I recently had the opportunity to look through the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, edited by Craig Keener and John Walton. While I haven’t been able to read this Bible in its entirety yet, I recently read through the book of 1 Corinthians and wanted to share a few thoughts. Early on in the semester, I recognized that I don’t have a ton of understanding of the historical and cultural context of the Bible. A few weeks later I noticed this new resource from Zondervan Bibles. I am so thankful to them for recognizing the need for this specific type of study Bible, and filling it with this excellent Bible.
Some of the key features that this Bible offers are introductions to each book of the Bible, ten thousand notes explaining specific verses, 320 essays, 375 maps/charts/diagrams that summarize and explain important background information, and the NIV cross reference system and concordance (the reference system and concordance are common to all NIV Study Bibles, so if you regularly use an NIV Study Bible you will not find many differences here).
There have been a few complaints made about the layout of this Bible, but overall I think that the publishers did an excellent job. The layout is simple, clean and easy to follow, however I have heard that for some individuals with weaker eyesight it can be a strain to read the light colored font used for the notes. Aside from that, I haven’t read many complaints about this Bible and I don’t have any myself. I think it is excellently done in a way that helps the reader to grow in their understanding of the context of the Bible, without detracting from the text of the Bible itself. I was really impressed by the quality of the notes that the authors included in the Bible. They are extensive, and provide meaningful information, complemented by the essays that delve deeper into various areas.
This Bible offers many tools to dig deeper into Scripture. It is substantial in size, so it likely is not going to be the Bible you haul around to church and other places, but it is an excellent study resource I would highly recommend that any Christian, especially seminary students who are seeking to understand biblical events with greater clarity, should check out this Bible. Reading 1 Corinthians along with the notes provided in this Cultural Backgrounds study Bible did not shake any of my doctrinal views, but definitely strengthened them as my understanding of the significance of various occurrences was deepened. Context is incredibly important to a proper understanding of the Bible, so I’m grateful to Zondervan for this resource that has helped me to gain this understanding.
Keener, Craig and John Walton. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016. 2,400pp. Hard cover, $49.99.
Visit the publisher’s page.
Thanks to Zondervan Bible’s for the review copy!