Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes

The Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes is one book in a projected 48-volume series that is being published by B&H Publishing Group. The series is edited by Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) luminaries David Platt, Daniel L. Aiken and Tony Merida. This particular volume was written by Daniel L. Aiken and Jonathan Akin. Future contributors will include Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Paige Patterson and a host of other well-known SBC (and other) leaders and pastors.Ecclesiastes

From the title it is obvious that the focus of the series is on the fact that Christ is evident in every book of the Bible – a most worthy objective and a job well done with this volume.

This not a verse-by-verse commentary and it is not written as a technical commentary in which one needs to know the original biblical language in order to receive the full benefit of the commentary. Rather each chapter is divided according to a well-crafted outline and is written as if it were previously delivered as a sermon. But that is not to diminish the style. Significantly, it serves as a resource and as an aid. One of the benefits of this approach is that one will find valuable insight, illustrations and practical application. Additionally, at the end of each chapter is a “Reflect and Discuss” section with questions designed for small group interaction.

One highly useful inclusion is the “Works Cited” at the end of the book. It contains six pages of bibliographic information that includes commentaries, reference books, sermons (mostly accessed from the Internet),  and Internet references. It is a gold mine of references if one is preaching or teaching through the book of Ecclesiastes.

There are only a couple of negatives and neither deals with the contents. The Lifeway website states that this volume has a page count of 288 but I suspect this is generic for the series. For Ecclesiastes the actual count is 146 cover to cover. Also, I found the price on this book to be a bit on the high end at $14.99. Since it is in a paperback binding, a more realistic price might be $9.99.

I would highly recommend this volume to pastors preparing to preach on Ecclesiastes, teachers (Sunday School and small group), looking to do the same and also for individual study. You will find it to be a valuable resource for a basic understanding with a Christ-centered focus.

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by B&H Publishing for a fair and honest review.

Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Ephesians

The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Ephesians is the sixth volume in this commentary series (EGGNT). Other volumes already completed are John, Philippians, Colossians-Philemon, James, and 1 Peter. The remainder of the New Testament is scheduled for future dates.EGGNT Ephesians.jpg

This volume was written by Benjamin L. Merkle, professor of New Testament and Greek at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Most recently he is a coauthor of Going Deeper with New Testament Greek.

It is a simple matter to categorize this book. EGGNT: Ephesians is a technical commentary with a detailed, verse-by-verse analysis and interpretation of the entire Greek text of Ephesians. Naturally, in a commentary of this sort, Merkle offers a brief investigation of authorship, date and occasion as well as a comprehensive outline. Of additional benefit is a section on “Recommended Commentaries” which would be useful for any student of Ephesians to consider.

The book extends to 226 pages of commentary and then includes a five page Exegetical Outline, a Grammar Index and a Scripture Index at the end. The body of the work is a verse-by-verse analysis of the Greek text and thus is all-inclusive.

Because of the nature of this volume, it is, therefore, not really suited for those with no knowledge of biblical Greek. However, I suppose, with some knowledge of New Testament Greek, this volume would greatly benefit one’s study of Ephesians. It should definitely be on every pastor’s shelf because it contains two helpful suggestions at the end of each outline section. One is a “For Further Study” arranged by topic and the second contains “Homiletic Suggestions.”

Pastors: Secure this volume if you have Philippians on your preaching schedule. If you are a student of New Testament Greek, you will find this volume one to which you will refer to frequently.

This book was provided to me by B&H Publishing for a fair and honest review.

The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible

When it comes to “Notetaking Bibles,” there is no doubt a plethora which have flooded the market in recent years. They are sometimes categorized as Wide Margin Bibles. Virtually every Bible publisher has tried to get in on the profit act. Holman Bible Publishers and the B&H Publishing Group have now placed an entry into this category. Their entry is The Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible with the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translation as the text.HCSB Notetaking Bible

The Bible contains many of the usual features: At the beginning is placed “God’s Plan of Salvation,” certainly a worthy entrance to the Scriptures, and an “Introduction to the HCSB” and at the end is included an abbreviated concordance and maps. The size (8.50″ x 6.50″ x 1.50) and weight (2.4 lbs.) are ideal to carry anywhere.

So let’s look at the good and the bad. First the bad.

The text of the Bible is relatively small – 8 point text size. So, if your eyes don’t zero in on something that small you might have a problem reading the text.

“Over 600 images, including text designs, images, & filigree” (delicate and fancy designs) all designed for your coloring pleasure. This is a new phenomenon in “Bible Study,” color your way to biblical literacy. Unfortunately, these images take up half of the generous margin space, an area you could be using for useful notes based on your study of Scripture. Fortunately, these images are in light gray so they can easily be written over.

Now the good.

Plentiful margins. The publisher claims 2” margins for notes, but that’s with some elasticity – they are really about 1.75”. Nevertheless, the margins are quite adequate for ample notetaking.

Excellent, highly recommended Bible translation. The HCSB is between a literal translation and a dynamic equivalent and is very readable. The Introduction will give you the translation philosophy.

Single Column Text. Although the typeset is rather small, it is arranged in a single column which makes the process of aligning notes much more efficient. You won’t have to squeeze notes into the inside margins.

The Final Analysis

This Bible is a bit of hybrid between a genuine wide margin, notetaking Bible and a coloring Bible. It will allow you to do both is you so choose.

If your Bible study passion is to fill your copy of the Scriptures with personal notes, this is an excellent Bible for that task. There’s plenty of room to write. But be sure to use this Bible for notetaking with your own personal study. Avoid (if at all possible) the mind-emptying coloring exercise that this Bible promotes. Rather, fill your mind with Scripture and record your own thoughts.

Disclaimer: This Bible was provided to me for a fair and honest review.