Recently Zondervan released the NIV, Starting Place Study Bible. As the name suggests, it’s supposed to be a study Bible to a young (in faith) believer who’s just now starting to really dig into and understand the Word of God. The question should be asked, though, is this a good start for someone? To be honest, several things go into what makes a great study Bible for a new believer outside of the scriptures. When looking for one, you need to ask yourself a few questions besides the important “which translation should I use?” matter. The following items are ones that I will try to briefly answer to help you decide if this is the right Study Bible for you.
“What perspective is the commentary coming from?”
“How are the study tools understandable and helpful?”
“How is the build quality of the book?”
Before I even opened the box, I could tell that this was a hefty Bible. Study Bibles are notoriously large because they aren’t meant for just taking to service, they carry pages of commentary and tools to help you understand. In this case, however, the weight was not only due to the content but because I received a hardbound version. The quality of the spine and cover appear to be pretty sturdy and reliable. After carrying it around in my backpack for a few weeks, I discovered that it has held up quite well, sadly my back did not (that’s a joke, folks… It’s ok to have fun while doing reviews). If you decided to pick this up, you might shy away from making this a Bible that you casually carry with you.
All in all, I’m actually amazed at how well constructed the Bible is. Even though it’s a pretty thick book, it opens flat, making it easier to read. The pages also feel like they are very secure in the binding. I don’t perceive that you will have to worry about pages falling out. That said, as with many Bibles, be careful with what you use to highlight in this Bible as you will see your markings on the opposite side.
The main point of a Study Bible is to help you study. This one does a great job in the opening pages of explaining to you what those tools are not just verbally but with small illustrations to show you what you’re looking for. I think that this will be a great help for those who are new to the word and are unsure of how a Study Bible works. That said, it carries a lot of you standard Study Bible tools such as notes, book intros, dictionary/concordance, and a topical index.
A couple of tools that I found interesting, and I think will be helpful to the young believer are Q&A boxes that are done to anticipate questions someone will have while reading the scriptures. There “character profiles” throughout the entire Bible. There are small boxes that explain Biblical principles. There are also small charts that help to show the reader where they are chronologically in the scriptures. That’s a feature that I know would have appreciated as a young believer.
As someone who disciples people regularly, it’s important to me to present the truth to a young believer and teach them how to think about scriptures, not what to think about scriptures. Commentaries can get rocky sometimes depending on the theological slant that the writers hold when stepping into scriptures. What I enjoyed about this particular series of commentaries is that it presents a very balanced view of the scriptures. It will present opposing views of historically debated passages allowing the reader to ponder rather than being told what to ponder. To me, that’s a fantastic setup and a benefit to a young believer.
The NIV Starting Point Study Bible is a reliable Study Bible for a young believer. While it’s rather bulky to be a casual carry Bible, it’s stability, study tools, and commentary ensure one thing. It ensures that a young believer will have a great start in their journey through the scriptures with a Bible that will last for a very long time due to its quality of build and content. I think this would be a great gift to give someone just starting to get serious about studying scriptures. Just make sure that they understand what this is for and that they are ready to dig deep into the Word of God.
As such, I am giving this Study Bible a 5 out of 5.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”