Monday, September 27, 2010

The Saving Life of Christ by Major Ian Thomas

This week I've been reading The Saving Life of Christ by Major Ian Thomas. The book explores the radical resurrection life of Jesus Christ which is the necessity and intended salvation of every Christian. Thomas's use of language is dynamic, pithy and absorbing. The first ten pages include an impressive 25 verses, presenting an uncompromisingly Biblical teaching that is inspiring, convicting and encouraging.

There is something which makes Christianity more than a religion, more than an ethic, and more than the idle dream of sentimental idealist. It is this something that makes it relevant to each one of us right now as a contemporary experience. It is the fact that Christ Himself is the very life content of the Christian faith. It is He who makes it "tick." "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:24). The One who calls you is the One who does that to which he calls you. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). He is himself the very dynamic of all His demands.
The verses used in the first chapter progress in a logical order, and though the book does not read like a Bible study, it can be used as such because it progresses through its doctrine by progressing through scripture.

The Saving Life of Christ Chapter 1

1 Thessalonians 5:24
Philippians 2:13
Romans 5:10
2 Corinthians 5:20
2 Corinthians 5:9a
1 Peter 3:18a
1 Peter 2:24a
Titus 3:5-6
Hebrews 2:14b
2 Corinthians 5:17
John 6:56
John 5:19
John 8:28a
John 17:19
John 15:5
John 13:3a
Colossians 1:9
Colossians 2:9-10a
Romans 1:17c
1 Thessalonians 5:16
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Romans 1:4
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Ephesians 5:19-20
Colossians 3:4a

The second chapter continues the intriguing and exciting biblical exploration with a study on salt (yes, salt) and how it relates to the life of Christ. It is truly illuminating (I was up past midnight tracking cross-references). Suffice to say this is a Christian classic, and though I've only read two chapters I feel safe in recommending it. I learned about Major Ian Thomas by listening to his sermons on Sermonindex.net, and the main message of his life was preaching the resurrection life of Christ as the means of living salvation for every believer. Take a listen: A Grain of Wheat (sermonindex is down today for maintenance, so I give you the sermonaudio.com link).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: Waterproof Bible NIV NT

My Damaging the Cambridge ESV post received quite a lot of feedback and among the comments was a recommendation for Bardin Marsee Publishing's waterproof Bible (thanks to Donna Lynn McCormack for the recommendation). I had never heard of the product before, but now that I've handled the edition I am amazed that they are not more prevalent. The NIV New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs is an outstanding example of many editions to come from Bardin and Marsee Publishing.

I received my inscribed copy and was immediately struck by the quality of paper. It's 99% opaque, somewhat slick feeling, unusually strong and quite heavy. The small NT has a decent weight to it, which I don't mind at all, but I wonder how a full size Bible would feel. The size is somewhat large for a New Testament, I have full size Bibles that are smaller, but it's still very portable.
The page layout is clean and leaves some spacious margins, especially at the header and footer. However, the print is quite small, it's actually the same size as my pocket NT and Psalms, which is less than half the size. The space is nice and improves readability, but a larger font and less margin could be the way to go. For those of us who are note taker's with young eyes, the present format remains optimal because it allows more margin for notes.

The paper's unique qualities make it an interesting case for note taking. The purple smears in the photo above are actually the archival quality ink of a 005 Pigma Micron. This is one of those rare occasions where the tables are turned and less is more. Any wet or fine tip ink pen is going to sit on top of the paper's water resistant material and remain moist and smear. It also won't be water resistant because it has nothing to absorb and dry it. The red pen above is a simple Bic ballpoint pen and that's what I would have to recommend. The simple ink pens have drier ink and they don't smear on the paper. No bleed through will occur because of the paper's unique qualities and the thickness prevents imprints on the other side. This edition isn't designed to hold a massive amount of notes, but the margins can hold a homemade chain reference system and simple ink pens will do the trick. For highlighting I would have to reccomend a dry Bible highlighter which Bardin Marsee sells on their website. The wet highlighters will smear even worse than the pigment pens.

The NT lacks any study aids but does include a table of weights and measures in the back and a page of quick references at the front, which is more than most New Testaments.

