Showing posts with label New Living Translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Living Translation. Show all posts

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




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



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 1, 2015

NLT Study Bible


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





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