Showing posts with label ecumenical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ecumenical. Show all posts

January 2, 2016

Start the New Year with the King James Study Bible

Christians from almost every church denomination have loved the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) for centuries. Our hearts beat to its iambic rhythms. Our breath holds its pentameter when we read the words aloud, and when we memorize a favorite verse or passage of scripture, the KJV is the default setting we often seek for familiarity and a lift of poetic beauty.

The vocabulary in the KJV inevitably lifts us too! Translated in the time of Shakespeare, one can readily speculate on the identities of the members of the translation committee, but regardless of who helped, the English language itself was still in the making, which contributed to the KJV as surely as the KJV has influenced poetry and the English vocabulary ever since. Thus, hence, and therefore, every English-speaking poet, writer, and all-around Christian doth well to hath a KJV.

The vital next step, though, is reading it! And here’s where many have fallen away, thinking they’ll never get what it says. True, you will find most contemporary versions to be an easier read. Without the fullness of vocabulary, though, readers may miss the deeper meanings subtly packed into a Bible verse or story.

So, what’s the solution? If you want it all, the Holman KJV Study Bible has it.

The full-page color illustrations, photographs, and maps ground you in Bible times, places, and original intent, while a “King’s English” glossary defines words that might otherwise be unclear.

With the same outstanding features found in the award-winning Holman Christian Study Bible that I previously reviewed, this edition is one to turn to for in-depth study, Bible research, and the pure joy of reading God’s Word, silently or aloud.

As the only full-color KJV study Bible out there, you can expect to use this edition for many years, so a genuine leather cover makes a wise choice. But, since Holman Bible Publishers kindly sent me a free copy to review, I didn’t have that option. In case that’s your preference, too, I’ll include a link below to the leather, indexed option I normally consider the ideal. However, my review copy of the Holman’s LeatherTouch™ far exceeded my poor expectations for imitation leather. In other words, I like it!

The LeatherTouch™ feels sturdy yet silken to the fingertips. More importantly, unlike every other “fake leather” cover I’ve received, this one lays wide open on my desk or one my lap – the place this excellent edition is very likely to be.

©2016, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a poet, writer, and lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the Church in all its parts.

Holman KJV Study Bible, leathertouch

Holman KJV Study Bible, genuine leather, indexed

August 21, 2015

Catholic Scripture Study International Bible, RSV, CE

Unlike many study Bibles, the Catholic Scripture Study International (CSSI) Bible places its informative charts, maps, and “Faith Facts” in glossy page inserts, rather than footnotes throughout the large print text. This gives you a distraction-free reader edition of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) – beloved by Catholic and non-Catholic Christians from all denominations.

Published by Saint Benedict Press and distributed by Tan Books, who kindly sent me a review copy, the CSSI Bible includes the deuterocanonical books often referred to as the apocryphal books of the Old Testament.

I purposefully said Old Testament rather than Jewish Bible or Hebrew Testament since these books, initially accepted by Jews and Christians alike, have been excluded from Jewish Bibles because they were in Greek, not Hebrew.

However, modern scholarship and findings near the Dead Sea show that the Pharisee community did not accept the Septuagint or Greek Bible, whereas early Jewish Christians (such as the apostles) did. Therefore, more and more Protestants want a Bible with the Apocrypha, which means “hidden” and which Catholics aptly call “deuterocanonical,” meaning outside the Jewish not Christian canon – books originally included, too, in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

Besides the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, what makes this edition uniquely “Catholic” are those glossy inserts, beginning with a “Catholic Apologetics” list of such topics as “Apostolic Succession” followed by relevant Bible verses .

In addition, you’ll find “Faith Fact” page inserts on topics such as “The Biblical Origins of the Mass,” genuflecting, “Signs and Symbols,” and “Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.”

In the latter, for instance, we learn that “no one taught that the presence of Christ was only symbolic until Ratramnus (d.868) and, more notably, Berengarius of Tours (d. 1088).” However, “The Church firmly rejected the teachings of both.” This belief of receiving Christ Himself through the bread and wine is affirmed by each individual partaker of the Eucharist who then receives the elements with a verbal “amen.”

Any Christian who would like to become better acquainted with the Roman Catholic Church will appreciate this highly recommended edition, which came to me in a nice quality bonded leather as shown below but which Amazon erroneously referred to as imitation leather.

