@tyndalehouse Review: Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT

chronological life applicaiton study bible

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In anything except for relationships, it is always grand to return to your first love. As a young and nubile prince of reviewers, I first began to review for Tyndale with their Cornerstone Commentary series and then, the NLT Study Bible. Even though the time for reviews had long since passed and I had been turned down once; yet the kind folks, sensing the my need for the NLT relented and sent me my first one… the one that changed devotional reading. This edition of the New Living Translation promises to drive reading in much the same way a new translation does — by mixing it up.

First, let us discuss the question that is pressing: Why do we need a bible set in a chronological line? Canonical theists may argue for a reading as it is set in canon. I would prefer a reading of the time of composition. The Chronological method straddles the fence between both of these in a good way. It sees Scripture as a grand narrative not of a set of authors and audience, but one of Author and one audience. Is this new? Maybe, or maybe it is presented with a foot in the past and a hand on the door of the future. Why then do we need to have such an edition? Are we not destroying sacred canon? No. After all, the canon is only recently settled, with different orders appearing in the Reformation. Reading the bible in such a way is beneficial because it helps those who struggle with viewing Scripture as a great whole (even the noted the literary theorist, Northrop Frye who struggled with religion and Christianity could see the completeness of Scripture) while maintaining their place in the grander narrative. Further, on a slightly different level, reading the bible with its self-proclaimed chronology helps to examine how different authors write of different events — thus it becomes both a scholarly and a theologically method.

The method here is to take the books along the calendar which they portend to, or tradition tells us, they follow. Therefore, you begin with Genesis even though scholars may argue it comes after other books if we were to date it by composition event because it begins the story. Added to this concept is the infusion of different parts of the story. For instance, Kings and Chronicles are placed inside one another so that a history is given that does not bare the marks of ideological driven drivel discovered if we were to separate them out. Paul’s letters are interspersed among Acts to provide a certain amount of theological detail to Acts and historical detail to the Pauline corpus. Likewise, there is here no synoptic problem. The Editors would make Tatian proud as they have made a modern day Diatessaron allowing the reader to read the story of Jesus from four angles, at once.

Coupled with this method of reading are the notes from the Life Application Study Bible acting to give the bible an applicable feel to the believer. This bible is also filled with lots of color — timelines, charts, and pictures that help to amplify the passages and even books (a personal favorite is the picture of the act of Creation at the beginning of Genesis 1). Various articles, such as “A Chronological Survey of the Bible” supplement the Life Application Study Bible notes, to allow for a deeper, investigative, study of the schema of the volume. On the top of each page is a progressing timeline so that the reader can know where she is at while reading that page. Of a particular note are the colors in Psalms. The title, theme, and author are noted in a shade of blue-green, like the eyes of the ocean. This, in my opinion, helps to separate what we have done from what the Psalmist has written. Of course the color of these headings and the headings for the rest of the volume match the color on the progressing time line. And, thank God, with all of this color, the editors have refused to use red for the words of Jesus. This, my friends, is a rather important point for me when selecting a bible.

So, now comes the inevitable question: Would I recommend the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible? I would, but not because of some forlorn loyalty to the translation who kept me reading Scripture. Nor would I because I was provided this as a review copy. There is nothing to actually make me recommended a bible except for the fact that it is a good one. Yes, it is geared to more conservative Christians, including a Christian Worker’s Resource Guide that is, in fact, not about labor unions. Yes, it is deeply evangelical. But it is a solid translation for reading. The Life Application Study Bible notes are found in many churches across the denominational  spectrum. Here, these notes that have served for years to guide believers into applying biblical precepts are coupled with an artistic take on telling the bible story as if it is a grand story of many interconnected parts, rather than a library sixty-six books. This is a great resource for renewing one’s appreciation of our place in the story of God. So yes, I would recommend it.

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Below are a few pictures:

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This is how it is laid out

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The Timeline they Follow – Notice the Undated

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Nice Color Shot

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This, my friends, is a beautiful introduction to Genesis

In the Mail: Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT

chronological life applicaiton study bible

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Thanks to the kind folks at Tyndale House for sending this review copy:

The Bible is the story of God’s interaction with his creation. It is a story that occurs over time, in many places, and through many events. It includes the lives and lessons learned by many people from many cultures. It’s often easy to lose sight of the way in which God’s story fits together when our primary way of looking at the Bible is a bit here and a bit there.

The new four-color Chronological Life Application Study Bible combines the proven resources of the Life Application Study Bible with a chronological format and several brand-new resources. The Bible is arranged in 10 chronological sections that help the reader to see how the various pieces of the Bible fit together. New section intros and timelines set the stage for the passages in each section. New archaeological notes and photographs help to bring God’s story to life in a whole new way. And of course, the Life Application resources answer the all-important question—“so what?”

