Category Archives: Bibles

The Modern Life Study Bible NKJV

the-modern-life-study-bibleI’m not a fan of the King James Version. It is based on outdated scholarship, uses words that aren’t commonly understood by modern readers, and has become a sort of idol to many who hold to it as the only “Authorized Version” substituting in that definition the authorizer of the version, King James, with God, basically making this translation the equivalent of the original autographs.

The Modern Life Study Bible
Thomas Nelson
January 2014

I recognize that there are a lot of people who feel the same way about the KJV so, without spending an inordinate amount of time on the topic, the good news is that the New King James Version is much, much better. It uses the most current scholarship, changes the “thee” and “thy” to modern equivalents, and helps overcome the incorrect belief that any modern translation is equal to the autographs. That said – and I think it must be said for many modern readers – this NKJV is a translation that is worth having for those who prefer complete equivalence translations. If you don’t know what that means, then simply put: this is a very good translation that is true to the Biblical texts and a good option for those who appreciate the formal beauty of the original KJV.

As to this version, it has quickly become my favorite NKJV. First, it’s really well made. The hardback version has a slipcover that is solidly backed by lamination and is a coarse woven paper that feels nice and is tough to tear. The insides are full color – and color is on every page – and very easy to read on slightly thicker than normal paper. Unlike many Bibles this paper is hard to see through.

As to the “study” part, this Bible also brings quite a bit to the table in terms of additional content.

• Understanding the Bible – thousands of maps, illustrations, diagrams, charts, etc similar to most study Bibles.
• Applying the Bible – one page life studies of sixty-six historic followers of God that aim to show how we can make a difference in our modern world.
• Thinking Independently – articles without clear forced answers allowing the reader to think through theological issues.
• Themes Highlighted – community, work, government, economics, ethics, ethnicity, the church, laity (that’s us), the family, the city, witness and missions, knowing and serving God, personal growth and development, and the environment.

I found the additional content to be insightful and on par with what you would expect to find in other study Bibles. It isn’t all footnotes like many of the common study Bibles (think NIV Study Bible by Zondervan). Instead the insights and additional info is in full color inserts on each page. If you want to read around them you can, but most likely you’ll find yourself reading about the passages in more depth.

At the end, you’ll find a full topical index, weights and measures, an index of all the great person profiles, an index of locations in the Bible, and a huge Themes to Study section where the highlighted themes can be searched by passage.

This is an excellent study Bible and the best NKJV that I’ve ever read. Very well made all around and definitely worth your closer inspection.


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

NIV Essentials Study Bible

The NIV Study Bible is one of the finest Bibles available. Add five other study Bibles content to it and this is a must buy!

NIV Essentials Study Bible
New International Version
Zondervan
November 2013

The first Bible I really used was the NIV Student Bible. I remember getting it and being drawn to the insights at the bottom of each page. When I went to college I upgraded to an NIV Study Bible. The footnotes (along with commentaries) were good enough to get me through my Bible degree so I remain a big fan. So when Zondervan announced they would be including both of those Bible’s insights along with four other study Bibles in to one I was instantly intrigued! How could it not be awesome?

Well, it can’t. It is truly an amazing Bible! I wasn’t familiar with some of the included Bible content (like the Quest Study Bible or the Great Rescue Bible) but I like what they bring. What we get is constant feedback on every page. Footnotes, quotes, commentary, insight. Everywhere.

I’ve seen enough of the topical Bibles out there where it seems like every possible job or life situation has a new Bible plus commentary. I love that commentary and study guides are included here. For the first time in a couple years I feel like a Bible has come out that isn’t just another gift Bible. This is a Bible that cries out to be read!


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

NIV Ragamuffin Bible by Brennan Manning

ragamuffinFans of dc Talk will remember the famously spoken word opening of What if I Stumble, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle… That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” That’s Brennan Manning and his writing is all over this NIV.

NIV Ragamuffin Bible
by Brennan Manning
Zondervan
November 2013

There are hundreds of quotes, devotions and reflections taken from the life works of Friar Manning included in this 2011 version of the NIV. Those who are familiar with Manning’s focus on grace (as seen in his most famous book, the Ragamuffin Gospel,) and accepting people will find a treasure trove of quotes to help with their daily reading.

