Posted in Book Reviews

Bible Review: NKJV Cultural Background Study Bible

163CONTEXT CHANGES EVERYTHING

You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture.

That’s what the NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world.

The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world.

The NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers. 

Features:

  • The full text of the NKJV
  • Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written
  • Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages
  • Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features
  • Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics
  • 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world
  • Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color
  • Words of Jesus in red

Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps

Basics: As mentioned in their description, this is a fully loaded study Bible. The colored pages and illustrations were a treat. However I found the pages grainy, and as odd as it sounds, that really bugged me.

My Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this study Bible. While there are certainly lots of helpful information here, I also found areas that I felt were needless or unbalanced. I understand the purpose in studying the cultural backdrop is to understand more about the setting in which the Bible was written. Some of the areas I read over seemed to focus more, and needlessly so, on pagan gods to the point where I began to feel like this study Bible loses sight of the fact that God is doing something different.
In my honest opinion, I feel like this study Bible can be a helpful tool for those who are coming for a specific reason, for pastors, and even Biblical fiction authors. There really is a LOT of information here that will help you fill in the cultural setting. But I also feel that there is too much information into things that we don’t need to know. I think for most Bible students, there are better commentaries out there that will teach you enough of the cultural backdrop to understand what God meant when He said something that this particular Bible could be either harmful or just unnecessary.
Here’s an example: (Commentary note associated with Exodus 13:21 “The Lord went…in a pillar of cloud.”) And I quote, “There are similarities between the poetic language and specific imagery given here and a vanguard motif in various ancient Near Eastern texts. In the Assyrian Tukulti-Ninurta Epic, Assur leads the vanguard with devouring flame. The gods Enlil and Adad . . .” And they continue in this manner for 3 whole paragraphs, listing a total of 9 pagan gods and how they were associated with light or how they led their people before finally closing with, “This powerful imagery assured the Israelites of God’s guidance and presence, as it also served to exalt Yahweh.” My complaint here, as with several other passages that I had read, was that they spent more time discussing what the pagans believed about their gods (recap, gods that are not even real and couldn’t have possibly done these things) than they discussed what the ONE TRUE GOD was ACTUALLY doing here in this text.
And again, I read their commentary on Joseph’s dreams. But the authors went further than simply explaining the significance of dreams in that day by giving a full explanation of a story about a pagan king and the dream his false god gave him. Again, and again, I keep coming to the conclusion that while cultral study is a commendable thing, I think the authors of this particular study have the wrong focus.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 2 stars and advising you to proceed with caution. I don’t believe this is all bad, but I don’t believe it’s all good, either. I don’t recommend it for all Christians equally.

~I received a copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

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One thought on “Bible Review: NKJV Cultural Background Study Bible

  1. I think the idea of this book sounds good, but I definitely don’t want to read it if it keeps talking about pagan “gods.”

    Like

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