Monday, August 25, 2014

B-Grade Bible

How could a Bible ever deserve less than a 5-star rating?  When too many of man's words are mixed in with it.  Zondervan's NIV Essentials Study Bible is not a bad Bible -- there is much to commend about it and certainly you could find worse Bibles.  However, there are so many other better study Bibles available (even from Zondervan!) that I cannot recommend this one.

As its title suggests, Zondervan designed this one as a starter study Bible, combining (what they thought were) the best elements from 6 of their other study Bibles.  Their aim was to help newbies quickly get up to speed on the fundamentals of the faith. 

Great idea, bad execution.  The notes from the 6 study Bibles were not all of equal quality.  In particular the devotions from the Great Rescue Bible are not even as good as what you'd find, say, in Our Daily Bread.  Some of the rather lengthy notes pulled from the Archaelogical Study Bible are anything but essential to the faith.  (A full page about the shroud of Turin?)  A whole page in Jude showing a map of where the cities of Sodom were located?  The notes doubt that the Genesis 1 days were 24 hours, and aren't sure that Noah's flood covered the entire earth or that Paul actually meant to prohibit women pastors. And it is lacking the most essential feature of any study Bible: marginal cross references.  

On the other hand, there are lots of helpful maps, character profiles, in-depth sidebar Q&A's, and a number of solidly helpful notes from the NIV Study Bible.  Ironically, I think the original NIV Study Bible did a better job covering the "essentials" than the NIV Essentials Study Bible.  I would recommend it or the ESV Study Bible or MacArthur Study Bible over this one.

I received a copy of this Bible for free from Zondervan in exchange for writing an unbiased review.

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