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Monday, September 15, 2014

NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible

TITLE: NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible: Experience New Growth and Transformation in Your Spiritual Walk
AUTHOR/EDITOR: Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (3212 pages).

This is a study-cum-spiritual-renewal Bible. Using the NIV Bible translation as the main text, it is supplemented by devotionals, character profiles, and spiritual discipline profiles. There are articles ranging from Bible study and meditation to worship and stewardship matters. Using various Bible passages to springboard to the articles that help "spiritual renewal," the key feature in this study Bible is in the seven keys for spiritual growth, that undergirds of all these supplementary material.

  1. Seek God and Surrender to Him
  2. See the Truth
  3. Speak the Truth
  4. Accept Responsibility
  5. Grieve, Forgive, and Let Go
  6. Transform Your Life
  7. Preserve Spiritual Gains

Like many typical study bibles, this study Bible begins with a "Big Picture" of each of the 66 books in the Bible. Following which, spiritual themes are drawn from each book. This is followed by some essential facts like date of writing, author, audience, setting, key verses, key events, people, and an outline of each book. The supplementary articles are placed in such a way as to minimize intrusion on the reading and concentration of each Bible reader. The edition I have makes it easy for me to get to the article simply by clicking on a provided link. Unfortunately, while it is easy to get out to the article, it is not so easy to get back in to where I left off. It took me a while before realizing that all I needed to do was to click at the article header to get back to the Bible text. This is valid only if one does not go too far deep into the article and starts clicking on other embedded links to additional articles. If that were to happen, it will be hard to go back to the original Bible text. If only there is some way for readers to know how to navigate efficiently. Maybe, if the click simply opens up a second window, that would make getting back to the text a non-issue. Users simply needed to close the second window and get back immediately to the first window, which is the Bible text. 

Here lies my biggest concern every time one uses a study Bible. The presence of articles, notes, and other miscellaneous sidebars can and will distract readers from the Bible itself. That is why I recommend that serious Bible study must be as note-absent and article-free as possible. Footnotes can also be an unwitting distraction. This is not necessarily the fault of the Bible translators or editors of study Bibles. This is about the weakness of our level of attentiveness. In a clicks-driven and browser-based culture, readers are getting increasingly less patient and more easily distracted.

As for the main feature of the book, "Spiritual Renewal," I ask myself in what way can readers be spiritually refreshed and renewed when they use this study Bible. The devotionals placed in this way work like a mini reflective commentary on the main text. While it may not be a direct exegesis of the text, it helps us reflect on the spiritual theme that can be drawn from the passage itself, much like a mini-sermon with a few pointers for learning. At the end of each book, there is a short commentary on selected passages of the Bible. Though it may not be a verse-by-verse description of what the verses mean, it provides readers with some context to help us interpret the passages. This study Bible is particularly helpful for readers to get some introductory guide to the less known books of the Bible such as the minor prophets, song of songs, and the general epistles.

In terms of layout, the Bible texts are well spaced out and readability is excellent. The red-letter marks helps too. Overall, if readers are thinking of buying this study Bible, I would recommend the printed edition rather than the e-edition.

Rating: 4 stars of 5. (not on the Bible but on the supplementary notes accompanying the Bible)


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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