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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"NKJV Word Study Bible" (Thomas-Nelson)

TITLE: NKJV Word Study Bible, Hardcover: 1,700 Key Words that Unlock the Meaning of the Bible
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2016, (1760 pages).

There is a lot of study Bibles out there in the market. Not only are publishers trying to promote their Bible translations, they are constantly finding ways to encourage more to read and to study the Bible. Even with the advancement in computer software, nothing beats the feel and experience of having a printed study Bible. This particular study Bible focuses on word studies while at the same time maintaining a fluent and smooth reading of the Bible. It throws light on more than 1700 Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek words in the Bible to enable readers to dig deeper into the meaning not just of the words but the contexts as well. Using the New King James Version translation, the English words to be studied are first underlined to help us pause for a word study or for a reference to be aware of in the following verses. Here are some other features of the Bible.

There are indexes that help one to locate the specific words alphabetically; in chronological order according to the Bible books; according to Strong's numbering system, first in the Hebrew and then in the Greek. There is a concordance that lists key passages by English words plus helpful introductions of all 66 books of the Bible. There are colour maps, NKJV translators' notes, as well as cross-references to enlarge our understanding of the contexts of the passage. The publisher has also listed several resources for students to dig into. The translation used is the New King James Version that updates the English language for modern readers while maintaining a faithfulness to the beauty and style of the classic King James Bible. The translators are all scholars who subscribed to their belief in the "verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture" plus the "inerrancy of the original autographs." While the old words like "Thou, Thy, Thee, and Thine" were once used for references to the Divine, it has been replaced by the more common "You, Your, and Yours" while maintaining the capitalized when referring to God. Translation can also be difficult with regard to deciding between contextual vs literal meaning. With regard to the New Testament manuscript, the translators have opted to retain the use of the Textus Receptus, while keeping an eye on the Critical and Majority Text. About 85% of the New Testament texts are similar and where there are variant readings, full explanations are given to give readers an appreciation of the decision making process.

The colour headings and the paragraphing structures help readers to maintain a grasp of the transitions in the passages. This is particularly helpful in the Psalms and long narratives. There are many boxes that bring out the key words and original meanings which offer great moments for reflection and devotional reading. For instance, "torn down" in 1 Kings 19:14 comes from the Hebrew word 'haras' which is often referred to destroying altars and bringing down religious idols. It summarizes God's anger at the presence of idolatrous hearts and what is needed to bring about sanctification to the spirituality of the people. The deeper the roots of idolatry, the greater the level of destruction needed. That is why we should not even begin idolatry in the first place! In Ps 51, the word 'lev' in Hebrew represents the person;s inner being and we learn of the Hebrew understanding of heat as inclusive of affections, mind, and will. Having a clean heart thus encompass the entire being. The New Testament also has lots of insights. Matthew 1:1 begins with the 'book' from the Greek word 'biblos.' We learn that the books of old come from the inner bark of the papyrus plant and has come to mean the scroll or the written word. The movement from English to Greek and the Greek back to English makes it a fascinating journey of discovery and appreciation for the translation work. The introductions are made very brief and readers are given a list of 'watch words' as they begin each book of the Bible.

I remember those days when I did not know any Hebrew or Greek when reading the Bible, and had to resort to using the thick bulky Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary for help. Moving back and forth from the Bible to the dictionary took sometime and rendered the reading an interruptive experience. Unlike modern computer software that can reveal original language details on the fly, the old way took efforts and diligence Care was also needed to distinguish the key terms and verbs so as to understand the main teachings of the passage. This manner of analyzing the passage by dividing the sentences into chunks required the skills of putting the meaning together. Without any theological training, it can be pretty challenging. This Word Study Bible fits into the category well. It enables us to read the actual Bible passages in one smooth reading. It underlines key words for deeper exegesis and understanding. Students of Hebrew and Greek would know that the original languages are far more nuanced in putting meaning and perspectives into words. This simply means that a word could convey several meanings in one sentence. A key reason why this study Bible has been offered is that all translations can only be an approximation to the original. The goal of this translation is to get as close as possible.

There are no grand colour plates or tables and illustrations within the Bible, which is a good thing because it reduces distractions from the main texts. This study Bible truly lives up to its name as being a "Word Study Bible." Literally, there are no visual images or pictures to distract our eyes. There are also minimal commentaries that could interrupt our interpretations. It highlights words to illuminate the original contexts. I really appreciate the cross references to other passages conveniently laid out on each page. If there is one criticism, I would actually lament the limitation to just one Bible translation. I would have hoped that there is a similar Word Study Bible for the NIV, the NASB, the ESV, or the other popular Bible translations. However, for the layreader, the King James translation remains one of the most reliable ones out there, and in some instances, render the texts more accurately than the rest. With the updated language, it is even more readable. Good students of the Bible will understand that there are no perfect translations. Having more than one translations to study the same passage only helps us to understand and appreciate the beauty of Bible translations. I recommend this study Bible highly. Use it together with parallel Bibles, Bible helps, and if necessary, the original texts.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Thomas-Nelson and BookLookBloggers Review Program without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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