Showing posts with label compact study Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label compact study Bible. Show all posts

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 9, 2013

NIV Study Bible

As a lifelong student of the Bible I’m blessed to have study editions in most of the major English translations. When I begin to research a topic or background material for a book, blog, or discussion in my Bible study group, I gather my favorites around me, look up what’s needed, find all sorts of insightful information, then go borrow my husband’s NIV Study Bible!

For decades I borrowed, and he carried around the first study edition of the New International Version (NIV) until the bonded leather began to split around the edges like chapped fingertips. So I bought him an updated edition, covered in genuine leather, and promptly began to borrow it too.

Almost without fail, the footnotes in the NIV Study Bible gave me something I hadn’t found anywhere else, so why not just get my own copy? Besides not wanting another big, bulky Bible, I objected to being called a “son of God.” If you say “hey, man!” I might turn around, but call me “son,” and I probably won’t respond and definitely will not connect well or identify with what’s said.

The King James Version (KJV) can get away with a heavy male orientation as age and poetic beauty bring special entitlement. The wordplay on “man” includes both male and female anyway, so no problem there, and, if the Bible refers to males only, that’s fine too. In fact, a verse can specify “sonship,” and we daughters of God can see how that legal reference gave optimal rights during Bible days.

Then, everything changed.

The new NIV came out.

Lovers of the 1984 version might object to not finding everything they’re used to reading, but guess what I found in Romans 8:14: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Yes! That’s my italics, and that’s me - one of God's countless children.

That wasn’t the only change though. The new NIV Study Bible comes in a compact edition. Since the extensive study aids and color photographs carry more weight, this option still has heft and bulk but fits into one hand. To be more specific, the stats for the compact NIV edition shown below state the size as 2.3 x 5.2 x 8 inches and shipping weight at 2.8 pounds.

Binding: Listed as “leather,” Zondervan has a trademark on this Italian Duo-Tone cover with attractive stitching that also reinforces the edges of the compact edition. When closed, the cover pops up slightly, but opened on your lap or desk, the Bible nicely lays flat.

Font: If you have difficulty reading small print, the text may be a strain, especially because of the light ink. Although the font used for the footnotes is even smaller than the text, the darker ink makes it readable, so the biggest challenge, visually, may be the tiny, light ink font used for cross-referencing. In case that’s a concern for you, I’ll post a link to a large print edition in hardback, which will be bigger (2.2 x 7.3 x 10.3 inches) and heavier (4.8 pounds) and not as prettily bound as the compact version shown but should include the same study aids.

Study Material: In the front matter of the NIV Study Bible, Compact Edition, you’ll find a three-page layout briefly describing “Ancient Texts Relating to the Old Testament” such as Sennacherib’s description of the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. when Hezekiah became a prisoner in the city where he once reigned. A chart of “Old Testament Chronology” follows with time periods and approximate dates to set each Bible era within the context of world history. Similarly, the chart “From Malachi to Christ” and article “The Time Between The Testaments” also help to show the Bible as part of the ongoing history of mankind. Then, at the back of the book, you’ll find “Index to Topics,” “Index to Notes,” an extensive concordance, and maps of Bible terrains.

Notes: Besides notes to introduce you to the “Author, Date and Sources,” “Purpose and Themes,” “Outline,” and other information relevant to each book of the Bible, footnotes flower and flourish at the bottom of each page but pruned from overgrowth into actual scriptures. (If you have ever seen a Bible with only a verse or two squeezed up top and the rest of the page overrun with elucidation, you know what I mean.) This page-by-page layout also deserves additional accolades because the footnotes have been exceptionally well-packed with information to set the verses in context, aid reader-comprehension, and present different views in the balanced perspective and soothing voice of a respected peacemaker.

Long before the NIV Study Bible contained the present updates and expansions, those impressive footnotes kept me grabbing my husband’s Bible to gain more light on a subject or more insight into a difficult passage. Lord willing, I won’t ever need to do that again. For my birthday last month, he gave me my very own NIV Study Bible in the compact edition like the one described above and shown below and open now beside me for keeps.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler

NIV Study Bible, Compact Edition, indexed

NIV Study Bible, Large Print, Hardback edition