Savoring Scripture: Choosing A Study Bible
Setting Sight on Scripture Sunday
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Today choosing the right Study Bible is harder than ever with the immense amount of selection available to Christians. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds to choose from ranging on topics such of study such as: theology, worship, evangelism, apologetics, archeology, stewardship, leadership skills, application, etc. Other Study Bible are aimed towards a specific group such as teenagers, sports fans, college students, mothers, fathers, etc. Some Bibles however, contain extra content–but aren’t necessarily Study Bibles. Devotional Bibles are the biggest example of this.
So how do you choose a Study Bible that’s right for you? First determine the translation you would like to use. Which version are you most comfortable reading? Which translation helps you understand the material the best? There are three different approaches to translation–word-for-word, thought-for-thought, and paraphrase. For Bible reading, a thought-for-thought translation is recommended. But for a Bible study, you’ll want to have access to a word-for-word translation.
Word-for-word translations include the KJV, NKJV, and NASB. The major drawback of these translations is that they’re not very readable, but are best when solely focusing on getting indepth into God’s Word. Versions of the NIV, NLT, or ESV can also be used for a Bible study; but for a full extensive study of the Bible–start with the KJV, NKJV, or NASB. If you’re a beginner–it’s recommended that you begin with a thought-for-thought translation such as the NIV, ESV, or NLT. Then progress towards a word-for-translation over time.
Once you determine the translation you want to study with–sort through the Study Bibles available and determine what your main focus will be. If you want a better understanding of defending God’s Word–choose a Study Bible that’s centered upon apologetics or theology. Or if you’re seeking to grasp the full picture of Biblical history–purchase a Chronological Study Bible. Are you desiring to live out God’s Word more? The NIV/NLT Life Application Study Bible is an excellent resource that provides this. Other strongly recommended Study Bibles are: The ESV Study Bible, the Ryrie Study Bible, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible, the NLT Transformation Study Bible, and the NIV Study Bible.
More factors to consider:
- Are the study notes helpful in addressing the topics you want to know?
- Are the introductions/outlines for each book of the Bible clear, concise, and helpful to you?
- The size of the text–is it readable or will it strain your eyes?
- How long is the concordance? Are the words you want to study there?
- How many maps are there and of what quality are they? Are the illustrations/charts useful to the study you want to conduct?
- How many cross-references to other Scriptures are there? Are they easy to read?
- Do you want a soft-bound Bible for ease of use or a hard-bound Bible that will stand the test of time?
- Is the master index useful? Are the topics covered relevant to you as the reader?
- Is it easy to locate where you are in the Study Bible?
- Do you prefer a “red-letter edition” (words of Jesus in red) of a Study Bible?
- Is there room in the margins for making notes if you should desire to do so?
After carefully considering all these factors, you should be ready to choose the Study Bible that’s right for you. The main purpose of Bible study isn’t to simply attain more factual knowledge of Scripture. Instead it’s to help us deepen our relationship with Christ so that we may be more transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). For the Scriptures can be used to lead us to salvation, train us for righteous living, and equip us to do good works (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
For a full overview of how to enrich your life with vibrant time studying the Bible, read these following blog articles: