NLT Mosaic Review

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I have been waiting for the Mosaic to arrive in hand ever since the news first broke from Tyndale. The months of waiting are over, and I am not disappointed.

  • Hardcover: 1340 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414322038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414322032

Technical bits:

The Bible comes in 2 bindings, one hardcover and one softcover with a leather like feel. Some time back, when quality reproductions of the Geneva (mid-16th English bible) was being made, they offered it in a similar binding. It was meant to give a historic feel to it, and that feel is felt with the leather-life cover of the Mosaic. The bible is thick (almost two inches), but fits nicely in the hand of a preacher of a lay person – ministers, indeed, all. While the hardback is designed according to the name this edition, the soft cover is dark brown with a Celtic cross on the spin. The added feature of the for the hardback is the Apostle’s Creed on the back cover. Either edition is nice one to have.

The bible lays flat when it is open, for the most part, but I imagine that with just a little use, it will be able to stretch.

The Scriptures themselves are, of course, the NLTse from 2007 (which saw the translation become steadily more literal, without sacrificing clarity, than the 1996 translation), and generally left alone. By which, I mean, that unlike other bibles, the devotional materials are placed in the front. In my opinion, this helps to elevate the Scriptures themselves, as something perfect, with no added detail, and is a feature, I believe, could be looked for in future bibles. The Scriptures open with a note to the readers and the standard Introduction to the New Living Translation as well as the bible translation team. From what I can see, this is pretty standard fare for the NLT bibles. This bible, however, has a center column reference system (and note to the readers). It is scientific, pointed, with the cross references, as many other bibles have, pointing to relevant passages.

The Scriptures contain footnotes, which date back to the King James Version of 1611, containing marginal readings and notes on such things as variant readings. After the Scriptures is Tyndale’s NLT Word Study System, an update to the Strong’s numbering system. After a brief overview and introduction to using the system, the reader is left to examine 100 Hebrew and 100 Greek key words, complete with transliteration, a brief definition, and examples of use from the Scriptures. Accompanying this, of course, is the NLT Dictionary and Concordance for various words. While the concordance is not exhaustive, it is 108 pages long, which should more than satisfy most search attempts.

The Scriptures are presented on thin bible paper, which may make it difficult for note taking, but India paper pens should work without bleed through. Further, and this is a solid plus for this undertaking, the Scriptures are presented in all black lettering, removing any complaints about the quality red ink and the complaint that red letters somehow diminish the rest of Scriptures.

The Mosaic material is roughly one-third of the bible itself, and grouped together at the front of the book. It is printed on a medium-size thickness, with a slight yellow-tinge, paper. The artwork found through this material is well done, and preserved without the ‘copied’ look. Only four pages of this material is used up in introducing the Mosaic material.

Thoughts:

My initial reaction to this bible, once in hand, has been strictly positive. It is a bible which fits well in hand and in the heart. Further, the Mosaic material cannot, should not, be categorized as ‘devotional.’ Rightly so, the Tyndale team who created it calls the weekly material ‘meditations.’

The Mosaic material acknowledges the One Body of Christ, but with different voices – across time and the world. We must not continue to think of the Church as a wholly North American enterprise, but one which is built upon Christ, a 1st century Palestinian Jew, as the chief cornerstone, and the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, themselves a range of Palestinian Jews to Hellenized Jews, carried on throughout the centuries by every race, nationality, tribe, gender, known to God Above. Just as the bible has different voices within it, Christianity speaks with the voices of Africans, Europeans, Asians, and even you and me. The Mosaic honors these voices which have interacted with Christianity, and who have been changed by it.

There are ways in which to use the weekly meditations. First, liturgically. The Church of Jesus Christ is not an individualistic endeavor, but one which we all participate in. By allowing the weekly meditations to be used weekly, one can participate with others, unseen and unknown, in different ways. The calendar used is not the young Western Calender, nor the ancient Hebrew Calender, but one which begins with the Advent continuing through the celebration of the Lord’s Passover in the Spring and then continued in a daily celebration of Pentecost, in which the Church ‘focuses on living the Christian life through the power of the Holy Spirit.’ (M11).

Another way, as Tyndale suggests, is the thematic way. Each week is centered on a theme. These themes are highlighted throughout the text by small crosses in the index with a reference back to the Meditation. Further, as to be expected, the editors suggest finding your own path in using the material.

The week begins with a theme, such as week 1, Longing. On the left hand side is a painting, and even here, we find different voices. From Greece to Africa to modern day Americans, pieces of art showcasing the Gospel has been used to start the mediation off. There are Scriptural readings, a small devotional-style note, and a suggested Scriptural reading (which ties into the overall theme). The week is filled with quotes from various believers, including modern day theologians, the Reformers, and the Church Fathers. From Polycarp through to A.W. Pink. The complete list of the authors use can be found in the Tesserae, by week, along with the work which was quoted. The voices are many, diverse, and harmonious. Further, a Chronological Tessarae has been added. You can go from Clement I to to John Calvin, Zwingli, and Simons to Yusufu Turaki, Bosco Peters, and Mark Driscoll. The voices hale from Asia Minor and Rome in the 1st Century to Africa in the 21st.

Along with the above mentioned material, in which solid quotes abound, the weekly material includes a personal insight by a believer which fits the theme of the week. While the Mosaic has contemporary voices, the thought is historical. I have used this bible for a family devotional, and found that the weekly material has enough material for a small themed sermonette, which does not water down, but builds up in the Gospel.

The NLT is a good translation, with the goal of the truth made clear; the Mosaic promises to have you encounter Christ through voices from distant times and centuries. When you bring these two things together – a good translation and voices of Christians – when you can master the art of Scripture, it produces an item of wealth, and I am happy to recommend it to everyone, that it may enrich you somewhat.

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