Saturday, November 28, 2015

SRJ Translation

Shane Renaldo Johnson is translating the Greek New Testament into English.  He is sharing his ongoing work on his website.  The gospels of Matthew and Mark are done so far.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Unlocked Bible

Wycliffe Associates has a new Bible version available.  It is called the Unlocked Bible.  There is both a literal and a dynamic edition.  A downloadable copy is promised sometime soon.  Currently you can read it online.  This is an open source Bible translation meaning translators will not have to pay licensing fees or deal with copyright issues.  Visit the Unfolding Word website for more information.

Thanks to MH for notice of this version (via Facebook).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review: NIV Zondervan Study Bible

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

ISBN 978-0-310-43836-6

Retail price is $149.99 (CBD $74.99)

I recently received a copy of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible for review purposes. The gift of this Bible did not influence the outcome of this review. It is important to note that this is not an update to the Zondervan NIV Study Bible. This is a completely new work, edited by D. A. Carson. A tear off card is included (the stub is bound into the Bible, unfortunately) giving a code for online access to the Study Bible. When redeeming the code, one can pick either Olive Tree or Bible Gateway software.

The Bible text is the 2011 New International Version. I am not a fan; I prefer the 1984 text. However, the level of scholarship that went into this work caught my attention.  I was prepared to deal with the translation in order to examine the study materials.

This is a huge Bible with 2,880 pages. It has a healthy footprint at 6.5 inches wide by 9.75 inches tall. Some Bibles I've reviewed recently are bigger. But this is a little over 2.5 inches thick!  This edition is bound in ebony premium leather with perimeter stitching, five raised ribs on the spine and a paste-down liner. It is a smyth-sewn binding. The page edges are red under gold. It has two red ribbons. The paper is good with limited ghosting (show through). Line matching keeps the ghosting from distracting the reader. The text is single column, black letter, 8 point font (6.5 points for the notes). This all comes in a classy black and grey clam shell box.

I asked HarperCollins by e-mail and on the NIV Bible Facebook page about the cover, binder and paper.  One told me the that leather is genuine cowhide and that the paper information is proprietary.  Another said that the leather is cow, sheep or goat and mentioned a paper weight.  I'll honor their request to keep paper information private.  I don't know enough about leather to be sure but will assume it is cowhide.  It is very flexible and soft in my hands.  It almost feels like calfskin.

Others have commented on the font. It is somewhat condensed making it rather more difficult to read than other Bibles. Since I intend to use this as a reference this isn't a problem. I wouldn't choose this font for reading straight through the Bible text.

This is one of the nicer looking study Bibles that I've handled.  It has an old style simple, classic appearance.  It is the sort of Bible that will have people at church asking, "what is that?"  It won't dress up the shelf with upright books, though; this Bible stores best laying on the side.

It does lay fairly flat though text certainly curves in toward the gutter. It is very flexible which aids greatly in thumbing through to find a passage. I found that holding it both hands I could thumb through with either hand till I found the correct page.  It isn't designed to be a hold-in-one-hand  preaching Bible. The cover is too flexible.  If you try to pick it up in one hand it drops away on both sides.

However, this flexible cover may be intended to help it to lay flatter on a table or lap.   But for comparison, the Cambridge NIV Study Bible has a stiffer cover.  It still lays flat on the table.  It is easier to pick up in one hand. But given the size of this new Bible that may not be comfortable for most people anyway.

The huge thickness will present a bit of a problem in the long term. As one uses the Bible it starts fanning which in extreme cases gives the Bible a wedge-like appearance. Pressing down on the Bible, pushing out the air flattens it out again temporarily. Over time I expect it will probably fan out permanently.

This is also certainly a full color Bible. The notes at the bottom of the page are set off with beige background. There are color pictures throughout, often showing archaeological sites relating to the Bible text. For instance, near the passage about Jonathan shooting arrows to warn David of Saul's temperament there is a picture showing bronze arrowheads from that time period. Another picture shows En Gedi where David hid from Saul. In the New Testament a small, clear picture shows two "Lepta," the coins put into the temple treasury by the poor widow (Mark 12:41-44). Some pictures are informative such as pictures of excavations or ruins. Others are inspirational such as a picture of a shepherd with the subtitle "Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4)."  The pictures shown here are the site of Antioch and the harbor near Perga.

 Bible maps are a must for any study Bible. I have never liked the thick, glossy pages in the front and back. I was delighted to find that the maps in the back are printed on regular Bible paper. There are also many maps throughout the Bible showing locations mentioned in the text. The introduction to Matthew has a map titled "Highlights of Jesus' Ministry."  Genesis has "Abraham's Travels" and "Jacob's Journeys."  There are more than 90 maps in addition to those in the back.

