Sunday, June 14, 2009

Which Study Bible?

Here is an article (written by James-Michael Smith of the Methodist Examiner), which is a pretty good summary of what is currently available in the market. It contains many brief statements about which Bibles to recommend and which to avoid. If you are looking for a Study Bible, use this as a primer to get an overview of what is available out there. Let me offer my own top ten tips below when choosing a study Bible.

1) LITERAL: As a 'study' Bible, prefer one that is more literal (ie word-for-word); I prefer NASB. But if you are more comfortable with NIV, that is ok.

2) TRANSLATORS: Make sure that the range of Bible translators are from diversity of backgrounds; (ie not just from one denominations but from several)

3) BACKGROUND: Facts or information that illuminates the passage is preferred compared to interpretations or opinions done on our behalf. In other words, where possible, get one where need not be unduly influenced by the opinions of the publishers or the writers. (The Archaelogical Bible, NIV is a great one);

4) WORD-SIZE: Make sure the words are large enough for your eyes. Once you're over 40, you will struggle with small print.

5) AVOID: Single author versions. Study Bibles are not devotional Bibles. Though I can recommend Eugene Peterson's THE MESSAGE for devotional purposes, I will hesitate to push that for a study Bible.

6) SPACE FOR WRITING: Personally, I like Bibles which provide generous space to pencil in one's thoughts or illuminations. I like the NASB study Bible made by Fortress Press, though they are without much commentaries. I find the footnotes and the verse cross-references good enough.

7) INVESTMENT: I believe that it is wise to invest more in something you use more often. No point getting a cheap Bible with weak bindings. Pay a little more for one that keeps the pages together well and long.

8) BINDING: The Bible when opened, ought to be able to stay open without serious rupturing of the bindings. It should also not flip close by itself when we take our hands away.

9) PARALLEL: Don't forget that parallel Bibles do make good study guides. Comparing versions side by side can illuminate the passage in special ways.

10) REALISM: Finally, do not be discouraged if you cannot find a one-size-fits-all version. They don't exist, so don't fret. Choose one that suits your needs and enjoy it. Of course, if you have the time (and money!), investing in a few study Bibles. For all you know, they may be the best investments you can ever make.

Have fun choosing a study Bible.


No comments:

Latest Posts