Saturday, January 10, 2009

The best study Bible?

The ESV Study Bible is the best I have used so far. I highly recommend it, but advise that if you want to understand the Bible, read it firstly without notes and guides.

If you read the Bible prayerfully, as if it is the Word of God, I believe you will find that
it seems to be,
clearly claims to be
and ultimately proves to be indeed from God himself, though written by men.

Over the past 3 years or so I have read through the Bible seven times in seven different versions, including the TNIV [updated NIV Bible], a special presentation of the TNIV called "The Books of the Bible", The New Living Translation, 2nd edition and the Good News Bible, Australian edition. Each of these is well worth reading, and better if you read it alongside other Bibles.

I have also read the ESV Reformation Study Bible, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible and the New Jerusalem Study Bible and have found each of them worth reading.

The Reformation Study Bible is useful for coming to grips with Reformed Theology and some Bible background.

Zondervan's Archaeological Study Bible is a great help in digging into the Bible's background [whoops!], but fairly light on theology.

I like the way The New Jerusalem Study Bible uses the Hebrew words for God, such as Yahweh, Shaddai and El Elyon, though mercifully it does not use Elohim, but renders it as "God." It also has many interesting renderings of words that you have become familiar with in the many Bible versions which seek to follow in the Wyclif-Tyndale-KJV tradition. But its study notes are written from a critical position which assumes that the Bible is fallible and not God's inerrant Word, and these notes did not help me to get to know the divine author any better.

The ESV Study Bible has 2 million words, 750,000 of which is the biblical text itself. It has a wealth of useful articles, resources, many terrific maps, introductions to each section of the Bible and each Bible book and extensive study notes on the ESV text.

It has taken me from 3 to 6 months to read through each of the other seven versions, but be warned: if you really want to read this whole Bible through [which I enthusiastically urge you to do AFTER you've read the Bible without study note help], it may take you about three years, based on my experience so far. This would be well worth doing, but you will need to plan it. There are excellent Bible reading plans available from the producers of the Bible on their website, which also contains the complete text of the Study Bible and makes ploughing through the many Bible references in the articles much easier to do.

What are you waiting for?

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