NLT Discover God Study Bible by Tyndale

Thanks to Laura Bartlett of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me this hardcover edition of this wonderful study bible.

The Discover God Study Bible was released a while back but it doesn’t seem to have a big readership because when I checked the local Christian bookstore, I noticed only a few copies on the shelf. It doesn’t seem to be as nearly as popular as the NLT Life Application Study Bible or NLT Study Bible, which are great bibles; but I think this study bible deserves more recognition because of its helpfulness within its pages of study notes.

This bible is a devotional study bible and is unlike many other study bibles out there because it is full of good advice and wisdom for living a holy and devoted Christian life. It is unlike the NLT Study Bible, the NIV Study Bible or most any other study bibles I’ve seen. If I had to compare this, it might be a little like the NLT Life Application Study Bible because it gives the reader advice practical ways to live a pious Christian life. I have also seen other study bibles like the NRSV Renovare Bible and NRSV Discipleship Study Bible but this one seems to go deeper in its appreciation of Christian piety and is like “highly-caffeinated” training in godly living and deepening our knowledge in the living God (…I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing this).

In my devotional reading this morning, I read gospel-oriented study notes from Jeremiah 29: 11 that came under the topic of God:

29:11 Hope for the future….The Bible’s version is a hope that’s grounded in what God has promised to do in the future. Our great expectations of God and his promises will always fall short of His grand plans (Romans 5:5) because He loves us—and just like us, God never wants to disappoint those He loves. Put your hope in God and be prepared for Him to go beyond everything you can hope and pray for (Ephesians 1:19-23). (See God> Salvation> Holy Spirit> Comforts, TopicGuide page A15.)

There are over 9,000 wonderful study notes like this. They are drawn from the well of wisdom and deep devotional life of Dr. Bill Bright. The notes were organized by a team of bible scholars and teachers into the ten core topics in the TopicGuide found in the beginning of the bible.

The topic guide gives us some ideas on what is covered:

Holiness: living for God
The Bible: trusting God’s word and its authority in your life
God’s Purpose: embracing God’s will and master plan
Worship: giving God the praise and glory He is due
Spiritual warfare: resisting temptation and Satan’s schemes
God: cultivating your relationship with God
God’s Salvation: appreciating redemption from sin and death
Adoption: finding your identity in Christ
Church: joining with God’s people
Ministry: becoming an agent of change

These topics are then subdivided into two more levels of subtopics so this natural organization and division makes it easier to find what you are looking for.

People struggle to know God in a more personal way and understand him. We know that this is best achieved by attending church, reading our bible regularly and prayer; however, the purpose of this study bible is to give us a tool to help us along in this journey.

I like the theology of worship written as an introduction to the Discover Worship TopicGuide:

“We don’t come to God offering up our obedience, as if He needed our help with anything. True worship, and this outline, begins with awestruck reverence for who God is and what He has done for us….He could have left us in the dark, groping around for the right things to be, say, and do to please Him. But He gave clear instructions in the Bible for how He did (and didn’t) want to be worshiped. This section of the outline lays out God’s preferences for how He wants us to show our love for Him.” (p. A25).

In the topical section of Holiness, there is a subtopic called Law and Grace, which I found contained a theologically sound understanding of law and gospel:

The graciousness of the Law: How do grace and law work in the Christian life?
Law: We do not reject the law….
Grace: We do not reject grace….

I also like the study notes approach to the sacraments of Holy Communion:

…Make sure you know when your church will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper and examine your heat beforehand—do not simply show up as if it is an ordinary day. Prepare by reflecting on the meaning of the sacrament, your repentance from sin, your love for God and others, and your desire for new obedience to Christ. (See Worship> NT> Our Role> Mind and Heart> Lord’s Supper to be taken in a worthy manner, TopicGuide page A32).

