Customer Reviews: HarperCollins Study Bible - Student Edition: Fully Revised & Updated
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on March 23, 2009
The only difference between the student and study version is that the study version has a concordance while the student version doesn't. That is the difference in page numbers and material. All other material and bonus features are the same.

Was trying for ages to figure out the difference as I wanted to get the most complete Bible I could and was seeing that the student version had less pages, which one would not expect. Hope this helps others in their purchasing.
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on November 26, 2006
Update 03/2014: After a number of years most of my original issues have now been solved. I can no longer say this is a product that is poorly made. It was a few years back, but not anymore.


Original Review from 11/2006:

For years this text has been a staple of many a classrooms. This text and the notes themselves are superb. Hands down this was for many years a spectacular production. However all this is ruined by HarperCollins recent production of this text with shoddy design and materials.

The version listed here has been significantly changed. The layout is cramped at best. The margins are minuscule leaving little to no room for personal comments or notes within the text. Which seems kind of ridiculous for a student bible not having room for the student to make notes in. They have additionally changed the font in this text making it even more difficult to read. It is to narrow now and plays havoc on the eyes.

The maps are horrible! Instead of drawn maps they have been rendered by digital maps that have been pixelated horribly! I am all for digital maps but don't do it in such away that when you look at it everything is blurry and you can't see anything. The maps as they are just seem to take up space. This could have been good had they taken sometime and made good maps. But no we are stuck with horrible maps.

And the space between the columns have been significantly reduced. To the point it is easy to miss the ending of one and continue reading into the other.

The text itself and notes are absolutely wonderful. The quality and production of this text is horrific. So all I can say is buyer beware.
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on October 25, 2006
Every day there seems to be another new study or devotional Bible on the market. If you're not a Bible fetishist, this plethora of choices must be truly mind-boggling. All I can say on behalf of the "Fully Revised and Updated Harper Collins Study Bible" is that the first edition was great and the revised edition has some nice enhancements. First, it comes with a concordance that is complete enough to help readers find key passages, but not so long as to make the book too thick and bulky to handle. Also, the Bible includes five articles that provide clear explanations of important topics every Bible reader should be aware of: Strategies for Reading Scripture; Israelite Religion; The Greco-Roman Context of the New Testament; The Bible and Archaeology; and Archaeologoy and the New Testament. Many of the introductions to individual books of the Bible have been revised. The scholarship in the articles and introductions is consistently good and they are written in language that is sensitive to both the person of faith and to those people who may be interested in the Bible as literature who don't want to have doctrinal positions foisted upon them. The notes, the editors assure us, have also been thoroughly revised. The Bible employs the New Revised Standard Version (which has not changed since the earlier 1993 editon of the HCSB was first published) and includes the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, those books read by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians but not by all Protestant traditions. If you only want to buy one study Bible, this may be the one for you.
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on November 11, 2006
My question as a user of the first edition of Harper Collins Study Bible was whether it was worth "upgrading" to the new version. The new edition is the same trim size as the original, which makes it (still) a better fit in one's hand than either the heavier New Oxford (Third Edition) NRSV or bulkier New Interpreters (NRSV) Study Bibles. It has both a new concordance, indexing common Biblical terms, and more general articles than the first edition (though at only five, not yet at the level of the still-unsurpassed introductory articles of the Oxford Revised English Study Bible, nor with the range of the more technical New Oxford NRSV articles), yet manages all this in fewer pages than before. How? With a slight (but notable) reduction in font size, albeit with slightly darker print in compensation, and with even narrower margins. In other words, it is a more informative edition of the Bible, but also a more difficult one in which to add notes as you go (and yes, as noted elswhere, with in-text black-and-white maps from the first edition poorly reproduced in this one).

If you have none of the top-flight Study Bibles mentioned herein, by all means go with the new Harper Collins (the notes, which highlight ancient social, political, historical and textual details, cover much the same ground as did the previous edition, though with notable expansion of introductions and/or notes in such key books as Genesis and the Gospels). If you already own a Harper Collins, but neither New Oxford (the largest font-size of the three, whose editorial apparatus seeks to address similar textual concerns, along with consideration for modern church usage) nor New Interpreters (the smallest font-size, by a decisive drop, and self-conciously seeking to cover more literary/theological issues in its numerous mini-essays), you might want to obtain these next, while not overlooking the excellent notes (and translations) of either the New Jerusalem Bible or Oxford's Jewish Study Bible.
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on August 31, 2009
The Harper Collins Study Bible Fully Revised and Updated builds upon the initial work of Wayne A. Meeks of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible first published as a study Bible 20 years ago. It includes the "Parallel Passages in the Four Gospels" built upon the work of Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr., maps and "Quotations of the Jewish Scriptures in the New Testament" which were in the original Harper Collins Study Bible. New to this edition is a condensed Concordance of the Bible. Another improvement is the print which is much easier to read.

