The Bible is the subject of today’s blog on letter “B.” My understanding is that the term, “bible” means “book.” However, the Christian Bible is really a collection of 66 books, written by at least 39 authors over about 1500 years.
Okay, think about that. Thirty–nine authors writing over 1500 years manage to produce a collection of books that cover thousands of years, that compliment and support each other; that don’t contradict each other and manage to be collected and bound together into one book! But wait, there’s more… it is translated and copied over and over again, without error. How do we know this? In the Dead Sea Scrolls a complete copy of the book of Isaiah was found—except for some punctuation, it was word for word what we have in our Bibles today. Keep in mind these scrolls are nearly 2000 years old. It’s commonly referred to as the Holy Bible, meaning “set-apart, different.” There is no comparison elsewhere in literature.
I have a collection of Bibles. I get a lot of flak on having so many Bibles. I used to be a translation junkie, pouring over the internet, seeking the answer to the question “what is the best translation.” I have pretty much settled that question for myself and the answer is the English Standard Version (ESV) with the New American Standard (NASB) a very close second. I’m also pretty much settled on this: It’s more important to apply it my life than to be sure I’m reading the best translation.
From this collection, here’s my two cents on each, from left to right:
- ESV Study Bible—wow, what a wealth of information in this Bible! The notes and articles are top notch. Drawback: The thing is huge and you need one of those wheeled briefcases to tote the thing around with you!
- The Reformation Study Bible—ESV—based on the old Geneva Bible with great notes and articles written by J.I. Packer. Not as thorough as the ESV Study Bible, but you won’t break a limb carrying it around!
- ESV Classic Reference Bible—great Bible with an awesome concordance, good cross references.
- Holy Bible, Common Language—haven’t really spent anytime with this Bible.
- ESV Single Column Legacy Edition—great Bible; love the one column layout and has a great concordance; it’s lacking cross references, which i miss when I’m using it.
- Holman Christian Standard—thin—line Bible; love the size, just can’t get used to the way they translate some things.
- ESV Personal Size Reference—this is my everyday Bible; love this thing; single column format, cross–references, etc. Sometimes, especially in low light it’s hard to see the cross–references.
- NASB Reference Edition—got this one in 1983, so it is the “old” version with “thees and thous”; still a good Bible; single–column, verse by verse with cross references on the outside edges; definitely my favorite layout.
- NASB Reference—updated NASB; double column format; cross references, etc. Good Bible.
- NIV Student Bible—I love some features of this Bible, but again, no cross–references and while the NIV is popular, I like ESV better.
- Thompson Chain–Reference—NIV—great reference Bible that follows chains by topic. Narrow double column that is not inviting to read.
Most of these Bibles are marked up, for I believe in writing in them. I read once about a seminary professor who would buy a new Bible each January, read it cover to cover, making notes as he went; at the end of the year he would give it to one of his students! I believe that any book we read, the Bible included, is better digested when we have highlighted it and written in it—see On Bibles and Markings for more details. Some take a little different approach—one person uses a notebook that he writes all his observations in, since he changes Bibles often (he reviews them). I have begun something that hasn’t taken the place of highlighting and margin notes, but does supplement those notes. I’ve begun a OneNote (Microsoft) notebook. I like OneNote over Evernote because I can do tabs for each book of the Bible:
Like a paper notebook, each tab contains pages, usually identified by the passage. I like the ease of use and how it’s laid out like a regular notebook. I even have a tab for notes that I’ve made in the front or back of Bibles over the years (Flyleaf Notes). It’s an option that I’m still testing out.
Of course, in a year’s time I will probably have more editions—I’m a Bible junkie!