This is good teaching because we don’t seem to hear this kind of teaching in our churches anymore. Furthermore, I noticed there were two sections in the TopicGuide recognizing Baptism and Holy Communion as Sacraments and labelled it as such (p. A34).

I don’t think I overstated this bible as a “highly-caffeinated” study bible because I can feel a very strong sense of encouragement toward godly living in almost every single study note. If you want to grow in your faith and knowledge of God, the Discover God Study Bible will be an invaluable resource for you in your daily devotional reading of the bible. I will use this as a devotional resource.

Functional equivalence comparison #3: Romans 7:15-16

Finally, the comparison between functional equivalent translations continues with Romans, ch. 7.

I have been on a blogging hiatus for a while but I’ve finally found some time to catch my breath. I like doing these translation comparisons but they take a lot of time to prepare. I have found that comparing eight different translations is just too much, so to simplify things, I will limit the number of translations I am comparing to these six: NLT, NCV, NIrV, GW, CEV and GNT.

Romans 7:15

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (NLT)

I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate. (NCV)

I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. (NIrV)

I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate. (God’s Word)

In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. (CEV)

I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. (GNT)

v.15: the original Greek says κατεργάζομαι οὐ γινώσκω (katergazomai οὐ ginōskō, “deeds not know,” “deeds not understand”). Therefore, the NLT’s idiomatic expression of “I don’t really understand myself” is not accurate. Paul does understand himself; what Paul says he does not understand is his own deeds or actions.

In the Greek, Paul did not say: “I don’t do what I know is right” (CEV). Paul actually said: “I do not do what I want to do.”

The GNT also uses: “would like to do.” In the Greek, Paul used θέλω , which means one’s will or volition, rather than, one’s liking. We know in v.18b, Paul says he has a will but just can’t act according to his will.

Concerning v.15, I prefer the renderings from NCV, NIrV, and GW.

Romans 7:16

But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. (NLT)

And if I do not want to do the hated things I do, that means I agree that the law is good. (NCV)

I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the law is good. (NIrV)

I don’t do what I want to do, but I agree that God’s standards are good. (GW)

Although I don’t do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good. (CEV)

Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. (GNT)

v.16: The original Greek expresses the first phrase in the positive—“I do”; but the GW and CEV expresses this in the negative—“I don’t”. This is not accurate.

All the translations, other than GW, rendered nomos as “law” rather than “standards”. The Greek used νόμος (nomos, law), so the GW inaccurately rendered this as “standards” instead of “law”.

The NCV’s negative expression is difficult to understand and it also adds “hated things”, which is absent in the Greek.

The NLT uses the word “wrong” but this word is also not in the Greek.

The GNT renders “law is right.” In the Greek, Paul uses the word καλός (kalos) which reflects the agreeable impression made by the good. It is not related with a legal judgment in the sense of being right or wrong, which would otherwise be expressed using δικαιος (dikaios).

I hope that I do not disqualify every translation in this series. They all have their strengths in various passages of texts. But regarding Rom. 7:15-16, the NIrV seems to have come out on top.

Life application bible studies: John, Acts, Hebrews, James

Tyndale has released a new bible study series called the Life Application Bible Studies. To date, four books are available: John, Acts, Hebrews, and James. More are scheduled to be released.

Each book in this bible study series include two parts: 1) the complete text of the selected bible book from the Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation (2007 ed.), including the study notes, full maps, charts and people profiles; and 2) bible study questions. Each book in this series include thirteen ready-to-use lessons to stimulate thought, discussion, and practical life application. They each begin with a few warm-up questions; the reader is then invited to read the passage. This is followed by 10-16 questions to help the reader reflect and apply the biblical lessons into real life situations. There are also extra questions at the end to help the reader reflect more deeply upon the passage at hand.

The series of questions are divided into sections:

  • Reflect on your life (5-10 min.)
  • Read the passage (10-15 min.)
  • Realize the principle (15-20 min.)
  • Respond to the message (20-30 min.)
  • Resolve to take action (10-15 min.)