I’m a fan of the newest NIV and think it remains one of the best translations available. I’m not a big fan of adding a little bit of content and coming out with a completely new Bible. Sure there are hundreds of included quotes and works but there are over 1400 pages in this Bible so we are talking about a quote or reflection every three pages and many times there are a couple Manning quotes on the same page and there is definitely a skewing towards the New Testament. So what we get is quite a bit of “regular” Bible and then a few quotes.

Also, many of the 150 quotes are short questions without clear answers, like, “How would you respond if I asked you this question: Do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you?” (p 693). Fortunately, the reflections and devotionals are much deeper and include some theology that may be difficult for newer Christians.

One thing you can’t get away from is the criticism in some circles, especially Evangelical circles, of Brennan Manning himself. The fact that he was a Roman Catholic tends to immediately set people back. That he was so focused on accepting people as they were tends to cause some to complain that he is too focused on grace and not focused enough on sanctification. I’m not sure what to think. But the quotes used in this NIV tend to be non-controversial and thought provoking.

This is an NIV that is full of contrasts: it’s light on new content but the content it has is useful; it focuses on a controversial figure but does a great job highlighting commonalities. In a phrase: it’s a mixed bag. For fans of Brennan Manning, though, this is a no brainer.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Messiah: Origin by Dorff, Arey and Carpenter

Part translation, part interpretation and all art. Messiah is amazing!

Messiah: Origin
Written by Matt Dorff and Mark Arey
Illustrated by Kai Carpenter
Zondervan
November 2013

The first in a series, this fully illustrated retelling of the life of Christ starts with his birth and young childhood. Dorff and Arey stay close to the Bible manuscripts but reinterpret them to go along with outstanding artwork by Carpenter.

The art is where this really shines. The illustrations are so powerful they are emotionally moving. Visually breathing new life in to the birth of Christ.

I would have prefered a less formal interpretation but that is such a very minor complaint. I recommend it to anyone who loves the Word, loves art and may be looking for something truly different.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

NIV College Devotional Bible

The NIV Bible is for everyone and to prove it Zondervan will make a version for you. The version differences? You’ll get a different cover and a bunch of topically sorted comments/devotions. Do you enjoy the outdoors? Got you covered: NIV Outdoorsman Bible. Are you a young girl? NIV Faithgirlz! Bible. Teen? NIV Teen Study Bible. Teen guy? NIV Revolution: The Bible for Teen Guys. Married? NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible. What if someone in your family is in the military? Even that: NIV New Testament – Military Family (with Psalms). And a million more.

NIV College Devotional Bible
Zondervan
February 2013

I’m not against the Bible being printed as many times as possible; quite the contrary! I am concerned about the over-specialization that we’ve seen in the last decade or so. When you print all these Bibles at some point you have to think you’ve run out of great things to say and you move in to the mediocre then the lame things to say.

This version is definitely in the mediocre (bordering lame) side of the so-called devotional spectrum. Many of these devotionals don’t actually work to encourage, engage, teach but instead they simply exist. Consider Why Ask Why? on p 563, which talks about suffering and Job. It is a conversation between a husband and wife about why she got cancer. The man finishes with, “I think if God was going to give you cancer because of something you did, he’d have the decency to let you know what it was.” A question that misses the point of Job and sounds more like Job’s friends than Job or God. What does the devotional do with this issue? It simply asks “Why does God allow good people to suffer?” then asks – but does not answer – “Why is the previous question so hard to answer – especially for Christians?” Great question Zondervan! Why don’t YOU answer it?

When I was in college I wanted answers to tough questions not reiterations of my pre-existing questions. I think this version misses the mark.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

NIV One Impact Bible

When the text hasn’t had anything new to say in 2000 years I guess some feel you have to spice it up with margin notes and devotionals to sell it. I just don’t see the difference and I don’t a compelling reason for this book being printed.

