us deeper insight into God’s Word. If you have translated one language into another, you most likely understand this as you know many words have multiple meanings and many phrases have various options in keeping with the overall context. Those of you who have had an “Aha!” moment when hearing familiar verses in a contemporary version of the Bible have most likely experienced what I’m saying, too, as each synonym comes with its own connotations.

To get a good balance, at least four translations in our study group has helped us to go deeper into a passage, but juggling four separate volumes can be a bit awkward! Fortunately, Bible publishers have seen a need for parallel Bibles to assist in-depth study of God’s Word.

All sorts of combinations have gone in and out of print for Catholic, liturgical, and Christian readers in general, but most recently Hendrickson Bibles kindly sent me a review copy of The Complete Evangelical Parallel Bible.

The four translations in the volume apparently represent the favorite choices of evangelical Christians: the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New International Version (NIV), and the New Living Translation (NLT), which Hendrickson placed in that particular order. However, I would have, too, since this arrangement begins with a word-for-word translation and ends with a thought-for-thought rendering of scripture with variations of both in between.

Although I have a strong preference for calfskin covers on reader editions and hardbacks on thick study Bibles, the publisher sent me a red/gray Flexisoft edition to review, and I must admit, I’m impressed. Imitation leather has come a long way, and this one feels nice, is sturdy, appears to have sewn-in pages, and lays flat when opened.

As you might expect, the type is necessarily smaller than a regular reader edition, which this is -- in quadruplet. Therefore, only the most necessary footnotes have been included along with front matter to tell about each translation and a page in the back to provide a “Table of Weights and Measures.” In addition, a one-ribbon marker has a synthetic or coated feel, which looks as if it will hold together well without fraying.

Most importantly, this edition offers two translations on each page with all four, side by side, and easy to follow as you read, meditate on, and discuss the depths and heights and wonders of God’s Word to you.

Mary Harwell Sayler, poet-writer, reviewer, © 2016


The Complete Evangelical Parallel Bible, hardcover





November 20, 2015

NLT Illustrated Study Bible

My first impression of the NLT Illustrated Study Bible, which Tyndale House Publishers kindly sent me to review, was its heft!

Then, looking at the outer edges of the book reminded me of striations in cut rock, colorfully telling what’s gone on prior to its discovery. Similarly, layers of color along those outside edges hint at the wealth of photographs and original illustrations included in this sturdy study edition.

The magnitude of features undoubtedly required keeping page bulk to a minimum. Nevertheless, I regretted seeing the thinness of the paper, which seemed even thinner after feeling the thick, slick book jacket and the canvas-like cover sheets at the beginning and end of the book. An option would have been to cut some of the 1,000+ images in favor of a denser quality paper, but then we would no longer have all of the amazing visuals that help us to open our eyes more fully to God’s Word.

Indeed, the website http://openmyeyes.com/bible/ provides a video to introduce this edition and establish its primary goal as helping us to see aspects of the Bible that might, otherwise, go unnoticed.

To do this, the book includes the kind of helps we generally find in a Bible dictionary – for instance, profiles of 120 Bible characters – and the kinds of color photographs we expect in a Bible atlas. The overall effect is to show us what Bible people, places, and times were like, so we can picture ourselves as part of the scene and relate to the ongoing relationship God wants to have with us and all mankind.

In addition to the stunning visuals in this heavily illustrated study Bible, we also get over 25,000 notes to accompany the updated text of the New Living Translation (NLT), which remains one of my top favorites.

Highly readable and poetic, the NLT translates ancient manuscripts into a contemporary, respectful English version that’s easy to follow in a worship service or in a Bible study group when other people read aloud from almost any classical or modern translation. Even at home alone, however, this edition makes the Bible remarkably accessible to new readers and also visually inspiring to those of us who have loved the Bible throughout our reading lives.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, Bible reviewer, is a poet-writer of numerous books in all genres for Christian and educational publishers. She also blogs about prayer, poetry, and writing and recently began posting her Praise Poems.


NLT Illustrated Study Bible, hardcover




October 19, 2015

Exquisite! Tyndale Select NLT


For all of my adult life and then some, I’ve been reading the major translations, study editions, and various versions of the Bible, but the new Tyndale Select NLT (New Living Translation) in goatskin is surely one of the best reader editions I’ve ever had the joy of owning, thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, who kindly sent me a free copy for my always-honest review. And, on a scale of 1 to 5, I'd honestly give this exquisite treatment of God’s Word a 10!

First of all, the NLT has continued to be my favorite contemporary version, not only for its intelligent thought-for-thought translation aka dynamic equivalence rendering but for its respectful, poetic tone in easy-to-grasp language.

Even so, in “A Note To Readers,” we learn that the Bible Translation Committee decided “an additional investment in scholarly review and text refinement could make it even better. So shortly after its initial publication, the committee began an eight-year process with the purpose of increasing the level of the NLT’s precision without sacrificing its easy-to-understand quality. This second-generation text was completed in 2004, with minor changes subsequently introduced in 2007, 2013, and 2015.”

