Review: The NIV Study Bible

My big confession: I have never been a fan of study Bibles.

I have always wanted Bibles with significant margins so I can put in my own notes. With the coming of digital Bibles and resources, I have utilized the marking tools and notetaking tools of Logos to build my own system. When I study the Bible, I want to study the Bible and I have always felt the notes in any study Bible are so limiting because we may only read them and not dive deeper.

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NIV Faithlife Study Bible — Review

I had the good fortune of being sent the NIV Faithlife Study Bible for review purposes. I am thankful to Zondervan and their marketing team for making this available.

Over the years I have shied away from study Bibles. They are big and bulky and even then they are too limiting in the ability to truly study the Word. I’ve taught students and my church for years on ways to get away from study Bibles. Does that take people away from study Bibles and into the Word so they study it for themselves? Nope.  Read more

Clarity and accuracy in translation are helpful

Over the years I have done a very bad thing in the eyes of scholars. I have drifted more toward translations that work to make the text more readable. For ESV, NASB, NRSV, and RSV lovers… I am a heretic. For KJV only people, I’ve been apostate for years.

I still use “word for word” translations, but for preaching and group study, I look more toward less formal and more readable. I still want “accurate.” But in translation, that is simply a moving target. I just don’t want someone who is fairly new in the faith to try to have to “translate” an English word or phrase!

In my Lenten reading this morning, there is this verse in Gen. 42:

12 He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” (ESV)

The “nakedness of the land?” What? They came to hit the strip clubs?

One great function of BibleGateway is the parallel translation feature. I put three translation options HERE.

The beauty of several translations is realizing we can have accuracy AND clarity. It’s not always “word for word,” but it WILL communicate the truth of the passage.

How’s your forehead look?

Translation fun. The literal use of a word, which the ESV uses in Jeremiah 3:3 is, um, not helpful.

Here is a comparison at Biblegateway.

Strengths and weaknesses of translations are a key reason I like having so much available either online (like Biblegateway) or digitally (like Olive Tree or Logos).

Just watch out for your forehead!


Justified Through Faith

Attention all Greek scholars! Figure this one out for me!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom. 5:1, NIV)

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:1, CEB)

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom. 5:1, NET Bible)

Faith? Whose faith? There is an interesting variety here.


The Common English Bible — A Year Later

Last Advent season I was part of the blogger series for the Common English Bible. They extended their blogging series through Lent, then to Pentecost, so I spent many months using the Common English Bible along with the NIV2011 in my teaching and preaching.

Once the blogging event was over last spring, I still found myself drawn to the Common English Bible. While my main teaching and preaching continued to be from the NIV, I would always refer to the Common English Bible for a fresh look. The more I kept using the Bible, the more I have grown to really admire this translation. It is completely “modern,” in that the vernacular will wear out in about ten years or less. It means fresh updates frequently. That’s one downside.

I’m still getting through that “Human One” vs. the “Son of Man” thing. That’s another downside.

But this translation is really a decent read for me. I rarely trip up over words if I read it publicly. The reading is very smooth. Also, I am desiring more and more to have access to the Deuterocanonical Books, and my edition of the CEB in print and on my Olive Tree Reader has that. While I don’t access those books often, I want to have them available. Reading the Deuterocanonical Books in the CEB is refreshing.

I think this is a good translation to give to people who can’t slog through a King James like experience. It is easier to get into the text, and that should be the point. It is a faithful translation, in my view, of Orthodox Christianity, and useful for study and reading.

Common English Bible and Romans 5:1

I have enjoyed our New Testament reading this summer in the Common English Bible. Yet, I still find a couple of awkward phrases. (Every translation provides that, however.)

Rom. 5:1 in the CEB is interesting:

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith,[a] we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The footnote (a) then draws attention to the alternative translation of simply “faith.”

The NIV:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Essentially, it’s the same. The NIV uses “through faith,” and the question then is: whose faith. (And this is a great translation and theological debate as I see more and more thoughts drifting toward the faith of Christ.) Essentially, the CEB chose to add “our” faith.

“We have been declared righteous by faith” (NET Bible) still leaves us with the question of whose faith. The CEB supplied one answer. Others would disagree.

Common English Bible and the NIV — Long Term Strategies

I’ve probably shared this video before, but it deals with the CEB’s use of “Human One.”

As I continue to use both the CEB and the NIV, I continue to think about how fast we think we need to change up translations. One interview I heard with a CEB official was a bit disappointing, but it’s probably fact for our modern world. He said the CEB would probably be revised in 10 years just to keep up with language.

This brings up a question for long-term strategy and pastoring. I truly like both translations, but do I stay with the NIV as my main translation (and the one we use for public reading) because it may go longer without some revision? And, as one friend pointed out to me, does the somewhat familiar language of the NIV lend itself a bit better to public reading because the “churchy” language is familiar to us. It’s comfortable in a way that is probably good.

Just mulling over thoughts as I continue on my journey.

The Beautiful Obligation

16 If I preach the gospel, I have no reason to brag, since I’m obligated to do it. I’m in trouble if I don’t preach the gospel.(1 Cor. 9:16, CEB)

16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:16, NIV)

16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:16, ESV)

The supposed freedom we may think we have in the gospel is indeed freedom, but it is a freedom binding us to a new “obligation.” The gospel of Jesus Christ turns all our definitions upside down.

Any sense of “obligation” we have in our lives today we tend to run from like it was the plague.

Any sense of “freedom” we think we may have, we sometimes viciously fight for that sense of “freedom,” only to find it has a steep price after all.

But in the Kingdom, the freedom of Christ has a sense of duty. It is a sense of call. It is the duty of proclamation. And it is not just proclamation in some way that WE feel “comfortable” with. It is the proclamation of the gospel in such a way that we work hard to make sure the gospel is communicated clearly to our audience.

For Paul, it meant that even with tremendous “freedoms” he felt no qualms about being “all things to all people so as to win some.” He wanted Jews to understand without too many barriers. He wanted Gentiles to understand without too many barriers.

That’s just hard work. Why? He was compelled. He had an obligation. Yet, it was a beautiful obligation. It was a longing for all to understand the freedom he found in Christ.

As Christians we give up “freedoms” and “privileges” at times because we want to be able to communicate as clearly as possible the beautiful message of freedom in Christ. It is not “losing” in the Kingdom. It may seem like “losing” to everyone around us, but it is not losing at all. When other find freedom in Christ, gain happens. We all win.