Please “Like” the NLT Study Bible Page on Facebook

I like it. You like it. So, if you don’t mind, for those of you on Facebook, please “like” this page. And for those of you who aren’t, go ahead and sign up for Facebook so that you can “like” it now.

The NLT Study bible is chocked full of good stuff. And, it wins, so far in the Study Bible Wars.

Also, you can “friend” me on facebook here.

The Study Bible Wars: NLT 1, ESV 0

ESV Study Bible Hardcover Cover

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I wanted to highlight just a few things about the NLT Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible as a point of comparison. This post is not meant to be all incluvise or even a review.

In Genesis 1.26, the NLT Study Bible reads,

Let us make is more personal than the remote “Let there be” (e.g., 1.36). The plural us has inspired several explanations:

  1. the Trinity;
  2. the plural to denote majesty;
  3. a plural to show deliberation with the self; and
  4. God speaking with his heavenly court of angels

The editors answer these objections, and I’ll skip most of what they say. No doubt the editors, translators and others who worked on the NLT Study Bible, the scholars anyway, are devout ‘orthodox’ Christians believing in the Trinity. Yet here, they allow for a more scholastic approach which keeps the integrity of the passage free from later dogmatization. They note, “The concept of the Trinity – one true God who exists eternally in three distinct persons – was revealed at a later stage in redemptive history, making it unlikely that the human author intended that here.” They conclude the note by stating that option 4 is the the most likely answer. And indeed, it is. This is the position of ancient Jewish interpreters as well, as demonstrated in the Jewish Study Bible.

The ESV Study Bible notes that the “text does not specify the identify of the “us” mentioned here.” Ahh… the false notion of Scripture interpreting Scripture. A starting point for the interpretation of Scripture cannot be Scripture, as it allows for circular logical to act as the foundation of the loudest voice being right. The ESV Study Bible Editors goes on to note what the NLT Study Bible does, that the ‘us’ (as it is in other places in the OT) is the heavenly court. Yet, they end by stating,  “Many Christians and some Jews have taken “us” to be God speaking to himself, since God alone does the making in Genesis. 1.27 (cf 5.1); this would be the first hint of the Trinity in the Bible (cf. 1.2).”

But it’s not. It is actually the heavenly court which was the understanding of the people who first read this passage. While it is easy for us to sit here today and reread the original works, the Scriptures were not created in a vacuum. The writers used the lexicons and encyclopedias of the day so that those who heard them then would understand the meaning of the text. How arrogant of us to think that the people for whom it was written didn’t understand it, and yet, we do.

Overall, I like the ESV Study Bible notes, but in several areas, the NLT Study Bible remains intellectually honest.

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A Sample Review: NLT Parallel Study Bible Sampler

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Thanks to Adam for this Sampler. The entire bible is due on August 1.

As a fan of the NLT and more, the NLT Study Bible, I was interested to note that Tyndale will now produce the NLT Study Bible’s notes along side the notes of the Life Application series. I find that while the NLT Study Bible’s notes are more conservative than something like the New Oxford Annotated Bible, they are still filled with integrity. For example look at the notes for Genesis 1.26 and Isaiah 7.14. When you can be honest about these verses, I find that the rest of the study notes are to be respected as well. The Life Application series has been around for a little while and is attached to various translations. This system of notes is meant for a more broadly based daily use with the goal of helping the Christian to apply Scriptural teachings to their own lives.

So what’s the reason you should but this bible and there by replace both your already purchased Study Bible and Life Application Bible? For starters, there is the parallel feature. The translation is single column, at the top of the page. Below the ‘fold’, in parallel columns, the editors have placed the notes attached to each bible. Instead of taking two bibles, or rather, having to chose between the two, you can now enjoy both of them at the same time. You can fill up your scholastic need as well as your devotional need!

The sampler only includes Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, so the features may change.

One of these features are short studies on the book of Romans. Seven, actually. They cover a variety of theological topics which are meant for small groups or individuals. There are not overly in depth, but these studies will get you more than familiar with the particular book and some of the current theological thinking regarding them.

The problem with bibles like these is the question, “Do I really need another one?” I think that some of us live in a false dichotomy that critical studies (even of the evangelical variety) must be separated from devotional or theological living. A bible like this helps to show that the separation isn’t that wide and can be somewhat welded together. For those who like their devotional readings mixed with conservative critical studies, I think that the answer to the above question is “Yes, you do need this bible.” Plus, it gives you a reason to remark your bible up (shivers) and cross reference between study and life.

BREAKING: NLT quoted in West Virginia Newspaper

Actually, it is a pretty good editorial all by itself, but you know….

It reminds me of Daniel and the dream he interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar, who demanded that his wise men not only interpret the dream but that they also tell him what he dreamed in the first place. He wasn’t giving any hints. So, Daniel and his friends prayed and the dream was revealed to him that night.