THE REAL TEST


The moment you've all been waiting for... yes, yes I did.
I gave the Waterproof Bible a thorough soaking, a baptizing if you will. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

THE RESULTS

The Bible's unique coating is indeed waterproof. The water beads up and rolls of the cover and the pages. The water may get trapped between the pages, but the resiliency of the paper actually allows you to WRING THE WATER OUT OF THE BIBLE. This is nothing less than impressive. The Bible does stay damp for a while, but the paper is in no way harmed and it's completely and comfortably readable 30 seconds after being soaked, just slightly wet. The strength, durability and resiliency of the paper begs the question as to why more Bibles aren't made this way. The only downside would be the weight, and I'm sure many wouldn't mind a Bible they could really thump on the pew or pulpit.

The Waterproof Bible goes above and beyond the call of duty. It's not only waterproof. It's water resistant. It's damage resistant. It's the closest thing to impervious I've seen in a Bible. The publisher assures that the Bible is equally impervious to mud and other substances, and I'm inclined to believe them. I wouldn't drop it in a vat of acid, but I could see any normal substance wiping right off the page. Granted the binding isn't sewn and the cover is a thicker variety of the same smooth slick paper, but this Bible is not made for show, but for durability. Only time will tell if the glue on the spine is completely waterproof, but the quality construction of the rest of the Bible leads me to believe it will be. This is the perfect Bible for the outdoorsman, the hunter, the fisherman, the missionary, or the camper, and it will finally allow me to accomplish my dream of reading the Bible in the shower (no more putting a plastic bag over my hand and flipping the pages one-handed). 

Bardin and Marsee is coming out with a number of new editions in October that will expand the variety of translations available and you couldn't go wrong in ordering a copy of your favorite translation for camping trips, adventures or just for everyday use.     

A review copy was provided free of charge by Bardin Marsee Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest review.




   

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jim Lepage: Word Designs

One of the most exciting trends in the postmodern church culture is the new emphasis on visual representations of Biblical concepts. I tend to be on the side of old-fashion "foolishness of preaching" presentation, but I always appreciate the power of visual creativity and art, especially when it opens new understandings of God's word. Jim Lepage is a Christian graphic artist who is working on a series called Word, where he creates an original piece of artwork for every book of the Bible. His thematic and textual choices are often unusual and illuminating. His blog showcases a phenomenal (though off the wall) sense of humor, and his artwork reveals a thoughtful meditation on God's word. In his own words:
Basically, Word is a series where I create original designs for each book of the Bible. Before each design, I spend time researching the book, finding out the themes, historical context, weirdest stories, etc. I also scan through parts of the book looking for a passage or story that could translate into a cool design. Each design isn’t meant to completely represent the book, rather it is merely based on a passage from the book.
These designs are undeniably cool and I have tried to narrow down this post to my favorites, but as you can see, I have a lot of favorites. You have to surf over to http://jimlepage.com/word-designs/ and check out the whole series. His post on the creation of the series has some interesting insights on Bible literacy and motivation for reading God's word. Read the blog and while you're there and check out his gallery to purchase prints of the artwork.

You know I can't resist Jeremiah right now. This piece may show up randomly in upcoming Walkabout with Jeremiah posts.

New Poll: How Often do You Use a Concordance?

A concordance is one of the most basic and useful Bible study aids. Most Bibles include a concordance and with sites like Biblegateway.com and others, a concordance is just a few keystrokes away. So the question remains, how often do you use one? Are they really worth having in the back of your Bible? Do you carry Strong's with you everywhere? Is Biblegateway your homepage? Have you made your own? Or do you use a different method for study? The poll will be up for one month. Vote on the left sidebar and comment here to let everyone know your position.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Walkabout with Jeremiah: Small Beginnings

I started my study of Jeremiah with a combination of two methods I described in earlier posts: The ESV Study Bible Notebook Study and taking notes in my Cambridge ESV Wide Margin. The combination of the two creates a slow reading process during which I make notes according to my own reading of the text and the words that strike my heart, while consulting the study Bible notes for passages that I struggle to understand or for contextual information on timelines, kings etc. The process keeps me from charging ahead and reading too quickly and combines inductive study with thorough, but not overwhelming, study aids.

The ESV Study Bible's introduction to Jeremiah is lengthy and it should be. Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible and perhaps the most textually difficult and complex. The uniqueness of the book cannot be overstated.



Adding study aids to your Bible reading can have both positive and negative attributes. The addition of an outside source of information can add a crutch which, when overwhelmed by the potential vastness and complexity of the Bible, can block personal interaction with the words. With the abundance of Bible teaching in modern culture it would be easy to let others interpret the Bible for us, but God desires that we hide the word in our own hearts and maintain a relationship with His word that stems from our relationship with Him and our desire to know Him. At its best, study aids can provide information that leads to revelation. Knowledge can be an integral part of gaining wisdom as facts become networked and interpreted into truth. The Holy Spirit can inspire us, lead us and guide us into new understanding of the word with and without study aids, but our desire to understand the scripture should create a desire to use all sources available to understand God's word. I believe that the information readily available in this generation is part of God's progressive revelation of His word and can become part of our personal revelation. They should not replace our Bible study or overwhelm our personal pursuit of understanding, but should supplement our knowledge in the hope that the Holy Spirit will rework that knowledge into wisdom regarding the word and work of God the Father.


Jeremiah 23:33 is one small example of information instigating revelation. The false prophets of Jeremiah's time ask for an oracle from Jeremiah or a divine utterance from God for guidance. God's answer to Jeremiah is that the false prophets are the "burden" that God will cast off and punish. The study notes reveal that the word "burden" and "oracle" are actually the same Hebrew word that changes according to context. So when the prophets ask Jeremiah, "What is the burden of the Lord?" they are asking for a prophetic word from God.  At the same time when we ask for God's direction or a prophetic word in any context, we are asking to know the burden of God's heart. This reveals an intimate connection between the heart of God and the word of God. God's heart is connected to His word in a powerful way. His word contains his heart, and as we seek his heart for the lost and the dying, for the brokenness of our own lives and simply to know Him more, we seek a prophetic word, a divine utterance. There is no oracle without burden. There is no burden without oracle. When we find God's heart, His word follows. When we interact with His word, we begin to discern His heart. As He shares his heart with us, He sends His word to us in a very real way that enables us to feel the anguish of Christ for those around us while receiving faith to minister in the passion of God's desires.



We should be careful in how we use study aids. They aren't a primary way of learning. They're tools that we spread on the table before God, asking Him to illuminate His word to us through all avenues of understanding. A simple fact about a Hebrew word can reveal the process of Jeremiah's prophetic walk as he shared in God's heart while receiving and speaking God's word. He prophesied oracles from the burden of God. He prophesied burdens from the oracle of God. He found God's heart and spoke from it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spiritual Consumption: Fasting and Feeding


John 4:34 relates a startling teaching that comes from the private life and heart of Jesus. The disciples full of worry and consideration take a trip into the Samaritan town of Sychar in order to purchase food for Jesus, but when they return, He refuses the food they offer saying, "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work." His statement reveals that Jesus was sustained and nourished by the will of God, the context reveals that He was so uplifted and so strengthened by this task and its accomplishment that His physical body could do without food.

An earlier event reveals the same truth. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness during a 40 day fast, Satan tempts Him in His hunger by telling Him to turn stones into bread, Jesus answers, "It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" Matthew 4:4. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 which reminds Israel of the manna in the desert when God provided food by the command of His word. Similarly, Jesus lived by the command of God's word and was fed by it. The intersecting relationship between the word and will of God is developed in the Bible as is its ability to nourish the soul and the spirit to the point that the physical body can be neglected.

Job 23:12 inspires us to treasure God's word more than food. In application, to be more faithful in reading it than we are to eat lunch, to be more hungry for it than we are for our physical meals.

Psalm 119:103 reveals the sweetness and the pleasure of consuming God's word in a metaphor that parallels our own delight and pleasure in sweets and our cravings for certain foods.