The Life Application Study Bible is probably the most helpful devotional study bibles to help readers reflect upon their personal lives. It helps the reader make sense of the bible and apply the lessons into their lives. I don’t think there is anything else out there that does it better. It is the most unique devotional study bible available because it does what other bibles don’t do. This, combined with study questions, gives the bible study participants and leaders a lot of thought-provoking material for a very enjoyable bible study. Good job Tyndale.

My thanks go to Laura Bartlett from Tyndale for sending me review copies of John, Acts, Hebrews, and James.

Functional equivalence comparison #2: 1 Samuel 3:13 – What blasphemy?

The comparison between functional equivalent translations continues with the First Samuel 3:13.

NLT: I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them.

GW: I told him that I would hand down a permanent judgment against his household because he knew about his sons’ sin—that they were cursing God—but he didn’t try to stop them.

NIrV: I told Eli I would punish his family forever. He knew his sons were sinning. He knew they were making fun of me. In spite of that, he failed to stop them.

Message: I’m letting him know that the time’s up. I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and he did nothing to stop them.

GNT: I have already told him that I am going to punish his family forever because his sons have spoken evil things against me. Eli knew they were doing this, but he did not stop them.

NCV: I told Eli I would punish his family always, because he knew his sons were evil. They acted without honor, but he did not stop them.

CEV: He knew that his sons refused to respect me, and he let them get away with it, even though I said I would punish his family forever.

REB: You are to tell him that my judgement on his house will stand for ever because he knew of his sons’ blasphemies against God and did not restrain them.

In the original Hebrew, it is not very clear what “making themselves vile” really means. What were the sons of Eli doing to actually make themselves contemptible or vile? To make oneself vile is taken to be a blasphemy against God. But was it an act directed against God’s holy sacrifice (as the NCV implies), or were they doing something to themselves that made them vile? Amongst the functional equivalent (F.E.) translations, the NL T renders it as “blaspheming God”, which is the traditional rendering (also NRSV, ESV, TNIV). It is all by itself on this one because the other F.E. translations are very wide and far apart in their interpretation of the nature of this blasphemy.

The NCV’s use of “acted without honor” implies a physical action. Whereas, GW (“cursing God”), NIrV (“making fun of me”), and GNT (“spoken evil things against me”) implies speech. The renderings of CEV, Message, NLT and REB could go either way—action or speech. CEV’s (“refused to respect me”) uses an inactive adverb; whereas, NIRV’s (“making fun of me”) uses an active verb. However, this is very subjective because everyone may have their personal opinion as to what constitutes speech or action.

I prefer the rendering in The Message the best because it seems to most accurately describe blasphemy while covering both aspects of blasphemy in speech and action, and is easy to understand. Most people do not know what “blasphemy” means so I have to prefer a thumbs up for The Message. HCSB also has an excellent rendering: “his sons were defiling the sanctuary”. It’s extremely clear and understandable, but it’s in the mediating translation category.

Functional equivalent translations #1: 1 Samuel 3:7 Confusion about young Samuel

The comparison between functional equivalent translations begins with the First Samuel 3:7.

NCV: Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

Message: This all happened before Samuel knew GOD for himself. It was before the revelation of GOD had been given to him personally.

CEV: The LORD had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice.

REB: Samuel had not yet come to know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not been disclosed to him.

NLT: Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.

NIrV: Samuel didn’t know the Lord yet. That’s because the Lord still hadn’t given him a message.

GNT: The boy did not know that it was the Lord, because the Lord had never spoken to him before.

God’s Word: Samuel had no experience with the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

I was studying 1 Samuel 3:7 and noticed something puzzling. I asked myself: Why did young Samuel not know the Lord? Did the writer of Samuel mean that Samuel did not know the LORD because:

a/ he was still young?
b/ he had not yet spent enough time to learn of the LORD?
c/ he had not yet heard from the LORD in a personal way?

