Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bible Review: The Study Bible for Women, HCSB

The Study Bible for Women, HCSB. Edited by Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley. 2014. B&H Publishing. 1782 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Is it okay to judge a book by its cover?! I just want to mention that I love, love, LOVE the pink/brown leather-touch cover of the Study Bible for Women. Don't love pink or brown? There are other choices: lavender/blush, sky blue/deep red, teal/sage, and chocolate.  I believe it's also available in hardcover.

Putting aside the superficial, does the Study Bible for Women have depth and substance? Does it serve a purpose? Is it needed? Yes! Yes! Yes!

I mentioned this very briefly in my first impressions post, but, it's worth mentioning again. The point of this study Bible is to encourage, support and (possibly) motivate women to study, ACTUALLY STUDY the Bible. The message of this one is: Women can study the Bible in depth; they can learn to do genuine exposition or verse-by-verse interpretation of God's Words, using the best hermeneutical principles. There are so very many devotional bibles for women (by women). But this is the first STUDY Bible for women that actually seems to have genuine, actual study in mind: going beyond book introductions and character profiles and articles on clothes and flowers and families. For the record, women can buy and perhaps should buy general study Bibles. (The MacArthur Study Bible. It's available in NASB, ESV, NKJV, and NIV. ESV Study Bible. HCSB Study Bible.) But it is WONDERFUL to have a study Bible--an actual study Bible--just for women. Is it necessary--essential--that a woman use a woman's study Bible? Probably not. But is it nice to have that option available? Of course!!!

Strengths of the Study Bible for Women:
  • black letter, not red letter
  • two column, not single column
  • plenty of notes for each chapter of the Bible, notes appear in the side column, some notes feature Hebrew or Greek word studies and definitions
  • thorough book introductions, question and answer format, plus book outlines and timelines
  • additional Hebrew/Greek word studies
  • charts, articles, maps, and other features throughout each book of the Bible
  • beautiful layout
  • HCSB translation
Weaknesses of the Study Bible for Women:
  • the Bible text is in a nice font size, however, the study notes seem TINY to my eyes
  • I've caught one theological flaw, so far, and it was about regeneration*, just a small reminder that only the text of the Bible itself is infallible! 
I've mentioned that the Study Bible for Women has substance, but, I thought I'd show you as well. A taste for all the features of this one from the book of Matthew:

  • Book Introduction
  • Dozens of Word Studies
  • Hundreds of Notes on specific verses/passages
  • Chart: The Journeys of Mary
  • Biblical Womanhood: Sexual Purity: The Example of Jewish Betrothal
  • Map: Jesus' Birth and Early Childhood
  • Chart: The Wives of Herod the Great, King of Judea
  • Doctrine: Repentance
  • Chart: Jewish Sects in the New Testament (Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Herodians, Essenes)
  • Illustration: Synagogue, First Century
  • Chart: Jesus' Ministry as Fulfillment of Scripture in the Gospel of Matthew
  • Biblical Womanhood: The Blessed Woman
  • Chart: Be-Attitudes for Women
  • Teachings from the Lord's Prayer
  • Doctrine: Hell
  • Chart: Women Healed by Jesus
  • Chart: Jesus' Disciples
  • Character Profile: Herodias
  • Character Profile: The Syro-Phoenician Woman
  • Chart: Reasons God Rejects Divorce
  • Hard Question: Is divorce ever okay for a follower of Jesus?
  • Character Profile: Zebedee's Wife
  • Chart: Women and the Parables of Jesus
  • Character Profile: The Wise and Foolish Virgins
  • Chart: Women with Jesus in His Last Days
  • Character Profile: Female Servants
  • Character Profile: Pilate's Wife
  • Hard Question: Is God's sovereignty compatible with your freedom to choose?
  • Character Profile: Mary, Mother of James
  • Biblical Womanhood: Women and the Great Commission
  • Matthew Written On My Heart

From the book introduction:
How do you read Matthew? The gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, the Anointed One who came to fulfill the Old Testament Law and Prophets. Preferably, read through the entire book at least once to gain a sense of the overall portrait of Christ being presented, paying attention to the kind of king Jesus presents Himself to be. Take note not only of what He says and does but also how people respond to Him and what they say about Him. Also note the many Old Testament references and quotations, and spend some time reading these verses in their original contexts. Consider recording or in some way marking all the uses of the word fulfill in this Gospel. Always as you read, listen for the Spirit's application of Jesus' teachings (this gospel contains five sermons or discourses) and observe Jesus' life. Matthew especially highlights the impossibly high standards of righteousness that are met only in Christ, who bestows His righteousness on those who follow Him. (1234)
So the book has substance and depth. There are plenty of notes, plenty of charts and articles and maps and illustrations. And the amount of word studies!!!!!!! I was thrilled to see so many word studies!!!!! So this one has plenty to offer readers!!!

This one is oh-so-easy to recommend. For any woman who wants to read and study the Bible, this one is a great choice. Should every believing woman want to read the Bible, and want to study it? I say yes, to the should. But I know that not every woman does. It is something we should pray for, however, that more and more women will FALL in love with the Word of God and desire to grow more and more in grace and knowledge. God is only known--or perhaps I should say primarily known--through His revelation, through His Word. By reading the Bible, one gets to know God, who He is, what He's like, what He's not like, how holy and majestic He is! how just and how gracious! how loving and compassionate! How good!!!! Once you have a taste for HOW GOOD God is, you can't help but want everyone to come to the feast. So, yes, I'll be recommending this one!!!

*Possibly only R.C. Sproul and I would *care* in a passionate, dramatic way!!! It is about the order of regeneration or new birth, and it is found in one of the notes in Ezekiel. "When sinners accept that atonement made on their behalf, the Holy Spirit performs the work of regeneration, what Jesus called being "born again" (John 3:3)." NO! No! No! sinners CANNOT accept that atonement UNTIL the Holy Spirit performs the work of regeneration. One can neither repent or profess belief UNLESS the Spirit has brought forth new life, has regenerated a person. One is BORN AGAIN first. The veil is torn away. Eyes are opened. Conviction of sin, prayers and repentance AND belief and profession of that belief/faith come AFTER regeneration. Faith itself is a gift of God, one of God's gracious acts towards us. He gives us new life before we even know we need it or want it. In fact, we can't know we need it or how desperately we need it UNTIL he opens our eyes.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Anonymous said...

Anymore feedback on this Bible? It looks amazing but my concern is its slant. I am Reformed and if this Bible presents Scripture in an opposing view, it will frustrate me. Thank you!

Becky said...

Jodi, I'm on the fence on if the notes are "Reformed" enough for my liking. I too am Reformed, and, I can be particular about notes for certain passages. I haven't kept reading in this one because the notes were too small to read comfortably.

Becky said...

I'm on the fence on if the notes are "reformed" enough for my liking. There are notes that I agree with, and a few here and there that I'm more on the fence about. Better than some, for sure.