Green titles announce sections such as "The Widow's Offering."   In the Gospels this is followed by an inline harmony. These lines give the passage in the current book followed by the passage in the other Gospel. This is in addition to the usual cross references which are in the outside margin. Some are followed by "pp" (e.g. "14:1-11pp - Mt 26:2-6") while others are followed by "ref" (e.g. "14:3-8Ref - Jn 12:1-8"). Apparently this stands for "parallel passage" and "reference."  A list of conventions used was missing from this Bible. There is a list of abbreviations, but these conventions were not included.

In Habakkuk green colored titles separate Habakkuk's complaints and God's answers. This helps identify the speaker in different sections. Inline cross referencing is used in the Old Testament as well. In Isaiah it is used to show parallels with passages such as those relating to 1st and 2nd Kings.

The layout makes for a very readable page. The amount of information presented here could make for an overwhelming, busy page. But one's eye moves easily from point to point without running a finger along to keep one's place. Older eyes like mine will need glasses to read it but will not get lost in a maze. Poetic passages are formatted as poetry. This leaves a lot of blank space on some pages but is worth the excess to render the Psalms, Proverbs and some prophets appropriately.

Adding even more information are about eighty charts. Some are large, such as a very good, full harmony of the Gospels  after the book of John. Small charts in introductions and individual books give contextual information. Some of my favorites were "Noah's Time in the Ark," "Census Results" (comparing the two censuses in the book of Numbers) and "Sevens in Revelation."  Before the Old and New Testaments are chronologies helping establish the historical context of Biblical events.

In between the testaments there is something to read!  It starts with a helpful chart "From Malachi to Christ."  This chart shows four periods (Persian, Hellenistic, Hasmonean, and Roman). Different rulers and events are keyed to a timeline stretching from 410 BC to AD 30. Next comes a 12 page article by Douglas Moo titled "The Time Between the Testaments."  This article helps clarify the background of the New Testament world. It is followed by an introduction to the New Testament, an introduction to the Gospels and finally an introduction to Matthew. The New Testament is followed by 28 articles on topics ranging from "The Glory of God" to "The City of God" to "The Consummation."  A 150+ page NIV concordance by John R. Kohlenberger III follows. The 14 maps on Bible paper close out the reference material.

A friend remarked about this Bible that it is more like a commentary than a study Bible. He has a point - this Bible contains a remarkable amount of information. I find myself liking the style of the notes. When there are differing opinions both are presented. In Mark 13:19 the NIV text has the term "distress unequaled."  The notes present two opinions of what this means. I appreciate being given the ideas to consider for myself.  Like most study Bibles the notes take up quite a bit of room.  Some pages are half and half.  The first page of Genesis manages just 5 verses with the notes and header taking up the rest of the room.

To get a look at what this Bible contains, visit the preview on Scribd (179 pages, 6.2% of the Bible).  Also, the CBD page has both a preview and a downloadable PDF sample that is much easier to access and download.  An early, 50 page sampler is still available from  I haven't included many pictures because the excellent sampler shows contributors, notes, in-line cross references, marginal cross references, charts, pictures, maps and an article.

As I wrote, the NIV (2011) isn't my favorite. I wouldn't say I am against the text; it just isn't my favorite to read. But this study Bible edition of it has me reading more of the new NIV.  But I spend more time with charts, timelines and notes than the text anyway.  This is a very welcome addition to my study library.

If I waited to digest all the information in this Bible before posting my review it would be into a second edition before I was ready. However, just referring to this Bible during my daily reading has convinced me it is a scholarly, useful work. I look forward to digging deeper into the notes.

One need not spend a great amount of money to get this Bible. CBD has the hardback edition for just $25, a personal sized (7 point text) for $22 or a large print (9 points/7 points for notes) for $39. The e-book is available for just $15. I recommend one of these as a good addition to your study resources.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

J. W. Pasham's Edition of the King James Bible

A recent article in the Bible Review Journal (the publication of the International Society of Bible Collectors) mentioned an edition of the King James Bible printed by J. W. Pasham in 1776.  I wanted to add this footnote:  this edition of the Bible is available for reading on Google Books!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mini Review: World Publishers Classic Companion Bible

Classic Companion Bible
ISBN 0-529-11060-1
World Publishers, Inc.
1,460 pages
Bonded leather, gold edging.
1 ribbon

This is a handy sized (5.8x8.5") single column text Bible.  I believe it is a glued binding.  Textual notes are at the bottom of the page.  Page numbers are at the top inside margin; Verse references are at the top outside margin.  The paper is average - I did not find the show through distracting.  Red letter text.  Print darkness varies on some pages.  Column width may be too wide for some readers.  Overall this is a nice Bible though it may be a bit difficult to find (check eBay, Amazon, Abebooks, etc).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cambridge Bibles in the U.S.

