The CEB Study Bible is a well designed and excellently written study bible that distinguishes itself from the crowd by taking a more open-minded approach to the historicity, date of composition, and authorship of debatable sections of the Bible. However, the appeal of this study bible may be narrowed by its inextricably being tied to the CEB, a translation whose eager pursuit of a laudable goal (to produce a truly fresh translation free from wrongly embedded conservative Evangelical ideas) unfortunately results in uneven quality.
BSE is partnering with The Promise Church, Houston, to present “Your Bible Study Tool Belt”, a workshop that teaches you how to use commonly available reference tools to enhance your personal Bible study.
Amos, Hosea, Micah – An Archaeological Commentary, by Philip J. King, is a commentary about the 8th century BC world of the earliest of the written prophets that takes its data from the field of archaeology. It is difficult to find a similar book that is so accessibly and compactly presented.
The NLT Illustrated Study Bible, is an update of the NLT Study Bible line of products, which have ranked among the most comprehensive study Bibles on the market. Using the popular and easy-to-read New Living Translation for its text and a tabloid-like style of graphic design, this study Bible is extremely accessible and visually stimulating. Its commentary covers a wide range of theological, hermeneutical, and historical subjects in a thorough and generally responsible way. At the same time, however, it demonstrates a decidedly conservative point-of-view, meaning it avoids challenging fundamentalist Bible interpretation strategies, even where those strategies are most vulnerable and least helpful.
Judges by Trent Butler is an outstanding addition both to the Word Biblical Commentary series and to scholarly literature on the book of Judges, being both very readable and rigorously scholarly. Butler’s approach is conservative and up-to-date, arguing for an early composition date and treating Judges as a literary unit. The volume contains an extensive and helpful bibliography and appendix of tables. The occasional division of the text into units of three or more chapters makes parts of this volume cumbersome, but Judges remains exceedingly useful and scholarly.
Despite some questionable type-setting decisions that limit the usefulness of this Bible for an aging Christian population, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible is one of the best and most comprehensive study Bibles currently on the market. Its focus on biblical theology pays off in a big way. I highly recommend it.
Here’s a handy-dandy infograph about the basic categories of Bible study reference tools. Also, check out our BSE workshops, especially “Your Bible Study Tool Belt”.
While mostly successful as a conservative introduction to the Old Testament, The World and the Word fails as an introduction to OT scholarship, being weighed down by an underlying fundamentalist apologetic and an inaccurate dualistic view of biblical scholarship.
Commentaries are helpful, but the proper posture towards them, regardless of your knowledge of scholarship in the field, is one of resistance. By asking “How do we know that?”, you are positioning yourself to get the most out of your conversation with the Bible and out of the commentary.