Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Discipleship: How To Choose A Bible

Every Bible is different. There are so many to choose from, it may seem like a daunting task because there seem to be too many choices to make the proper decision in many cases. There are not just different translations, there are different styles of Bibles, too. Each has its own unique set of features designed to draw the student into a distinctive study situation. I have several different Bibles for very different purposes. Here is a brief description of a few of my Bibles and what I use them for.

First, my NIV Study Bible has been my flagship tool for many years. It has a soft leather cover that I love to feel in my hand. It has extensive margin notes that are helpful when doing more intense study to link passages together throughout the Bible. This is the Bible I use for BSF (it is especially useful on Challenge questions that allow you to reference other passages). Recently, I’ve found this Bible increasingly difficult to use because of the small print and my diminishing eyesight.

My Names of God Bible in the God’s Word Translation is what I am currently using in my quiet time/personal study time and during prayer. I like being able to attach a specific attribute or role to the Lord and speaking to Him specifically using the name that assigns that value to Him. There are devotional readings that teach the reader how to pray to God using more than 70 specific names. There are also reading plans that show you the thread of each name through scripture.

I have a Parallel Bible with four different translations side-by-side so I can get clarification of a passage by reading it in another version. I also have a Word Study Old Testament and New Testament so I can study the meaning of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek without knowing those languages.

So, take a few moments to interview yourself. Do you have a preferred translation in mind? What size print do you require? How large can your Bible be? What are you going to use your Bible for? Beginner study or more advanced, intense study? Will you need basic or extensive cross-references? Do you want brief commentary notes or will they influence your study time when you don’t want them to? Do you want to learn specifically about Biblical archaeology or Apologetics? Do you want devotional readings included? Make a list of the most important features you want in your Bible AND RANK THEM. There will be trade-offs, and you definitely want to know what your priorities are before you go to the store.

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