Sunday, October 4, 2009

Study Bible Comparison

Here is just a quick comparison of my four main study bibles.  This not exhaustive by any means, but there are a few notable points about each that I will share in case it is helpful for those looking for a new study bible.

Here's the line-up, in order. The first study Bible I bought is on top, then the newest on bottom. I'm not sure, but it seems like the deeper I grow as a Christian, the bigger the Bible gets! Maybe one day I'll have a huge one like Ray Comfort! (and a back problem to go with it).

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These are just my study Bibles _ which I tend to use for daily reading and church.  I've got others that mostly sit on a shelf (including a great comparative Bible with four translations side by side).  With the resources available on the Internet, I do most of my deep study online, although the Strong's Concordance gets some light every once in a while!  It was pretty cool having a look at my book shelf...I still have my first Bible, given to me by my mom and dad in 1979, when I went into first grade. It's KJV and blue! Classic.  Having a Bible most of my life, however, didn't make me a Christian any more than having athletic shoes made me an athlete.  That's another blog post for another day.

As you can see in the next picture, my first bible got tabs.  I needed some help getting around!  The second one was a house just became a home reference. The third got worked over hard. I really got to know that one (as you can tell), and the fourth...has been out of the house one time. It's brand new (and the reason for this blog).

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All four bibles are from different publishers, and all in different translations, and with different features.

BiblePublisherTranslationRed LetterCapital PronounsPage Format
Life Application Study BibleTyndaleNIVYNParagraph, single column
NASB Study BibleZondervanNASBYYNew line for each verse, 2 columns
Thompson Chain ReferenceKirkbrideNKJVYYNew line for each verse, 2 columns
ESV Study BibleCrosswayESVNNParagraph, single column

Now I am not going to try and weigh out the pros and cons of the various translations, but I will state that the ESV is becoming my favorite.  NIV has some questionable translation for me and I don't rely on it for doctrinal issues.  There...enough about that.

My new Bible (ESV Study Bible) is taking some getting used to.  It is the first one I have owned without red letter or capital pronouns. I get why, on both accounts, but still not something I am used to.  The other challenge for me is going back to a paragraph style bible.  It seems a bit slower for me to find an exact passage. Here is an example...

Yesterday, during service, our Pastor went into 1 Thessalonians 4:4.  I turned there, and for the first time realized how jumping straight to a scripture isn't as easy as it was with my Kirkbride Bible.

Here is a look at the Kirkbride page.  Can you find 4:4 quickly?

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See how the fact that each verse has it's own line?  It's easy to just run down the left edge of the text and find "4".  Now have a look at the ESV Study Bible:

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Not quite so easy, eh? (Even though verse four does actually start at the left edge...just a coincidence here.)  I decided to use this as an example because when I was turning to this verse in church, I realized how many numbers there are in that little section of chapter 4!  I see two 2s, two 3s, two 4s, and a 5 and 6. With this particular Bible, the notational numbers and the verse numbers are fairly well mingled together. The verse identifiers are bold...but it still takes some time.

So far, the rest of the Bible is outstanding.  The important issues, translation accuracy, doctrinal issues, and even the debatable issues are all very well presented. Those things are my primary concern.  I can live with the slower paragraph format.  Time will tell how I actually enjoy this Bible.  It's only been a few days since I bought it, so it is just getting broken in.

Right now, my perfect Bible would be this:

1. ESV Translation

2. ESV Study Bible Commentary, notes, and articles

3. Split verse format (1 or 2 column)

4. Red Letter

5. Capitol Pronouns for our Lord

6. Smyth Sewn

7. Highest quality paper

9. Gold guilding

10. Soft genuine leather cover

If I could find that combination, I would be a happy camper.  I haven't found it yet.  If you know of one, please let me know!  Thanks!

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