NKJV Minister’s Bible

Study Bibles and Specialty Bibles are all the rage and a top priority with publishers at the current time. Just examine our most recent reviews and you’ll find a large number of study Bibles. However, Ministry Bibles are a highly specialized category. At the same time, it is one of the minister’s most valued possessions. With all that’s involved in the minister’s daily duties, it is most beneficial to have a resource available for consultation for all of those daily demands.NKJV Minister's Bible

With the several that are available, the NKJV Minister’s Bible, recently published by Thomas Nelson, fits the requirements excellently. The biblical text is the New King James Version; however, it is the features which makes this edition so valuable. The “Resources for the Minister” section has been converted from Nelson’s Minister’s Manual, NKJV Edition and includes virtually all advice, suggestions and examples that a minister would need. Categories include Weddings, Funerals, Dedications, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, Worship, Pastoral Care and Invitations.

This Bible is unique for several reasons. First, the abundant minister’s helps are placed in the middle of the Bible (between the OT and NT) as opposed to the end. There is even a thumb index indicating the location making accessibility effortless. Second, the size is handheld, measuring 9 x 5 1/2 inches and the soft brown leathersoft cover makes for elegance and ease of handling. Third, the 9-point type, while somewhat small, is still easy to read. And fourth, it comes with three ribbon markers which is, of course, most convenient.

This is one of those specialty Bibles that every minister should definitely have in his possession. The contents and their arrangement make it highly convenient for the busy life of a pastor.

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

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The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies

The question that is posed by this volume is this: How is your knowledge of all things biblical?Baker Compact Dictionary

Let’s face it, the study of the Bible requires knowledge of a highly specialized vocabulary and unless one is an ivory tower biblical scholar, we have all been scrambling to define a term or gather more information on an unknown subject. The Baker Compact Dictionary of Biblical Studies will likely solve the problem. While it is not all inclusive or detailed in its treatment, it does contain over 500 definitions and pieces of information.

The title aptly describes the challenge posed by the initial question. It is published by Baker Books, a prolific publishing powerhouse. The book is compact – 41/4 x 7 x ½ – but you’ll be amazed by how much information can be squeezed into 209 pages and still have the print at a readable size. It is certainly a dictionary, containing entries from A to Z. And, finally, it includes definitions and explanations of all things biblical. It includes entries on an incredibly wide variety of subject areas – names, people, places, events, Bible translations, archaeological finds, grammatical terms (simile, metaphor, etc.), theology, history, just to name a few.

The authors are Tremper Longman III (OT) and Mark L. Strauss (NT), both PhD’s, Yale and University of Aberdeen, respectively. Both are respected scholars in their fields.

Primarily, this is not a volume to be read through at a casual reading sit-down, although a perusal may prove to be interesting. A simple thumbing through the pages will certainly get one’s attention. Rather, it will most frequently be used as a reference resource referred to repeatedly.

I would imagine that every serious Bible student would want to have this book readily at hand when doing some serious biblical study. In fact, it is recommended that every Bible student have this close by. It’s definitely worth the $10 or so.

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

The Woman’s Study Bible

Another month; another book review; another Study Bible. That should come as no surprise. Virtually all Bible publishers are cranking out Study Bibles at a speed beyond metaphorical description, all bent to a certain theme, audience or demographic. On occasion they all seem to blend together. One would think the market place is over saturated. Yet, occasionally, one is published that is exceptional; it reaches the designated audience precisely.The Women's Study Bible

Such is The Woman’s Study Bible. Ladies, be not skeptical. Whereas most Bibles targeted toward women rely on a majority of fluff, this one is hardly in line with that pattern. The editors approach this Bible in an organized manner with an exegetical hermeneutic rather than “find a verse to make it fit a female issue.” It is written with the intelligent, inquisitive woman in mind – those who not only want to know but to know the “why” behind the question.

