Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Word from our Sponsor

Some of you may have noticed lately that the Bible quotations here have been coming from the ESV - English Standard Version.  I've been using the ESV since October, when, out of curiosity more than anything else, I accepted an email offer to check out sample opf a new study Bible online from Crossway Books & Bibles. I have to admit - I was impressed.

Well for the month of March, Crossway Books and Bibles are offering a free one-month trial of the on-line version of their new ESV Study Bible. I was impressed enough I bought the paper version back in November. Lifetime access to the on-line resources (which are more extensive than what's in the paper version) is included when you buy the hardcopy.

So why am I promoting this?

There are three basic kinds of translations scripture: Literal translations (best for in depth studying where the word choice matters), thought-for-thought translations (an excellent preacher's translation favoured for church use), and paraphrases (a popular choice for everyday devotional reading).  Over the last few years each of these has had a standard bearer that was considered by many, though not by all, to be the best of each genre. The NASB (New American Standard Bible) is a literal translation; the NIV is thought-for-thought, and The Message is a paraphrase.  Each is an excellent Bible that serves it's own role in Bible study.

As a storyteller I have always looked to use a translation that adheres well to the original text but it easily readable in English. This usually requires a balance between a literal and a thought-for-though approach; the standard for the NBS (Network of Biblical Storytellers) has been the RSV (Revised Standard Version).

In the new translation of the ESV however, the Crossway people have come up with a translation that works hard to keep to the original while gaining a higher level of readability than the NASB (IMHO*). Which I really appreciate because often thought-for-thought translations lose a little something in their desire for readabilty. I'm not an expert in either Hebrew or Greek, but have often been surprised when I research the origins of a word in the NIV only to discover that that word doesn't exist in the original text.

The list of contributors to this study Bible reads like a who's-who of Biblical archealogy and theological thought.  80,000 cross-references, 20,000 notes and hundreds of maps, charts, and illustrations.  Yes, the commentary is heavily evangelical, but they do a better than average job of presenting multiple sides of the any arguments that arise. In addition I love the feature that lets me add my own notes and refernces to the relevant passages.  There's also a digital high-lighter with multiple colours and you can listen to an audio-recording of any passage.

But what I really like is the effort they've put into explaining the culture in which Biblical events take place. Here maps and illustrations can make a world of difference in helping understanding and the Crossways new study Bible has the best I've ever seen.  The drawings of the Temple Mount at the time of Jesus is astounding. The image shown is a typical 1st century synagogue.

As a believer in personal Bible study I think it is important to have the best tools available and I like to tell people when I find a good one. I'm not saying evereyone needs to by one of these Bibles, but if you're likely to consider buying a study Bible in the next year or so, I think this one deserves consideration.

So check it out - it's absolutely free for one month. They've had my email since August and they've never tried to plug another product to me. So I have no hesitation is recommending the free trail. Have fun.

Until next timew ...  Shalom.

*IMHO - In My Humble Opinion

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