Like last month, I recently got the opportunity to review another Bible for free by being a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. This month, I received a copy of the NIV Quest Study Bible, and I’ve got to say, I’ve got mixed feelings about it.
The current revision of the NIV, in my opinion, is decent. It’s understandable throughout, but it’s not one that I would recommend over the many other excellent translations available today (such as the ESV or HCSB). The original NIV from 1984 was great! It was basically the standard among non-“King James only” evangelicals for many years. But the gender-neutral language of the 2011 NIV caused it to lose many of the clear allusions to Jesus in the Old Testament. And since the Old Testament’s whole purpose is to bear witness to Him, that’s kind of a big deal (John 5:39).
On the other hand, this “Study Bible” is packed with a great question and answer format that appears very useful. Although it would be difficult to go into considerable depth on any one question because of the space they have conform to, the questions and answers do seem to give a fair jumping off point for readers to do further study if they so desire. Many answers quickly present two sides of the issue, and leave the reader to contemplate them. So in a way, this can lead to even more questions rather than answers, but I also think struggling through the questions can be a good thing for your faith.
Content aside, this Bible just isn’t formatted the best to be used as a Bible to carry around and reference. The book names and chapter numbers are not in the top right or left corners of the pages as they are in every other Bible I’ve ever used. Because of the questions and answers taking up the left and right margins of each page, the creators of this Bible chose to move the book and chapter indicators closer to the middle of each page. So finding the reference in the Bible that you’re looking for isn’t as easy as simply thumbing through the corner of the page in order to find the right book. You almost have to open the whole Bible up each time to approximately where you think you want to go, and then flip whole pages/sections over and over until you get to the reference you’re looking for.
So all in all, the NIV Quest Study Bible isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. I can see how it could be useful as a daily devotional Bible, but I wouldn’t try to use it for any in-depth study. Nor would I even recommend it to be used as the Bible that you bring to church, simply because it’s not the easiest to find references in it.
But, hey, if the question and answer format appeals to you, I don’t at all want to hinder you from picking up a copy of the NIV Quest Study Bible. The best Bible is the one that you actually read. This one is definitely readable, so it might just be the one for you!