What Daniel saw was a statue of a man, which “was a frightening sight.” As the New Living Translation tells the story from the second chapter of Daniel, the head was made of fine gold, the chest and arms were silver, the belly and thighs were bronze, the legs iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. In the dream, a rock was cut from a mountain and struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them. Then the whole statue was crushed into small pieces and blown away by the wind without a trace.

via Why we should not hide from our mistakes » Columns » Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV.

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Thoughts on the NLT and בֶּן־אֱ֜נ֗וֹשׁ in Psalm 144.3

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), fr...

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Over at the blog which must not be named, a discussion as sprung up about the translation of Psalm 144.3:

O LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? – NASB

O LORD, who are we that you should notice us, mere mortals that you should care for us? – NLT

O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? – NRSV

The big deal is whether or not the NRSV, and by virtue, all translations who do the same thing, are missing something. I say no. I note, briefly, that the NLT translates the Hebrew phase as ‘Son of Man’ in Ezekiel and Daniel, where the imagery of the Son of Man in the Gospels (well, sorta) comes from. Here, I think that the Psalmist is referring to humanity as a whole…

Although, there is the image in Hebrews 2 where in this passage is quoted and applied to Christ, although some would argue that Jesus is seen here coming from humanity. I might not, but some do.

So, what do you think? I think that the NLT is  right to translate it as Son of Man in Ezekiel and Daniel, but not sure that the Messianic precursor is present in the Psalms and therefore the NRSV and the NLT’s translation is allowable.

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Does the NLT get it right in Jeremiah 31.35-37? Even Rodney agrees…

While doing the work up on this for my OT class, I noticed something which again reminds me of why I enjoy the NLT:

JPS NLT NASB
35 Thus said the LORD, Who established the sun for light by day, The laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is LORD of Hosts:

36 If these laws should ever be annulled by Me — declares the LORD — Only then would the offspring of Israel cease To be a nation before Me for all time.

37 Thus said the LORD: If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done — declares the LORD.

35 It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says:

36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”

37 This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!

35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:

36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.”

37 Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.

The affirmation in v36 and 37 is a positive one, and yet, the more literal readings has it almost as a threat. There is absolutely no possibility that the natural laws will disappear from the Cosmos and neither will the measuring of the heavens above be accomplished because as science tells us, the Universe is constantly expanding.

Frankly, the NLT’s translation shines through here and relates to us God’s unending love for His people.

What Rodney gets wrong about me and the NLT

A photo of the first edition of the NLT
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I wonder if I could make that into a song ‘Me and the NLT’ – maybe sung to the tune of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’

Rodney has been wrong a lot lately, but I suspect that it has more to do with having the blinders of dissent on (which I plan on getting to later), than actual facts. He, and I am sure this is just an attempt at trying to be funny, insists that the NLT reader is,

Indicates that you have been a part of the Bible Wars for years and you are looking for a way to escape the King James Version only crowd. It means you still hold on to your embedded conservative theology but are desiring to engage other Christians outside of the KJVO faith.

What Your Bible Translation Tells Me about You | Political Jesus.

Several things are wrong with that statement, as it is usually is with what Rodney writes. First, I haven’t been a part of the ‘bible wars’ for years, and really, from what I can see from other NLT users, they haven’t either. I left the bible wars years ago when I first picked up the NKJV then the RSV then the, well, you get the picture. I really have no need to engage in bible wars, except to defend the right of the reader to choose a bible which suits them.

I have no ‘embedded conservative theology.’ I classify myself as theological conservative because I believe that all things pertaining to the life of a Christian, especially in the matters of theology and Christian growth, must be based on Scripture. There is simply no ‘well, it was a different time then’ with me. I believe that we take Scripture and find the right interpretative measures for it, such as what the original audience might have heard, the etymology of the passages, and as always, the original languages.

I might get to that last bit in a later post, since people have a difficult time constructing what makes one a liberal or a conservative, either politically or theologically, because they insist on being subjective. Subjectivity leads only to incomplete decisions and irrational statements. But, alas, I digress…

Do I use other translations? Sure. I use the RSV and will use the NRSV if I must. I prefer the NASB for more academic study if I cannot use the original Greek, and the NETS for reading/studying/citing the Septuagint. I like the NLT for reading, studying, devotionals, and conversational preaching. By far and away, the NLT is my bible of choice. It is also my family’s. Not because I have chosen it because others didn’t (think Rodney and the NRSV or his aversion to anything which seems liked), or that it is conservative (just ask the ESV-Only crowd), or that is a fashion statement (think Message, then forget about the Message and get yourself a real bible, like the NLT). I chose the NLT because it saved my bible reading, and I was able to share with others, in their language-speak, what the Gospel means.

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