Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bible Review: Rainbow Study Bible

Holman Rainbow Study Bible KJV Edition (New, Improved User-Friendly Design) 10/1/2014. B&H Publishing Group. 1632 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The introduction states,
"The Holman Rainbow Study Bible is a simple yet thorough Bible based upon the premise that every verse of every Bible falls under one of twelve thematic headings. Each of the twelve headings is assigned a different color; then each verse of the Bible is color-coded to the heading to which it is most closely related…The Holman Rainbow Study Bible allows the serious Bible student the opportunity to study and teach the great Bible themes while avoiding a time-consuming or complicated system."
How is the Rainbow Study Bible different from other Bibles? Is it a necessary or beneficial publication? Who is the best match for the Rainbow Study Bible? I hope to answer these questions in this review of the Rainbow Study Bible.

The Rainbow Study Bible is certainly different from other Bibles. There are two things which make this Bible unique. 1) Every verse of the Bible has been color-coded. There are twelve themes and colors. The themes are: God, Discipleship, Love, Faith, Sin, Evil, Salvation, Family, Outreach, Commandments, History, and Prophecy. Each theme--or subject--covers many sub-categories*.

Examples of the twelve themes:

5 OT: Ex. 3:6, 2 Chr. 16:9, Ps. 84:11, Is. 42:1-8;  Amos 4:13
5 NT: Matthew 20:28, Acts 11:15-16, 1 Cor. 8:6, 1 John 4:4, Rev. 22:13

5 OT: Gen. 22:3-12, Judges 2:7, Ps. 92:1-3, Jeremiah 32:38-40, Malachi 1:5
5 NT: Luke 9:23-25, Acts 17:11, Romans 12:1-8, Hebrews 12:1, Rev. 7:9-12

5 OT: Dt. 7:7-8, 2 Kings 2:2-6, Ps. 23:1-3, Is. 49:13, Hab. 3:17-18
5 NT: John 21:15-17, Acts 5:41, Eph. 3:17-19, 1 Peter 3:8-9, Rev. 5:4

5 OT: Numbers 14:19-20, 2 Samuel 7:18-21, Job 19:25-27, Ez. 18:30-32, Jonah 2:1-7
5 NT: Mark 8:22-25, Acts 12:5, Philippians 1:3-6, James 1:3-8, Rev. 14:12

5 OT: Ex. 12:29-30, 1 Kings 19:1-2, Ps. 1:4-6, Is. 42:18-20, Hosea 10:13
5 NT: Mt. 8:12, Acts 16:19-24, 1 Cor. 2:14, 1 John 2:15-16, Rev. 9:2

5 OT: Gn. 3:1-5, Joshua 23:16, Ps. 115:4-8, Is. 5:20, Zechariah 11:16-17
5 NT: Mark 8:32-33, Acts 17:16, 2 Thess. 2:9-10, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Rev. 13:1-8

5 OT: Ex. 13:21-22, 2 Samuel 6:9-12, Ps. 27:4-6, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Malachi 4:2-3
5 NT: John 3:14-15, Acts 4:12, Eph. 2:13, 1 John 3:2-3, Rev. 21:1-4

5 OT: Deuteronomy 11:19, Ruth 3:1-6, Proverbs 4:1-4, Jeremiah 29:6, Micah 7:5-6
4 NT: Matthew 1:1-17, Acts 16:1-3, Eph. 6:1-4, 1 Pet. 3:1-7

5 OT: Ex 20:22, 1 Samuel 7:3, Ps. 19:1-6, Ez. 33:1-9, Jonah 3:4, 
5 NT: Mt. 5:13-16, Acts 4:13-20, Romans 10:14-15, James 4:11-12, Rev. 14:6-7

5 OT: Ex. 34:1-3, Joshua 1:10-15, Job 42:8, Is. 66:20-21, Jonah 1:1-2
5 NT: Mt. 23:8-10, Acts 9:6, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Pet. 2:13-14, Rev 1:19

5 OT: Gn. 9:8-17, 2 Samuel 7:4-17, Ps. 91:1, Ezekiel 37:5-8, Malachi 3:1
5 NT: Mark 13:1-4, Acts 11:5-14, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Rev. 4:1

5 OT: Gn. 1:1-2, Joshua 2:1-7, Job 1:3, Is. 7:1-2, Amos 1:1
3 NT: Mt. 3:4-5, John 19:12-14, Acts 10:23-24, 

2) This Bible also uses underlining to emphasize the word of God. When God--Father, Son, Spirit--is speaking, his words are underlined in both testaments. Yes, some Bibles offer readers "Words of Christ in Red." But this Bible goes beyond that.

Genesis 1:26-31:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Acts 13:13

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

So the Rainbow Study Bible certainly is unique. It is not just another Bible. 

Is it a necessary or beneficial publication? The second question is definitely trickier. The Rainbow Study Bible is perhaps a little too different to be a great fit for every believer. I could see how some would LOVE it and others dismiss it. (About the color-coding: Too distracting, too overwhelming, too intimidating. About the KJV: too hard to understand, too intimidating.)  

Did I find things to love about the Rainbow Study Bible? Yes. 
  • I loved the size of the font. 
  • I loved the weight of the Bible.
  • I loved how it opens and holds. The pages lay very flat. The margins are wide. No text is hard to read.
  • I loved that it was easy on the eyes. Some might find the colors distracting. I found them soothing on the eyes. 
  • I liked the book introductions. They were concise, but on task.
  • I liked the visual drama. For example, there are a few places in the Bible, where the drama of the story itself is communicated by the colors. Like in Job. Like in Revelation.
  • I liked some of the supplemental study aids. One is called "365 Popular Bible Quotations for Memorization and Meditation." I liked this idea very much. I think it is a good resource. As is the "Harmony of the Gospels." 
Who is the best match for the Rainbow Study Bible? 

I think a love or appreciation for the King James Version of the Bible is a must, if, and only if you choose the KJV Edition of the Holman Rainbow Study Bible. In February 2015, the Rainbow Study Bible will be released in a NIV Edition. 

I think you have to have an open heart/mind to thinking about reading Scripture in a new way. You have to relax a bit. At first it may seem odd and confusing. And even after you get used to it, you may find yourself at times questioning how a verse is color-coded. Scripture is complex. Verses have layers of meaning. One verse might clearly fit one theme and only one theme. But more often verses could fit several themes all at the same time. Some patience and understanding is definitely a good thing. 

I read the following books in the Rainbow Study Bible before writing this review: Deuteronomy, Ruth, half of Psalms, Obadiah, Jonah, Mark, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, James, and Revelation.

*Some of the subcategories:

Love: joy; kindness; mercy; mourning; lament; comfort; compassion; peace; sympathy; humility; charity

Faith: prayer; miracles; courage; confession; repentance; fasting; healing; hope; confidence; conviction; belief

Discipleship: obedience; praise; service; worship; spiritual formation; commitment; fellowship; spiritual gifts; fruit

Salvation: blessings; deliverance; holiness; Heaven; the tabernacle; angels; eternity; resurrection; second coming; judgement of the godly; grace

Outreach: teaching; counseling; questioning; instruction; testimony; ministry; preaching; evangelism; gospel; doctrine; sayings

Commandments: offerings; law; priesthood; feasts; Sabbath; tithing; baptism; Lord's supper; church; deacon; growth

Prophecy: promises; covenants; revelations; vows; visions; dreams; oaths; pledges; inspiration; fulfillment; future

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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