Monday, December 17, 2018

NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible - A Review

(see my earlier review at

Welcome to (one of) the best modern Study Bible available in 2018. A number of features make it stand out. The first obvious indication of its value is its size. Containing 2500+ pages of Biblical text, notes, essays, concordance, and maps — this thing is HUGE. But more important than this is the range of authorship (something I missed in my earlier review). Authors come from a range of institutions — Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (my alma mater), Wheaton College, Asbury Seminary, Baylor University, Westminster Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, etc. The authors include men who mentored me, men whom I have read, and some that are new to me. There seems to be a missing diversity in gender and, perhaps, ethnicity (more difficult to verify). Though the book has a somewhat Baptist/Reformed flavor, the editor has drawn from a wide variety of sources.

The notes are extensive, occupying nearly 20% of most pages — and given that the notes use a slightly smaller font than the Biblical text itself, they truly contribute to 25% or more of the text. Along with the notes, helpful full-color charts and maps are scattered throughout the book to help the reader grasp the broader structure of the text. There are also nearly 30 essays addressing topics which typically cross the normal divisions of scripture such as testaments, books, authors, etc. Some of these essay discuss topics such as

* The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus is Central by Timothy Keller
The Bible and Theology by D. A. Carson
* A Biblical-Theological Overview by D. A. Carson
Death and Resurrection by Philip S. Johnston
The Consummation by Douglas J. Moo

An extensive concordance is also included along with a 14 map atlas (note: maps, as mentioned earlier, are also embedded in the notes as well).

Weaknesses are few. Though there is a wide theological diversity demonstrated among the contributors, the lack of gender diversity is too obvious. The font of the notes sometimes seems too small. Thankfully the text of this Study Bible is available in a number of digital versions including Kindle and LOGOS. Finally, be aware that this book was published as recently as 2015 under a different title, NIV Zondervan Study Bible. I have this book in both hard copy, as a Kindle book, and as a LOGOS e-book. A brief survey suggests there is no difference between the earlier version of the book and the current one.
As I wrote earlier, while reviewing the previous edition: I have a few favorite Study Bibles - the NIV Zondervan Study Bible will/has become another of those favorites. I will be consulting it often — I suspect others will as well. The same can be said for the newer NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Infographic Bible - A Review

The Infographic Bible is a colorful book full of useful details. However, the type face is so small and the font color so light, it is often hard to read and understand the information included by the author. The book, thus, becomes more of a coffee table book, than a useful reference book.

One must begin by stating that this is not a Bible — but a set of images designed to convey information to the reader. The images do stand out and are vivid. They draw the reader’s attention immediately to the pictures. But the font chosen to accompany the illustrations is so small as to make them difficult to read. Contributing to this is that the colors chosen for many of the fonts do not contrast well with the page background. Finally, it must be noted that though the images are designed to convey information, there is no data to support the claims made by the illustrations. “Sources” are given, but it appears that the data gleaned from the sources comes in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is directly inferred from the sources, but at other times it is only indirectly drawn from the sources referenced.

Several improvements would make this book more useful.

  1. Be sure that all data is thoroughly referenced using standard footnotes 
  2. Reduce the size of the graphics and increase the size of the fonts 
  3. Provide the book in an electronic format that would allow images and fonts to be enlarged 
  4. Allow a book designer to review the finished book to ensure that information is clear and readable — this includes both the sizes and the colors used throughout the book. 
I had looked forward to reviewing this book, but was disappointed with the final product.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Fatality In F - A Review

Core Christianity cover.jpg

Murder and classical music seem to go together for Gethsemane Brown. And she has done it again. Gethsemane, her cohort of community friends, and one almost friendly ghost, Eamon McCarthy, are again called upon to the murder mystery surrounding The International Rose Hybridizers’ Association. Watching Gethsemane living in an Irish community with its mythos and culture, is as much fun as watching her solve the current problem standing before her.

As expected, Alexia Gordon has produced an enjoyable cozy mystery that will hold the reader's attention from page one. But Alexia Gordon also adds a brief introduction to the classical music world as she introduces us to the composers and music that are part of that world. The author does not focus on just the names that most neophytes might know, but also lesser known names (at least to this author) from the classical music genre such as Prokofiev’s ‘Prologue from The Tale of the Stone Flower’ or Strauss’s ‘Roses from The South’. A quick search on Google and the reader can verify the facts presented by Ms. Gordon, learn more about the composer, and listen to the pieces referenced in the book. It might be possible for the publisher to create a website supporting this successful author and the musical references made in her books.

The book is great just as a cozy mystery read. This book easily earns its 5-star review. However, for those in high school or college, it might serve as a lighter text in those institutions highlighting “Reading Across the Curriculum” or “Writing Across the Curriculum”. Combined with a writing and listening assignment, it could also easily integrate into an appropriate course.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.