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misterkatamari

Good Study Bible?

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Hello everyone!

 

I'm new to the site, and have something of a question. I enjoy the bits of facts and context that is provided in my NIV Study Bible, but I disagree with the blatantly (and admittedly) conservative evangelical slant of the translation. Reading about how the men of Sodom wanted to literally rape angels, and replacing things like male prostitute with 'homosexual' bothers me. It makes me wonder just how much of the 'facts' and study bits are even true.

 

I know its great to question and find out things for yourself, which is what I have done in the past. However, I'd really enjoy a study bible that actually has somewhat of a more scholarly feel to it without being so specifically slanted. If there is a Bible out there like that, it'd be great--but I doubt there is.

 

I just wish I could read the Bible without having to second guess every sentence on whether or not the translation is biased or flat out incorrect. I guess its too much to ask for a bible that isn't saturated by 'fundemental' Christianity, and maybe there isn't a big enough demand for bibles like the one I would like. If that's the case, then I guess I'll just have to read the Bible--pray for guidance, and check out the facts myself! :P

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Welcome, Mr!

 

For a good "middle of the road" Bible, you might want to check out either the "Access Bible" or the "Discipleship Study Bible".

 

The Access Bible's focus is on helping you understand the context of the scriptures in their time, place, and culture. The study notes are of a moderate bent. Good notes, but not much on overall focus (which can be beneficial).

 

The Discipleship Study Bible's focus is on helping you understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus today. While it does have notes that illuminate the time, place, and culture of the scriptures (and they, too, are moderate), there is the thematic notion that the scriptures are to help us follow Jesus.

 

I enjoy both of mine for their different aspects. One is more educational from a historical/critical viewpoint, while the other is more devotional or like a "Life Application" Bible for moderates.

 

Welcome to the forum!

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My primary study bible since I was introduced to it in connection my taking Religious Studies courses is "The New Oxford Annotated Bible," NRSV version w/ Apocrypha, College Edition. It is also noted on the cover as "an Ecumenical Study Bible."

 

I like the NRSV translation at lot, but also there is so much addtional material in this edition, factual info drawn from historical, archaelogical, linguisitics and cultural sources, that i find useful, and that is presented very factually, rather than interpretively from some particular theological school or denominational slant.

 

For me, this is my "study bible of a lifetime." I haven't seen any even close to it, that I like anywhere near as well.

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WS, the Discipleship Study bible sounds interesting....is yours the NSRV version? What is your perspective on the interpretive tradition most evident in the interpretation and application of Jesus's teachings to our lives? And how on target do they seem to be with common sense and real life? I mean, Evangelistic, mainstream, Catholic, liberal, or reasonably ecumenical/non-sectarian?

 

Jenell

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Thanks so much, both of you! :)

 

I'll look into those versions right away, so I can really get into studying more. I love history, and Biblical history is one of my real interests--so I like having those bits of information and background. Giving the text historical context makes it more realistic and living, to me, personally. Thanks again! :D

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PS - If anyone here doesn't have the "Access Bible" NRSV, PM me and I will mail you for free (media rate) a hardback copy that I no longer use as I stumble across a genuine cow version. :lol:

 

First come, first served.

Edited by Wayseeker

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misterkatimari, if you love the history, there's a set of religious studies courses on the bible and development of western culture, one for OT one for NT, available online free from a major university..I rook those same courses as part of my RS minor and they are great, learned a lot!

Now if somebody else here can help fill in the blank here, which university that offers those, I'm having an oldtimer''s moment....

 

Jenell

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Glint, I am meaning here more along the line of histotrical, cultural, linguistic details that help better understand context, rather than commentaries, which are generally intepretative...on that I DO agree with you strongly. I have a very old copy of the old Scofield bible, once considered the ultimate on evangelicals wish lists...mine was passed down to me through my family...and it APPALLING! Fundamentalist to the extreme. I keep it for family history value, as well as just plain bad example of how bad bible commentaries can be!