Jesus than makes a further connection in John 6:48-59, revealing a more dire relationship and a more frightening truth. He says something that frightens and confuses all of His followers except the twelve. All are turned away by the shocking nature of the truth he reveals:


48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living breadthat came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
 52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." 59Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Jesus was the word of God made flesh. He was the will of God in full revelation. He was the treasure of God's heart and the delight of His mouth and His soul. The same word that Jesus quotes in Deuteronomy 8:3 is illuminated by Jesus's reference to manna in John 6. The crowd only wants bread. They follow Jesus because he multiplied the loaves and they received food to eat. They are in awe of the physical bread, the manna, that God produced. Then Jesus reveals Himself as the bread they must consume. He is the word and the will that must be eaten. His flesh and His blood become the subject of our spiritual consumption, and we need nothing else, for even from the word of His mouth the food we eat is provided.

These passages are so rich. Their are depths and mysteries to them I dare not touch in a single blog post, but I am inspired to consume the word of God. These passages relate to relationship, communion, Bible study, prayer, blessing, provision and so much more. I am inflamed to partake of Jesus Christ, to abide in him through consuming His flesh and His blood, His word and His will. Does His word so fascinate us that we can skip a meal or fast for even longer sustained by the Word?

The Bible brings us into communication with God as we are fed by His word and respond to what He says. Prayer brings a more direct level of relationship as we enter into the secret place of petition and adoration, seeking for an intimacy where we feel God's heartbeat and the response of His love for us. This relationship strengthens and sustains. It's more desperately needed and more desirable than our daily meals. Even as Jesus fasted, we can fast on physical food even as we feed on a greater portion of the the Bread of Life. With prayer on our lips and the Bible on our plate our physical bodies gain strength in the absence of physical food but in the presence of the living Word, who is Christ, our portion.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright

Thomas Nelson's recent release on the Conflict in the middle east reads with clear armchair simplicity but contains well-researched scholarship that lays a far deeper foundation than the tone and style might suggest. Bryant Wright's cordial, colloquial tone gives the book a quick pace and natural readability. The work clearly aims not at literary or scholarly achievement within the realm of theology or Biblical exposition, but at simple Biblical teaching that's easily digested by all. And Wright succeeds.

 The work comes from a clearly expressed viewpoint, and though Wright manages to wriggle out of the most controversial subjects, he maintains a clear, informative explanation of the spiritual cause of the conflict in the middle east that remains as free from political argument as possible given the subject. While Wright may not always be correct in his perspective of the conflict or in his understanding of Islam and its people, he always keeps his arguments highly Biblical. All of Wright's points come from Biblical interpretation. That interpretation may not be flawless, but the book's message is derived from a scriptural understanding and an expository root rather than a political agenda that twists scripture to meet its world-view. This makes it a worthy book to review for this blog and Wright's work progresses very much like a Bible study (in fact the book includes Bible study materials in the back) or a holistic reading of scripture with Israel and its neighbors at the center of the focus. The book is not exceptionally deep. It's not radically stirring. It's not a unique or revolutionary revelation. It is a simple starting point for understanding the spiritual seeds of the Middle East conflict.

While this book is not in the vein I would normally choose for this blog, I was attracted to the book because of my own involvement in Muslim ministry and my search for hope for the Muslim and Arab people. They remain one of the hardest groups to reach out to, and those who have been called to share the gospel with Muslims must constantly seek the hope, vision and heart for Muslims that comes from God's heart. I must say that Seeds of Turmoil comes from a perspective that provides a foundation for understanding the root of spiritual and generational conflict, but falls short of unveiling a biblical hope for an awakening within the Muslim people.

Within the context of this blog Wright has some interesting insights to share on the Bible itself:

The description of the promised land is smaller than the one God gave to Abraham in Genesis 15 and reiterated as an everlasting promise in Genesis 17. I wish I could give you a concise, clear reasoning, but some things in Scripture are simply unexplainable. There are a few things to keep in mind, the first being the absolute trustworthiness of God's Word. I know. I've dealt with those doubts many times. But once we have settled the issue that Scripture is perfectly true and trustworthy, then we learn to doubt our doubts and ask God, "What insight are You trying to share with me?" Sometimes we simply have to trust that God's Word is true even when it is difficult to understand. And sometimes, over time, claims of Scripture that at first seem contradictory become clear through the interpretation and teaching of the Holy Spirit. We realize there is no contradiction. (p. 32)

The passage illustrates Wright's greatest strength: simple, clear honesty coupled with a sincere interaction with God's Word. Seeds of Turmoil has its weak moments and it certainly won't be a scholar or theologian's first choice, but it highlights a large number of highly relevant Biblical passages on the subject and provides lucid, insightful and, at times, fresh and inspiring interpretations. Some highlights include Wright's look at the prophets and Revelation and his exhortation regarding the Christian's role in the conflict, while the biggest weak spot in the book is definitely the rather unilluminating and unfulfilled discussion of Iran. All in all the biggest hope and disappointment within the work are coupled as Wright urges Christians on for the Muslim individual while clearly resigning the Arab culture to a spiritual chaos until Christ comes as the righteous judge.

