A Very Different Kind of Bible

I love receiving Bibles to review through the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid! This time, I received a digital copy of The Gospel of Matthew: Word for Word Bible Comic: NIV.

I have mixed feelings about this work. It uses the text of the NIV, so if you like the NIV, it will be acceptable to you on that front. But the main think that makes this a very different kind of Bible from all of the others I’ve received and reviewed is, of course, the illustrations that it contains. Some people would call it a comic book; others would call it a graphic novel. I don’t know which it is, or if there’s a difference. I guess I’m not really the target audience.

Personally, I didn’t gain much from the illustrations. I tended to not even look at them because I was focused on simply reading the dialogue. When I did happen to look at the pictures, I thought that some of them didn’t seem to match how I would have pictured the scene, so I found them a little distracting rather than helpful.

But once again, I don’t really seem to be the target audience.

But to those are into this type of format, I think this could be a really interesting way to read the Bible. The illustrations are high quality. They seem to match the quality of the comic books—er…graphic novels—that I’ve here and there.

Even more than the illustrations, I actually came to enjoy the dialogue-centered approach. Like any graphic novel I’ve seen, the dialogue is prominent in the illustrations, while the rest of the text kind of fades into the background. So it was kind of interesting reading the Gospel of Matthew in terms of the conversations that take place in it.

To be clear, not all of the Bible is complete in this format yet, but I believe that is the publisher’s ultimate goal. As of now, it appears that there are 6 books of the Bible available on their website (Matthew, Mark, Esther, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth).

All in all, I can’t say that I recommend it, but I can’t say that I don’t either. If you’ve always wished you could read the Bible like a comic book, this might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

A Simply Beautiful Bible

I’m so grateful to Bible Gateway for giving me so many free Bibles in exchange for reviews! This really is a huge blessing as a pastor in a small town with a small budget. Not only am I able to enjoy newly released Bibles, but I’m able to pass them along to people who need them. Thank you, Bible Gateway!

This time, as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I’m happy to receive and review the NIV translation of the The Artisan Collection Bible for Girls.

Aside from my usual reservations about the NIV itself, I would definitely recommend this Bible to young girls. The cover is cutesy and the lined margins on the side of the text have plenty of room for one’s own notes.

In fact, there’s room on every single page to write. Other than the very small grammatical notes at the bottom of some of the pages, there aren’t any commentary or devotional notes in the Bible at all as far as I can see. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you’re looking for in a Bible. I take it as a good thing. The text of Scripture itself is the focus, and the very presence of the lined margins encourage the reader to respond to the text.

If I had not just given my daughters Bibles, I would almost definitely have given one of them this one. It’s simple, functional, and beautiful. I like it!

A Great Bible for Study and Devotion!

As a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I’m happy to receive another Bible for free in exchange for a review! This time, it’s the ESV translation of the The Jesus Bible Artist Edition.

I love this one! I preach using the ESV because it’s a great balance between extremely literal and readable. So the translation itself is one that I regularly recommend.

But the notes throughout this edition are also extremely helpful. It’s called “The Jesus Bible” because most of the notes throughout the Bible intentionally show how the current passage relates to Jesus Himself. It reminds me a lot of The Jesus Storybook Bible in that way: every story whispers His name.

And there are a LOT of notes. For every 2-3 chapters of Scripture, there is a devotional note that goes along with it. And every few pages or so, there’s also a full page of commentary. And before every book, there’s also a good introduction to the book that, once again, directs the reader to Jesus.

While I haven’t read every note, I did read enough to know that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this Bible to people who need to get a better understanding of how the whole Bible points to Jesus.

Don’t just read the Word; Apply it.

Bible Gateway just keeps sending me Bibles to review! This month, I received a free copy of the NIV Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition.

I like it. There’s really not much to say besides that. While the version itself has its downsides (as really every version does), the “life application” aspect of this Bible is great.

At first, it might appear to be just another study Bible that contains a lot of commentary throughout its pages. And while that’s certainly true, it appears that most of the included notes (or at least a good chunk of them) have the aim of being immediately applicable to the reader. Many commentaries provide knowledge; the NIV Life Application Study Bible provides action steps.

I would highly recommend this study Bible to believers who are eager to obey God’s word, but have struggled to understand what God would have them to do. Obeying God’s word is an act of worship, to be done as we rejoice in what God has already done for us. Since Jesus died and rose again, we are given abundant life in Him. So this Bible directs us to worship God in practical ways, for who He is and what He’s done.

The Study Bible You May Be Looking For

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!