Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bible Review: The Study Bible for Women, Large Print

The Study Bible for Women: HCSB Large Print Edition. Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley. 2015. B&H. 2208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I am very happy to be reviewing the Study Bible for Women. This study bible is written and designed for women by women. And it's a serious (not-fooling-around) STUDY Bible. (Not every Bible labeled "a study Bible" actually IS a study Bible. I've found this to be quite true.) I really appreciate the amount of notes within this Bible, and the assumption that women are capable learners. (And the fact that so many notes focus on specific words in the original language--Hebrew or Greek. I've always found word studies to be fascinating. And not all study Bibles meet this need.)
Overwhelmingly women purchase more Bibles and more Bible study materials than men do. By all rights, just the amount of materials in the marketplace should make women the best equipped Bible students of the modern era. However, one only has to peruse those materials to see that there is a great gulf fixed between most of what is being produced by women for women and even the most basic devotional commentary. Inspirational thoughts, practical application, and systematic topical studies are all important, but women need more. 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; and this study tool is a step in making available to women resources produced especially for them. Here is a clarion call to women to demand the best in biblical scholarship--even resources prepared by women and men who have been formally trained in biblical studies--and to spend the time necessary to dig deeply into God's Word and pull out its rich truths and full knowledge. (1907, Biblical Womanhood: Digging Deeper Into God's Word, Titus)
This edition of the Study Bible for Women is large print. If ever a large print edition was needed it was here. Why? The font size in the original was teeny-tiny. I had to squint to even see the text of the Bible. (Yes, the font-size of the notes was teeny-tiny as well. But squinting didn't really help with the notes. It was just a personal impossibility.) Is the font size improved? Yes and no. Mostly. The size of the Bible text is larger. I wouldn't exactly call it "large print." But it is definitely larger than the original font size. And I can read it somewhat comfortably--that is without squinting! So that's a very good thing. The font size of the notes is still tiny. I can read it if I squint. It is definitely a larger font size than it was. But I can't comfortably read it either. That is slightly disappointing if I'm honest. But it's not a huge problem either. (I do wish that publishers of large print study Bibles would take into consideration that if your sight is poor enough that you need a large size print to read the Bible text, that one would also need the study notes in large print too. That is why people buy study Bibles after all, because they're interested in reading study notes. At the same time, I realize that the larger the print--the heavier the weight. And if the study notes were written in a comfortable-to-read size, then the weight of the Bible would probably double. And a six pound Bible wouldn't be practical or comfortable!!!) Overall, a definite improvement upon the original edition.

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 a few theological flaws*, so far; just a small reminder that only the text of the Bible itself is infallible! 
*Are the notes Reformed? That is a big question for me when approaching any Bible. I am Reformed. And I have strong opinions! I know there are others out there with some of the same questions and/or hesitations. I do not think the notes are especially Reformed. There are a few places where the notes are decidedly unReformed.
The spirit helps sinners understand the reasons for their separation from a holy and awesome God. Atonement has already been graciously accomplished by the Son, the Second person of the Trinity, thus making restoration and fellowship with God possible. 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). Further the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in and continues to sanctify the believer. ~ Doctrine: Holy Spirit: Ezekiel 36:24-37:1-14, p. 1343
Salvation is a gift for all who believe and trust in the Lord. god is the sole author of salvation. Yet each person has a choice on how he responds. ~ Doctrine: Salvation: John 3:16, p. 1677
There are no helpful notes for John 6. Notes on John 6:44, 45, 46, 63, 65 would have been most helpful in discerning the position the editor takes on election and predestination.

There are no notes specifically for Romans 8:28, 29, 30 concerning interpreting these verses and how they relate to election and predestination. Though they do GREEK WORD STUDIES for the words foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. This is on page 1784.

There is one article that specifically addresses Election. It is found on page 1873. In part, it reads:
The doctrine of election has been debated and misunderstood in the history of Christian thought. Election does not mean a person is not required to repent to come to faith in Christ. However, all those who do repent and come to faith have been elected. Election does not mean that Christians do not need to share the gospel. It is through the sharing of the gospel that people see their sin and need for repentance. The response to the concept of election should be gratitude to God and should encourage believers during difficult times. ~ Doctrine: Election: 1 Thessalonians 1:4, p. 1873
There is nothing in that article that I disagreed with. It doesn't really explain the doctrine of election. But it does clarify what it isn't. Which is helpful.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Annette said...

Love the review, very thorough!