If I had one Bible…
Okay, so I’m a Bible nerd and I have lots of Bibles. Study Bibles, regular Bibles, devotional Bibles, tiny Bibles, big giant Bibles, one-year Bibles, Bibles in all sorts of translations. But if I had to just have one Bible, it would be a good study Bible in a good translation. A good study Bible will help you get a feel for the context, the connections between verses, the things you don’t understand.
This post contains affiliate links. They don’t cost you a penny, but they sure help with those student loans! For more information, please see my disclosures. Also, this post includes a review of the Simple Faith Bible. I received a free copy of this Bible as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid.
If I had just two Bibles…
I would have that good study Bible, and a regular (non-study) Bible in a good translation – preferably a different translation from the study Bible. (Since the Bible wasn’t originally written in English, reading multiple translations is a great way to avoid major errors when interpreting the Bible.) By a non-study Bible, I just mean a regular Bible, just the scripture itself, no extra tools (although if it has a concordance in the back, that would still be super helpful). Why bother with a Bible with no study tools, when you have a great study Bible? Well, aside from the fact that it is lighter and easier to carry ;), it’s also good to be able to read with just you and the Holy Spirit, and no one else’s interpretation getting in the way. As my friend Manuela used to say, “I don’t want my gospel pre-chewed.”
What do you call a Bible that’s not a study Bible, but not really just a plain, regular Bible either?
I call this a “devotional Bible.” This is my definition; I’m not sure one actually exists. These Bibles don’t have study notes on every page, but they do have some articles, highlights, reflections, or prayers. While you might pick a study Bible for in-depth study, because you can dig into those questions, you might pick a devotional Bible for – you guessed it – regular “devotional” reading. You might think of this as reading to hang out with God, but you have someone else giving you some talking points.
Do you need a devotional Bible?
I don’t gravitate towards devotional Bibles personally, and as you can probably guess from the first part of this post, I don’t think you need one. But that doesn’t mean that a devotional Bible won’t be useful to you.
A devotional Bible might:
- nudge you to look at Scripture in a different way or from a different angle.
- highlight verses that speak to a certain situation in your life, such as a recovery Bible for someone dealing with addiction,
- draw in someone who wouldn’t normally read the Bible.
My Review of the Simple Faith Bible
This week, I had the opportunity to review the Simple Faith Bible, a devotional Bible with reflections from former US President Jimmy Carter. I have to admit, I don’t think I would have picked this off the shelf, or even chosen to review it if I had been paying too much attention. To be honest, I saw the Bible Gateway blogger email that said “free Bible,” and responded. I’m glad I did.
What I liked:
Visually, this Bible is very easy on the eyes, and I mean that literally. Zondervan called it “comfort print,” which isn’t large print, but slightly larger than most, and the font was very easy to read. It is possible for a font to be relaxing, and this one was chosen well. Some of the articles inside do have a smaller font, which wasn’t my favorite. Overall, the layout was user-friendly, the look and feel quite pleasant. Let’s be real…when it came in the mail, I said, “ooooh, it’s pretty.”
I actually really liked the notes and articles inside, too. This was a surprise to me – again with the gospel-pre-chewed bit, but also because these articles were written by a public, political figure with a particular lean, and normally, I wouldn’t think to want that mixed in with my Scripture (regardless of the figure or political party). I think our faith should inform our politics, not the other way around. I was also put off by the “peace, compassion, and wholeness” tagline on the front. Let’s face it – while those are all very biblical concepts, our culture twists and turns them all sorts of ways, and I wasn’t sure which way this was going to go.
As it happens, Jimmy Carter isn’t just a former president.
He’s also a 65-year veteran Sunday School teacher, and it’s obvious from his reflections throughout this Bible that he has spent some time soaking in the Word. I didn’t read every single article, but the ones I read didn’t feel political to me. To be honest, they stirred my heart over things I know are in Scripture, things I believe, but things that needed to be stirred up a bit. I found myself being challenged to go back and re-read, which is always a good thing.
I’m not a huge fan of Bibles with political figures or famous people attached to them. But reading this Bible, it occurred to me that someone who doesn’t normally read Scripture might be willing to pick this Bible up, just to soak up some Jimmy Carter wisdom. (If that’s you, you’re probably not reading a Bible study blog post…but if you are, please reply and let me know! I’m really curious about this one).
What I Didn’t Like About the Simple Faith Bible
Okay, there wasn’t much, other than the misgivings I noted above about having a political figure associated with a Bible. As you can see, I got past that one for the most part. My biggest issue with this Bible is the translation. The NRSV isn’t a bad translation in a technical sense. But it isn’t the most readable. It isn’t what I would have used for a devotional Bible like this. It’s not bad, but there are better ones out there. The CEB and NLT are two of my favorites. Great scholarship behind them, but very readable as well.