As I’ve mentioned before, it’s difficult for me to review the Bible. After all, what am I supposed to write? “Great job, God! You knocked it out of the park on this one! I see a best seller here!” I mean, I’m certainly not going to critique it and suggest there are mistakes, that something could have been worded a little more clearly or gently… “Hey, God, overall I like the book, but this Jesus character? He was pretty blunt – couldn’t you have toned him down a bit?” Yeah, not gonna happen.
So when I was given the opportunity to review the Evangelism Study Bible I understood that I was not reviewing the scripture itself but rather the extra-biblical resources contained in the Bible – things like book introductions, the concordance, study notes, etc. This particular bible is a NKJV, so unlike one of my earlier reviews I wasn’t even reviewing the translation.
So here’s my thoughts… Overall the notes seem to be helpful and high-quality. They do a nice job of bringing an evangelistic focus to verses I would have never thought about looking at in that way (as in the notes on how to help a new believer choose a church aligned with the building of Solomon’s temple in 2 Chronicles). The concordance seemed comprehensive enough for a paper version (let’s be honest, at this point I use the internet on my phone to do word searches more than anything else), and the included ribbon bookmark was a nice little feature that I always appreciate in any Bible.
But I guess this is where I get hesitant: why not just public a book on evangelism rather than embed a book within the Bible? Wouldn’t that be more useful and easy to read? It’s like they took a book of Q&A on evangelism, cut it up into small chunks, and then just split them up on pages throughout the scripture – but, as with all Bible, the important stuff isn’t this commentary, it’s the scripture. And I guess that’s my biggest struggle with bibles like this in general. I’ve been in too many settings where someone will read the notes or commentary as scripture, when they aren’t. I’m not suggesting notes and commentaries are bad, I’m just saying they don’t have the same level of authority as do the words of scripture themselves. Many who read the Bible seem to understand this, and I’m certainly not against using notes and commentaries in Bible studies and discussions (I do it myself). But there are also many who seem unable to distinguish between what God has written and what man has interpreted and written. At the end of the day, these Bibles too often seem more about marketing than they do anything else (as a disclaimer, I have multiple study Bibles at my house that I have purchased). In many ways I think someone could find more valuable and accurate resources (and save some money) by doing a little online research or just purchasing a commentary/study guide/book as they could by purchasing one of these Bibles.
Having said all that, it is not a mistake to purchase a Study Bible and if you’re looking for a good translation to carry around with you and you want to get some “bonus” features thrown in, this is an excellent choice. I often think of buying study bibles as a 2-for-1 deal – you get the Bible and a basic commentary for one price. So if you want the ease of carrying only one book, or if it’s more cost effective to purchase a study Bible rather than a Bible and a commentary, this may be a good option for you. I’ll give this book 3.5/5 stars. For the record, I did receive a complimentary copy in exchanges for an honest, though not necessarily favorable, review.