The Study Bible for Women

At this point in the publication of study Bibles, there are two points to take into consideration: 1) There is an absolute proliferation of study Bibles that have hit the market in recent years. Virtually every Bible publisher has produced one or more varieties. (I have eight on my desk at the moment.) 2) With the publication of the Christian Standard Bible in 2017, Holman Bible Publishers have flooded the market with a variety of specialty study Bibles in an effort to promote the new translation. Case in point – The Apologetics Study Bible, the CSB Study Bible, the Spurgeon Study Bible and now The Study Bible for Women.The Study Bible for Women

The latter is the subject of this review. There is good and not-so-good about this Bible. The good is that the Bible is definitely aimed toward women. In the introduction to each book is a section entitled “Why should women read ______. This is a definite plus, encouraging every woman to read every book of the Bible. It is also worth noting that this is a revised and updated version of The Study Bible for Women: NKJV.

Content wise this Bible has its good and bad features. Most importantly, there is an acceptable amount of doctrinal articles, emphasizing the importance for women to learn what they believe. Also, on a positive note, it was edited by two women: Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley. The many articles focus primarily on attracting women to the Scripture although some seem haphazardly placed.

Structurally it comes with two ribbon markers – quite useful. The Bible text is of a large enough size to be readable (8 pt. type). Unfortunately, all the introductions and articles except for two in the introductory material have a reduced font that is difficult to read.

The bottom line is that this Bible is quite adequate for its intended audience. However, when compared with The Woman’s Study Bible published in late 2017 by Thomas Nelson, it is one step below. (See my review here.)

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

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The Spurgeon Study Bible

It can be safely assumed that 99.44% of the people reading this review know the reputation of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. One could well argue that he was the most prolific preacher and writer in the history of the Christian faith. So it was inevitable that eventually a publisher would produce a “Spurgeon Study Bible.”The Spurgeon Study Bible

Voila! Holman Bible Publishers has taken that step. And it is a classy production! In a publishing world awash in “Study Bibles” (We have another “Study Bible” waiting in line for our next review), this one is a unmistakable standout. And to add to its exclusivity, Alistair Begg was employed as the editor. Begg is the Senior Pastor of Parkside Church not far from Cleveland, OH and the progenitor of Truth For Life.

The Spurgeon Study Bible is done in the newly minted (2017) Christian Standard Bible (CSB) also published by Holman. Format wise it is virtually identical to other Study Bibles – book introductions (which include a section concerning Spurgeon’s thoughts on the book), maps, concordance, and notes at the bottom of the pages. But it is this last which makes this so special. All of the notes are from Spurgeon’s writings making it a goldmine of reference material. If you want to know what Spurgeon though about Genesis 1 and 2, go there and the notes are before you. And, of course, excerpts from the “Treasury of David” are waiting for you in the Psalms.

Other features include a brief biography of Spurgeon written by Begg and twenty of The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon (ten from the OT and ten from the NT). These are well presented with Spurgeon’s original handwriting and a clean transcription appearing on facing pages. Preachers will find it interesting how Spurgeon’s mind worked.

Also included is an introduction to the CSB providing the translation philosophy for the CSB. It’s worth the read.

This is a Study Bible for all believers. Everyone will be blessed and enriched by this volume. If you love the writings of Spurgeon, this is a must for your desk. My copy is sitting within an arm’s reach.

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

Evidence That Demands a Verdict

Do you remember 1972? If you do, there’s an excellent chance you are in possession of an AARP Card. I don’t remember what the publishing world in general was up to, but in Christian circles it was Evidence That Demands a Verdict – a volume that eventually became a classic and the go-to volume for Christian apologetics. Over the past forty-five years it has been added to, updated, expanded and improved.Evidence that Demands a Verdict

Now in 2017 Thomas Nelson has published the latest. This time it is billed as “The Completely Updated and Expanded Classic.” The official title is Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World. This new version is authored by the original author Josh McDowell and his son Sean McDowell, PhD.

