Monday, March 7, 2016

This may be the only study Bible you'll ever need

Zondervan has published a new NIV Study Bible, God's Justice: the Holy Bible The Flourishing of Creation & the Destruction of Evil. ( Zondervan Bibles, 2016) 
This is a Bible, the complete text of the NIV, but it includes, as study Bibles tend to do, study notes which usually address a certain point of view. In this case it's God's justice.  What a great topic for the church to address.  It's more than just mercy and judgment ; these notes clarify who justice is for and the plan God has to see that one day justice is achieved. And by the way, justice is not just for the chosen people, or even just for Christians; it's not 'first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Paul writing to the church at Rome--Romans 1:16) .
No, God's justice is for everyone. God's justice is for every living creature. God's justice is for all of creation.  These study notes don't have all the answers, but as I spent time reading them, it became clear that a lot of the things we stress over in the West, are really "first world problems", and are so trivial when compared to what's happening in other parts of the world. Parts of the world where God's justice may not be so readily observable.
What makes this study bible so appealing to me is the number of contributors, and from where they come. I have several study Bibles where all the notes are written by one person. At different times they have been very helpful, but this Bible has notes written by 56 scholars and writers; what makes it even more appealing is the diversity of authors: they come from many different countries, and so we get to see what justice looks like in a variety of cultures and contexts.  And it certainly makes it clear that in many parts of the world, justice is elusive, fleeting, and often hard to see.  And this approach makes sense. The Bible is 66 books written by many different authors over a long period of time (okay, they were all guided by the Holy Spirit), so why should the notes also be written by many different authors?
Each book starts with an introduction to the book, highlighting the theme of justice. And justice , in many different forms, is present in each book.  There are notes throughout each book, and at the end of each book are 'questions for reflection" and a short prayer.  The notes, questions, and prayers helped guide me as I struggled with the whole question of what justice really looks like now, an what it will look like when Jesus returns.
As the editor (Tim Stafford) suggests maybe God's grace and mercy are compelling you to try to find your place in His story, or maybe you're just curious.  In either case, the Bible is the story of how God started with creation and God's love for mankind,  then evil and sin destroyed the perfection of humanity; the story continues with God's attempt to draw mankind back to him and restore the perfect creation that once existed.  Early on perfection was destroyed, but the story ends with "destruction of evil and the flourishing of humanity".
If you're looking for your place in God's story this might be a good place to start.  The Church, and all its members have a part to play in seeing justice restored.  Jesus came to save us for something more than our own personal salvation. (…created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do--Eph 2:10)
Looking for a study Bible? This one is highly recommended.  5/5

I received a copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my review. I was not required to post positive comments. 

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