Tuesday, January 26, 2016

God's Justice Study Bible

God’s Justice
Study Bible
Gods Justice Study Bible cover.jpg
Tim Stafford
General Editor

A Review

Justice has long been a theme of the Christian Church, but with few exceptions we hear little about it from those who speak most loudly for the church. Tim Stafford and his team of 56 writers plus additional staff have put together a useful tool for perceiving and understanding the place justice has in God’s economy.  

There is much to excite the Christian leader or layperson as he picks up this volume for the first time. I was pleased that the editor chose to use the NIV (2011) to use as a foundation for the printed version of the Justice Bible. Though some ma have preferred an earlier NIV version, by choosing the NIV this Study Bible does have a well-respected foundation upon which to build.

However, having noted the translation, the first thing I noticed (and confirmed by reading the introduction) was the international flavor of the book. Book notes are written by scholars and leaders from all over the world. There are very few pages without notes - demonstrating that, to these authors, God’s justice is pervasive throughout time and the scriptures. I was also glad to see each book concludes with “Questions for Reflection” - these are brief but to the point.

That does not mean that this Study Bible is perfect (but what is?).  First, the notes do not stand out - the font is small and and the notes brief compared to the text they discuss. There are no formal cross references which would allow the reader to see how individual themes continue throughout the scriptures. There are some references within the notes, but these are scattered throughout the text and follow no strict pattern.

Though the notes do have an international authorship, the notes for each book are still the work of a single author from a single country. I don’t know if having a team of authors from two or more countries work on each Bible book would have made a difference, but it would have better expressed the “international” flavor of the book

Also, with so many notes, spread out through the whole text of scripture, an index is required - sadly, there is none. This makes finding notes and Bible texts which address a particular theme difficult (if not impossible) to find.  With no index, this Bible could be helped by making a searchable digital version of the book. As in the past, I would like to see WordSearch or LOGOS add this to their digital libraries for easier use by the reader. With no index, it also may mean that this Bible is more suitable for reading than for studying. As I have noted in the past, accessibility is as important, if not more important, than content. This Bible falls short on accessibility.

I would recommend this Bible be made available to all pastors - we each work in justice ministries in one way or another. The same could be true of missionaries and those called to work among the world’s hurting and abused. Though this Bible does not need to be in every teacher’s home, it would find a place in the church library where teachers and others would have access to its contents for personal use.  
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

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