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NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture Hardcover – August 23, 2016
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From the Publisher
How I wish someone had put a book like this into my hands 50 years ago -- N. T. Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Every line and every word in the Bible comes from a context -- historical, social, cultural, theological -- and speaks into those contexts -- sometimes against that culture, sometimes with that culture, and sometimes to expand that culture. In so doing the Bible models how we can speak from our culture and into our culture in very fresh and missional ways. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible not only acknowledges this but engages ordinary readers in seeing what it looks like. I cannot recommend a study Bible any more than this one: Five stars! -- Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
About the Author
Craig S. Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary and holds a doctoral degree in New Testament Studies and the Origins of Christianity from Duke University. He is the author of several commentaries on books of the New Testament.
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2.5 stars for print quality
I eagerly awaited the publication date for this study bible. I own both John Walton’s and Craig Keener's Bible Background Commentaries and found them both very helpful. A study bible with this kind of info tickled my fancy.
I have grown to become particular on the print Bibles I purchase. As a graphic and web designer, I know how much print quality effects the ease of reading. So I did my research and found a sampler PDF by Zondervan of the print Bible. Everything seemed good (notes were dark enough because of being viewed on a monitor) but you never know how the final product will look. Factors like paper quality, ink quality etc. really determine the final outcome.
On receiving the bible I have to admit I am very disappointed. Many things were okay but when I looked at the note sections of the bible I was not a happy camper. Zondervan used a thin-weight sans-serif font, very small (5 or 6pt ?) that is very difficult to read. Because of the thin weight of the font, the print color looks like a medium gray. In bright light the glare off the paper competes with it but without some sort of direct light it is very difficult to read. Also, the paper is thin enough that the occasional colored illustrations on the reverse side of the page bleed (ghost) through and make legibility even more difficult.
The content of the notes and articles are top notch. No complaints there. But if you can’t read the notes without squinting, what’s the point? My hope is this study bible can be redone at some point to increase the legibility.
Other things of note, I also wish the size of the NIV text was a tad larger. Bumping it up to 9.5 or 10pt font size would be ideal. Yes, I know that would increase the size of the book but as is, this study bible is on the large and heavy size already. You’ll probably not be toting this around to church or the office.
I could do without the red lettering myself. I know many people like it so I’ll back off on that. Red lettering is often hard to read in large doses (try John 14-17) and sometimes turns to a dark pink.
So what to do? For the note section, having the Kindle version may be better. Amazon often does a thing called MatchBook where if you buy the print version of a book you can get the Kindle version greatly reduced. No such luck here so many buyers will need to choose between the Kindle version or the hard-to-read print bible.
I looked at the sample Kindle version and can say I am not impressed. Kindle bibles have notoriously ugly text. The main culprit is the superscript verse numbers which are often not formatted correctly and thus increase the line spacing (leading) of the lines they are on. The text then becomes choppy and irregular with the mishmash of different line spacing. You’ll get that here.
The notes, however, are in different sections and layout perfectly fine. So you will be able to bump the text size to whatever is readable for you. Plop that besides you while reading your bible and you’ll be good to go.
In conclusion, I wish Bible publishers hired better print and layout designers for their bibles. This trend of small font sizes, thin bible paper and compact bible sizes doesn’t make for very readable bibles these days.
Update: sent back the print version study bible before my allotment time is up. On pages where there are predominantly notes, not the biblical text, I just plain can't read the mass of medium gray text without a magnifying glass. I have what I have suggested below (the comment section) and is working great.