 

Jenell

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Mr. Kat,

 

I would endorse what Jenell has recommended. The NRSV is considered the best English translation. As far as study resources, there are two that I find particularly useful: The Five Gospels, a product of the Jesus Seminar and The Early Christian Reader by Mason and Robinson. As a quick reference guide to both the OT and the NT, I like The Trinity Guide to the Bible by Richard Hiers.

 

These all are have more a historical bent than theological.

 

George

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Two other resources I rely on when doing deeper bible study are the Strong's Hebrew/Greek Concordiance and Dictionary, which (my copy, anyway) does need to be used along with a KJV. That is much more valuable and useful to me now that I've taken at least freshman level biblical/Koine Greek, but was for some years already a valuable tool before i had that.

I still often do preliminary reading and meditative reading from KJV, mainly because it is of course the bible i was raised with and it just feels comfortable and familiar, and I love the language. Also, often i find myself thinking of a particular passage of text, unable to recall book, chapter and verse, and unable to locate it in another version, don't "recognize" it in different wordings, so I turn to KJV and either through glancing through, or using that Strong's Concordiance and some remembered words, to locate it. then study it in both KJV form and other versions side by side for comparison.

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Now if somebody else here can help fill in the blank here, which university that offers those, I'm having an oldtimer''s moment....

 

Jenell, perhaps these at Yale?

 

New Testament:

 

http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/introduction-to-new-testament/content/downloads

 

Old Testament:

 

http://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/introduction-to-the-old-testament-hebrew-bible/content/downloads

 

I've enjoyed them both.

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Btw, two of the absolutel worst bibles imnouo, are "The amplified Bible" and "The Living Bible", noth parphrases rather than translations, and really bad paraphrasing at that. The language of the Living Bible strikes my ear and mind as the voice of some self-righteous, mean-spirited judgemental marginally literate fundamentalist old back woods coot preacher from distant childhood memories. Unpleasant ones.

 

Jenell

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WS, yeas! Thanks, that's it! Mister, highly reccomend you check these out, i think you'll really enjoy and learn from them.

 

Jenell

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The language of the Living Bible strikes my ear and mind as the voice of some self-righteous, mean-spirited judgemental marginally literate fundamentalist old back woods coot preacher from distant childhood memories.

 

No need to mince words, Jenell, tell us what you REALLY think! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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My knee jerk reaction was because I once had to present the Rainbow Bible to middle schoolers (it was what the committee had decided on).

 

Ughhh... yeah. My two major problems with such as the rainbow bible is 1, topical themed bibles in general, whomever did the selecting for passages relevant to topics may or may not be identifying and interpreting what is the actual topic intended in any particular passage, just as with parphrased versions, the reader is entirely dependent upon the author of the paraphrasing to have first correctly and accurately interpreted intended meaning from that text, and 2. it teaches, especially beginners that usually use them, from the get-go, that 'art' of snipping out of context a bit of text from here and stringing it together with another from there ot make it seem to be saying something none of it says by itself in context. I've told a few people particularly fond of and skilled in that art that I can do the same thing, and do it even better, with a Webster's dictionary...I can snip a word from here and there and string them together to 'say' whatever I want them to.

 

Jenell

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Thanks again everyone, I'll be looking into these suggestions! The online downloads from Yale are awesome too!

 

But yeah, I'm not really looking for the 'inspirational' or topical form of study Bible. I agree that those are of little help to most people, since it is far easier to splice up whatever you want to mean whatever you choose. I always think of it from this angle: If I had a child, what would I want them to learn or know? I'd want them to know the entirety of whatever knowledge we have available, and the context and history of the text. I wouldn't want them to just look at a color coded book and memorize quotes, blindly thinking that somehow that is the entirety of the Bible.

 

Back to the reason I want a study Bible though, I just like to have some facts and context readily available as I read. For instance, the NIV I do have is nice because it lists things like archeological evidence or geographical information. Much of it is actually true, and gives context to the text, so I really enjoy that. However, there is just so much information that it tends to overlap with the theological viewpoints of the writers, and when it gets to that point I'd rather just read online and dissect the various subjects myself.