The interpretations provide by these translations are indeed numerous with each one including a slightly different connotation. Personally, this brings more confusion rather than clarification. The interpretations for this verse can vary quite a lot (see translations below).

The NLT, NIrV, GNT, and GW translations add “because”, which makes Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD conditional upon a prior revelation from the LORD. The original Hebrew does not contain the word owdowth (“because”, “on account of|). This is very different from the rendering provided by NCV, The Message, REB, and CEV, which do not contain this conditional clause. The two ideas expressed are independent upon one another but may also be taken as conditional (depending on how you wish to read it).

GW’s rendering expresses the idea of Samuel’s “inexperience” with the LORD, whereas, other translations stick with the idea of “knowing the LORD.” GNT’s rendering expresses that even though Samuel had heard, he did not know who it was. The Message ‘s rendering expresses Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD in a more personal way: “for himself” and “personally.”

There are many places in the O.T. where the original Hebrew lacked “because” but have been added by translators to add clarification. However, in this instance, I would prefer not adding “because.”

Search for a functional equivalent translation

In the future, I will be blogging on functional equivalent translations (or dynamic translations). The plethora of functional translations seems to be a recent phenomena. It really seemed to have taken off in the last ten to fifteen years. I have decided to cover all the main functional equivalent translations in this comparison. This is a continuation from the formal equivalent translation and mediating translation comparisons.

I have included the six main functional equivalent translations:

  • New Living Translation (NLT) by Tyndale House (1996, 2004, 2007)
  • New Century Version (NCV) by Thomas Nelson (1987, 1988, 1991, 2005)
  • New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) by International Bible Society (1996, 1998)
  • God’s Word (GW) by God’s Word to the Nations, Baker (1995)
  • Contemporary English Version (CEV) by American Bible Society (1995)
  • Good News Translation (GNT) by American Bible Society (1966, 1976, 1992)
  • Revised English Bible (REB) by Oxford and Cambridge University Presses (1989)
  • The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress (1993, 2002)

This type of translation is the most readable. However, they tend to be the least literal but that’s the character of functional equivalent translations. Personally, and generally speaking, I don’t feel comfortable using it in a serious bible study; however, there are a few I would feel comfortable about using in a bible study. I will tell you what they are at the end of this series of comparisons between functional translations.

I learned that most of these translations began from a vision of a single person, which then, later expanded to include other people, or a larger committee. To my knowledge these were:

  • New Living Translation (Kenneth N. Taylor)
  • The Message (Eugene H. Peterson)
  • God’s Word (William F. Beck)
  • New Century Version (Ervin Bishop)
  • Good News Translation (Eugene Nida)
  • Contemporary English Version (Barclay Newman)
  • Revised English Bible (G.S. Hendrey)

God does like to use individuals to do the work of his kingdom. Thank God for these servants who wanted to bring the bible into the contemporary language of the people.

Note: Rich resources about the history of various bible translations can be found at:

Reading the bible from the New Living Translation 24/7

Thanks to Laura Bartlett at Tyndale House Publishers who sent me the new 24/7 A One Year Chronological Bible to review.

Upon first opening the package from Tyndale, I was surprised by its small size. It is the same height as my pocket bible except it’s a lot thicker, about twice as thick as my pocket bible. It has about 2200 pages. It comes in both paperback and hardcover. I have to say that the design of the front cover is quite attractive. I like the hip design of the two fishes on the front and back cover. It’s post-modern and it would definitely appeal to this generation. Its small enough that it wouldn’t take up a lot of space in the office and it would be something that you could read during your lunch break.

