Monday, April 10, 2017

BookPastor >> "NIV Zondervan Study Bible" (Edited by DA Carson)

TITLE: NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover, Full Color, Free Digital: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
AUTHOR: Bible Translated by NIV Translation Team with D.A. Carson as General Editor
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015, (2912 pages).

This is an excellent Zondervan study Bible based on the NIV translation. With Dr D.A Carson as the general editor, more than 60 contributors from the evangelical world have come together to create a study Bible packed with study tools, maps, notes, color diagrams, and commentaries centered on a biblical theology. The 28 articles are written by well known persons such as Kevin DeYoung, Tim Keller, Andreas J. Kostenberger, Douglas Moo, Andrew David Nasalli,  Moses Silva, etc. Commentaries are drawn from experts such as TD Alexander, Craig L. Blomberg,  Richard S. Hess, Tremper Longman III, Mark Strauss, Douglas K. Stuart, Robert W. Yarbrough, alongside Regent College professors, Rikk E. Watts, V. Philips Long, and Bruce K. Waltke. With nearly 3000 pages of commentaries, notes, maps, pictures, photos, introductory material, and extensive footnotes, every page is filled with information for the avid student to ponder and to learn.

Let me offer some thoughts with regard to the features in this study Bible.

A) Clear and Readable
I have been using this study Bible at Church for the past couple of months. It has clear cross references and essential footnotes to illuminate the passage. While this feature is nothing new, I like the generous blank spaces needed to aid reading. Publishers often have to grapple between maximizing print space and enhancing readability. Costs can be brought low if the words are crammed closer together. That would sacrifice readability. Too many footnotes would constitute unnecessary distractions from the Word. I applaud the publisher in being able to balance this aspect well.

B) Same-Page Commentaries
Traditionally, commentaries are either abridged or unabridged types. Decisions have to be made with regard to whether to include the full Bible texts with the commentary or to print them as needed. So, some commentaries have a selected portion of the text, followed immediately by a verse-by-verse or paragraph style commentaries. In this study Bible, commentaries are kept to the minimum, with the most salient information given to accompany each verse of passage. For the most part, it suffices. The shaded portions of the commentary help the eye to distinguish the Bible from the commentaries. I prefer this format for general reading and public discussion groups. This is the key selling point in this study Bible. For personal study, I would opt for other conventional commentaries.

C) Overview
The Introduction to each Bible book is superb. It describes the author, the date, the audience, the place of composition, and the unique situations the writers were facing. This is quickly followed by a detailed outline with themes and theologies listed for easy reference. By the time the reader has finished the introduction, he/she would have a substantial amount of contextual material for reading and contextual comprehension. On top of that, verses are arranged in such a way that the footnotes and commentaries are easily accessible from the same page. Cross referencing is so easy to do. Compared to another popular edition of the NIV Study Bible, this book is denser, thicker, heavier, and had more contributors. Comparing the standard editions, the fonts for this Bible is a little smaller. Considering this study Bible has smaller fonts with more pages, in terms of additional study notes, this study Bible packs a wallop!

D) Biblical Theology
Perhaps the most unique in this study bible is the emphasis on biblical theology. With a list of formidable biblical scholars at the helm, the commentaries point readers back and forth to understand the historical themes as well as theological framework of the whole Bible narrative. While laypersons may not detect it straightaway, those schooled in biblical theology will quickly recognize how careful the commentators are to not just describe the texts but how the particular texts being read are linked to the overall Bible story. There is one more thing that this study bible can benefit modern readers. It is the free digital access available at as well as the Olive Tree app for mobile devices. The same access code per Bible can be used for both the BibleGateway web version and the Olive Tree app. With both the printed and the online versions, one can benefit practically access the NIVZSB anytime and anywhere. Create an account at BibleGateway and when reading the NIV verses, click the "STUDY THIS" icon and the study helps magically appear.

E) Excellent Articles
At the end of the study Bible, there are 28 well written articles from renowned authors like DA Carson, Tim Keller, Kevin DeYoung, TD Alexander, Moises Silva, and others. They are theologians, scholars, pastors, and prominent Christian leaders in various fields. Each article can form the basis for an adult Bible study or a Sunday School class. I have adapted parts of them into my own teachings as well. Here are some of the interesting articles:
  • A Biblical-Theological Overview of the Bible (D.A. Carson)
  • The Bible and Theology (D.A. Carson)
  • Covenant (Paul R. Willliamson)
  • Law (T.D. Alexander)
  • Holiness (Andrew David Naselli)
  • Shalom (Tim Keller)
  • Consummation (Douglas J. Moo)
  • ...
F) For Discipleship
My primary use so far is for my regular prayer meetings. Using Scripture as a foundation for our prayer activity, this study Bible often prompts fresh thoughts. The commentary gives laypersons an opportunity to dig deeper into the contexts and the parallel references to other parts of the Bible, making the study and praying experience a richer one. I was able to introduce questions for deeper thought and reflection appropriately during the sharing period. Discipleship must be done with the Word of God and I think this is where this Bible fits in. Full of colour and illustrations, and a generous use of space for readers to jot down points, it makes the reading experience a very enjoyable and meaningful one. Given the busy time and schedules of most people in our times, this Bible supplies resources that are appropriately concise and applicable. One example is the introductory words at the beginning of each book, which helps teachers and preachers give some background to understanding the main text.

If there is a critique, I would say that the fonts can be a little challenging for those of us who have trouble reading small prints. This is perhaps a trade-off between cost and legibility. One workaround is to either get a larger print edition or the online digital access where we can choose larger fonts.

If you are considering a study Bible, I strongly recommend this.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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