The Introduction then goes on to say that “the Bible Translation Committee recruited teams of scholars that represented a broad spectrum of denominations, theological perspectives, and backgrounds within the worldwide evangelical community,” which basically means the diverse committee did not translate the apocryphal aka deuterocanonical books.

Although the Tyndale Select NLT is a reader’s edition with no footnotes except those needed to explain a particular choice of words, the single-column pages allow for cross referencing in the outer margins of the text and a full “Dictionary/Concordance” followed by colored maps in the back matter.

Besides the newly updated text, this gorgeous edition includes: a well-inked, roundish font that’s easy on the eyes; silken Smyth-sewn pages; and the finest quality of covers in a sturdy, soft, huggable goatskin.

I love it!

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, Bible reviewer, is a poet-writer of numerous books in all genres for Christian and educational publishers. She also blogs on poetry, writing, Bible prayers, and Praise Poems.

Tyndale Select NLT, black or brown goatskin



August 26, 2014

Reviewing The Life


At first glance, my review copy of The Life, kindly sent to me by its publisher Tyndale House, appears to be just another magazine in a handy size for carrying. Inside, however, most of the slick pages have been filled with Holy Scriptures from the Gospels of the New Living Translation (NLT) to reveal the life we’re to live in Christ.

The table of contents summarizes “The Life: What’s Inside.”

Surprising Encounters with Jesus
Jesus’ Message Isn’t about Easy Religion
Death Is No Match for Jesus
What Does It Mean to “Remain” in Jesus?
Ordinary People Given God’s Power
The Choice


With colorful illustrations, wise words from “Youth For Christ,” and the highly readable NLT text, young people and new readers of the Bible receive a warm “Welcome to The Life,” where they “begin to get acquainted with God’s story through reading the story of the life of Jesus and his earliest followers straight from the Bible – or at least part of the Bible” and begin to see “there’s plenty more where this came from.”

Staying strongly focused on the person and power of Jesus, a brief magazine-type article challenges readers to remain in Christ then asks “What Does Remain Mean In John 15?” A sidebar beside the biblical answer adds illustrative examples such as:

• In order for a lamp to shine, the light bulb must remain in the fixture.

Remain within coverage areas to use cell phones.

• A fish that wants to breathe must remain underwater.


As we remain in Christ, we're alive in Him and can live NOW in the power of His Spirit, knowing, “Jesus is able to fight his own battles. He specializes in reversing the course of enemies so that they become dedicated followers.”

And as they believe, as I believe, as you believe and choose to remain in Christ and The Life, “Jesus will work miraculously within you to help you become more and more like him.”


© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a traditionally published author of 26 books, including the Bible-based book of poems Outside Eden and poetry book Living in the Nature Poem.


The Life, paperback





December 5, 2013

Chronological Life Application Study Bible, NLT

What a Bible for Bible lovers! If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for your pastor, Bible teacher, biblical writer, or a Bible student who already has a study Bible or readers’ edition, the Chronological Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation (NLT) from Tyndale House Publishers makes an excellent choice. Having another Bible first matters only because the books in this edition have been arranged chronologically, rather than by traditional groupings, so if you want to look up a passage quickly, say, during a discussion in your study group, you’d need to know the book of Job most likely occurred before the time of Moses in order to find its placement. The easier way, though, is to look up the scripture you want in the “Canonical Table of Contents” in the opening pages, where you might find Haggai and Zechariah interacting with the book of Ezra and the Gospel stories intermingled.

Despite the confusion some have when flipping pages can't be done efficiently, the chronological arrangement clearly shows how books in the same time period relate to one another. For example, after fleeing from King Saul (I Samuel 22), David wrote Psalm 57, which places those passages together in this edition.

As portions of scripture weave together in time, the introductions and overviews of each book needed to be gathered in one section entitled “The Bible, Book-by-Book.” Also, in the back pages, you’ll find a “Master Index,” concordance, and maps, along with other features you might expect in any good study edition.

Throughout this edition, you’ll find the type of footnotes and “Personality Profiles” that made the Life Application Study Bible a popular choice, but the unique features of the Chronological Life Application Study Bible come as a clock or calendar.

For example, the article “A Chronological Study of the Bible” in the opening pages provides a brief but helpful overview of biblical history from creation to the first century church. However, the feature I especially love is the “Complete Biblical Timeline” that lets me know the Egyptians built the pyramids not very long after the flood, which makes me wonder if the design occurred as an attempt to get above water level!

Also, in Egypt, papyrus and ink were invented for writing and horses domesticated long before the birth of Abraham. About the time his grandsons, Jacob and Esau, were born, Stonehenge appeared in England, and within a couple years of the birth of Jacob’s son, Joseph, someone invented the wheel.

In Babylon, Hammurabi wrote his code of law around 300 years before the laws came through Moses. About 50 years after Moses’ death, King Tut entered his famous tomb, and, about ten years before a whale swallowed Jonah, Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Such interesting information continues for several pages, and then a brief timeline tops each page of scripture, keeping us connected to the world context in which the Bible lives on and on as the living Word of God.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.


Chronological Life Application Study Bible, hardback



Chronological Life Application Study Bible, Kindle, e-book