Since July 1990 Baker Publishing Group has been the North American distributor for Cambridge Bibles.  Sales have now been moved back to Cambridge.  I suspect we will still be able to buy Cambridge Bibles from and, perhaps even  Read Baker's news article about the change here.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Personalized Bibles: Love them or hate them?

I thought I had previously posted about personalized Bibles, but cannot find any such post. By "personalized Bibles" I do not mean those that have your name imprinted on the cover. Instead, I mean Bibles that replace pronouns in the Scriptures with one's name.  For instance, the Your Personalized Bible site has this sample:
The Lord is Chris’s shepherd; Chris shall lack nothing. He makes Chris lie down in green pastures. He leads Chris beside the still waters. He restores Chris’s soul. Psalm 23:1
This website offers printed Bibles or New Testaments with your name inserted for $89 (USD) for the NT and $119 (USD) for the full Bible. For $15 you can get a PDF of the King James or "Modern English" with your name inserted. I did not find any mention of what version is used for the modern English.

Another website (it isn't clear if it is affiliated with the site above) offers a free sample of Ephesians. That site's prices are much higher for the printed works. A more recent work, called the To You Bible offers an app for your device. Though it is only $0.99 (USD) I did not purchase a copy. After reading through the permissions that the app requires I decided it sounds like it includes targeted advertising.

All these Bibles include gender as part of the personalization. They can also accommodate a spouse's name. This is especially evident in the Song of Solomon and Ephesians 5.

Some love these Bibles saying it makes them feel that God is speaking directly to them. But one of my friends said that this process puts self above God and His word. Another said he is offended to the point of not including them in his exhaustive bibliography of Bible versions.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Layman's Translation of the New Testament

I was recently notified of the Layman's Translation of the New Testament by Joel Cartmell.  It was edited by his wife, Lorraine Cartmell.  There is a PDF available for free on Scribd or a print copy can be ordered on  You might also want to read his personal testimony.  The preface reads as follows:
This is a dynamic equivalent translation, which is a cross between a literal translation and a paraphrase. Parts of this translation are translated word for word, and other parts are paraphrased. I would not recommend this translation for bible study unless a literal translation is used alongside it. The purpose of this translation is to make the New Testament easy to read and understand. I am only a layman, and I have no credentials. But I love the bible and wanted to translate the New Testament in a way that I could easily understand and quickly read through. I have worked on this for many years under much affliction, but I thank God for His grace! I could not have done this without God’s help. I also thank God for my wife. She has helped me greatly and has patiently supported me. I thank the Lord for my daughter Jaine, and the little one that is on its way! I also thank the Lord for all that my parents have done for us.

Link thanks to JH.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Amplified Bible updated

The Amplified Bible was updated this year (2015).  You can read it on Bible Gateway.  The older Amplified Bible is now called the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition on Bible Gateway.  The Lockman page states:
The appeal and readability of the 2015 edition of the Amplified Bible has been broadened by refreshing the English and refining the amplifications for relevance and clarity. The Amplified Bible is now easier to read and better than ever to study and understand. The Amplified Bible now includes more amplification in the Old Testament and refined amplification in the New Testament. Additionally, the Bible text has been improved to read smoothly with or without amplifications, so the text may be read clearly either way. The same feel and style of amplification has been carefully maintained, so those who read the classic Amplified Bible will easily transition to the new text and appreciate its improvements.
 You can view some examples of changes to the newer AMP.  I have not found a full list of the changes yet.  Please leave a comment with a link if you find such a list.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Berean Study Bible

Last year I posted about the Berean Study Bible.  I got notice (thanks, JH) that the New Testament is now ready.  The home page has information about the work.  The text itself is found on Bible Hub.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Free PDF download - Geneva 1599

I just ran across a free download of the 1599 Geneva Bible (text reprint).  It is called "The Patriot's Edition."

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Idle Shepherd Bible

The Idle Shepherd Bible gets its nickname from a misprint in Zechariah 11:17 which reads "idol shepherd" in the King James Version.  In this misprint from 1809 it read "idle shepherd."  In doing research while editing a friend's book I discovered this copy is available online.  Read it for yourself on Google Books.