Saturday, October 28, 2017

The NIV in 4 volumes

A few years ago a Kickstarter project raised over a million dollars to produce a multi-volume Bible with high-quality design and no chapter or verse numbers—a true reader's Bible. Since then, the major Bible publishers have been in a rush to produce similar Bibles in both single-volume and multi-volume sets. I recently got the NIV Reader's Bible, a beautiful all-in-one Bible, and I was impressed. Then I got the four-volume NIV Sola Scriptura Bible and was blown away.

The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible (henceforth NSSB) is the highest-quality Bible I've ever owned. It's cloth over board, but the covers are more solid than other cloth-over-board Bibles I own  (NIV Reader's Bible, the ESV Reader's Bible, and the Bibliotheca New Testament). Each of the four volumes has a brief introduction explaining both the NSSB and the volume itself: why the books are arranged the way they are, and what the significance of those books is.

Only Volume I: The Torah and Former Prophets (Genesis–Kings), follows the book order of our modern Bibles. The three Old Testament volumes follow the Hebrew major divisions (Law, Prophets, Writings), but the individual books follow a different, though understandable order. The New Testament has the most novel arrangement. It is divided into four sections headed by each of the gospels and followed by other books associated with each gospel either by relation (Paul to Luke, Peter to Mark, the writings of John), or theme (Matthew, Hebrews, and James are more distinctively Jewish). Because the NSSB is focused on enhancing the reading experience by removing distractions, there's no need to follow the traditional order of books. Reading a more chronological or thematic order may help produce insights you might otherwise miss if reading through in the traditional order.

The NSSB's best qualities are the strong, durable design and thick, white paper providing a strong contract between the page and the black ink of the biblical text. Other reader's Bibles may have larger margins (Bibliotheca), slightly larger spacing between lines (Bibliotheca and NIV Reader's Bible), or a marginally larger font (10.3 compared to 10.5 in the NIV Reader's Bible), but the overall quality of the NSSB is hard to beat. I've yet to get my hands on the 6-volume ESV Reader's Bible, but for anyone looking for a multi-volume, easy-to-read Bible, the NSSB is a great set to bring home.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Good Night Tales

My children love Good Night Tales almost as much as I do. The book contains 12 fairy tale stories meant for reading aloud. C.S. Fritz has managed to capture the feeling of a good fairy tale well told that I've not experienced since my own childhood. He writes for the ear and illustrates for the eye, creating a book I'm already convinced I will have to preserve for my grandkids someday.

Each story is inspired by a passage of Scripture, yet the telling is straight out of a collection of Aesop's Fables or Grimm's fairy tales. At the conclusion of the book are a number of questions for guided discussions that make the link to Scripture that much clearer.

Each story is set in the same world, though each character is unique. My favorite story is probably the first I read to my son, about a buttonbush troll who parts with everything in order to obtain what he finds most precious. The most developed story is probably the first, with allusions to most of biblical history. You and your child will find your own favorite stories you want to hear again and again. Highly recommended.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in order to provide my review.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The NIV Reader's Bible is a sight for sore eyes!

Reader's Bibles have been all the rage after a Kickstarter project proposing to produce a high-quality Bible without chapter or verse numbers made over a million dollars. A five volume set may look nice, but it's not as portable as a one-volume edition like the recent NIV Reader's Bible published by Zondervan.

I own the ESV Reader's Bible, which has been out now for a few years, so it made sense to compare the two. The ESV has certain advantages over the NIV. First, it has a rounded spine with ridges, giving it a professional and high-quality look. The ESV also comes with a slipcase and has two marker ribbons, allowing you to follow a reading plan with readings in the Old and New Testaments.

But the NIV Reader's Bible is the better Bible. It has about the same measurements as the ESV, but it's almost one inch taller and just a little bit thicker, and this makes all the difference on the inside. The NIV is eminently more readable. It has a 10.5-point font size, whereas the ESV is only 9 pt, and there lines are slightly more spaced out. The NIV also retains its textual notes as endnotes at the end of each book of the Bible. I honestly would have preferred the notes to remain as footnotes rather than endnotes, but their choice makes the reading experience smoother. The ESV dropped its notes entirely, which is a little frustrating because it's sometimes nice to know that a person's name has special meaning, like when Sarah names her son Isaac because she laughed (his name means "he laughs").

I am encouraged by new reader's editions coming out in more widely-read translations. My ESV Reader's Bible has helped me read through the Bible a couple times already at a relatively quick pace, giving me a better grasp of the narrative flow of the Bible. I anticipate this NIV will help me even more so, both because the translation is a little smoother in English and because the font and spacing choices make it easier on the eyes as well.

Disclosure of material connection: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of providing this review.

Alexander Hamilton and his turbulent times.

Alexander Hamilton is the face we all recognize on the $10 bill. Some of us may know that he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. But beyond that, most of us know next to nothing about him. Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father is a "graphic history," a well-researched biography presented in a comic book format.

I expected the book to take a lot of liberties, but the amount of historical analysis and insight into the significance of events astounded me. The amount of political turmoil in the early years of the United States, especially during Washington's presidency surprised me. Hamilton's scandalous affair that tanked his political career could have been pulled from today's headlines. Talks of secession from the state of New York, infighting between cabinet members, and a hotly contested presidential election leaving a controversial figure in the oval office reminded me just how much we need to knowledge of the past to give perspective to the present.

Hamilton lived during the formative years of our nation. His influence as an officer during the American Revolution, a politician, and the Secretary of the Treasury during Washington's administration had long-term effects that can be felt even today. I highly recommend this book.

Disclosure of material connection: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of providing this review.