Everyone who recieves His grace begins a transformation that changes the heart of bitterness and revenge into a heart of grace that forgives those who killed their brothers and loves those who are their enemies. For those who do this in the Middle East, the conflict ends--one life at a time. The seeds of turmoil are transformed into the seeds of love, forgiveness, and peace. Yet because most will not, the cycle of hatred and violence will never end until the Prince of Peace invades history in person once again. (p. 173)

The book's finishing lines reveal what Wright believes is an extrapolation of Biblical prophecy but makes at least one major error: the Prince of Peace has already invaded history in the person of the Holy Spirit and He seeks to bring whole nations, cultures and people groups to repentance.

I received a review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Booksneeze. I was not required to give a positive review.







Misprint on Page 40.











Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poll Results: How Much Do You Write in Your Bible?

The latest poll results are in:


A total of 68 readers voted revealing that 72% of Bible Reading Project readers write in their Bibles, and about 10% of those readers really go all the way with notes, charts, illustrations etc. 26% prefer to keep their Bibles clean, though none of them castigated the rest of us for our Bible marking ways. The results will stay up for a week and then a new poll will start. If you have ideas for a poll you would like to see, post a comment and let me know.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: NRSV Notetaker's Bible

Oxford University Press's NRSV Notetaker's Bible disguises itself as any other beautifully proportioned, classy hardback book, but inside it sports an elegant wide-margin text block. Actually, being a beautifully proportioned hardback book is not such a bad start for a Bible edition. 


What I love most about this edition is the size. This may be the ideal size for a Bible. It's not too tall, a little wider than the average hardback and has a chubby thickness that lets it comfortably fill up the palm. The dimensions give it a good weight and balance and it's a breath of fresh air in a "look! my Bible's as thin as my glasses" industry.



The actual cover of the Bible has a nice aesthetic but looks a little too much like an advertisement, and the back of the Bible is a blatant advertisement for the Bible's features, which makes it somewhat less attractive as an option for a go everywhere Bible, but in no way damages the appeal of its design features.

The NRSV text itself has a reputation for being a "liberal" translation, which probably includes some positive and negative features. It is by far the most extensive in its use of gender inclusive language; however, a number of scholar's argue that this obscures the text in places. In spite of this controversy, the NRSV is also known as both a scholarly and literary translation.

The inside of the Bible contains an efficient, no frills text block, which provides suitable room for notes without miniaturizing the text. The font is a 9/10, identical to the Cambridge Wide Margins, though the font has a little more character to it, which I love, but might slightly hinder readability (if you're that picky, you probably won't find a wide margin with a big enough font to suit you).

The single column setting displays the poetry and prose beautifully in what is actually a spacious and highly readable setting. The text does not feel cramped in any way. The margins are 2 inches wide, but ruled at 1.5, which may cramp some note taker's. Personally I would prefer to do away with the lines in favor of sheer open spaces, but with the single column setting this could look quite disorganized. The header and footer are rather small, but provide more room for notes.


The paper is very white, (which the photo does not reflect) but not necessarily opaque. There is a fair amount of ghosting, but I personally have rarely been bothered by it.

The edition also includes the Apocrypha, a somewhat unusual move, but all Bibles included the apocrypha until 1881 and it shouldn't be a deal breaker for this kind of edition. The biggest downside to the Notetaker's edition is the complete lack of basic study resources. It contains no references, no concordance, no maps and no other study aids of any kind. This makes it an awkward "in between" edition, that doesn't quite have enough basic resources to qualify as a personal, home made study Bible, but includes space for extensive personal notes. For many the lack of maps and a concordance won't be a deal breaker, and it shouldn't be, but I find both of those basic aids immensely useful. I always find myself wishing I had a whole concordance at the back of my Bible, and the complete absence of one could be frustrating. I would love to see OUP bring out a sister edition that added references, dropped the ruled margins for blank space and added a substantial concordance. If they dropped the apocrypha they should be able to keep the edition to the same ideal dimensions.


