First, I’m not here to debate the merits of particular Bible translations, or which “version” one should read. A dear friend of mine who is a minister once told me, “The best version you can read is the one you will read.” Some might debate that, but I believer there’s a lot of truth in that statement. If you don’t prefer the NIV, then don’t get it. Instead, purchase a Bible version that you WILL read and study.
Timelines: The beginning of this Bible contains detailed and colorful timelines, from patriarchs to kings. These are useful when attempting to get a clear picture of history at a glance. (I'd love to provide some color photos, but I'd probably be violating copyright laws. Sorry.)
Introductions: Each section (Pentateuch, Historical, Wisdom, etc.) and the individual books begin with introductory articles. But it’s not only the articles that are beneficial, but color prints of ancient art, maps, and/or photographs are contained within the articles. These make the reading much more interesting.
Color Photos: Do you remember when you were a kid and the first thing you looked for in a book was its number of pictures? If it had a lot, you checked it out of the library; if not, you left it there for someone else? Well, this Bible has a ton of pictures…and they’re not the boring black-and-white pictures either. These are quality prints on Bible paper. Well done!
Overview Articles: Prior to the concordance in the back of the Bible are a number of articles, such as “The Story of the Bible: How the Good News about Jesus is Central” (by Timothy Keller), “A Biblical-Theological Overview of the Bible” (by D. A. Carson), “Priest” (by Dana. M. Harris), and “The Kingdom of God” (by T.D. Alexander) to name just a few. It is good to read articles by trusted Bible teachers.
Concordance: The concordance is quite solid…157 total pages. I’ve had study Bibles whose concordances were like child’s play. This one is rather decent, though.
Maps: As with any study Bible, the back is chock full of colorful, detailed maps…about 16 pages worth.
Dimensions: This Bible is massive. Its thickness measures just about 2 ½”, but its height and width are standard for a Bible. I estimate that this one weighs right around 5 or 6 pounds. So, if it’s a Bible you’re looking to carry around, prepare for a good workout!
The Pros & Cons of Study Bibles: We are blessed to live in a time when the digital age and printing press join forces to provide Bible students with some of the best study tools on the planet. We are also blessed with a plethora of good Bible teachers whose role it is to equip the Church in understanding God through His word.
However, with all the commentary present in study Bibles today, study Bibles can be burdensomely HUGE! That is the case with this one. Additionally, there seems to be a lot of commentary per page in relation to actual scripture in this Study Bible. I understand much needs to be explained, but sometimes too much is too much.
The danger with this is that people might be tempted to read the Bible with a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down approach. What I mean is this: people may be drawn to the commentaries first and the scriptures second, rather than the other way around.
RATING: I give the NIV Zondervan Study Bible 4 stars out of 5. I think this one is a good tool. Simply use it wisely.
DISCLAIMER: I received this Study Bible free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my unbiased review of it. I was not coerced to provide a positive review. Instead, all opinions are mine.