From the introduction, focusing on female issues, to the many articles strategically placed in appropriate sections, this Bible is well thought out. For example, a chart on the “Beatitudes for Women” is placed immediate to the text of Matthew 5; articles Ruth, Orpah and Naomi are all located on the proper pages in the book of Ruth as opposed to scattered randomly; and the many maps that are included are located on facing pages according to their pertinence.

Articles specifically targeted to women’s needs abound. Spiritual parenting, how to pray for children, words that encourage, what love and obedience mean, women in the workplace and the difference between marriage in the OT and today are all examples of the focused articles that can be found.

Structurally, this Bible is also a gem. The text is the NIV 2011 edition with the appropriate concordance. Importantly, the print is large enough to read. It does follow a typical Study Bible format with the text on the top portion of the page and study notes on the bottom.

This is exactly what a good Study Bible should be – regardless of the target audience. It makes one want to read and discover truths from familiar and not so familiar passages of Scripture in order to joyfully lead a more godly, vibrant life for our Lord.

This review was mostly written by Ellie Marrandette, New Creations Ministries; the one who really evaluated and put this Bible through its paces.

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

50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith

Let’s face it, dealing with Doctrine and Theology can be a tricky and often complicated matter. It’s easy to inadvertently step into the theological quicksand and quickly sink up to one’s neck. So, when Gregg R. Allison’s volume arrived for review I was anxious to examine how 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology compared to other volumes on the same topic.50 Core Truths

The answer: wonderfully – and the subtitle provides an explanation of the difference. Allison does not try to compete with Grudem’s Systematic Theology or MacArthur and Mayhue’s Biblical Doctrine. Both of these are detailed examinations of theology and doctrine. Rather, he presents the material in bit-sized doctrinal pieces designed specifically for the Sunday School teacher or the pastor desiring to educate the flock on doctrine.

The title may be a bit misleading in that Allison, a professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, does not deal with 50 major doctrines. Rather, he engages eight major doctrinal subject areas – Word of God, God, God’s Creatures, Christ, Holy Spirit, Salvation, Church and Future Things – and divides them into 50 chapters. For instance, Part 1 deals with the “Doctrine of the Word of God.” Allison includes seven chapters comprising such subjects as Inspiration, Inerrancy, Authority, and four other subject areas.

Each of the fifty chapters is structured exactly the same. And this is where the usefulness of this volume comes in. At the end of each chapter Allison has included a Teaching Outline that will guide the instructor in presenting the material. The outlines follow the arrangement and subheadings of each chapter.

Bear in mind that this is a conservative theological volume so if your theological leanings are liberal you will not find justification for them in this publication. However, with that premise in mind, anyone teaching the essential doctrines of the faith to a Sunday School or Small Group should have this book as a resource. You will find it invaluable.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this volume by Baker Books for a fair and honest review.

Interpreting the Wisdom Books

Interpreting the Wisdom Books: An Exegetical Handbook is now the latest in Kregel Publications’ series Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis edited by David M. Howard Jr. This volume is written by Edward M. Curtis, professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola University and Talbot School of Theology. It is the seventh in a planned eight-volume series. (My review of Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature can be found here.)Interpreting the Wisdom Books

Each volume follows an identical structure and each is designed as a textbook for seminary students or pastors preparing to preach within a given Old Testament genre. Therefore, a working knowledge of Hebrew is most advantageous when one engages with this or any of the volumes. That is not to say that they will be foreign to those without, however, one will not be able to take full advantage of the author’s expertise.

In Interpreting the Wisdom Books Curtis takes the reader through the various steps of exegeting, interpreting and proclaiming (preaching) Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. I doubt there are few who do not have an interest in learning more about the ins and outs of these four books.