All in all the NRSV Notetaker's Bible is a beautiful, no frills edition that majors on elegance, but may not qualify as an everyday personal study Bible for everyone. Even if it doesn't, it would be a useful and usable addition to anyone's study materials and provides a rare opportunity to add margin notes to the Apocrypha. It's simple functionality is matched with an excellent price.

Oxford University Press provided a review copy. I was not required to give a positive review.


The NRSV Notetaker's Bible 9855A Deluxe Cloth

The NRSV Notetaker's Bible 9855A Deluxe Cloth


The NRSV Notetaker's Bible 9850A
The NRSV Notetaker's Bible 9850A

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Walkabout with Jeremiah: Introduction

Jeremiah was a man of vision, a man of burden and a prophet of passion. His words ring with the burden of God's  grief and anguish over a desperately depraved people, a passion for the anointed word of God and a vision of God's everlasting and enduring love. The message is poetic, pithy and poignant. It does not hold back. Its lows are depths of despair not seen elsewhere in the word of God, and its highs have inspired followers of Jesus with verses that penetrate the mind and heart and become an unbreakable connection to the hope and promise of God's personal covenant love with the believer. 

Within the book of Jeremiah is the history of a the chosen people's most dramatic downfall in Biblical history, the invasion and exile to Babylon and some of the greatest persecution described within Biblical narrative. Its poetic beauty and emotional intensity rivals the Psalms. Its description of the role and calling of a prophet is perhaps unsurpassed, and its description of the breaking heart of God is rarely as intimate in any other part of Scripture.


For at least the next few months (and probably longer), I will feature a series on the book of Jeremiah as I continue what has become a daily study of the book. In addition to other Bible reading projects, I have been irresistibly drawn to stay in the book of Jeremiah everyday, exploring the nooks and crannies of its words in search of the heart of God as revealed by His word. I will document the different methods of study along the way, which allow an exploration of how different methods of interaction with the word produce different kinds of knowledge and revelation within a single book.


Most of the projects I will use in Jeremiah will go slowly at around a one chapter per day pace, so the series will probably progress with one or two posts per month, in between other project posts. Many of the projects  applied to the book will include reference material and a deeper focus than previous projects, allowing new methods of Bible study to be explored, while also allowing me to go through the book multiple times with multiple perspectives and focuses. With the time and depth of the studies planned it may be possible to delve into archaeological information, Greek and Hebrew studies, textual criticism and extra-canonical books. But whether I go in those directions or not the overwhelming focus beyond the methods will be the heart of God, the heart of a prophet, and the connection between the burden, word and anointing of God.

I've labeled the project a "walkabout," a time of discovery and vision within the word of God that's not an aimless wandering, but an intentional going back and forth through the same material beyond shallow repetition into deepening discovery of the heart of God. A favorite preacher of mine once said "Bible study is done with your boots on." It's hard, intentional discipline to study God's word, but it's not difficult to receive revelation. God's grace gives freely to the hungry and thirsty, who seek Him with all their heart, all their mind and all their strength. I plan to put my boots on in hopes of entering a rigorous pursuit of receiving a revelation of God's heartbeat within the book of Jeremiah.

More will follow.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Parchment and Pen Bible Selection

Parchment and Pen recently featured an article on Bible selection titled "What Bible Should I Own?" The post was written by Dan Wallace a translator for the NET and consultant for other translations. He breaks down the choices into three categories and makes a scholarly, well-reasoned suggestion for what Bible(s) you should own. Surf over and check it out.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cambridge KJV Pocket Reference Purple Imitation Leather

Anyone familiar with Cambridge University Press Bibles automatically begins to envision supple, rich-smelling leather when the name is mentioned. Cambridge has an outstanding reputation for quality and their high end Bibles have received innumerable honors (many from J. Mark Bertrand at Bible Design Blog and rightly so). However, my interest was piqued by the more affordable everyman Bibles in the Cambridge line and when the new KJV Pocket Reference Bible came out in Purple Imitation Leather on Aug. 10, I jumped at the chance to review the edition.

