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My Reviewing System

Well it has been a few weeks since my first blog. As promised, I will be discussing what I believe are five of the best study Bibles on the market today. However, I want to remind you that, even though I believe they are good study Bibles, they are not perfect. I will discuss, not only their best features, but also some of their limitations. In order to do this, I have developed a personal review system in order to be as fair as possible. It must be understood that this system is somewhat subjective, but I have tried to be as objective as possible. In the end it is my opinion, and you must take it as just that.

My reviewing system is based on four basic points of interest:

First, I will review the LAYOUT of the study Bible. Basically, we want to know if it is appealing, if the study notes are clear, if the verses are easy to read (especially for the over 50 crowd!) and, if there is a color, bold print, bold numbering system (that is, are the verses easy to follow according to the verse numbers). Are there ample and clear graphs, timelines, charts, and pictures? Is it set in paragraph form, clarion (does it read like a novel), or is it verse-by-verse? Overall, does the study Bible say to you, “Use me! I am worth it!”?

Second, I want to review the CONTENT. I want to know if the study notes are theologically conservative. Does it have a denominational bent? Are the study notes and essays clearly written? I also want to know if the study Bible handles difficult passages with some thought put into them. You would be surprised how many times I have gone to the notes in a study Bible only to find out they ignored a problem (a difficult to understand) passage.

Third, I want to examine the COVER AND PAPER. I don’t know about you, but I want my study Bible to last more than just a couple of years of hard use. If you only pick up your Bible once a week for Sunday service, then you don’t really need to pay attention to the material it is made from. However, if you use it every day and like to underline, highlight, and add notes to the notes, then you want a Bible that will last. So I look at the quality of the paper and the binding. I want to know what type of leather it comes in, and if it comes in a quality hardbound and/or synthetic material. Is there bleed-through or what is call ghosting? And, is the binding sewn or glued?

Last, and very important, does the study Bible come in a VARIETY of VERSIONS. Although I enjoy reading and studying from the New King James Bible, I also like to view other versions for clarity. I am a firm believer that God wants us to have the clearest possible understanding of His Word and that takes precedence over any given version. There are some great study Bibles on the market that only come in one English translation. I would like to see it in a number of other translations, especially the ones I use most often.

Having stated the above, let’s now move toward review my first study Bible pick. I am not rating these study Bibles, but only reviewing them. All the study Bibles that I will be reviewing in the weeks ahead are those that I use on a regular basis. They are all my favorites with all their weakness and strength combined.

In my next blog, I will review the English Standard Version Study Bible.

This is Pastor Whalen -- wishing you joy in Jesus!

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