August 1, 2015
If you need a compact, inexpensive, nicely balanced study Bible in a highly readable translation with a poetic thought-for-thought flow and comprehensive footnotes, the NLT Study Bible from Tyndale House Publishers makes an excellent choice. Since I bought the personal size paperback edition, that’s what I’ll describe, but if you need large print, that’s also available in hardcover.
Re font size: It’s small but surprisingly clear, even in the footnotes. The boldface font used to show the chapter: verse in those notes helps, too, as that highlighting draws the eyes to the comments.
Most of you are probably familiar with the NLT (New Living Translation), but in case not, I’d compare it to the NIV (New International Version) rather than The Living Bible (TLB),which Tyndale House also produced. Unlike the TLB, the NLT is not a paraphrase but an actual translation.
As the “Introduction To The New Living Translation” explains: “On the one hand, they (the translating team) translated as simply and literally as possible when that approach yielded an accurate, clear, and natural English text…. On the other hand, the translators rendered the message more dynamically when the literal rendering was hard to understand, was misleading, or yielded archaic or foreign wording. They clarified difficult metaphors and terms to aid in the reader’s understanding.”
The results brought us an understandable yet beautifully worded text that’s become a personal favorite. If Tyndale would make this Bible available in a top quality leather, I’d be thrilled, especially if they'd send me a review copy. Sigh!
Back to the paperback edition at hand, I find introductions for each book of the Bible with a quick overview. Those introductory pages also include information about the setting, a map inset to show that setting, a summary of the book, outline, and info on authorship. Then, in the outer margin, a timeline identifies the era to show how Bible history fits into world history. So, even before you begin reading the text, you’ll have a good idea of what’s going on, where, why, and when.
Those introductions also include a “Meaning and Message.” In introducing Genesis, for example, a subheading under “Meaning and Message” discusses “Blessing and Curse,” saying:
“The entire message of Genesis turns on the motifs of blessing and cursing…. These motifs continue throughout the Bible. Prophets and priests spoke of even greater blessings in the future and an even greater curse for those who refuse God’s gift of salvation and its blessings. The Bible reminds God’s people not to fear human beings, but to fear God, who has the power to bless and to curse.”
A sidebar within the first chapter of Genesis reminds us that “The creation account in Genesis is foundational to the message of the entire Bible…. Understanding the early chapters of Genesis is thus crucial to forming a biblical worldview.”
Into the text, you’ll see additional study helps such as the “Word Study System” for a couple hundred Greek or Hebrew words and “Person Profiles” of Bible people whose experiences, choices, and relationships with God help to inform ours.
You’ll find cross-references in the outer margins of most pages, and biblical references might also occur at the start of a new chapter to indicate parallel passages. For example, if you’re reading about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:2-3, you’ll see that 2 Chronicles 29:1-2 also introduces us to that king’s reign.
To help readers envision various scenes or situations, this edition has numerous side bars and visual aids such as charts, maps, diagrams, or illustrations. So, except for my wish that the NLT included the deuterocanonical books (aka apocrypha), all it lacks for me is a soft, sturdy premium leather cover on Smyth Sewn (aka Section Sewn) pages, preferably sent to me as a review copy.
©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler – a poet, writer, and lifelong lover of the Bible – has purchased so many, many top quality editions over the years, she’s truly delighted when Bible publishers send her free ones to treasure, read, read, read, and review.
NLT Study Bible, personal size, paperback
NLT Study Bible, large print, hardcover