NIV One Impact Bible
by Terry Squires
Zondervan
October 2012

This Bible is the NIV but with devotional notes. While the notes are good – expecially for new believers or seekers – they don’t add as much to your devotional life as an actual devotional might. Consider [[ASIN:0929239571 My Utmost for His Highest: Updated Edition]] for an in depth, truth stuffed devotion. Compare that to the devotions in this Bible and you see that they fall far short. And this isn’t to say you gotta go with a great historical devotional. Most of today’s devotions are much better than the content added in the margins and text of this Bible.

So is the point to carry only one book? If so, why not carry a Kindle or just use your smartphone or tablet apps? You can have hundreds of devotionals and Bible versions at your finger tips.

I’m for printing as many NIV Bibles as possible and getting them in the hands of anyone who wants to read them. But I’m not for printing Bibles with different notes so that people who already own five Bibles can buy one more.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

My First Handy Bible by Olesen and Mazali

My First Handy Bible has thirty three Bible stories in this carry along feature for babies and toddlers. This board book is durable with a hard back cover and a latch to hold it securely shut. Easy to clean up all those messes little ones seem to make.

My First Handy Bible
by Cecilie Olesen and Gustavo Mazali
Hendrickson Publishers
January 2012

The stories are told in a simple format that is easy to read. The stories are perfect to hold the attention of any on the go toddler. This Bible has beautiful illustrations that your little ones will love learning about the truths of God’s Word.

My thoughts:

This is a perfect Bible for little ones. What child doesn’t love to carry around toys and books? The yellow handle is perfect for little hands. I can think of many toddlers who would love carrying around this Bible.

The most important thing is that you are teaching God’s word to them. Why not start early; your toddler can tote their own bible to church with them. Simple sentences retell Bible stories from Genesis to Revelation.

I have read this to my children who are much older a few times already. My not toddler son thinks it should be his Bible. Needless to say it will be a gift to one of my little nieces out of state. This would make a perfect baby shower gift for any expecting mother. This is a delightful Bible that will be a blessing to any child up to three years old.


ReneeK is a sweet tea addicted mamma who loves to cuddle up to a good book. She blogs at Little Homeschool on the Praire and writes about family, homeschooling, having a special needs child, and about whatever else tickles her fancy.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

NIV Life Journey Bible

At first blush, it seems unclear why we need yet another Bible + [fill in the blank advice, features, topics]. How many Bibles does an average Christian need on their shelf? Apparently, Zondervan and other Bible publishers feels that there is no limit because there seems to be no limit to the Bible + topic craze.

NIV Life Journey Bible
Find the Answers for Your Whole Life
by Henry Cloud, John Townsend
Zondervan
July 2012

The good? Printing Bibles is never a bad thing and if someone who may be going through or has gone through tough psychological issues picks this up and reads it then it was worth it. It is a hard bound, large size Bible with the current version of the NIV, which is also a plus. Also, the inserted info from the writings of Cloud and Townsend is solid advice and fits well into the test.

The problem? This is merely a Bible with clippings from Boundaries and other Cloud and Townsend inserted into it and if someone already has a Bible I’m really sure what they from buying this as opposed to simply adding Boundaries to their library. I’m also not a fan of the subtitle, which implies that the Bible itself can’t provide answers for your whole life.

The bottom line is this: if you need a Bible or you prefer not to read the full Cloud and Townsend library (or don’t want to buy the books separately) or you prefer to have your commentary inserted in to the Bible then this is a good Bible. If you are worried about the trend of Bible + topic and (like me) are starting to wonder if these Bible options have saturated the market, causing more confusion then maybe you ought to pass.

Finally, I want to be clear that my criticism about the commentary added to this version of the Bible should not be construed to mean that I have an issue with or believe that the commentary is not valuable, only that I wonder at the reason for the current glut of Bible + topic and found this version to be acceptable but not necessary in my opinion.

A note about this version of the NIV: This NIV features the most current version of the NIV (2010), which is based on rock solid textual criticism and exegesis from the perpetual Committee on Bible Translation that brought us the original 1978 and 1984 NIVs that so many in the English speaking world trust and also 2005’s TNIV. Some may complain about the pronoun changes in this version compared to the older version but it is important to point out that all versions have pronoun (and other) determinations made by the translators. Each time the decision is made based on the common language and culture of the reader and the fact is that in 1978 “a man” would commonly be understood to be “a person” while in 2012 that is simply not the case. A “man” in today’s language is a “male” and a “person” could be either. All that to say that this version of the NIV is an extremely trustworthy translation into today’s English vernacular.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

True Images: The Bible for Teen Girls

With the current glut of feature Bibles one has to wonder whether there is actually value to another one of if this is merely a way to make more money. In the case of True Images, the answer is firmly in the adds value category.

