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Archive for the ‘Study Bibles’ Category

A couple of years ago I posted a review of the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.  (Think of the Reformation Study Bible but with more notes and with the Reformed Confessions included.) I have recently acquired one in Burgundy Bonded Leather (ISBN 0310923611) that I’m looking to sell or trade. (This is the 1984 NIV text.) I found it in a Christian bookstore new in box (NIB). That being said, this edition has been out of print since about 2007 or so and this copy had evidently been on the shelf for a number of years. The box is rather beat up but the Bible is in very good (and that’s being very conservative) or like new condition all things considered. Many of the pages are still stuck together, there is no damage to the cover, no discernible damage elsewhere, no markings that I can find, etc.

Ideally, I’d prefer to trade it for one of the following:

R.L. Allan KJV Brevier Clarendon
Nelson NKJV Wide Margin (center column references, black letter)
Foundation Press NASB Side-Column or Large Print Ultrathin in Calfskin
Maybe some other “black letter” premium Bible in KJV, NKJV, NASB, or ESV

I will also consider other offers whether for sale or trade. But any Bible would need to be black letter.

UPDATE:  I have traded this Bible for another one and it is no longer available.

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Review of the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Richard L. Pratt, ed., Zondervan, 2003, xiv + 2240 pages.

As I’ve noted previously, I hope to start reviewing more books. Since I have used many study Bibles through the years, I’m hoping to review most of them here, with the reviews likely coming in no particular order.

In my opinion, the NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (NIV SRSB) is the best modern Reformed study Bible.   Unfortunately for Third Millennium Ministries, which produced the NIV SRSB, it was published at a time in which Reformed people were deserting the NIV in droves, usually in favor of the ESV. I’ve never been a fan of the NIV and I have some differences from the doctrinal position espoused in the SRSB, but that doesn’t stop me from profiting from it.

The NIV SRSB is a revision and expansion of the New Geneva Study Bible, (NGSB) which was later renamed the Reformation Study Bible (RSB). It was originally published in the NKJV in the mid 1990’s and is now available in the ESV. The NKJV New Geneva/Reformation Study Bible didn’t seem to have much circulation outside of confessional Reformed churches. However, with the “Young, Restless and Reformed” coming of age in the mid 2000’s, the ESV version seems to have a much wider appeal.

The translation issue aside, the advantages the NIV SRSB has over the NKJV/ESV Reformation Study Bible (RSB) include more extensive study notes and the inclusion of the Reformed confessions. The proof texts of the confessions are also reverse indexed in the study notes. While many of the notes are the same as the RSB’s, others are different or more detailed. Due to the inclusion of the confessions, some of J.I. Packer’s original articles were deleted in favor of new ones. (Those articles by Packer can also be found in his “Concise Theology.”) Unfortunately, when the ESV version of the Reformation Study Bible was issued a couple of years after the NIV SRSB, the study notes and articles were not revised or enhanced from the original NKJV version and no additional material was included.

Even if you don’t like the 1984 NIV, if you are primarily looking for a reference work instead of a Bible for general use, this is the Reformed Study Bible to get if you have a choice. (In general, it’s best not to use a Study Bible as your primary Bible regardless.) For those who do not adhere to Reformed theology, this is still an excellent resource if you’re interested in learning about Reformed theology.

Another feature is that the text is single-column with references on the outside of the page instead of the more familiar double-column used in most Bibles today. Single-column can sometimes make for a difficult read if the print is small. The print here is probably large enough for my eyes, but I don’t read the NIV text for long periods of time either. It’s not a red letter edition, which is a plus in my book.  I have the hardcover edition. The quality of the paper is perhaps somewhat better than average by today’s standards. There is a little ghosting, but I don’t find it to be distracting at all, in contrast to some other Bibles.

The binding is glued instead of sewn, as is the case with many recent Bibles.  It seems that nearly all of the Bibles published by Zondervan and Nelson have glued bindings.  But if the SRSB is used primarily in the study, that shouldn’t be much of an issue.  In my experience, hardcover bindings seem to hold up better than glued bonded leather bindings as well. (EDIT: After obtaining a bonded leather copy, despite being glued, it appears to me that it will hold up reasonably well if handled with care. The binding has some give to it. The glued bindings that I’ve had problems with have had practically no flexibility at all.)

Unfortunately this Study Bible appears to be out of print and is now difficult to find at a reasonable price. Hopefully it will be reprinted at some point, but that would be somewhat unlikely in the near future given the current hegemony of the ESV and the ESV Reformation Study Bible. (The website for Third Millennium Ministries does show a Chinese version.) Since Zondervan is a publisher for the NASB, it’s theoretically possible (albeit unlikely) that it could be issued in that translation.

I was just thinking that it would be great if this work were to be made available for the Kindle and/or some other e-reader. Then I noticed that a Kindle edition is set for release in August. The SRSB page on the Zondervan website notes other dealers from which the ebook will be able to be obtained.  This is a welcome development for those who are interested in an obtaining this in the Kindle format, and perhaps especially for those who were unable to obtain a print copy of this excellent resource.

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