Shortly after coming to faith at the age of 24, I was given a New American Standard Bible, along with a Strong’s Exhaustive concordance. The Bible got lots of use but there was very little interest on my part in doing word studies or using the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. So, the concordance mostly sat on the shelf, until several years later when I decided to give it to a friend. Paging through it for the last time, I found that my darling wife had found a perfect use for this rather large and heavy volume. Interspersed among the pages were some perfectly preserved pansies!
This short anecdote illustrates that each of us needs to find our best way to study the scriptures. What works for you may not necessarily work for me. Concordances, especially on the French side, continue to be a bestseller and thus are obviously an important study aid for many people.
As for my situation and temperament, Study Bibles turned out to be ‘the’ tools for my regular early morning devotional time. Often the notes on the bottom of the page answer the questions that come to mind while reading a passage and help me to make a better application.
In case you are interested in a study bible, here are some suggestions to help in making your choice:
- Visit your local book shop (hint, hint) and take the time to look through several bibles. Take a familiar or controversial passage and see what the commentators say;
- Choose a study Bible with the notes written by a committee, as these usually give a variety of interpretations rather than the theology of one person or denomination (ex. ESV Study Bible versus the Macarthur);
- As finances and interest permit, add other study Bibles, using different translations;
- If you are fluent in another language (a blessed advantage for many of us who live in Quebec), consider a study Bible written by scholars from that cultural background. You will find it quite surprising to see the differences in translation of the text and as well the emphasis of the commentators. Examples in French would include the Semeur Study Bible and a brand new addition, the Génération Bible.
My favorites :
NIV Study Bible.
After leaving the NASB of my youth, I opted for the NIV, mostly because it was easier to understand than the KJV or NKJV. With the 2011 revision of the NIV, I decided to make the plunge and buy their new study bible, which was a revision of the model that had served well for some 25 years. One of the new attractions of this bible was the fact that there was color on every page.
ESV Study Bible.
The text is more precise than the NIV, but it does not flow as nicely. The notes are very good;
Zondervan Study Bible (NIV).
This is one of the more recent entries in study bibles and is edited by D.A. Carson, a well known theologian whose parents were missionaries in Quebec;
NKJV Study Bible.
There are several available, but I like the 2nd edition from Nelson;
Life Application Bible.
One of the features of this Bible is that you can pick the translation that you like. It is available in KJV, NKJV, NLT, NIV, NASB, and others. The notes push you towards applying what you have learned.
As a final comment, please don’t forget that the notes are not the inspired word of God. The text is and even the text is a translation from the original languages, which involves a sort of interpretation.
Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email
Blessings to you,