The packaging serves as a slipcase and in true Cambridge style boldly displays the edition's features on the front. The edition is available with a wraparound snap cover and a zip cover, but the review copy came in traditional style which I prefer.
The color is a rich, regal grape, making this edition a pleasant and desirable oddity. The imitation leather itself features a nice matte finish with a realistic looking grain, but is not nearly as soft or supple as Crossway's TruTone. The cover is somewhat firm, which may be a benefit in durability. On a less complimentary note, the imitation leather has a distinctly rubbery feel to the touch, which is probably less desirable than the glossy feel of most imitation leathers or the soft, leathery feel of Crossway's TruTone. However, most imitation leathers descend into something akin to tire rubber over time and this texture is much smoother and silkier to the touch and may be more resistant to wear and sun damage, though only time will tell.
The spine has an attractive, rounded shape which fits pleasantly in the hand and has a nice aesthetic. This is a new feature in the Cambridge design and was introduced on the ESV Wide Margins as well. Hopefully it becomes a trademark Cambridge design. The Bible includes a single purple ribbon, which nicely matches the color and style.
This photo displays a slight defect in the cover, a small indented line which runs parallel to the spine. I'm not sure if this is merely a individual defect or a regular occurrence. It is actually barely noticeable, but can be seen when the light catches that part of the cover.

At 3.625 x 5.125 the Bible has a nice carrying size and fits perfectly in the back pocket. These small sizes are always a trade in mobility vs. readability, and Cambridge is majoring on mobility. 
The text is fairly small at least 6/7 font or perhaps smaller. Considering the size the font the text is very readable and my young, nearsighted eyes can still comfortably read the page even when I hold the Bible at arm's length. The text block is a reduction of Cambridge's popular Pitt Minion, which is a favorite for its comfortable, readable two column setting. This edition is no different and Cambridge does not let the reduction in size mean crowding in the margins. Ghosting is fairly minimal, especially considering the narrow spine and the compact size. However, I would not highlight with wet highlighters, as the paper is fairly thin. I would advise an 005 Pigma Micron or something very fine tipped as the paper, though strong, will probably not hold up to rough marking.

  Bold cross-references are included: a blessing I often wished for in other editions, and a glossary and pronunciation guide. The glossary is quite an aid considering King James English contains a number of antiquated words or words that have altered in meaning over time. The pronunciation guide I could take or leave, and since the Bible has no concordance, I could leave it.
The Bible does not quite lay flat. The stiffness of the cover prevents it from lying completely open on the table in most positions. However, with a little coaxing it will remain open.
The silver gilding makes complements the purple beautifully and keeps the edition modest but classy.

It's somewhat difficult to see, but the stitching is visible down the seam, proof of Cambridge's famous sewn bindings, which can take quite a beating. This picture also illustrates that the cover is not readily flexible, though it may soften up with use. 
The slipcase becomes a storage case, though this Bible isn't really designed for the shelf. This is a go anywhere beater Bible meant to be carried in the back pocket and manhandled. It's durability and mobility are prime features next to its niche aesthetic. Purple is a color more publishers should consider. It's classy and can appeal to both men and women. It's connection to royalty gives it Biblical significance and the future will surely reveal that purple is both the new black and the new pink.

Overall the color and size are prime selling points along with the sewn binding and familiar text block. The Bible includes the Cambridge lifetime guarantee regarding materials or workmanship, and is almost certain to hold up well. Some features to be desired are a Concordance and a softer, more supple imitation leather. The edition has a great layout and quality design and the low price of $24 should sweep any objections aside. A sewn binding within that price range is unheard of and this is actually the cheapest pocket reference I've come across. And it's Cambridge. This edition truly capitalizes on mobility, durability and quality per dollar. It's not a miracle, there are always trade offs in designing an affordable, compact edition, but Cambridge has maximized the quality of Pocket References in this price range. 

Cambridge provided this review copy free of charge. I was not required to give a positive review.

KJV Pocket Reference Purple Imitation KJ242:XR