The Harper Collins Study Bible Fully Revised and Updated uses solid ecumenical scholarship giving many insights in the running commentary. Like all study Bibles this edition has its limits. For instance, Luke 15 is said to be about what is lost and found. While that is true, the commentary only briefly mentions "Joy in heaven," and I would argue these three parables are, in addition, about shared joy in heaven and earth. Such are the limits of a study Bible.

Of all the study Bibles on the market, this is my first choice. This is the Bible I use with my students in Confirmation Class. This is a Bible which the Confirmation students can use now and later for any Bible class they might have in college in addition to personal use. This the Bible that I use for personal devotional reading and study. This is the Bible I recommend to others for personal Bible dovotional reading or study. I hope this edition will be offered in a leather bound edition.

The Rev. Dr. William R. Nirote
St. John United Church of Christ
Defiance, Ohio
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on December 15, 2011
So I just received the Harper Collins Study Bible Student Edition and here are my thoughts on its construction:

1. The paper is really thin. So thin that the pages will tear easily. Also, the print from the reverse side of the page shows through along with the print from the facing page. This makes is difficult to read.

2. The page numbers are positioned at the top of each page in toward the book binding. Since the pages are so thin, finding a specific page can be a challenge sometimes.

TIP: Here's a tip that will make reading the book much easier. Cut a sheet of BLACK construction paper the same height as the book, but a little wider so you can easily grab the edge. Then insert it behind the page you are reading. This will hide most, if not all, the printed text on the back and facing pages making it much easier to read.

I still gave this book a 5-star because of the material and how it's covered.
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on April 14, 2015
All translations of Scripture are driven by particular worldviews and hermeneutical commitments of the interpreters and translators of the text. This is, hands down, the translation that I most identify with and appreciate. For those who want to allow the full force of ANE religions, Greco-Roman influences, archeological findings, historical shaping of the Scriptures (which texts to include and which to exclude), and so on to impact how one might understand an accurate and faithful reading of the canon - this is a Bible that you need to have. It includes the apocryphal / deuterocanonical books as well. I would highly recommend getting the hardcover.
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`The Harper Collins Study Bible' for the New Revised Standard Version is one of, if not the best study Bible I've found for serious study. Its closest competitor may be the `Oxford Annotated Bible', which I originally used to prepare Bible Study classes, until a Theological Seminary professor recommended the Harper-Collins. The very first thing which one notices is that the general editor for the Harper-Collins is Wayne Meeks, who, even in my short experience with Biblical studies, stands out as one of the more important mentors of Biblical scholars in the United States.
One thing the Harper-Collins is not is a fancifully colored layout. The text of the scriptures are plainly stated, but with the advantage over Oxford of providing titles for the various subjects and incidents (commonly called pericopes when they appear in the Gospels). Oxford does not have these, and they are an immediate help.
Another thing the Harper-Collins does not have is a Concordance section. Oxford has such a section, and I found it a total waste of space. While their section was a few dozen pages, the Strong concordance runs to over 1200 pages. One can imagine that Oxford left a lot of things out!
The Harper-Collins and Oxford had several features which were virtually identical, such as the maps section and the table of parallel passages in the Gospels. Oxford did have a comparable section for Hebrew Scriptures, which I do not see in Harper-Collins, so that's one point for Oxford.
Harper-Collins also has an eminently useful listing of all Hebrew passages quoted in the Christian scriptures. This is invaluable. I only wish they had done it by both OT and NT books rather than just by OT books.
In the notes, I tend to find Harper-Collins more useful and richer in the number of notes and the amount of information therein, but that may vary from book to book, as different contributors did different books. It is certainly true of the Gospels.
Like some other books, `Oxford' is a brand name which yields good, but not excellent results. If you can get your hands on a Harper-Collins Study Bible, you will not be disappointed, as long as you do not expect it to replace commentaries on individual books.
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on February 16, 2014
The beginning of each book of the bible is explained by means of type of writing (i.e. religious text, poetry, etc,.) genre, historical setting, composition, authorship ... helping to understand a little better the times when written and different controversies of the writing. Each chapter has subheadings making searches for certain parables, stories, etc., to be found easier. The translations of the words in each verse are easy to understand (for my reading level) Expainations are often given regarding the historical reasons for certain things. Also translations of some words have their greek, latin, aramaic, roots.

The 14 books of the deuterocanonical bible are also given. There are several color maps. A list of contributors of information. A timeline further showing the current political histories at the times. Information on the founding of Isrealite religion and it gives information dealing with the Greco-Roman context of the new testament.

It is a wonderful addition to my studies, however, I have at times felt that it has broken down some/most of the information to a 'worldly' understanding. Having said that it helps me to understand (especially reasons why certain things might be under debate) but it isn't a 'spiritual' book. I almost felt that I was reading the 'opinions' of the contributors at times and not the word of God.

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on March 8, 2009
I suppose in order to keep the cost down, the sacrifice was in the paper quality. While excellent scholarship make this a potentially excellent resource, I have trouble with the very thin paper and lack of tabs for the book locations. At least the maps in the back are on better quality paper and have reproduced well. I do hope the publisher will consider making it more user-friendly for daily use with the next revision.
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