As I was first scanning through its pages, I felt that the 24/7 bible did not appear like a traditional bible; and it isn’t. The beautiful watermarks of twelve historic Christian symbols are what make this bible stand out from the rest. If you like art, these watermarks on each page will liven up your day. I really like the design because these classical pictorial watermarks add a unique flavour to each page for each day. For example, there’s the crown of thorns, the dove, the cup of the Last Supper, the basin and bowl, the lamb and the cross, the seven lampstands, plus more. There is a new symbol for each month. An artist was commissioned by Tyndale to create new woodblock prints just for this bible. I think it’s a wonderfully creative idea. That’s what makes the pages beautiful.

On the inside, the text is written in single column format, which is awesome. The font is about 8 or 9 so if the print was just a tad darker, it would have been easier to read. So next printing, please make the print a little bolder. At the back of the bible, there is a daily reading guide which shows the daily sections of texts for each day. Each day varies as to the variety of passages. For example, on January 3, the Genesis and 1 Chronicles readings alternate 7 times so that you won’t feel that you’re reading an endless chunk of the same genre of scripture. On April 6, the reading is only Judges 19-22. On November 5, the readings alternate between all four gospels eleven times.

If you want to read the bible according to the order of biblical events, then this would be a good way to do this. The introduction states: “This edition of 24/7 contains the entire text of the New Living Translation, arranged in the order the events actually occurred. This unique viewpoint allows you to read the whole Bible as a single story and to see the unfolding of God’s plan in history.”

The New Testament begins on September 24 with Mark 1. I don’t think 99.9% of regular bible readers could read the bible straight through without also reading from the gospels. If you’re like me and have always wanted to read the bible in chronological order but also fear that you have to read the Old Testament until September before getting to the New Testament, then you have to come up with a solution. I will also read a bit from either the gospels or the epistles. That’s the plan.

The NLT Study Bible is officially released today

Congratulations to Tyndale on its brand new NLT Study Bible.

Today, September 15, 2008, is the official release date of the long awaited NLT Study Bible. The NLT Study Bible Blog has just posted a press release today about some of its blog reviews on the blogosphere. The NLTSB really does deserve the attention it’s been getting because it is truly a high quality study bible. Have a peruse through some of the reviews.

What are the most authoritative translations?

ElShaddai Edwards and I have been conversing about the REB/NEB over at his blog at He is Sufficient. Our conversation has become an interesting conversation regarding the authority of bible translations.

ElShaddai said to me: “Thank you for using “authoritative” instead of “accurate”. It’s an interesting distinction and one that I’ve been thinking of exploring rather than needlessly continuing the translation philosophy wars.”

Then I responded by saying: “Yes, I do like the use of “authoritative” when I’m not talking about the formal-dynamic equivalency issues. This is a totally different issue when it comes to translations.”

I think the most authoritative translation today is still the NIV. Here’s my order of ranking:

1. NIV authority based on popular usage in all genres of publications, and usage in evangelical churches today
2. NKJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
3. KJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
4. NLT (authority based on huge growth in general popularity)
5. NRSV (authority based on usage in academic journals, reference books, and usage in mainline churches)
6. NAB(authority based on usage in Roman Catholic churches in the USA)
7. NASB (authority based on usage in Christian magazines and by pastors)
8. ESV (authority based on usage by pastors)
9. TNIV (authority based on usage in books)
10. Message (authority based on usage by pastors)

How often a translation is quoted by teachers, pastors and Christian publications of any sort (books, news magazines, ministry publications, academic journals, websites, etc.) are very important factors when we are considering whether a translation is authoritative, or not authoritative.

The authority of a translation is also dependent upon how accurate it is, and it is also less dependent upon whether it is a formal or dynamic translation. However, these factors are less important and are not the primary reasons for authority. In my opinion, the most important factor to what determines the authority of a translation is how often it is quoted.

You may disagree with my order of rankings and my reasons for them. Note that this ranking has nothing to do with which translation I think should be authoritative; rather, they are what I think are authoritative at this current moment in time.

Why did I pick the NIV as the most authoritative? Because it is still the most widely read and quoted translation today. Being the most read and quoted translation gives the NIV that authority.
Note that my rankings are unrelated to the CBA sales ranking because sales is only an indication of how popular a translation is at the current moment in time; however, it does not indicate how often it is quoted by authoritative figures and publications.

