The 2013 update of the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, presents the original dynamic and extensive study tools with updated articles and notes. The unique format of the popular Charismatic-Pentecostal themed study Bible scatters academic and inspirational notes through the text, emphasizing transformation and ministry along with interpretation. The strength of the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible is its focus on the application of the Bible rather than just knowledge of and about the Word of God.
I reviewed a previous edition of this study Bible here and that review will provide a more thorough approach, as this edition is only a minor update. The graphic design on the cover is greatly improved and the Bible is now available in the New Living Translation.
For the update I am reviewing the hardcover edition. I've grown more and more accustomed to hardcover Bibles and for study Bibles I think this may be what I prefer. I don't use study Bibles on a daily basis and a hardcover edition works better for sitting on the shelf and pulling off for reference. In addition, study Bibles are often large and the flexibility of the cover can actually make a large Bible harder to handle. This edition features an attractive cover design and the hardcover serves nicely.
My evaluation of this Bible's layout has not changed. The presence of shaded boxes and notes in the actual text layout of the Bible remains far from ideal. The notes interrupt the reading. This may be negligible if you plan to use this Bible as a reference tool, which is my preferred use for study Bibles, but for anyone who actually wants to read through an epistle or a large passage, this layout is detrimental.
The text layout is double column, verse per line divided by a center column of references. The font choices keep the text readable, but the thin paper and the multiple levels of shading on the page create a lot of ghosting. A lot of the opposite page can be seen through the paper. This is a red letter edition and the particular hue of red is well chosen.
As you can see above the notes far outweigh the text in some sections. This may be ideal for some who desire more "study" than "Bible" in their study Bibles, but I can't imagine that this would be ideal for someone who wants to use the Bible everyday. Every edition must make compromises and in order to supply the reader with unique and thorough notes, while making each themed note distinct is a difficult task.
Though the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible comes from predominately charismatic/pentecostal leaders and academics the notes are well-balanced, and while they emphasize the Holy Spirit, they do not over-emphasize or push the practice of spiritual gifts or popular manifestations associated with the Charismatic movement. Unlike the Fire Bible the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible does specify its own position of interpretation and presents it within the context of traditional or mainstream interpretation. In difficult passages and the book of Revelation as a whole, the notes carefully explain the differences of interpretations and present a balanced approach to the text.
Overall the notes present sound scholarship with passionate faith in the supernatural. They promote ideals of faith and experience within the pentecostal/charismatic movement, but also draw from a rich Christian tradition to reveal the work of God through the scripture as in the note on Zechariah 8:18-23 above. The solid scholarship and passionate focus on faith in God should make the study helps valuable aids and inoffensive to all but staunch cessationists.
I am impressed by the amount of features in this Bible including the thorough book introductions and the sheer number of charts, graphs, maps, and articles. As always a three column 125 page concordance is greatly appreciated and its preceded by 39 pages of articles on numerous topics of discipleship, ministry and evangelism.
The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible presents valuable and unique study aids in a dynamic presentation, providing a full scope of aids, helps and notes to aid in interpreting and specifically applying the Word. The layout and format has flaws and compromises as all editions do, but the content remains the most valuable piece of any Bible. The content presented and applied within this text has great potential to equip and inspire believers from all walks and faith traditions.
My thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing this complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest review.