True Images
The Bible for Teen Girls
Zondervan
June 2012

This NIV features the most current version of the NIV (2010), which is based on rock solid textual criticism and exegesis from the perpectual Committee on Bible Translation that brought us the original 1978 and 1984 NIVs that so many in the English speaking world trust and also 2005’s TNIV. Some may complain about the pronoun changes in this version compared to the older version but it is important to point out that all versions have pronoun (and other) determinations made by the translators. Each time the decision is made based on the common language and culture of the reader and the fact is that in 1978 “a man” would commonly be understood to be “a person” while in 2012 that is simply not the case. A “man” in today’s language is a “male” and a “person” could be either. All that to say that this version of the NIV is an extremely trustworthy translation into today’s English vernacular.

Why a featured Bible focused on Teen Girls? Frankly, I think this is a long time coming. We’ve seen for years the proliferation of Bibles for Men and Women, for students and apologists, and for kids and generic teens, but one specifically built for teen girls and the trials they deal with was missing. (This version is an updated version of the True Images Bible from 2007 with the newest NIV and articles.)

What I especially liked were the full color pages with quizzes, to-do lists, and interactive panels. Zondervan took a page out of any teen magazine here and flips the script from worldly “can-do-ism” to “what-God-did-ism.” The Truth or Dare sections are inserted on to the page where the text deals with a truth that sometimes we forget to apply to ourselves. For instance, Judges 11:34-35 includes a quick note saying:

“Lord, if you’ll only do this, I promise I’ll…” In desperate times, spouting pledges to God is all too easy. However, God takes your words seriously. So should you.

The Genuine inserts bring the truth of the Gospel home by challenging teens to be real. Mirror Image pages tell stories of women from the Bible and how their stories intersect with the teen reader.

As the father of a teen daughter this Bible comes at just the right time. She struggles with how to respond to quite a lot of the issues that this Bible highlights for readers. Those tips and insights along with a reader-friendly excellent translation make this a top notch Bible for teen girls.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Story: Going Deeper, NIV: Find Your Place in God’s Redemptive Plan

The name of this Bible doesn’t do it any favors. This is a full NIV version of the Bible and it probably should be clearer to prospective readers. Other than the name, though, it really is just another Bible (which may be why the name was chosen.)

The Story: Going Deeper, NIV
Find Your Place in God’s Redemptive Plan
Zondervan
March 2012

This is a pretty standard NIV Bible with some interesting commentary boxes interspersed within the text. Unlike study Bibles, though, this one is very light on the additional content. In fact, after reviewing half a dozen Bibles in the last couple years this one is by far the one with the least new content.

What you get, along with the new NIV, are small storyline inserts that explain the text and how it goes together with God’s overall redemptive plan. It works well as it does connect the dots for new believers or seekers, but it doesn’t “Go Deeper” for veteran believers as it says in the name. Also, some of the inserts are from God’s perspective and do seem a little weird since they are in first person, e.g., “The reason I did this was…” I didn’t find it creepy, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of the content as it changes perspective. I found it abrupt.

Unlike some reviewers of the New NIV, I don’t have a problem with the gender neutral pronoun changes. If you do, then this Bible isn’t for you (and you find benefit from books like [[ASIN:0310246040 How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth]], which can help with correctly interpreting the Bible and becoming comfortable in translating it into our modern culture – which doesn’t refer to male pronouns the same way the Biblical cultures did.)

Bottom line, this is a Bible. Not a study Bible and not a Bible with a lot of commentary. It has a little bit of commentary, which means it is also not a regular Bible either. As such, it’s hard to justify another version like this one since there are so many other nicer looking (this is a huge, thick hard back book) and so many other better study versions. I give it three simple, quiet, and almost unnecessary shrugs.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.