Curtis does an excellent job of explaining the details and even includes a highly useful Glossary that defines various terms encountered throughout the book. (Each of the Glossary entries in highlighted throughout the text.) The book does get bogged down in Chapter 3, “Preparing for Interpretation,” with discussions of how Ancient Near Eastern Background affects the interpretation of the wisdom books. One wonders how much time a pastor would have to do the extensive research that Curtis recommends. Nevertheless, a glance through this chapter may be worthwhile.

I found the most beneficial entries were on the book of Proverbs especially in those areas of interpreting and proclaiming Proverbs. Curtis provides many helpful suggestions for preaching a series on Proverbs. If you’re going to preach or teach Proverbs, digging out the information and suggestions would be beneficial.

The summary is this: Interpreting the Wisdom Books is worthwhile especially if one is preparing to engage these books. You may want to skim some areas and pick out the nuggets that Curtis provides.

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

CSB Apologetics Study Bible

The first book review of 2018 is … another Study Bible. This time it’s the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Apologetics Study Bible.CSB Apologetics Study Bible

This one is a gem. To begin, it is an upgraded and expanded version of the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible. It is upgraded in the sense that the text utilized is the CSB published in early 2017. The CSB is a modern English translation that employs a philosophy of translation that combines the best of Formal Equivalence and Functional Equivalence. This results in a translation that the Holman Bible Publishers term as Optimal Equivalence. (We’ll leave it to the reader to go through the four page “Introduction to the CSB” to get all the details.) The end product is a highly readable modern English translation but perhaps not ideal for in-depth study.

But what makes this Study Bible so highly beneficial is that it is enlarged from the HCSB version, itself an excellent Study Bible. It is expanded in two primary categories. The first is the “Annotated Bibliography for Apologetics,” which has increased from ten to thirteen pages. This provides a valuable resource for doing further work and research in the field of Apologetics. The second falls under the category of “Additional Features.” Many new articles dealing with various aspects in the apologetics field have been added to this new version. For example, an article focusing on Genesis 14 entitled “Did Those Places Really Exist?”, provides some valuable archaeological insight. There are over 125 separate articles placed in proper apologetic positions throughout the Bible – an extremely significant storehouse of information.

Additionally, setting the apologetics aspect aside, this is a mini Study Bible. The study notes are not extensive or highly detailed but do provide useful information on the text. You will have to go to a more complete Study Bible or commentary to get more comprehensive information on the text.

My estimation is that 85% of the material in the HCSB Apologetics Study Bible has been repeated in the CSB version. For instance, the Concordance, Maps & Charts and Study Notes are all from the HCSB. But that should not prevent one from adding this valuable volume his library. There will be many positive hours of reading and studying with it.

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

Classic Hymns

Certainly everyone knows that music, especially the Classic Hymns, are a vital component of worship. I realize a great quantity of these great old hymns have been eliminated from worship in a lot most churches but they also remain a worship staple for some.Classic Hymns

So, in any effort to keep alive the Classic Hymns alive, B&H Publishing Group has released the latest in its Reflect on series – Classic Hymns: Read & Reflect with the Classics. If you are a lover of “Holy, Holy, Holy,”  “Love Lifted Me” and the like, this is a volume you will thoroughly enjoy.

Now, with that in mind, this is not a book that will reveal the history of the hymn for you. Rather, it is constructed as a devotional. There are 90 Classic Hymns included in the book – three months’ worth of devotionals. Each hymn includes the complete text along with the writers of the words and music. This is followed by three separate devotional sections: Bible Study Questions, Personal Reflection Questions and Prayer.

The Bible Study segment suggests you read a Scripture selection which is pertinent to the hymn and then reflect on that Scripture by answering a couple of questions. In general the questions are thought provoking. Personal Reflection focuses on private questions that integrate both the hymn and the Scripture reading. Although some are a bit tacky, for the most part they will demand that you take a little time for contemplation.

If you are searching for good devotional material either private or in a group setting such as family, Classic Hymns will be a good resource. It will get you into both the Bible and the hymnal. It should certainly revive your interest in the great hymns of the faith.

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