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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review of the Quest Study Bible

Review of the Quest Study BibleLast week I was asked to review the NIV Quest Study Bible because this blog is a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid.  After agreeing to do so, I kind of forgot about it.  Then Monday, there was a package from Zondervan in my mailbox, a free copy.  Those of you who know me well know that there are two words in the title of this book of which I am not a fan.  However, I promised to write and honest review of the work.  We will address the good and the not so good.

The Good
There are several things I really like about this edition of the NIV Quest Study Bible.  First, in the front matter there are several helpful tools for a new or established believer.  The first is a set of “graded” (my word) reading plans that lead the reader through three two week, one six month, and full year reading plans.  These are helpful regardless of how long one has been in the faith.

Second, immediately following the reading plans is a five-page summary of the Bible.  This consists of one short paragraph for each of the 66 books with a short introduction to each section of the Bible, the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Poetical books, etc.

Third, in the back matter there is a “Study Helps” section that should be a help, again, for any believer.  I was especially intrigued by the list of prayers from the Bible.  This list is not exhaustive but gives a solid starting point for a significant study on this incredibly important topic for individual believers and their engagement in their local Body and their responsibility to lift up those in the extended Body.  There is also a section listing some of the promises of God followed by a section that suggests passages to read when faced with different issues in your walk.  For instance, assurance of salvation or a struggle with lust.  There is an excellent topical index and an acceptable set of maps as well.

Fourth, and from my perspective this is what sets this work apart from other study Bibles.  Zondervan and Christianity Today sent passages to over 1000 people and asked what questions they had about the passage.  Further, they researched the top 100 questions people ask while reading the Bible and have attempted to answer those questions throughout the Work.

The Not So Good
One of the goods, becomes one of the not so goods.  The questions that Zondervan and Christianity Today identified and are good, become a distraction in their implementation.  From my perspective the text of the Bible is the most important portion of any Bible regardless of whether it has notes or not.  The NIV Quest Study Bible’s layout highlights the questions on every page drawing the reader’s eyes to the side columns or the bottom of the page (where the 100 questions are answered).  This layout does not encourage engagement with the text of the Bible.

Secondly, there are no cross-references.  I find that odd in what is presented as a “study Bible”.
Review of the Quest Study Bible
Third, the paper on which the Bible is printed is extremely thin.  I would not expect this Bible to travel well.  Highlighters I tested did not bleed through but could be seen through the next page.

Lastly, I have never been a fan of the NIV.  Since its introduction in 1973, I have struggled with the dynamic equivalence approach to translation.  While the text is easy to read, the choices made by the committee seem to insulate the reader from some of the struggles in the text from which one who is studying the Bible would benefit.  Those who do not have access to the original languages already are one degree of separation from the originals, in that they are reading a translation.  When the version choses to make decisions, which may or may not be accurate for the reader, that choice adds a further layer of insulation from the text.

In the preface starting on page xxxiii, the current state of the NIV is explained.  Paragraphs 2 and 3 on page xxxiv catalog the approach that the committee took in approaching the use of gender-neutral language to render either Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek use of the masculine to refer to humanity.  The choice to follow the trends in the use of the English language adds a further layer of insulation between the reader and the texts.

The Holy Spirit used the masculine.  Apparently, the committee feels the need to correct the Spirit’s work.  We are commanded in Romans 12:2 (here @ Bible Gateway) to not be conformed to the world.  It seems that the choice to allow the world to dictate how the vocabulary of the original languages is translated is in direct conflict with Paul’s command.

Conclusion
There is good here.  The front and back matter is useful as an aid to one who is either new to the faith or, in the case of the back matter, is interested in pursing topical studies on prayer or the promises of God.  The Q&A approach is an interesting and helpful way to approach questions one studying the text may have.

However, the good does not, in my view, outweigh the not so good.  I would not recommend this Bible as a primary study Bible.  I would instead suggest that if it is used at all, it is used as a commentary that one checks after one has done original work in a passage.

Comment
The Lord has given me the privilege of equipping pastors and lay men and women on four continents to study the Word of God for themselves.  That is to approach the text without aid.  To make more and better observations of the text.  In the seminars study Bibles are not allowed.  The reason is simple.  The notes or comments, as good or as well thought out as they may be, are not inspired.  The text is.  We need to abide in the text, the Word, not comments about the Word.  Sure, after we have studied, the comments can be helpful, in a sense those that are writing the comments are sharing the results of their study.  However, too often rather than struggling with the text, we go too quickly to the comments or the commentaries.

John 16:13 (here @ Bible Gateway) promises that the one who inspired the originals, will lead us into truth.  If we abandon the struggle, the study, observation, too soon, could it be that we are short circuiting the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our study?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Interruption – Part 4

In the last post we looked at how the Word of God is representative of the person of God.  It reveals His nature and character.  To such an extent that Peter tells us that when we base our lives on His Word we become partakers of that divine nature.
Interruption – Part 4
One aspect of God’s nature and character is His immutability.  He does not change.  Further, He is eternal.  The Word of God reflects this aspect of His nature and character.  Consider:
Both the Father’s and the Son’s Word is represented as lasting forever.  As the Father, Jesus is represented as immutable, Hebrews 13:8 (here @ Bible Gateway).

So the picture we have developed in these posts:
With that as a foundation, it would be reasonable to suspect that those who identify themselves as leaders of those who worship the Lord would revere and deeply engage in that Word.  We would expect to see the Word of God in a place of central prominence in all Christian ministries.

However, that does not seem to be the case.  Nor has it been.  We will explore some of the implications of that in the next post.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Interruption – Part 3

Last post we saw that the psalmist used language normally used to describe worship of God to describe his relationship with the Word of God.  So, he was essentially suggesting that he worshiped the Word.  How is this not idolatry?  How does the use of that language and that practice not raise the ire of a Holy God?
Interruption – Part 3
The answer, I believe, is found in 2 Peter 1:2-4 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Follow the logic of Peter’s presentation.
Verse Thought
2

Peter prays that our knowledge of God and Jesus is multiplied through God’s grace and peace.
3



Through God’s power we have been granted all we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him mentioned in verse 2. That is given by the one who calls us by His own glory and excellence. That is a key concept that is explored in the next verse.
4











The verse starts, “for by these…” these can refer to all of 2 and 3 or more specifically “His own glory and excellence”. I tend to come down on the second option because of the content of this verse.

Either way one takes the referent, the precious and magnificent promises are based on God’s nature. Described as glory and excellence, and if you choose, His power. If we are to base our life on His promises, we are basing our life on His nature and character.

When we do so, we are in effect personally validating the divine nature in our experience as we see the Lord faithful in fulfilling His promise. We partake of His nature.

The implications of this passage informs our understanding of Psalm 119:48 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The Word of God reflects the nature and character of God.  It reveals Him to us.  In a real sense when we open the pages of the Book and begin to read, those words are reflective of who He is.  We are in His presence.

So the psalmist, is on solid ground when he worships, lifts his hands to the commandments.  For in so doing He is honoring and worshiping the Lord which the commandment represents.

There is more that supports this.  It will be in the next post.