Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: The Bible (!)

I'm a bit of a Bible junkie.  Having Bibles around makes me happy--I like having wisdom within arm's reach at all times. And yet, it's a strange thing to do a book review on the Bible. I mean, it's not like I'm in a position to opine on the author's use of symbolism or plot development.  But when Thomas Nelson offered me the chance to check out the latest edition of the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, I was excited, even though I knew right from the start I'd be ignoring their requirement that I read the ENTIRE book before posting my review :)

My friend Elizabeth recommended an earlier edition of this Bible to me a couple of years ago--it's her favorite.  And as I look at it now, I can see why. It's set up to direct you toward God's encouragement. It has lots of extra material to help you find and focus on the places where God is saying, "I have a plan. I'll tell you what you need to do. It's okay not to worry. It's safe to trust me."

It's the New Living Translation, which means that the original Hebrew and Greek are translated in more of a "what is the meaning and intention of the sentence?" fashion, instead of word-for-word.  While people go round and round about how reliable this is, I usually step outside of that argument and ask this question instead:  Can reading these words in a slightly different arrangement show me something I missed because I'm so used to the phrasing of my everyday bible?  (I've been a fan of the NIV Study Bible, a slightly more literal translation, since I tiptoed in to Christian faith.)

Here's how I reviewed this Bible:

Right now, my Bible time is pretty stripped down: each morning I read the Psalm and Proverb for the date.  Today is June 21, so I'm reading Psalm 21, and Proverb 21.  In a season like this when I don't have much extra bandwidth, this gives me a prayer and a nugget of wisdom to keep me from screwing up during the day. It's not very sophisticated, but it keeps me on the beam.

(I was going to post a picture of a securely balanced gymnast here, but let's be honest: these are way more fun):

Still, technically, on the beam...

Thankfully, unlike gymnastics judges, God doubles our bonus points for every bit of extra effort we put into clinging to the beam. Hanging underneath is totally counts!

Okay, back the review:
This morning, instead of reaching for my usual bible, I grabbed the NSFLB instead.  As expected, I enjoyed the NLT translation of the Psalm & Proverb, but those readings didn't feature many of the "special bonus" stuff this Bible offers, so I flipped around a bit.

My favorite part was the sections called "Truth in Action" that offer practical suggestions for applying the Bible to everyday life today. I'm a practical girl, so I like clear suggestions.

My least favorite part was that this Bible is complicated! There are all sorts of symbols and footnote systems employed on almost every line--it's distracting. And even though I searched for twenty minutes, I couldn't figure out what the tiny crosses at the end of some passages were trying to direct me to.

My take on this is that it's a good supplemental Bible, if you're looking for a change of pace or some extra inspiration...or a STELLAR everyday Bible if you enjoy puzzles :)


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