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Thursday, June 21, 2012

"The Way" Bible (NLT)

TITLE: The Way
AUTHOR: Mark Oestreicher, General Editor
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012.

This is a Bible that is targeted at younger population. It attempts to supplement an already very readable Bible Translation (New Living Translation), with real life applications, photos, people, and life in general. It updates the original "The Way" Bible back in the 70s, that was cool at that time, for the modern teenager. What is most distinct is the introduction which aims to connect ancient texts with modern contexts, through illustration, stories, and real life examples. It begins with a bird's eye view of the Old and New Testament showing readers how it is God revealing Himself to us. In a nutshell, if the Old Testament is about God's promises to Israel and the world, the New Testament is the fulfillment of those promises.

There is an introduction to each of the 66 books of the Bible. Each introduction starts with a real life application, followed by the purpose of the book. There is a website for readers to connect to through the computer. Users with a mobile device with a camera can easily snap the QR code. At this website, readers can read extended descriptions of the themes referred to by the book. Sprinkled throughout the NLT Bible are stories of faith, short writings by pastors, teachers, leaders, as well as testimonies with thought provoking issues openly discussed. What is most powerful is that the stories and the introductions build bridges with the modern reader to understand ancient texts. This is especially when reading the Old Testament. The snippets and short articles within the book/Bible anticipates reader questions. raising them at various times, and invites readers to read the Bible once more with new perspectives.  For instance, the book of Leviticus has long been seen as a rather dry book of laws and regulatory instructions. It explains the need of these rules at that time because it is about revealing the holiness of God. Gradually, the attention is given to Jesus who has fulfilled the complete law, and invites us to be joined to Him. The often difficult to understand prophetic books are given a refreshing overview, and readers are more comfortable and intentional when reading them. I appreciate the use of photos and pictures that enriches the text and enhances readability.

The clarity and the readability extends to the New Testament as well. In fact, readers will not only find their way around more purposefully, the markers and guides throughout the book provides convenient "handrails" to guide even the most novice reader. Toward the end of the book, there is a bible verse finder that brings together some of the most common issues young people face. There is also a "features index" for readers to locate articles pertaining to references and articles within the book.

My Thoughts

I give this Bible a high rating on the basis of its clarity and strength of the introductions. The NLT has always been one of my favourite thought-for-thought Bible translations. I find it extremely readable, and often use it to supplement my study Bibles or my Greek and Hebrew texts.

As a critique, I have to say that the danger is always the tendency to read the articles more than the Bible itself. Sometimes, in wanting to increase readability and to make the Bible more attractive to readers, people may miss the real gem: The Word of God itself. This is why I am cautious when it comes to introducing any new flavours of the Bible. The editors and contributors have done a great job with trying to bring ancient contexts alive for modern eyes. However, that becomes a liability especially when they distract readers from actually reading the Word itself.

The second critique I have is the soft cover. If The Way is meant for long term usage, I strongly suggest purchasing either the hardcover or the leather bound format. For electronic versions, I am still a little reticent. This is because there is nothing that can beat the look and feel of a Bible that can be opened flat out, dog-eared, scribbled or highlighted, without worrying the battery will run out.

Good Bible.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


Advanced Reader's Copy of the Bible has been provided courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

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