24 June 2014

Book Review: NIV Teen Study Bible

The NIV Teen Study Bible was first published by Zondervan in 1993 and most recently in 2011 providing a resource for teen Bible readers. On the back cover appear these words, "As an on-the-go teen, you're moving fast. God is moving faster! The Teen Study Bible will help you keep in step with all he has done, is doing, and will do in the world--and in your life. This bestselling Bible will help you discover the eternal truths of God's word and apply them to the issues you face today." In light of the title and that blurb, the reader understands Zondervan's intended focus with this Bible.

Weighing in at just over 1600 pages, this Bible is in line with many study Bibles but larger than other Bibles. The hardback edition that I received has a sturdy cover, tight bindings, and lays flat.  The pages are a crisp white with a reasonable font size so that even those with older than teenage eyes should be able to read them. The pages feature both black ink for the main text, but also green for headings, chapters, and study notes.  The Bible concludes with 8 full color maps, though why these particular maps were chosen, I was unsure.

Operating System
http://www.amazon.com/Teen-Study-Bible-Lawrence-Richards/dp/0310745683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403635385&sr=8-1&keywords=teen+study+bibleThe Teen Study Bible makes use of the 2011 NIV translation.  The NIV remains one of the most popular Bible translations available today and utilizes a thought for thought (rather than a word for word) translation philosophy. Interested teens can read the preface from the translation committee, which discusses how they arrived at this translation.  It is beyond the scope of this review, but if you get the chance, explore the evolution of the NIV.  The original 1984 version of the NIV is the one that many Bible readers are familiar with, though in 2005, the editors released a short-lived TNIV (Today's New International Version), which met with significant pushback. The 2005 NIV is an attempted remedy, though in my opinion, the 1984 version remains the best.

In addition to the NIV text, the Teen Study Bible provides a number of additional resources written by Larry and Sue Richards. These features include:
  • We Believe--Through the Bible, there are a number of sections exploring what Christians believe, based largely upon the Apostle's Creed. I commend the authors for including this feature because it helps keep the big picture in focus and introduces young readers to one of the classic creeds of the church, which are all too often missing today. They used a modern rendering of the Creed that I didn't quite like, but I think the basic truths expressed are important to reflect upon.
  • Panorama--Together with the "we believe" sections, the brief panoramas help to keep the big picture in focus. 
  • Book Introductions--Each of the 66 books of the Bible begins with a short introduction to key events in the chapter and how it relates to life.  One of the things I found unique was the inclusion of the "news ticker", which tracked other world events going on at the time. 
  • Q & A--In lieu of standard study notes, this Bible provides brief questions and answers related to what was taking place and as a way to test oneself in knowledge of the scripture.
There were several of the features that attempted to stitch the truth of scripture to daily life.
  • To The Point--On a general level, the "To the Point" sections address common moral, ethical, and lifestyle issues that teens may face. They tend to take a conservative approach. For example, on page 142, there is a section addressing "alternative lifestyles", and the authors take a clear biblical line.  They write, "The impression is that any choice is all right. It's just a matter of preference. When it comes to sex, don't kid yourself about some of those choices being morally all right" and then go on to explore what the Bible does say.
  • Dear Jordan--The practical questions were also evident in the "Dear Jordan" sections, which come across as a biblical "Dear Abby".  Short questions are presented and "Jordan" answers them in a few paragraphs. 
  • Instant Access--There are several short paragraphs that also ask questions such as "what if a friend asks for the answer to a test question?" and gives biblical guidance as to how to proceed.
  • Key Indexes--Biblical truths are indexed at the end of the Bible under the headings "Bible Truth Index" and "Teen Life Index".  These Indices provide a concise reference to common issues teens may encounter such as abortion, chat rooms and sexual purity. 
Finally, there is a feature "what do I read today?", which provides checkboxes for each of the biblical chapters. The auhtors encourage new readers to start with the gospels of Mark or John and then moving on to Acts or Romans.  The advice given is basic and concise but appropriate.

On the whole, the NIV Teen Study Bible is a useful resource. It may not fit the traditional notion of a study Bible, yet it performs the goal of shedding light on scriptures, in this case in a very practical way.  The balance of practical wisdom stitched to the current lives of teenagers with a persistent focus on the overarching understanding of what we believe was appreciated because it is easy to overbalance in one direction or the other. 

On the whole, I would recommend this Bible. 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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