Following each testament, a section of “Explanatory Notes” come in a smaller font than the large print used for the biblical text, but, with ample ink, the two appendixes are clear, readable, and informative. For example, the first note states:

“1:1-2:4a: The aim of this narrative is not to present a scientific picture but to teach religious truth, especially the dependence of all creation on God and its consecration to him through the homage rendered by man, who is the climax of creation. Hence its strong liturgical character and the concluding emphasis on the sabbath. It serves as a prologue to the whole of the Old Testament.”

Regarding that “whole,” I’m delighted to have the deuterocanonical books in the RSV translation as it and the KJV are ones with which I and other Christians from diverse denominations are most familiar, especially when it comes to hymn lyrics and memorization of Bible verses. If I want to follow a 3-year cycle of readings, I can follow the “Calendar of Readings” at the back of the book, but I suspect I’ll be eager to read this poetically beautiful text straight through.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, a lifelong student of the Bible, is a freelance and assignment writer, who likes to write Bible-based poems and manuscripts.

Catholic Scripture Study International Bible, RSV, CE, bonded leather (which I confirmed by checking the ISBN number of my review copy with this one advertised on Amazon

July 13, 2015

Life in the Spirit Study Bible, KJV

The Life in the Spirit Study Bible published by Zondervan, which HarperCollins kindly sent me to review, does not contain all of the Old Testament books originally translated into the King James Version (KJV.) Nevertheless, I highly recommend this study edition for serious students of the Bible and Christians from every denominational background within the church Body of Christ.

In that Body, the Holy Spirit knows no denominational boundaries. From the hovering of God’s spirit over the waters at creation to Christ-filled hearts today, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Living Word of God as spoken to and through the prophets and other writers of the Bible. In addition, the Charismatic movement of the Lord’s spirit has touched almost every church and Christian, who is open to the indwelling of Christ, our hope of glory.

How do we get that in-filling or in-dwelling? According to the Gospel of Luke, we pray for it!

Luke 11:13“If you who are sinful know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will our heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?”

Once we accept Christ as Savior for eternal life and the Holy Spirit as our advocate now on earth, we’ll receive the training we need through God’s Word. Sometimes, though, the Spirit’s movement is so subtle, we don’t notice or even know what to look for, which is where the “Contents: Articles” section of this study edition will prove exceptionally helpful.

Having read each of the 77 articles interspersed throughout these pages, I’m hard pressed to decide which to single out or quote as each had insights and wisdom most helpful to our lives in Christ. However, the insights in such articles as “Effective Praying” show how helpful we can also be in the lives of others. For example, under the heading “Reasons for Prayer,” the third entry tells us:

“In His plan of salvation for humankind God has ordained that believers be co-workers with Him in the redemptive process. In some respect God has limited Himself to the holy, believing, persevering prayers of His people. There are many things that will not be accomplished in God’s kingdom without the intercessory prayers of believers (see Ex. 33:1, note). For example, God desires to send out workers into the gospel harvest: Christ teaches that this will only be accomplished to God’s full purpose through His people’s prayers. ‘Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest’ (Matt 9:38). In other words, God’s power to accomplish may of His purposes is released only through His people’s earnest prayers on behalf of the progress of His kingdom. If we fail to pray, we may actually be hindering the timely accomplishment of God’s redemptive purpose, both for ourselves as individuals and for the church as a body.”

Another article, “The Suffering of the Righteous,” addresses a topic many people ask: “Why, God? Why?” In addition to listing several steps we can take to receive “Victory Over Personal Suffering,” the article lists “Reasons Believers Suffer” with a response suggested at the end of each. For example, one reason Christians suffer is that we have “the mind of Christ,” which makes us aware and empathetic. An appropriate response then is to “thank God that just as Christ’s sufferings are ours, so also is His comfort.”

Other articles such as “Biblical Hope,” “The Word of God,” “The Peace of God,” and “Intercession” bring comfort, hope, and empowerment too. This power we receive from God can especially be experienced and appreciated in “Spiritual Gifts for Believers” and “The Ministry Leadership Gifts for the Church.”

Given to Christians to serve Christ and build up the church, such gifts bring special God-given ability to pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries (or apostles “sent”), and prophets. Since the qualifications or job description for the latter is probably the least familiar to us, I’ll focus on that gift here, noting “Their primary task was to speak the word of God by the Spirit in order to encourage God’s people to remain faithful to their covenant relationship.” Although predicting future events might arise in a prophetic words, they’ll be most likely to “bring words of rebuke and warning, as well as encouragement, words prompted by the Spirit, words exposing sin and unrighteousness…as well as comfort….”

