I have never been a big fan of study Bibles as a genre. I have had a few over the years and have given each one of them away because I primarily use a paper Bible for reading and not for study. While reading, The “helps” distract me and I easily get sidetracked.
When Bible Gateway reached out to me about receiving a review copy of the Fully Revised Edition of the NIV Study Bible (FRENIV), I initially deleted the email and moved on. I did the same with the second email making the offer. When the third email came, I decided to take them up on the offer.
As a result, a complimentary copy of the Bible was delivered to my house for me to examine and review.
First, I must acknowledge that it has been unfair of me to critique study Bibles as a genre when I have used them outside of their intended purpose. After all, a study Bible is intended for someone who wants to study a book, passage, or verse.
In this post, I will provide my thoughts regarding this edition of the NIV Study Bible and try to assess how well it will assist a reader in understanding and applying Scripture. For simplicity, my comments will be in two categories. What I didn’t like about the edition that I received and what I liked or found helpful.
What I didn’t like
I received the hardback edition of this Bible. My one and only complaint about this edition is that the pages are very thin which makes them hard to turn. Also, the text on the opposite side of the page bleeds through a little bit (as you can see from the scanned image below).
Having registered this complaint, I must acknowledge that I understand the need for the pages to be thin. As published, the Bible is around 2.25 inches thick; using thicker paper would make the book unwieldy.
What I liked
The FRENIV is like having a Bible, Bible Dictionary and Commentary in one package. Obviously the helps are not exhaustive but in the sections of the Bible that I examined, they seemed to be well chosen and helpful.
There are maps, timelines, lists, and pictures that help to set the context of many of the passages. There are brief introductions to each book which provide information on the author, when it was written, the intended recipients, and other information that will help understand the book. In addition, there is an outline of each book to help understand the structure of the writing.
At the bottom of each page of Bible text are comments on particular verses to help understand that verse. As stated above, these comments are well chosen and are helpful. In checking the comments for some passages with which I am very familiar, I did not find any that caused me alarm or that were contrary to general conservative scholarship.
Because of the amount of information contained in this volume, the fonts are a little small side, but I found them to be very readable. The Bible text is done in a serif font and the comments are in a sans serif font. I was grateful for the choice of sans serif font (think Arial or Corbel in MS Word) since I find this category of fonts easier to read when the size is smaller.
In addition to the comments, there are short sections that address a topic, provide a map, or provide some historical detail that will help the reader understand the text. For example, I scanned the image below which shows one of these sections.
If you are in the market for a study Bible, I recommend that you consider this one. As stated above, the content is well chosen and the layout is appealing and easy to use.