Friday, November 29, 2013

The CEB Study Bible - A Review

A Review

I had originally decided to not write a review of this book.  After requesting a review copy, I only received a copy of the book of Mark and one essay extracted from the book.  Though I understood the cost restrictions of sending an entire Bible to every reviewer, it was not enough to prepare a fair and complete review.  It was enough, however, to encourage this reviewer to order a copy of the complete Bible for his own use.  The complete copy warrants a good review.

This massive (2222+ pages) work is one of the best Study Bibles I have seen.  The editor is on the faculty of Fuller Seminary and has a long history of publishing in Biblical circles.  The CEB Study Bible comes in two basic versions, with and without notes on the Apocrypha.  I chose to purchase and review the edition without the Apocrypha.

As might be expected in a good Study Bible, the notes are well written.  Though leaning more toward a scholarly tone, the notes also include a bit of devotional tone as well.  Along with the notes are several sidebar articles which address specific topics in more depth.  These sidebar articles are indexed both in Biblical Order and in Alphabetical Order.  

Color images are included throughout the book, but the thinness of the pages reduces the quality of the images compared to what might be expected in a reference work of this length.  Pages of the Introductory material and the Old Testament are numbered separately from the New Testament and Concluding material.  The 21 typical Bible maps found in the last few pages of the book are numbered separately - but not with page numbers.  There is a map index.  The maps do not seem to be as well prepared or as unique as the other tools found in the text.

The introductory material consists of typical Bible helps:  Abbreviations, Table of Measures, the Hebrew Calendar, a list of the Canons of Scripture from various traditions.  This material also includes the aforementioned “Index of Sidebar Articles”.  Following the New Testament are five essays on authority and use of Scripture by the believer.  The concluding material also contains a fairly complete (for a Bible) concordance and the set of maps mentioned earlier.

The editor states that the book is designed to assist an individual or group in the understanding of the cultural and historical background.  His choice of authors from a variety of backgrounds (conservative and liberal) provide a somewhat mixed bag in terms of notes.  However, the editor’s own essay, found near the end of the book declares his own commitment to the validity of the Scriptures, as he writes (page 530):

  1. Scripture is One
  2. Scripture is Holy
  3. Scripture is Catholic
  4. Scripture is Apostolic

I probably would not recommend The CEB Study Bible as a believer’s first Study Bible (this honor would probably fall to the ESV Study Bible or the HCSB Study Bible), I would recommend that a pastor or adult Bible Study leader obtain a copy for regular reference and use.

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer for the purpose of creating this review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.

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