A prophet has “a zeal for church purity,” “a deep sensitivity to evil,” and “an inherent dependence on God’s Word.” Therefore, “…if the church, with its leaders, hears the voice of the prophets, it will be moved to renewed life and fellowship with Christ, sin will be forsaken, and the Spirit’s presence will be evident among the faithful.”

Besides the insightful articles on the many aspects of a Spirit-filled life in Christ, this study edition includes various charts with descriptions and relevant scriptures on “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit” as well as historical information such as “Old Testament Feasts” and “Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Christ.”

Other features include a chain link referencing system in the margins and, in the back, a subject index, color maps, and an exclusive “Themefinder ™ Index that links you to scriptures relating to these key subjects:

Baptized in/filled with the Holy Spirit
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Fruit of the Holy Spirit
Faith that moves mountains
Second Coming
Victory over Satan and demons
Overcoming the world and worldliness
Walking in Obedience and Righteousness

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.

Life in the Spirit Study Bible, KJV, bonded leather

April 24, 2015

HCSB Minister’s Bible

Liturgical church groups, such as Episcopal or Roman Catholic Christians, often have books dedicated to the order of worship, rites of matrimony, funeral services, collection of prayers, and other pastoral guides. Some churches incorporate those features in the hymnals or in special editions of the Bible for a denomination such as The Lutheran Study Bible.

Pastors of evangelical, interdenominational, or independent church groups might feel as though they’re on their own if it weren’t for editions especially for ministers such as the Holman Christian Standard Minister’s Bible, which Holman Bible Publishers produced with many helpful features and wider-than-normal margins, ideal for taking notes.

Although available in various choices of covers, the publisher kindly sent me a review copy of their black simulated leather, which is soft to the touch and lays open without flopping shut. Presumably the genuine leather will lay completely flat and have an even nicer drape in the hand. However, this copy seems quite sturdy and should hold up well.

Besides an introduction to the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translation, which has been lauded for its accuracy and readability, the opening pages include a “Plan of Salvation” to help pastors lead nonbelievers to accept Christ as Savior, pray a “sinner’s prayer,” and consider baptism (no mention of immersion) and church membership (no mention of any particular denomination.)

In the back matter, a section of “HCSB Bullet Notes” provide an interesting glossary with key words marked in their first occurrence within the text then explained here. For example:

atone/ atonement
A theological term for God’s provision to deal with human sin; in the OT, it primarily means purification. In some contexts forgiveness, pardon, expiation, propitiation, or reconciliation is included. The basis of atonement is substitutionary sacrifice offered in faith. The OT sacrifices were types and shadows of the great and final sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Under “propitiation” we find:
The removal of divine wrath; Jesus’ death is the means that turns God’s wrath from the sinner.

Although not as comprehensive as the concordance, which can also be found in the back matter, the bullet notes include brief definitions of words relating to theology, biblical culture, or place names, such as:

Originally a term for the fortified section of Jerusalem and then, by extension, used for the temple and the city of Jerusalem both in the present time and in the future

Also in the back matter, two pages on “Pastoral Care” give pastors a quick way to find a scriptural response to concerns brought to them by other people – or themselves! For example, “When you are blue” refers readers to Psalm 42:5, while Matthew 6:34 might be contemplated “When you worry.”

Essentials for church leadership and an “authentic ministry” have also been provided as well as the order for “A Classical Wedding Ceremony,” “A Contemporary Wedding Ceremony,” and funerals – from a peaceful death to the death of a child or a suicide victim.

Pastors will welcome the section on “Commitment Counseling,” too, with guidelines regarding:

• salvation
• baptism
• church membership
• assurance of salvation
• rededication to grow toward spiritual maturity
• commitment to vocational Christian ministry

Looking through these topics and thinking about a women in my Bible study group who has been coming to church for years but doesn’t know if she knows the Lord, I’m thinking this minister’s Bible would also be a helpful resource for Bible teachers, church leaders, Christian writers, and other communicators for Christ.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.

HCSB Minister’s Bible, black simulated leather

HCSB Minister’s Bible, black genuine leather

February 12, 2015

Resources from Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical Christian publishers

What a blessing to receive review copies of a variety of Bible resources! Three Christian publishers sent new releases for me to review without knowing I would have one from a Protestant book publisher, one from a Catholic book publisher, and one from an Evangelical press at the same time – an ecumenical delight!