And updated and expanded it is! This version is completely redone. After some lengthy front matter (Be sure to read Josh McDowell’s testimony “He Changed My Life.”), the volume is arranged in four parts: Part I: Evidence for the Bible, Part II: Evidence for Jesus, Part III: Evidence for the Old Testament, and Part IV: Evidence for Truth. Parts I and II contain much of the former material with some additions. However, it is Part III that contains a great deal of new material. There are thirteen chapters dealing with the validity of the Old Testament. Part IV is philosophical yet forms the basis for any apologetic undertaking.

The major structural “update” you’ll find is the format. Gone is the “ heavy” outline format in favor of a more “moderate” one. A distinct change in that it allows the reader to consume paragraphs under a particular subject heading. In short, it is just more readable.

This is a must volume for any believer with even the slightest interest in the soundness of the Christian faith. If you have volumes 1 & 2 and are familiar with referring to them, I would recommend keeping them right beside this one. This would make the ideal Christmas gift for a pastor or seminary student (about $20 on Amazon). Get this into your library!

Disclaimer: This volume was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers for a fair and honest review.

A Place Called Heaven

A Place Called HeavenAmidst a heavenly sea of celebrity and pseudo-celebrity authors producing books on what exactly heaven will be like, we have another. Many are without substance, tipping more to the devotional side (see here). But this one has some measure of meat to sink your spiritual teeth into albeit much of the information has been presented previously.

If you have ever wondered about your heavenly home, Dr. Robert Jeffress has written an informative book entitled A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths About Your Eternal Home which beautifully addresses the subject.

Jeffress uses a perfect balance of Scripture as well as insight from many acknowledged wise men of faith such as D.L. Moody, Howard Hendricks and Randy Alcorn to support his beliefs and validate any issues that might be raised. He also uses timely illustrations to drive home the answer to pertinent questions such as “What will heaven be like?”; “Will I still be “me” in heaven?”;  “Won’t I be bored?” and “Who and what will we do there?” These and six other questions are dealt with in separate chapters making the book topical and easy to digest.

One of the relevant chapters for current inquirers of heaven focuses on near death experiences. Using Scripture and apologetic reasoning, Jeffress educates the reader how to recognize and address these questionable issues in a discerning manner. This chapter is worth a serious study in view of the slew of books and movies on this subject during the last several years.

This is an easy-to-read and comprehend 250-page volume and is well-suited for both the new believer and those of the faith who long to know more about their future home. The volume is not targeted to theologians and scholars. With that thought the major criticism is the price tag of $19.99. A book written and targeted toward inquiring or potential Christians should be less pricey and thus more affordable for the everyday Believer.

The end of the matter is this: excellent for new believers and the non-believer; can serve well as a basis for Sunday School or small group study.

NOTE: A portion of this book review was provided by Ellie Marrandette, New Creations Ministries. https://newcreationsministries.wordpress.com/

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Baker Books for a fair and honest review.

Inductive Bible Study

Inductive Bible Study is all the rage. The fact is, if you read your Bible and take a few notes, you are engaging in some form of Inductive Bible Study. It may be a simple form or a modified form but it still falls within the parameters – observe, interpret and apply. Of course, if you so desire, you can get much more detailed in the three areas.inductive-bible-study

And, as you might well expect, there is no shortage of books and other communicative materials to assist you in learning the process. That is why there is a need to categorize these books into three areas – beginner, intermediate and advanced.

That leads us to the volume at hand – Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology. The subtitle alone should provide a hint of the scope of this book. It is written by Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr. (Liberty University) and Andreas J. Kostenberger (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and is published by B&H Academic.

Fuhr and Kostenberger provide a highly detailed methodology for Bible study. In their discussion of the observation stage we receive instruction on common sense observation described in theological jargon. That continues to a greater degree in the interpretation arena. Fortunately, the application arena is more practical.

At times this volume has the feel of being a sequel to a book previously co-authored by Kostenberger: Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology. You’ll discover that immediately if you are a footnote aficionado.

