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Posts Tagged ‘study Bibles’

Catechisms, Confessions and the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 2 Comments

What is the chief end of man?

I can attest that knowing the answer to this question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism has benefited me more than once over the past 20 years or so since I first learned it. The fact that my chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” realigns my thinking to see my life as God does. It is an unchanging truth based on biblical text that I have been able to stand on.

For all that benefit, I never took the time to learn any further points in the Westminster Catechism. Studying confessions and catechisms isn’t trendy in our churches today. I think that is to our detriment.

Perhaps it is too much work to wade through dry statements of belief or memorize them (as was done by previous generations). Or perhaps anything outside of the Bible text is of questionable value. However, our forefathers thought it worthwhile to formulate these various creeds and confessions for the purpose of outlining and passing on the faith. As such, their study is worth considering, especially if you are in the Reformed tradition.

The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (SOTR) brings life to the study of these historical documents in two very helpful ways. First, by including the full text of several early confessions and catechisms: the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Secondly, it ties the confessions and catechisms to the Bible text providing easy reference between the two and an alternative way to learn and use these documents of faith.

In the SOTR, the Bible text and the documents of faith are fully cross-referenced and the links are easy to use in PocketBible. The catechisms and confessions are published with references to the Bible verses in the footnotes. The direct biblical correlation is easy to cross-check. Even more valuable is the fact that the study notes include references back to related statements in the catechisms and confessions.

For example, as you are reading 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” the study note points you back to the question on “the chief end of man” in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Instead of wading through confessions and catechisms, you have the tenet as you are reading the applicable Scripture. You also see where the same issue is addressed in multiple documents. 1 Cor. 10:31 is cross-referenced to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism. The integration of the two provides an easier and perhaps more memorable way to become familiar with these important documents.

The spirit behind the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible

The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (SOTR) is a major revision and expansion of an earlier publication titled the New Geneva Study Bible (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995). That study Bible was based on the NKJV text. The SOTR is based on the New International Version text.

Like its precursor, the SOTR’s study notes and theological articles are built on the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which affirms the unquestionable authority of the infallible and inerrant Old and New Testament Scriptures as originally given by divine inspiration.

The notes and articles included in the study Bible remain faithful to the system of theology represented in the historical confessions and catechisms. However, the authors recognize that the Holy Spirit has continued to bring reformation to the church. Through the Spirit’s illumination many helpful insights into Scripture have come to be widely endorsed by those who have remained faithful to the central doctrinal perspectives of Reformed theology. In line with the claim that “the Reformed church is always reforming,” this study Bible reflects these developments where appropriate.

Like most study Bibles, each book of the Bible has an introduction with an outline of the book and information on author, dates of writing, etc. Each book also includes an article called Purposes and Distinctives that illuminates historical background, major theological themes and literary qualities.  Another unique feature for the Old Testament books is the “Christ in _________” section included in the introduction which explains how the person and/or work of Christ is anticipated in the book.

Over 100 theological articles are included with the applicable Bible book. For example, you’ll find an article on Major Covenants in the Bible with Genesis, The Glory of God: Who gets the Glory? with Ezekiel and Christian Liberty: How Free am I? with Romans.

The extensive study notes provided by the SOTR (over 20,000) offer comments on Scripture from a Reformed perspective along with the already mentioned links to the Confessions/Catechisms.

The editors and contributors for the study Bible reads like a “Who’s Who of Reformed Theology.” The General Editor is Richard L. Pratt, Jr. Th.D. (Reformed Theological Seminary). Theological editors were John M. Frame, M.Phil. (Reformed Theological Seminary) and J.I. Packer, D.Phil. (Regent College). Contributors include Tremper Longman III, Sinclair Ferguson, Wayne Grudem, Graeme Goldsworthy and many more.

The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible is available for use with PocketBible on your smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac. The list price is $14.99. The New International Bible version text is sold separately for $9.99.

How to create a customized study Bible in PocketBible

Posted on: September 26th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel 1 Comment

When it comes to printed Study Bibles, most take the form of Bible text on the top half of the page and study notes on the bottom half. With PocketBible, you can have a similar setup but customize it in ways you can’t with a printed book.

