Tuesday, September 1, 2015

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

When first received my copy of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the mail, my first impression was amazement over its size and weight, it is HUGE!  It is quite impressive on the inside as well, the text of the  NIV is laid out in a one column format instead of the usual 2 columns.  The cross references are placed on the side of the column and study notes on the bottom.  I loved the charts throughout, especially in the OT which included charts summing up what was in certain sacrifices and offerings, and charts on the Lord's appointed festivals, census results, Levite Numbers and responsibilities…etc.  Very helpful.  There were many photographs of Biblical areas throughout, and also pictures of various archeological finds having to do with many biblical events and people.  Those are quite fascinating and interesting.  

Many of the study notes seem quite intricate and useful and exegetical.  Several of the pages are quite packed with notes.  There were various scholars writing the study notes for each individual book of the Bible and you can see the negatives and positives to that.  For instance, I was pleasantly surprised (shocked may be the better term) that the person who did the study notes in 1 Corinthians actually took the literal view of chapter 7, where Paul repeats, affirms and perhaps expounds upon, the Lord's command,  "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord):  A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife." 1 Cor. 7:10-11  The writer of the study notes comments:   vs. 11"...There are only two options for a divorced woman: (1) remain unmarried or (2) reconcile with her husband.  a husband must not divorce his wife.  Just as a woman must not divorce her husband; again Paul formulates no exception." Vs. 15, 'Let it be so.'   when a non-Christian spouse divorces a Christian spouse, the Christian cannot do anything about it.  not bound in such circumstances.  it is often suggested that this allows a deserted Christian spouse to remarry since the Christian is not 'bound' to the marriage that has been dissolved.  This interpretation is not plausible:  (1) In v. 11 Paul prohibits remarriage in cases where divorce has taken place. (2) The Greek verb does not mean 'bound'; it means 'enslaved' or 'under bondage.' (3) The thrust of the context is maintaining marriage.  (4) Paul speaks of 'freedom' for a new marriage only in cases when the spouse has died (v. 39; Rom 7:1-3).  If a non-Christian spouse leaves the marriage, the Christian spouse is not responsible for the divorce.  Christian spouses may not initiate divorce from non-Christian  spouses on religious grounds..."  But then where you turn to Christ's comments on divorce and remarriage in Matthew 7 and 19 you find the usual view espoused  (dissolution of a marriage before God in the case of adultery)by whomever wrote the study notes. 

 But now I must talk about the negative aspects of this Bible.  One is not so bad, but some may find it quite inconvenient, and that is that the font is (or seems to me) quite small, and that is aggravated by the fact that it is difficult to lift the book closer to one's face to take a closer look  because it is so heavy.  But if they made the font any bigger the Bible's overall size would be impractical and it would probably end up having to be treated like some old gigantic Bibles of the past where would you just designate a place for it to be left open on its own stand as it would be difficult to transport.

The second negative was that the person(s) who wrote the study notes on Genesis did not come down firmly on a literal 24 hour day creation.  For instance in the introduction to Genesis it is stated that, "The question of the age of the earth is not automatically resolved with the use of the seven days in 1:1-2:3.  In 2:4, Moses uses the same Hebrew word for 'day' to summarize all the work of creation…Of course, this does not mean that the term 'day' cannot refer to a 24-hour day in the seven days of creation.  But it may also serve other purposes."    And therefore of course, they also do not firmly promote a global flood in Genesis 6-7 but leave it open to the possibility of its being a regional flood.


The third negative is that the Bible has at least a few engravings, paintings and other forms of art picturing unclothed people.  I'll mention three of them  here: First there was a picture of a naked Adam and Eve holding a few tiny conveniently placed leaves…I don't get why they don't at least depict them in the clothing of leaves they had tried to make, or why don't they picture them when God clothed them with animal skins?  Why depict the father and mother of all mankind in what is now their shame???  It is STILL their SHAME, why is it okay for their offspring to have pictures of them in that state???????I don't understand that at all.  And then there was an engraving or something  showing  circumcision being performed on men and it was completely unnecessary, I didn't need to see that.   And lastly there was a painting in the introduction to Psalms that showed unclothed and scantily clothed Egyptian women musicians, the only connection to the Psalms was that they were musicians.   Why? Why choose that one?  I don't care if they are ancient archaeological finds and are considered 'a work of art', I don't care how old it is,  there are bad/immoral works of art from history just as there are bad works of 'art' today!  I don't understand how a person can think that pictures depicting naked people are justified to have in a Bible, rather I see it as an affront and a contradiction to the teachings of the Bible itself.  Think of Christ's statement:  "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. "(Mat 5:27-28 ASV).  What if a picture was placed beside it showing a lewdly dressed woman with the caption "ancient depiction of a prostitute", wouldn't that seem a little (sarcasm) contradictory? 

I'm sorry to have to be so negative but I simply had to say something.  I would have rated the study Bible higher if it hadn't been for the bad pictures. 


I received a free review copy of this book from the Booklook blogger program in exchange for my review which did not have to be favorable.



  1. Thanks for the blog! I heard of you through Scripture Thoughts from Lynda O. I was wondering your thoughts on the new NIV study bible's comments on Revelation and prophecy in general. Is it more like the ESV and old NIV study bible with a balance of premil and amil or just one or the other? Thanks!

    1. Hi Daniel, glad to be of any help! The Bible's comments on Revelation are the balance you've mentioned. Each individual comment usually seems to be along the lines of , "some people think this, but other people think that" type of thing. Even the beginning intro to the chapter summarizes many eschatolological views. From what I have seen in the prophetic books it looks like they are probably along the same lines. In the NT a bit more of a bias towards the reformed stance shows through, at least in the book of Romans. There you can see a touch of the "Israel vs. True Israel(the church). I haven't read/reviewed th old NIV study Bible nor the ESV study Bible so I am not sure if it's style is similar or not...Thanks for stopping by my blog :) - Sarah.

  2. Thanks so much! LOL. 3 years is a while for me to reply to the reply. The Old NIV study notes had a similar point of view of state verses in a premillenial and amillenial view.