There are study Bibles galore on the market today. Some merely contain the name of a popular author, theologian, or pastor, while others focus on specific elements of church history or theology. Adding to those various choices is the matter of translation with many study Bibles offering one or a variety of translations. This makes choosing a study Bible somewhat akin to throwing a dart at a dartboard, hoping you hit the proverbial bulls-eye. Since most Bibles are not exactly cheap, it is important to make sure we make a wise investment.
Into the crowded study Bible market comes the release of the much anticipated NIV Zondervan Study Bible. Respected theologian and author D. A. Carson is the general editor and the overall editorial staff consists of other well-seasoned and notable theologians such as Richard Hess, T. D. Alexander, Douglas Moo, and Andrew Naselli. If that collection of theological minds was not impressive enough, the list of study notes and article contributors reveals that a great deal of work from a variety of theologians respected in their various fields of study is captured in this study Bible.
When I first opened the box, I was immediately struck by the thickness of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. Now I did not order the large print version meaning that what is contained in this Bible is a plethora of material. As I began to peruse its contents, I quickly realized that not only is this a study Bible with lots to offer, what it does have to offer is very much worth noting. Let me share a few highlights.
1. This is a very attractive looking Bible. The study elements are presented in full color. This makes these important study materials stand out, drawing the reader’s eyes to the copious footnotes, charts, maps, illustrations, articles, and outlines. Given this is marketed as a study Bible, the full color approach helps the reader find and pay attention to those aspects.
2. The scholarship is impressive. In part, this has already been noted, in particular the impressive array of theologians who have contributed their respective expertise. Not only are the articles notable in their content, they also purposefully address some of the main themes that weave their way throughout the biblical corpus. This is of the utmost importance for believers. I am a firm proponent of the need for the study of Scripture to be rooted in noting the biblical patterns and principles that reveal themselves from Genesis to Revelation. Tracing for instance the topic of redemption involves starting in Genesis and noting how that fundamental message presents itself in each and every book of Scripture. This is after all the message of the gospel. So for a study Bible to declare itself as being gospel centered, it must have a focus on matters of redemption. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible meets that challenge.
3. The introductions to the books of the Bible are excellent. Some study Bibles merely address matters of authorship, take a stab at the date of writing, share a few key ideas, and toss in an outline. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible provides a far more in-depth approach to its introductions. While important matters of authorship, provenance, date of writing, genre, and thematic elements area part of the introductions, other important issues such as challenges in the text that should be given attention are noted and the theological themes are given a great deal of focus. Finally, the outlines are rather in-depth, breaking down the text in a way what helps the reader get a good understanding of what they are about to encounter in that particular book.
4. The access to digital features is an added bonus. With the purchase of this study Bible, Zondervan grants access to a variety of online features. With a study Bible of this size and weight for that matter, having the ability to have a digitized version available to which you can highlight passages, take notes, look up words or phrases, as well as having access to maps and other exclusive material, truly rounds out the awesome features provided. Given the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and other on the go electronic devices, this means one can have all the features of this excellent study Bible available in the palm of their hand and at their fingertips.
If you are in the market for a study Bible, I highly recommend you take a look at the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. It meets all the criteria I look for in a study Bible and with the added features available online, it is a valuable entry into the study Bible market. In fact, out of the recent round of study Bible offerings and even some of the older venerable titles, I firmly believe the NIV Zondervan Study Bible meets or exceeds anything I have come across to date. Full of helpful theologically sound articles as well as a variety of material that will greatly benefit your study of God’s Word, this is a study Bible worth the investment.
I received this book for free from Zondervan and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”