Which translations do you think are the most authoritative today? Share you order of translation ranking and state your reasons.

Update: ElShaddai at He is Sufficient has also posted on this topic of authority of bible translations.

The NLT Study Bible by Tyndale House

Three weeks ago, I received in the mail an advanced copy of the NLT Study Bible (NLTSB) from Tyndale House Publishers to review and have finally gotten around to writing this review. The NLTSB is scheduled for official release on September 15, 2008 and I’m sure many people will be impressed by it. I have found it to be an excellent study bible. Any time now in August, the NLT Study Bible website will be launching a fully searchable online version of the study bible with a free 30-day trial.

The slogan Tyndale has given the NLTSB is The Truth Made Clear. I do not think that this quickened sense of clarity in the bible’s truth is necessarily all attributable to the tools in this study bible. Even though the tools in the NLTSB are top-notch, this study bible can compete almost head-to-head in understandability with other study bibles. What really makes this slogan ring true, I believe, is the readability of the New Living Translation itself. The NLT is the most easy-to-read English bible translation available today. Most people will find it more readable than the TNIV, ESV and NRSV because it takes the dynamic approach in translation philosophy. Perhaps its increasing demand for such a translation is an indication that what readers want is a simple, easy-to-understand translation. But, different strokes for different folks. If I may, back in March 2007 I stated that the NLT had the potential to “breakout of its current status of alternate translation to the NIV” and that it also had “the potential to compete head-to-head with the NIV as the first bible of choice.” Today, based on CBA’s unit sales for September 2008, the NLT translation has surpassed the NIV in unit sales and will likely improve upon this trend. So kudos to the NLT and Tyndale on your big gains in readership! Based on the current demand for the NLT translation and based on the NLTSB’s own merits as a high quality study bible, I believe it would be safe to predict that the NLT Study Bible will become one of the most popular study bibles in the next decade to come.

I think people will like the NLTSB for many reasons, and I state my reasons them here below. One thing that impresses me about the NLTSB is its up-to-date biblical scholarship. This is evident throughout the pages of its study notes and book introductions. Over 48 scholars and editors have contributed to this bible. Its contributors are reknown evangelical theologians from a variety of seminaries and theological departments of universities.

The historical-critical stream within evangelical biblical scholarship seems to be more evident in the NLTSB. If you are familiar with the dating of Isaiah, you might chuckle at how the introduction to Isaiah attempts to satisfy all views:

The book of Isaiah addresses three different historical situations, two of them beyond the prophet`s own lifetime. As a result, some critical scholars have argued that the prophet Isaiah could not have written the entire book, a view that has prevailed since the mid-1800s. However, if we assume the reality of God`s inspiration, predictive prophecy is a reality, so it should not present a problem that parts of the book address what was in the future for Isaiah. Furthermore, the book displays a remarkable literary unity (p.1106).

This comment on the authorship of Isaiah carefully tries not to alienate those who adhere to the older view that it was the prophet Isaiah who wrote the entire book of Isaiah.

A literary approach to biblical scholarship is also evident in the pages of the NLTSB. It speaks of literary genres, imagery, patterns, etc. Although the NLTSB is not trying to become like the ESV Literary Study Bible, it has not neglected the increasingly significant literary aspect within modern biblical scholarship.

The amount of study notes in the NLTSB is quite immense. It competes with the NIV Study Bible. The study notes discusses not only the facts but also what the message means to the reader. So perhaps I should also attribute the contents of the study notes toward the fulfillment of the NLTSB’s slogan The Truth Made Clear. The size of the NLTSB amounts to a massive 2486 pages (not including the colorful maps in the back). The expanded notes bring out insightful details into words, people, themes, and topics.