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Btw, mister, glad you found and decided to join us for a while. I hope you learn from and enjoy your encounters here. I'm looking forward to your participation and contributions.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB

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Welcome Mister Misterkatamari

 

I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of Adin Steinsaltz' Essential Talmud http://www.amazon.co.../ref=pd_sim_b_3 so that you can properly understand the Tanakh. When I converted to Judaism from Christianity, this book was very helpful. I only wish that I had read it BEFORE I left the faith. Had I done so, many of the stories from the Tanakh would have made more sense to me then.

 

Steinsalz wrote this Talmudic primer mainly for young Jews who were intimidated by our parent's 70 volume Talmud weighing down the top shelf in the library. This book will help you understand the faith from which your religious leaders claim Christianity "completes."

 

 

A traditional Talmud has two components: the Mishnah, a written version of the Oral Law; and the Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah and a collection of parables that illuminate the Tanakh. Unless you plan on studying Hebrew, I wouldn't recommend many English versions, because half the book is in Hebrew. However, if you DO decide to learn Hebrew, the cross translations in most Talmuds is indispensable.

 

Hopefully, you will come to the conclusion that Judaism is already a complete religion, and that Christianity is something that can stand on its own without clinging to the past it willfully left behind.

 

I echo Glintofpewter's suggestion that you avoid so-called study bibles. It's a bit like reading one of those awful Norton Anthology series on great works of literature. The commentary distracts one from experiencing the book on its own.

 

NORM

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The commentary distracts one from experiencing the book on its own. NORM

 

I don't necessarily find this to be the case, NORM. I think there is a both/and approach to this. If the Bible were written in the last hundred years within Western culture, that I would agree that most of us could simply pick it up and "experience the book on its own" for the author(s) would share our culture and language.

 

But the Bible is an ancient book written by numerous authors in three different languages with cultures that are very much different from our own. Languages are cultural manifestations and if we don't know something of that culture, we are liable to misunderstand what was original meant, sometimes with disastrous results. This is where, imo, good commentaries can be helpful in giving us insight into the original languages, cultures, customs, and idioms of the Bible, as near as we can get from 21st centruy reconstruction.

 

At the same time, I do agree with you that the Bible (and other sacred scriptures) does seem to be transcendant in devotional use. We don't have to have Mdivs for our sacred text to speak to us. The words seem to come alive and grab us, not only pulling us in, but because part of us. We find ourselves becoming part of the story.

 

So I think we need both approaches. I find it helpful to know what the scriptures probably meant to their original audiences. Commentaries can help us with that. But I don't deny the devotional use of the scriptures in asking God to speak to me now through these ancient writings.

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It seems to me that there are essentially two different ways of viewing the text. The first is seeing it as a message from God to all of humankind for all time. The second is seeing it as a human message that depends on context for understanding and may or not be applicable, or meaningful, to the reader at this time.

 

If one takes the former view (message from God), the focus is on understanding what God intends for every person at all times and in all places.

 

If one takes the latter view (human authorship), I think there are also two basic approaches to Bible study. The first is more historical and focused on determining what the author of the text intended for his audience, at the time. The second is more philosophical and is determining what it can mean for the reader today. The results can be entirely different things.

 

George

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Thanks for the suggestion, NORM. I'll have to take a look at that book, because it sounds petty interesting. It's obviously helpful even if one does take Judaism as a foundation of their religion, since a better understanding of the foundation helps the whole. Either way, I'm interested in the Talmud from a secular aspect anyhow, so it'd be worth it to get a better understanding of the text.

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Thanks for the suggestion, NORM. I'll have to take a look at that book, because it sounds petty interesting. It's obviously helpful even if one does take Judaism as a foundation of their religion, since a better understanding of the foundation helps the whole. Either way, I'm interested in the Talmud from a secular aspect anyhow, so it'd be worth it to get a better understanding of the text.

 

You will enjoy the parables most, I think. They are often humorous! Imagine - a theology tome with a schtick.

 

NORM

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