First, Saint Mary’s Press kindly sent a review copy of Living in Christ: The Bible, The Living Word of God by Robert Rabe, Editor Steven McGlaun, and a publishing team, who obtained church approval as shown by the nihil obstat and imprimatur.

This sturdy paperback with slick photos and an eye-appealing layout offers an excellent resource for Christians from most denominational backgrounds. However, avid Bible readers might be confused by the Section 1 title “Revelation” since this does not refer to the book of Revelation but rather the revelation God gave biblical authors. More importantly, that opening title addresses God’s revelation of Himself through creation, love, Holy Scripture, salvation history, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Section 2 briefly overviews how the Bible came to us in many literary forms, from poetry and prophecy to parables, making this all-time best-seller a masterpiece of literature. The Bible has far more than literary genius, though, as “The Old Testament is our compass, pointing us in one direction and one direction only – on the pathway to Jesus Christ.

Following a series of articles on Hebrew scriptures, the section on the New Testament says, “The four Gospels are the very heart of the Scriptures. The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John herald the Good News that God came to earth to fulfill the promises made to our ancestors, to form a Covenant with all people, and to overcome the slavery of sin and the darkness of death. They are our primary source for all that was revealed in the life and teachings of our Savior and Messiah.” However, “The Gospels are not identical. Each (Gospel) presents Jesus’ life and teachings from a different perspective. Yet in harmony and without error, they announce the truth that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father.” Amen!

This highly recommended book goes on to offer a look at other books in the New Testament and also to provide insights into “The Liturgy of the Hours,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” “The Scriptures and the Rules of the Saints,” offering further help for the Christian life such as the Lectio Divina (praying with scripture.)

In addition to that review copy from a Catholic publisher, I received a copy of The A To Z Guide To Bible Signs & Symbols: Understanding Their Meaning and Significance from Baker Books, a well-established Evangelical press. Written by Neil Wilson and Nancy Ryken Taylor, this high-quality slick paperback includes color photographs, key verses, and sidebars relevant to the topic.

Each entry covers two pages, which provides consistency in the layout but doesn’t allow space for the coverage required for in-depth research. Nevertheless, the easy-to-read text and eye-appealing pages give readers a helpful overview of topics ranging from Altar to Zion.

For example, the entry for “Bride” has a subheading on the Church as the Bride of Christ, which says, “The lovely picture of a faithful bride and wife is picked up by both Paul and John in the New Testament to symbolize the relationship God wants to have through Christ with all those who make up the church. Believers have been bought with the bride-price of Christ’s blood and are now wooed by his love.

The key verse for that entry comes from Isaiah 61:10. Then a sidebar reminds us that “Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him, and grieves Him – but He does not allow her faults to affect His love.”

For another example, the entry for “Fire” says that “Fire figures into the Bible in numerous ways – in daily life, religious ceremony, and as an instrument of warfare.” Also, “Fire is pictured as a purifying agent in people’s lives” as in refining gold and silver or in illustrating God’s judgment. Although I saw no mention of the tongues of fire that occurred at Pentecost (nor is there an entry for “Pentecost), the text under the subheading “Holy Fire” reminds us that “For biblical authors, the theophany of fire portrayed God’s power, holiness, and protection over his people.

The third review copy I received came from Concordia Publishing in a nice reddish-brown pseudo-suede cover with cream-colored pages, a red marker ribbon, and an easy-to-read font. As the Preface tells us, the “Concordia Psalter intends to engage all Christians in singing the psalmody of the Church.” To enable readers to do that, “The tones are carefully selected to match the character of the psalm text…. Generally, only one tone is to be used with a psalm, but many of the tones are paired with complementary tones that can be used for singing longer psalms by switching tones somewhere during the course of the psalm.

More importantly, these “Old Testament Psalms not only permit us to see Christ in them, but they also require it. Resurrection, eternity, a universal kingdom, forgiveness, even grace and blessing – each ultimately has its home and fulfillment in Jesus Christ,” Who embodies God’s Word.

With scriptures from the English Standard Version (ESV), the page for the 23rd Psalm begins with a musical notation followed by the Psalm and a prayer: “Lord Jesus, who alone is that one Good Shepherd, thanks be unto You for all Your spiritual and bodily benefits. Let the Word of Your salvation dwell among us richly, and suffer not that trusty staff, the Word of Your promise, to be taken from us.”

