Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Review

The Modern Life Study Bible is a well-designed, colorful Study Bible.  It will quickly draw the reader into its pages with comments and notes on almost every page.  With 1942+ pages, it is complete and helpful.  

The notes are scholarly, covering such items as geography, culture.  Biographical entries are provided for both Biblical and historical figures from church history.  The notes also include comments that are devotional and contemplative in nature, allowing the reader to draw nearer to God as he or she reads.  The use of a relative modern translation (the New King James Version) allows both the Bible text and the notes to be readable by the modern reader.  A number of indexes at the rear of the book make, with some cautions, the ancillary material available to the reader whether he or she is reading the Bible text or has an interest in studying some topic.

In addition to the published book, the reader is also offered the opportunity by the publisher to download additional material supporting an interested reader's Bible Study.  This material included Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, downloadable as a PDF and accessible on-line for use as handouts and presentation slides.

Two items are of concern to me.  First, the book contains few citations.  There are a list of eleven works, tied to notes for specific Bible verses, listed on the very last page of the published book.  With that single exception, no reference is made to who contributed the notes nor are sources supporting the facts and figures mentioned in the text provided.    

My bigger concern is the lack of a comprehensive index.  A few illustrations help make clear why this is a handicap.  

  1. I went looking for an entry on “praise”.  Only after scanning the four or five indexes did I spot a sub-entry on “Praise for God’s Power” under the entry “POWER” in one of the indexes.  This was the only entry I found.
  2. I went looking for an entry on “prayer”.  Again, after scanning the four or five indexes, I found no such entry.  I suspect that prayer is mentioned someplace in this Bible’s copious notes, but it was not easily located.
  3. Finally, I went looking for information on “Government(s)”.  Though I suspect I may not have found all appropriate notes, I did find entries on government(s) in three different indexes:

    1. An index of Key NT Passages
    2. An index of Themes
    3. An index of Jobs and Occupations

Why did I need to search three indexes to find information that could easily be found in a single location?

Each of these problems or questions could be addressed by the availability of a comprehensive index of all notes.  The individual indexes do add value to the book, but the existence of a comprehensive index could add additional value to the book. The Modern Life Study Bible is one of the better Study Bibles available today, both in terms of the kind of information provided and its comprehensiveness.  However, because much of that information may be inaccessible to a studious reader, this Study Bible may be of less value that than others in its class.  
This problem could easily be addressed by making available either an on-line index or a searchable downloadable index.  This issue could also be addressed by making available an electronic version of this Study Bible using one of the major Bible software packages.
The Modern Life Study Bible is a great supplement for the user who is reading the Bible.  As currently presented, it is of less use to the person who is trying to research a topic.  Having said this, I do recommend the Modern Life Study Bible for the quality of its notes and helps.

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

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