Bibles and Study Bible Notes (and other commentary) are each sold separately for PocketBible. The print version of a study Bible limits you to a specific Bible translation but you can use any combination of study notes and Bible translation together in PocketBible.

Setup

To accomplish a study-Bible-like setup in PocketBible, simply:

1. Open two panes (or windows) in the PocketBible app
2. Open a Bible translation in the first pane
3. Open a set of study Bible notes (or other commentary) in the second pane
4. If you want your Bible and study notes to sync together (stay on the same verse), make sure you’ve checked that option in PocketBible settings (look for a option that says something like “Sync Bibles/Commentaries”).

Customize

Once you get the basic setup in PocketBible of Bible in one pane and study notes in the other, you are now ready to customize. You can tap on the first pane and open additional Bible translations. And tap on the second pane and open additional study Bible notes or commentary. With multiple translations or commentary open, you’ll be able to easily access additional insight on any verse. Tap on the title bar to easily switch between your open books. Watch a short demonstration video to see how you can use this setup to get more out PocketBible.

Study Bible or Commentary – which is better?

Posted on: January 17th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 5 Comments

Study Bibles have become very popular over the last few decades. Today they come in many sizes and flavors with some even targeted at specific groups (i.e. women, grandmothers, teens) or purposes (i.e. apologetics, archaeology, recovery). Study Bibles offer a combination of Bible text, brief commentary and extra study helps such as maps, tables, and explanatory or introductory articles. With PocketBible, we provide the study part separately from the Bible text so you can mix and match (with the exception of the ESV Study Bible which includes the Bible text). By “mix and match”, we mean you could use the NIV Study Bible Notes side-by-side with your NKJV Bible or your NLT Study Bible Notes with your ESV Bible.

Think of study Bibles as the Swiss army knife of Bible learning. You get a little bit of everything but you sacrifice depth for breadth as compared to a single purpose tool like a commentary or Bible atlas. For example, the notes or commentary part of a study Bible are designed for quick insight into the Bible. There simply isn’t room for lengthy arguments about what everyone thinks a passage means as is done with multi-volume commentaries.

It’s easy to see the benefit of having a multi-volume commentary on your phone but what about a study Bible? There is still a weight factor to consider even with study Bibles! Wouldn’t you rather have a study Bible on your phone than carry around a mammoth book (even if it is only one volume)? Plus, study Bibles offer extensive cross-references which are more convenient to check with PocketBible.

One of the frustrations I have with study Bibles in general is that they don’t always have a comment on the verse I am interested in. Unfortunately, for brevity’s sake, most study Bibles won’t comment on every verse in the Bible. Thus, it is a good idea to have at least one verse-by-verse commentary in your PocketBible library. On the positive side, if you just want a quick understanding of what a verse means, study Bibles are ideal. You can check there first and move to a commentary for more information. In this way, your study Bible and commentary can work hand-in-hand.

We often get asked “which study Bible is best?” Rather than say one is better than the other, we suggest you consider things like the Bible translation it is based on, any unique helps it offers and how much of the Bible it covers. Here is a comparison chart of the study Bibles we currently offer that can help you make a decision based on those features.

  Based on Bible Translation Study Notes Maps Charts Illustrations Unique Features Price
ESV Study Bible ESV (included) 20,000 200 200 40 80,000 cross-refs; 50 articles $34.99
NIV Study Bible Notes NIV 1984 Ed. 20,000 16+ 24 10 Topical and Note Index $14.99
NLT Study Bible Notes NLT 2nd Ed. 20,900 Yes Yes Yes Personality Profiles, Book Themes $14.99
Life Application NA 10,000 NA 200 NA Personality Profiles, TouchPoint Topics $14.99
MacArthur’s Study Bible Notes NKJV 20,000 35 100 10 Overview of Theology, Harmony of Gospels $39.99
Dake’s Study Bible Notes KJV 35,000 NA NA NA 500,000 cross-refs, Pentecostal, Dispensational $39.99
Women’s Study Bible Notes NA Hundreds NA Yes NA Topical Articles, Character Portraits, Quotes $29.99
Spirit of the Reformation NIV 1984 Ed. 20,000 NA NA NA Catechisms and Creeds, Reformed Theology Articles $14.99

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