February 16, 2017
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
October 19, 2015
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
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
December 15, 2014
This post comes later than intended and, very likely, I accidentally omitted some of my favorites or yours. Nevertheless, this will give you a quick list of highly recommended editions of the Bible to check for your Christmas giving and your own Christmas list.
Catholic Study Bible
Catholic Women’s Bible
Little Rock Catholic Study Bible
New Catholic Answer Bible
New Jerusalem Bible
Saint Mary’s Press College Study Bible
The Saints Devotional Bible
Adventure Bible for Early Readers,
Bible storybooks for children
Bibles for children
Catholic Children’s Bible
Catholic Teen Bible
Catholic Youth Bible
ESV Children’s Bible
NIV Teen Study Bible
ESV Study Bible
Gospel Transformation Bible,
Holman Study Bible
Life Application Study Bible
MacArthur Study Bible,
New American Standard Bible, wide-margin, goatskin
African Heritage Study Bible
Anselm Academic Study Bible
Complete Parallel Bible
Common English Study Bible
The Lutheran Study Bible,
New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha
The Message with deuterocanonical aka apocryphal books
NIV Study Bible
Oxford Study Bible, Revised English Bible with Apocrypha
Thompson Chain Reference
©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.