NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

225_350_book-2335-coverWhen a Bible is read it is often done through the lense of the reader. This is not a bad thing unless the lense of the reader is understanding something that is not there. This happens more than realized because our cultural dictates how we understand something we read. It is the same with the Bible.

The NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Bible seeks to give the reader an understanding of the culture of Scripture. By doing this, the reader should have a better comprehension of what the writer was trying to say. Instead of viewing it as a foreigner, the goal is to place the reader in a setting as if they were alive as the Biblical events are taking place. I found this Bible to be a great help in understanding what a person in Biblical times may have thought.

As to this Bible itself, it is a heavy Bible coming in at just over four pounds. The text is easy to read and the photos are stunning. The articles are well placed and not distracting. There are also great aids in the back of the Bible such as a weights and measurement section and a brief concordance.

This is a great Bible for study and it would do well for those that want to better understand the day in which Biblical characters lived. For those wanting a devotional Bible, seek elsewhere.

*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

225_350_book-2292-coverThere is this understanding that most artists can’t make it in the real world. A few may make it big but most will scrap and claw to just survive. So goes this thought…until now. 

Jeff Goins, in his new book Real Artists Don’t Starve, blows away this false understanding that most artists will starve. They need to live in the real world and lose their creative bent. How many artists did not pursue a passion because they believed the lie that they could not survive? 

Jeff Goins uses example after example of artists who buck this false narrative of starving artists. For example, he uses the artist Michelangelo who, when research was done, was found out to have significant wealth. Yet many believed that he was poor throughout his life and some have even used him as an example of a struggling artist. 

Goins takes time to show how an artist can be successful and not fall prey to being eaten by lies and negativity. He quotes authors, tells stories, and gives anecdotal insight to give his readers the belief that they can make it as creative people. 

The information presented here is not new material. It is Goins writing style that present this information in an upbeat and constructive way that drives home the realization that creativity does not equate to scarcity. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (UBS4): 2nd Revised Edition by Bruce Metzger

9781598561647oIn the past few months I have been fascinated by the study of textual criticism. To see how men are actively reviewing the manuscripts of the Bible to determine what was originally written has opened up to me a new appreciation for the Word of God. It has also shown me why there are some differences in various translations of the English Bible.

In his book, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (UBS4): 2nd Revised Edition, Dr. Bruce Metzger gives detail into verses of the New Testament and why the committee of the Greek New Testament (United Bible Society, 4th edition) chose the readings that they did. Dr. Metzger gives historical background on certain manuscripts and also the methodology of the translators to show how they arrived at the conclusions they did.

In some cases the choice was easy. A verse or verses did not follow the flow of the writer so it was apparent that someone changed the text. In other cases, many manuscripts agreed with each other and only a few dissented. However, there are some where the decision was not so easy and the reasoning was given by Dr. Metzger on why the reading was chosen over another reading.

As an example, there is a famous passage of Scripture, the woman caught in adultery, that is not in some of the best manuscripts. Also, some have it in a different gospel. Dr. Metzger goes into the history of this passage citing church fathers, current research, and textual evidences to show the reader that this passage may not be authentic. Thus, when the reader sees in a modern translation notes about this story not being in the original, Dr. Metzger’s book gives reasons why it is treated as such.

I also appreciate the introduction which gave history into the field of textual criticism. Dr. Metzger points out that certain documents seem to originate from a common source and there are several common sources for many of the manuscripts discovered to this date. These common sources share characteristics which let the translator know how a passage was written.

Some of the characteristics are: paraphrasing over verbatim copying, explanation of the texts versus leaving the words as is, changing of words for better flow of grammatical structuring, and questioning certain words or phrases altogether.

This book has really opened my eyes into Bible translation and the painstaking way in which the translators are carefully regarding each word they hold to be authentic.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Exalting Jesus in Acts by Tony Merida

ActsWhen going through any book of the Bible one must take note to recognize what the author is trying to convey. Each author has a specific way in which they present Jesus Christ as the Redeemer and Savior of mankind. Therefore, the reader must take note as they are reading Bible passages to see how Christ is being presented or hinted at in various passages.

In his book, Exalting Jesus in Acts, Tony Merida has written a commentary on how Jesus Christ is exalted throughout the books of Acts. Merida shows how Christ is exalted in Acts and does so in a expository and devotional way.

For example, the section on the first seven verses of Acts has: the main idea of these seven verses, bullet points on the various topics within those verses, as well as its commentary on these verses. In addition, at the end of this section are reflection and discussion questions. These are very helpful for someone who is leading a Bible study or perhaps a pastor who is preparing a sermon.

I was rather surprised by this because most of the commentaries that I have strictly try to take from scripture what the verses are trying to communicate. There is not much in the way of devotional thought. By adding this element, I enjoyed reading the commentaries and using the questions to see my risen Savior in the passage.

With this guide in mind I can see this particular series being very helpful to those who want to do Bible study with a devotional aspect but not a pure devotional study or a pure exegetical study. Rather it is almost a hybrid between the two and I really enjoy that type of approach.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Paul the Apostle by Robert D. Picirilli

9780802463258Other than Jesus Christ, the most influential individual in the New Testament is Paul the Apostle. Having written more of New Testament than any other individual, the Apostle Paul is a person who laid the foundation for much of Christian teachings.

However, some of Paul is lost because people do not understand the man. While this may not be intentional, often the theological teachings of Paul are the focus. Yet, Paul lived in an environment that would have shaped his cultural and personal views of life.

In his book, Robert Picirilli tries to bring out the life of Paul but not in a theological or philosophical way. Rather he writes about Paul so that the average individual understand who this man was. So much of Paul’s writing may be understood more if a person has knowledge of Paul’s life.

Another thing to point out is that Picirilli is bring about some new research on Paul in terms of who he was, the area in which he lived, and some of the historical context that gives identity to what Paul may have faced while he was writing many of the works of the New Testament.

I really appreciated how well this book was written and that it was written not in a very educational or academic way. Rather, it was written in a way so that every individual could read it understand more of food Paul was. Another thing to note is that there are some great resources in the resources section at the back of the book to help people who are studying the life of Paul really dig deeper into a historical, cultural, theological, and personal context of who Paul was.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and exchange from an honest review.