The feature of Hebrew and Greek word studies is an invaluable feature, especially to those preparing bible studies and for pastors preparing sermons. It follows Strong’s numbering system and uses the transliteration instead of the Greek spelling so as to not exclude ordinary people cannot read or understand biblical Greek. Tyndale has done a great job because it keeps in mind the interests of ordinary people whom they know are non-readers of the original biblical languages. Here is an example of a Greek word study on repentance:

metanoia (3341): repentance. This noun means the action or condition of change, especially of behaviour and opinions. In the NT it usually refers to changing from a sinful state to a righteous standard. Repentance is not merely regret about something, it is a change of perspective that results in changed actions. See Mark 1:4; Luke 3:8; 5:32; 24:47; Acts 11:18; 20:21; Rom 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25; Heb 6:1; 2 Pet 3:9.

The introductions of each book includes the historical setting, maps, outline, timeline, summary, authorship, date and other historical issues, meaning and message. As much as I appreciate the historical setting, the timeline in each introduction also allows me as a reader to have a better idea when the events in a particular letter or book occurred. Many ordinary readers like me can appreciate such timelines because it helps me place the text in its proper chronological context. Note, there is also a master timeline at the beginning of the NLTSB. An outline in each introduction is also a helpful tool. Although I would have appreciated a more detailed outline for each book, the basic outline provided here manages to suffice my need for visual aids. Moreover, many other study bibles do not even provide an outline for each book. The visual aids of timelines, charts and maps scattered throughout these pages are extremely helpful. As far as I’m concerned, these visual aid tools should be in all study bibles because they help the reader simplify potentially complex things. Furthermore, I have found that the maps within the NLTSB is more numerous than in most study bibles. I have always loved maps because they help visual learners like myself visualize where the events took place.

Personally, I also like reference bibles. The cross-reference system is a very helpful feature that I use all the time in bible study. It think this feature is often under-rated and under-used by many people. Another feature in the NLTSB that is very useful is the parallel passages (e.g., Lk 28-36; Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-10). I like them because I like to do critical comparisons of parallel passages. This feature will save me time having to search through the Harmony of the Four Gospels and cross-references. I have seen this feature in only a few bibles so I am glad to see this in the NLTSB.

Most of the articles in the NLTSB are quite brief. These include the introductions to the OT and NT; introduction to the four gospels; chronology of the life of Jesus; the introduction to the time after the apostles; and the historical background of the intertestamental period. My favourite and briefest article is the Historical Background of the Intertestamental Period. I have always been curious about the period between the OT and the NT. This article nicely ties the two together. It fills in the gap explaining the periods of the Persian Empire, Greek rule, Egyptian rule of Ptolemies, Syrian rule of the Seleucids, the self-rule under the Maccabees or Hasmonean dynasty, and the Roman rule. This section is appropriately placed in between the OT and NT.

As for reference helps, there is a comprehensive subject index and a dictionary-concordance in the back of the study bible. The NLTSB has done a fairly good job with this because it is sufficiently large enough. The bible that I feel that has done the all-time best job at this is the topical index found in Nelson’s New Open Bible. If Tyndale can develop something like that, it would be even better.

The NLT Study Bible not only has up-to-date scholarship, but it remains firmly grounded in a piety that many evangelicals love and appreciate. Some study bibles that neglect Christian piety, and approach the biblical text from a purely scholarly/critical point-of-view are not designed for ordinary people but only for a narrow stream in the academic world. In contrast, I would consider piety in the NLTSB as a feature. Its scholarly contributors speak with strong pious convictions about our Christian faith, and its study notes are geared help the average bible-reader or seeker to understand the bible and learn about what God is seeking from his people. This makes the NLT Study Bible very accessible to a broad range of people who wish to nurture their faith. This is an excellent study bible I highly recommend it as a faith-building tool.

Finally, I wish to thank Laura Bartlett of Tyndale for sending me an advanced copy of the NLT Study Bible to review.