Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bible reading

I think every believer has a Bible-reading plan of some sort. For me, that plan includes daily Bible-study and daily Bible reading so as to read through my Bible at least once each year. For the past fifteen years I've tried to read a different Bible each year - both the plain, and the fancy ones. One year it was the King James Version I'd received in Sunday school when I was 6 years old (that's a plain one). Another year it was an NIV study Bible (that's a fancy one). Then I read an old American Standard Version my parents gave me when I was 22. After that was another study Bible... and so on. Some years I'd reread the version/edition I just read. Two years ago I got two new Bibles for Christmas:

The Reformation Study Bible in the English Standard Version...

and the NASB Giant Print Reference Bible.

I decided to use the study Bible to read through for the year, and the NASB for daily study. However, more and more I found myself picking up the NASB giant print for both study and read-through-the-year. At first I thought it was due to my increasingly poor eyesight. The giant print is much kinder to my weak eyes. Today, though, I decided that I'm permanently shelving the Reformation Study Bible to be used for reference, but not daily reading.

Here are my likes and dislikes about the Reformation Study Bible:

1. The English Standard Version is not a version that appeals to me. The language for some reason seems abrupt or choppy in too many places. I'm willing to believe that it's not the fault of the translation, but my upbringing. Old habits die hard, and having memorized scripture in KJV, NKJ, and NASB, my mind trips on familiar verses in an unfamiliar translation. And they usually aren't huge differences, just little minor things. But it's like belting out a familiar hymn only to find they've changed a word and you bawled out the version you've known since you were itty-bitty and couldn't even read. (The hymnal at one church we visited had changed a word in "Come Thou Fount." Steve and I were happily singing - loudly, off-key, and tunelessly - "Here I raise mine Ebenezer..." while the rest of the congregation sang "Here I raise my sign of Vict'ry... .")

2. The study notes seem thin in content. I have read three or four books by R.C. Sproul and was so excited that he was the editor of this Bible. I assumed the notes would be meaty and dense. They aren't.

3. The hardback edition is awkward to haul about and to read at any and every place. It's more suited to stay in one spot, and to be read there. That's my mistake. I should have asked for a leather-bound edition.

4. The pages are so thin that I have to use a pencil to make notes, rather than a pen. Ink bleeds through the page and makes the next page difficult to read. Because I like to underline, star, and make notes in the margins of my Bibles, and because I have more pens than pencils at hand for note-taking, the thin pages are a great disappointment.

5. The doctrinal notes are great! If I need a refresher on justification, sanctification, the greatness of God, divine omniscience, Christ the mediator, etc., I can find it in this Bible.

6. For Bible study, this Bible can be used without extra commentaries.

Dearly beloved family members:

If I bought you a Reformation Study Bible in the past year or two and you are not finding it a joy to read, let me know and I will get you a different Bible.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have been so-so with the RSB after much anticipation and hope. The notes are better than say a NIV but are much in need. Especially from my initial expectations (not to mention the total lack of maps)..

I still use my RSB daily. I keep thinking the next version will be substanially better but my resolve is weakening.

Do you have any traction with the Spirt of the Reformation Bible?


9:22 PM  
Blogger Donna Boucher said...

You are so sweet. To offer new Bibles all around :o)

My favorite version is the NASB also.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Dan, I got The Spirit of the Reformation Bible for both Steve and Tom. I don't know how Tom likes his, but Steve is very happy with the NIV edition he has. He said the maps are good, the notes are fine, he likes the paragraph-type layout with the cross references in the margin. He loves the fact that it has several different catechisms and confessions in the back. (Some times I've even seen him reading those during the sermon - can you believe it?!) If you'd like to see one up close, I'm sure Tom would let you see his.

Donna, you are funny! Actually, I try to offer everyone in the family new Bibles once every two years, usually at Easter, but sometimes at Christmas.

1:09 PM  

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