We live in an unprecedented time in history. If you live in the majority of Western culture, especially in America, you live in a biblically rich culture. Please do not read into that previous statement that most people are dedicated followers of Jesus, data shows that is not the case. What I am saying, however, is that no other time in history has there been more access to the Bible and biblical resources. There are more than one hundred English translations of the Bible on the market, with many other language translations available as well. There is no shortage of study Bibles, reference Bibles, teen Bibles, kids Bibles, etc. While this is an abundant blessing from the Lord, it can also be taken for granted. Yet for some Christians it can be difficult to know what Bible to choose and study from among the many that are available. This is part of the ministry of RFTG, to help make recommendations of biblically focused resources such as Bible translations and other Bible products. One new study Bible that has been released recently is the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible edited by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (Zondervan, 2021).
The New International Version (NIV) has become one of the most widely used translations of the Bible in modern times. When it was first published as a complete edition in 1978, it quickly became the preferred translation for English speakers the world over in place of the King James Version (KJV), which had held sway as the most influential English text for over three hundred years. The NIV has been updated a few times over the years, most notably in 2011 which is the version that is currently in print today. Regarding the translation philosophy of the NIV, it firmly stands in the phrase for phrase tradition rather than the literal word for word translation philosophy. The reasons for translating the Bible this way are outlined in the Preface found inside each copy of the NIV. One translation decision that has brought some criticism is the translation committee’s decision to move to a gender neutral style when the text refers to believers of both genders. Again the reason for doing this is outlined in detail in the Preface.
There is no shortage of study Bibles in publication today, and there are many great study Bibles available. What sets the good ones apart is mainly the study notes provided below the biblical text. The NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible, under the editorial leadership of Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. seeks to provide the biblical student with a firmly orthodox resource with which to understand the Bible. The introduction sets the tone by stating that the contributors to the study notes are “graciously evangelical, Reformed, and complementarian.” Perusing the list of editors and contributors reveals that that statement is correct. Most of the contributors are Southern Baptist and come from one of the six SBC seminaries, mainly hailing from Southern Seminary, where the editor of the project serves as president. Other contributors include: Sam Emadi, Derek Thomas, Christopher Ash, Jonathan Akin, Ray Ortlund, Danny Akin, Andy Naselli, Patrick Shreiner, & Andreas Kostenberger, to name a few. I would be remiss not to mention that one of contributors is a professor at my own alma mater, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Alan Bandy who contributed the notes on the book of Revelation.
The study notes illuminate the biblical text in sections, rather than verse by verse. Yet there is no shortage of material from which to glean insight. The biblical student will be provided with a good solid understanding of the biblical text, and context. Each book of the Bible includes an introduction of the material that places the material in the context of the larger biblical narrative. These features are crucial to providing a theologically solid, biblically faithful resource. While not comprehensive, the study notes provide a well rounded resource to the reader encompassed in one resource. The reader can certainly consult a commentary or other biblical resource for further study, however, the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible is intended to be a complete resource to further biblical study for the reader.
Other features of the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible include the NIV Concordance. This resource is found in most NIV Bibles, yet it is a wonderful resource to include in a study Bible. The concordance contains over 4,700 word entries referencing almost 36,000 verses. A good concordance goes a long way in aiding the biblical student in their study of scripture. Most Bibles have a concordance in the back, however, many times it is limited. The NIV Concordance is one of the best concordances I have utilized.
The center-column cross reference system is also a very helpful feature. This resource provides other biblical references that connect or that are related to each other. Cross references are a crucial resource in aiding biblical study that allow the student to go deeper in the scriptures. Overall the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible is well designed for ease of use for the reader. This resource proves to be a valuable tool to the biblical student who desires to grow deeper in the word of God.
The NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to better understand the truths of scripture. This resource would be excellent for personal devotion and Bible study, as well as use in an academic or group study setting. The approachable style of the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible lends itself to the novice and scholar alike. For these reasons I would recommend this resource as an addition to one’s personal library.
Editor’s Notes: This resource was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Zach Kendrick is the editor of Reading For The Glory.
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