Top critical review
168 people found this helpful
on November 1, 2001
The single star refers only to the study apparatus. I love the NRSV text, but... well, just read:
Looks like I'm the only one to complain, but I have several basic needs in a study (maybe I should say "reference") bible, none of which are met here. It's been on my desk for about 8 months now, but I rarely use it, except for the NRSV text. I wasted $35, and recommend you don't.
What I need from a reference bible:
1) Quick location of passages. Try to find, for example, the parable of the Prodigal Son, using nothing but this bible. It's not going to happen! A good study bible (I'll name one, below) should have a list of the parables, and should have a detailed enough outline of each book that the parable can be found simply by thumbing through the gospel introductions. By the way, the Prodigal Son is Luke 15, but this book doesn't tell you that, anywhere. It doesn't even have chapter, let alone section, headings. What were they thinking of?
2) Extensive cross-references, complete reference of OT quotes or allusions in NT (in BOTH locations), and complete listing of parallel passages. None of that is here, except at the whim of whomever writes the comments for any given book. Some books are better than others, the gospels are better than the other books, but none of them are anywhere near complete, or even adequate.
3) Explain or clarify difficult passages, especially where the cultural gap is widest. Try to figure out the cultural/sociological background of, say, the Ark Narrative (1 Sam. 4 - 6). Not much help here. I've never expected much from the commentary in any study bible, but this one is poorer than others I've read. The notes, mostly, are a waste of ink.
The NRSV is by far my favorite translation, but the "ecumenical" community has never had as good a study bible as the conservatives do. That's inexcusable. I bought this bible hoping it would measure up to the NIV Study Bible, which has the best reference apparatus I've encountered, based on the criteria above. Unfortunately, I believe the NIV is almost the worst translation available, but I won't climb that soapbox here. I want an NRSV study bible as good as the NIV Study Bible, but that doesn't grind the inerrantist (or any other) axe the way the NIV text does, and the NIV Study Bible notes and commentary do.
Will somebody please give me what I'm looking for? Sometimes, I even blow the dust off my old Thompson Chain-Reference Bible for topical searches, but I've noticed that the topics I want to search are a little different than the topics Thompson set up in 1900, or whenever it was.
Don't waste your money on this thing. I recommend you buy a text version of the NRSV (as it happens, Oxford's are the best, and well priced -- you can count on Oxford for a well-made book), and a decent one-volume commentary.
This bible looks good on your desk, but that's about all.