Mostly this book presented the Inductive Bible Study method as being very structured. While an orderly system or method must be adhered to when doing Bible study, one must be cautious not to stifle the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is a precautionary note, but must be kept in mind.

With this all written, if you are serious about Bible study, this is a volume to have at your disposal. My recommendation is that the book is good for theologians and pastors but you will need to have a firm grasp on the Inductive Bible Study method before embarking on this volume. It is definitely not for beginners. It definitely falls into the advanced category of Inductive Bible Study volumes.

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

The Essence of the New Testament

In a world that is awash in volumes concerning New Testament Surveys and Introductions, we have a new entry (well, it’s a second edition entry) – The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. It was published by B&H Academic. It is outstanding!the-essence-of-the-nt

So with such a multitude of surveys, what would make this standout from all the others?

The editors and contributors. This volume is edited by Elmer Towns and Ben Gutierrez. Towns, of course, is a well-known figure in evangelical circles and a prolific writer (over 170 books plus countless articles) and a co-founder of Liberty University. Gutierrez is a Ph.D. and professor at Liberty. The seven contributors (along with Towns and Gutierrez) are all conservative scholars and professors.

The quality and conciseness. One of the trends in New Testament survey books is an overabundance of information that might be more suited for advanced study. But not with The Essence of the New Testament. The authors have obviously made a determined effort to filter the extraneous and present vital and essential information without trying to weigh down the reader.

The book opens with four chapters on introductory material leading with “How We Got the New Testament.” Each entry on the twenty-seven books of the NT contains the standard biblical background information – author, recipients, occasion and date, and outline. This is followed by a brief commentary entitled the “Message” that follows the structure of the outline adding to the smooth flow of the book and ease of understanding.

The end of each book has study questions and a brief bibliography and there are also a multitude of pictures and a number of charts that further facilitate the explanation of the particular NT book.

The viability for Christians. One of the most attractive qualities of this book is that it will have appeal to a majority of believers. It is straightforward and easy to follow – no linguistic tricks and no ivory tower theological language. It is a reference volume that the inquisitive Bible student will want to have at the ready when studying any book of the New Testament. (I have a vison of someone studying Colossians with the Bible in front, a notepad to one side and The Essence of the New Testament on the other.)

This is a must-have volume for every Christian especially teachers and preachers. It is a double must-have volume for new believers and first year Bible college students. It is a classic Bible educational tool. This volume will pique the student’s curiosity for more information.

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

The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown

This is the second edition of The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by B&H Academic Publishers. The authors, Andreas Kostenberger, L. Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles, are all experts in the arena of the New Testament. There is no lack of New Testament scholarship.The Cradle.png

This is a “big” book – literally and figuratively. This volume is a massive undertaking. It is big literally because it encompasses 1130 pages (not including an excellent map section in the back) and weighs nearly four pounds. It is probably not a volume to be carried any great distance in your backpack.

It is big figuratively due to its importance. It is comprehensive in that it deals with virtually every area of the New Testament but not exhaustive hence a wide-ranging bibliography at the end of each chapter.

The book begins with a two chapter Introduction on “The Nature and Scope of Scripture” and “The Political and Religious Background of the New Testament.” These chapters will educate and should inspire any New Testament pupil. Chapter 3 is a 106 page examination of “Jesus and the Relationship Between the Gospels,” encompassing nearly every issue that might challenge the student. Following chapter 1-3 is a book-by-book introduction to each of twenty-seven books of the New Testament.

Every chapter begins with a “Core Knowledge” section describing the knowledge expected at a Basic, Intermediate and Advanced level – an excellent tool to determine where one stands concerning the subject matter. Subsequent to this each chapter concludes with a series of study questions which would serve well on a final examination (thus the classification as a textbook).

While this is primarily a textbook, it is at the same time a ready reference for the New Testament. For any serious student of the New Testament this should be a go-to volume. If you love the Word of God, this is a book that should be on your bookshelf and referred to frequently.

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