For another example, my favorite Psalm 103 includes two tones, the ESV text, and this prayer:

Father of light, we praise You because You forgive iniquity and do not reward us according to our sins. What You promised to the fathers You have fulfilled in Your Son. As the east and the west can never come together, so remove our sins far from us, that they can be accounted to us no more, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.”

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.

Concordia Psalter, suede-like cover

The A To Z Guide To Bible Signs & Symbols, paperback

Living in Christ: The Bible, The Living Word of God, paperback

December 24, 2013

NIV Essentials Study Bible

For many years Christians from almost every denomination have lauded the ecumenically-minded NIV Study Bible for its well-balanced notes, comments, and study aids, and some, like me, have dug into the Archaeological Study Bible with its “finds” and “tells” uncovered by archaeologists, who gave us deeper insights into Bible places, times, cultures, and events. Also, new Christians seem to appreciate especially the NIV Quest Study Bible with questions from over 1,000 readers and responses from biblical scholars who provide no easy answers but fair-minded feedback and multiple perspectives whenever additional views exists.

Zondervan has produced other fine study Bibles, too, so when I requested a review copy of the new NIV Essentials Study Bible from BookSneeze, I mainly wanted to know what this edition might have that all the others didn’t. Well, I won’t keep you waiting! The answer is – nothing and everything!

As the name implies, the NIV Essentials Study Bible contains the essentials, the highlights, and, dare I say, the best of the sidebars, footnotes, and study aids from each of the other NIV offerings from Zondervan.

Besides my preference for the most recent 2011 revision of the NIV (New International Version), I like the lighter weight of this hardback edition and the easier-to-read font with a bit more ink than the text and footnotes often have in other Zondervan Bibles. I also like the blue headings inserted into the text as a visual reminder of the primary topics for each chapter or passage.

Maybe that medium shade of blue ink helped. I don’t know. I just know I’m somewhat dyslexic, so if a page's format has too much going on, my eyes are apt to blip out in an effort to quieten the chaos. But this Bible evoked none of that! Despite the wealth of notes and information packed onto almost every page, I found the format reader-friendly, visually pleasing, and easy to use.

My only lament, therefore, is a wish – that the NIV Essentials Study Bible will be released in a leather cover as genuine and long-lasting as this essential book.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler

NIV Essentials Study Bible, hardback

I review for BookSneeze®

November 30, 2013

The CEB Study Bible

Four hundred years after scholars poetically translated the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) into English in 1611, a team of 120 biblical scholars from 20 faith communities studied a wide range of sources to translate the Bible with accuracy, clarity, and easy comprehension for contemporary readers. Having met those goals in the Common English Bible, the CEB provides a good choice for new Christians of all ages, readers who speak English as a second language, and children ready to read the Bible rather than relying on Bible storybooks. In addition, the CEB provides an ecumenically-minded choice for churches ready to update or order pew Bibles since this translation has been approved for public reading during worship services in most church denominations.

As occurs with the original KJV, the CEB and The CEB Study Bible come with or without the Apocrypha. Although not secret or mythical as the word implies, the apocryphal books provide insights into biblical times such as the years between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament (NT.) However, these books, which may or may not be included in the first testament, often confuse Bible buyers about which books are part of canonical scripture and which are not.

Since the answer depends on one’s denominational perspective or understanding of the biblical canon, The CEB Study Bible includes a section entitled “The Canons of Scripture” with five tables listing the books accepted by the Jewish canon, Protestant OT, Roman Catholic OT canon, Orthodox OT, and Anglican Apocrypha. All Christian denominations, however, accept the entire NT canon.

Finding areas of agreement aid an ecumenical scope. In The CEB Study Bible, for instance, study articles on “The Bible’s Unity” help us to see our unity too, whereas “How We Got The Bible” removes mystery and confusion by matter-of-factly explaining how and why the various canons came to the conclusions that they did. This is not for the purpose of argument, of course, nor to sway readers from one opinion to another but to help us to understand diverse perspectives among the peoples of God.

The CEB Study Bible contains additional articles, a concordance, and maps of key biblical locations, but a more distinctive feature is the use of sidebars throughout the text. To help readers find these brief but interesting discussions right away, the front matter of this edition includes a list of sidebar articles, grouped first by book and then alphabetically.

For example, the heading for “Exodus” lists the titles for each of the sidebars in that book with “The Reed Sea or the Red Sea?” found on page 99. Having heard it both ways, I turned to that discussion and read, “The Hebrew phrase yam sup means ‘Reed Sea’ and may best be understood as a general term for a body of water full of reeds or rushes rather than as a name for a specific lake or sea.” That phrase occurs 20 times in the Hebrew Bible, but that said, a Red Sea also exists further to the south.

For a NT example, the heading for Revelation shows a sidebar on “Symbolic Colors,” which depicts white as representing a victory, red as symbolizing bloodshed, pale green as signifying death, and purple as indicating royalty.

In addition to these sidebars, The CEB Study Bible occasionally includes photographs such as “The island called Patmos” at the introduction to Revelation. Each book begins similarly with an introductory page or two and continues the goal of clarification by adding explanatory footnotes to the bottom of almost every page.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

The CEB Study Bible, hardcover

The CEB Study Bible with Apocrypha, hardcover

After posting this review, my husband gave me a CEB Study Bible in bonded leather - nice!

August 5, 2012

Common English Bible for common use in churches everywhere

Whether representing the Catholic Church or Episcopal, United Methodist or Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ or Presbyterian Church U.S.A., over 100 Bible scholars considered the diverse cultures of Christians from many, many countries, who want to read and study a contemporary English version of the Bible.

In addition to helping Christians of mainline church denominations to stay “on the same page,” the Common English Bible (CEB) also helps children to understand Holy Scriptures better and participate more fully in church worship services. Adults who are learning English as a second language will be enabled to follow the communal Bible readings too, but even people who are used to reading thick textbooks with complex syntax will enjoy curling up in an easy chair to readily read the CEB cover-to-cover as they would a poetry anthology, historical novel, or gripping adventure tale.

The CEB has all of that and more – with each of the prophetic books found in any translation of Hebrew Scriptures as well as deuterocanonical books from the Septuagint or Greek versions of the Bible. Although the paperback shown below does not include those apocryphal books, the e-book edition does with more print editions and cover choices to follow as communally-minded Christians from communities all over the world welcome this common English translation of God’s word.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler. Thank you for telling your church and Christian friends where you found this Bible review. If you’re one of the many church publishers who plan to publish study editions and various cover choices of the CEB, be sure to send me a review copy. May God bless you and all peoples of God who come together in Jesus’ Name to worship, work, and lovingly represent the church Body of Christ in the world.

March 15, 2012

A study Bible with an ecumenical view

The Oxford Study Bible contains the full Revised English Bible with Apocrypha (aka deuterocanonical books) and “A Complete Guide To The World of The Bible” in such articles as “Historical Contexts of the Biblical Communities,” “The Contribution of Archaeology,” and “The Social World” in both Testaments.

As a Christian writer and poet, I especially appreciate the articles on “Early Christian Literature,” “Literature of the Ancient Near East,” and the “Literary Forms of the Bible.” The latter, for example, talks about the biblical forms used for Bible poetry in the Psalms, of course, but in wisdom books and books of prophecy too. The article also discusses genres such as narratives, parables, and proverbs as well as the literary form prophetic books often took, and the general format found in epistles or letters.

Binding: Thick, glossy paper is my preference for the Oxford REB edition, and the cover has held up well. In other translations such as the Revised Standard Version (RSV) or New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), my Oxford study Bibles have top quality leather, but on each, the spine bowed or pulled away slightly. Since the pages were sewn together, none fell out, but pages on this paperback edition (as shown in the ad below) seem to be strongly glued to the cover.

Font: The highly readable font in the text decreases slightly in size for the footnotes, but they’re still easier to read than most.

Format: In addition to the study articles already mentioned, each section of the Bible has an Introduction as does each of the individual books.

Footnotes: Whether in the RSV, NRSV, or REB, the footnotes avoid denominational differences and aim for a wider, ecumenical view. This is not to say the information straddles fences, but the emphasis is on providing readers information about wordplays, historical settings, and cultural backgrounds, rather than rhetoric aimed to sway readers toward one stance or another.

REB: The Revised English Bible translates thought-for-thought rather than word-for-word, providing a highly readable text that flows well in public or private reading. Some spellings and word choices reflect a British accent, rather than American English, but then the same can be said for the King James Version, which British scholars produced (word-for-word, deuterocanonical books included) over 400 years ago.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler

Oxford Study Bible, REB, paperback