Category: Product Reviews

10 Books to Start Your Bible Education

Posted by on 08/18/2017 in: ,

1) The Moody Bible Commentary

This single-volume commentary is perfect for the beginner Bible student. It is exclusively composed by faculty at Moody Bible Institute, which has been rigorously teaching God’s Word since 1886. Walk through the entire Bible with insights from well-respected professors, learning the historical basics of each book while referencing helpful charts and biographies. The Moody Bible Commentary will help you better understand and apply God’s written revelation to all of life!

2) Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary

As you dig deeper into God’s Word, you may not know the definitions of some of the trickier terminology. That’s why Bible Dictionaries are helpful! Select words straight from your Bible text, and Nelson’s provides helpful definitions, facts, and maps to help further your understanding. Also, Nelson’s comes with a Visual Survey of the Bible, providing easy-to-understand depictions of historical events.

3) NIV Word Study Bible with G/K and Strong’s Numbers

Word Study Bibles give a complete index of a word, listing everywhere it can be found in the Bible. This is helpful when wanting to understand a word or topic in a more holistic way. What makes our version of this Bible unique is that it is packaged with a Strong’s concordance, also providing you with the Greek or Hebrew word and its definition. Prefer a different translation? We have multiple versions of our Strong’s Tagged Bibles!

4) God is Love

What’s the difference between a commentary and a systematic theology? While a commentary goes verse-by-verse, systematic theologies trace and define who God is and who we are throughout the Bible. Bray’s book is great for a beginner because of its conversational nature and structure. Instead of tackling massive theological quandaries, Bray finds different ways to incorporate theological distinctions inside one important topic: God’s love. Nervous about studying theology? Check out #8 in this list!

5) Greg Laurie 15 Volume Collection

Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA. At age 19 he began his ministry by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Now, Harvest is one of the largest churches in America. This collection contains 15 of Laurie’s books, including Married. Happily., Dealing with Giants, Following Jesus in a Modern World, and more. Biblical education isn’t just about academics, but also about spiritual growth and learning to apply God’s Word to your life.

6) Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol I & II

John Calvin was an influential French theologian, pastor and reformer during the Protestant Reformation. In the Biblical-academic world, everyone knows his name. Although reading his Institutes is a challenge, they are some of the most significant Christian theological texts in history. This specific translation preserves the rugged strength and vividness of Calvin’s writing, but also conforms to modern English and renders heavy theological terms in simple language.

7) Apologetics for the Twenty-first Century

Apologetics–making a defense for the faith. Louis Markos walks through the history of Apologetics, following figures such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, Josh McDowell and more. Then he teaches you how to think logically, making your own arguments for the existence of God, the historical Jesus, and confronting post-modernism.

8) A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology

Theology happens whenever we read, think, hear or say anything about God. This short books gives an introduction to the relevance of theology and the skills, attitudes and spiritual practices needed by those who take up the discipline. As you begin to pursue a Biblical education, lay the ground work properly. This book by Kelly Kapic is definitely a great start.

9) Visual Theology

This book is incredibly unique. With beautiful illustrations and flowcharts, you can learn theology easily from your device—but only with the Olive Tree Bible App. We are the only company offering this title in a digital format! For the budding theologian, this is a very helpful tool in wrapping your mind around the complexities of theology. Visit our webpage listing of this product for a chance to look inside!

10) Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith

Not only is this book incredibly informative, it is an enjoyable read. Reeves gives understanding to the most important characteristic of our God: His triune nature. This concept is incredibly difficult (and rather impossible, actually) to wrap our minds around. Yet, it is the crux of what separates our God from other gods–it is what makes salvation possible.

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5 Books for Spiritual Growth

Posted by on 08/07/2017 in: ,

SPIRITUAL GROWTH BUNDLE (27 VOLS.)

Our Spiritual Growth Bundle includes four Bible translations, five devotionals, and an array of books on spiritual growth. A few of those titles are The Power of Prayer, An Appeal to All That Doubt, and Holy in Christ. This is being discounted an incredible 81% for our Back to School sale, so we HAD to highlight it. All the titles included in this set are listed on our website, so follow the link above to learn more. ORIGINALLY: $102.74 | NOW: $19.99

GREG LAURIE COLLECTION (15 VOLS.)

Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA. At age 19 he began his ministry by leading a Bible study of 30 people. Now, Harvest is one of the largest churches in America. This collection contains 15 of Laurie’s books, including Married. Happily., Dealing with Giants, Following Jesus in a Modern World, and more. Biblical education isn’t just about academics, but also about spiritual growth and learning to apply God’s Word to your life. ORIGINALLY: $149.85 | NOW: $14.99

PRAYING GOD’S WORD DAY BY DAY

Praying God’s Word is powerful. When you do this, you always know that you are praying His will because it’s His promises! Beth Moore put together this day-by-day format of her best-selling book, Praying God’s Word. Learn to seek the mind of Christ through daily, fervent prayer directly from Scripture. The best part about this book is that there are devotions for one-full year!
ORIGINALLY: $8.99 | NOW: $2.99


A LONG OBEDIENCE IN THE SAME
DIRECTION: DISCIPLESHIP IN AN
INSTANT SOCIETY

As a society, we are no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, social media and the Internet may have intensified our quest for the quick fix. Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as we learn to grow in worship, service, and joy. This 20th anniversary edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction features these Psalms in Peterson’s widely acclaimed paraphrase, The Message. ORIGINALLY: $16.99 | NOW: $9.99

THE DEVOTIONAL BIBLE NOTES: EXPERIENCING THE HEART OF JESUS

Read the Bible and be encouraged by famous author Max Lucado. This study Bible brings together words of encouragement and gentle wisdom, all accessible with just a tap within our Bible app. The Devotional Bible is the perfect refuge for anyone that needs truth and encouragement to hold on to. By following the link above you will also be able to watch a video explaining how this resource works inside our app.
ORIGINALLY: $39.99 | NOW: $14.99



Want to see more deals? Check out our Back to School Sale! Know of any other great books on spiritual growth that should be on this list? Share in a comment below!

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Link Biblical Themes—Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible

Posted by on 07/05/2017 in: ,

Commentaries and study notes are great tools for understanding what the Bible has to say to us today. However, sometimes we forget that scripture itself can help us understand other parts of scripture. God’s inspired Word is a complex tapestry of themes all woven together, and the development of those themes can provide us with insight into the relevant message of the Bible.

Finding the pattern in this tapestry isn’t an easy task, though. I like to use the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible, which links various themes together as they are touched upon and developed throughout Scripture. It quickly reveals thousands of thematic chains within my Olive Tree Bible App at the touch of my finger. Not only that, but this resource also contains a great study Bible, offering cross references, book outlines, book introductions, maps, and more.

Instead of simply telling you, I’ll show you how easy this tool is to use in five easy steps on my iPad.

1. PICK A PASSAGE

Pull up 1 Samuel chapter 17 up in your Bible, or any other passage you want to study. Your screen may look a bit different than ours depending on what device you’re using and the number of resources you have.

2. OPEN THE RESOURCE

Tap “Thompson Chain Reference” from the resource guide. Your split-window view will change to a list of verses directly related to your location in the Bible.

3. CHOOSE A VERSE

Select the verse you want by tapping on it in the split window. In this example we’ll choose 17:4.

4. PICK A THEME

You can now choose the theme you want to explore in the list under the verse. For example, choosing “1409 Giants” results in the following:

5. READ!

Now it’s as easy as tapping on each verse reference to get a pop-up window. There you can read verses that touch on the same topic. Now you’ve just learned more about giants in the Bible!

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Do You Know about These Two Unique Features of John’s Gospel?

Posted by on 06/16/2017 in:

It has been understood that John’s Gospel is a distinct chronicling of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s so unique that biblical scholars have isolated it from the so-called Synoptic gospels. And if you’ve spent any amount of time with the beloved disciple’s gospel you’ve probably sensed its uniqueness, too.

But do you know some of the central features that make it distinct? Edward W. Klink III helpfully explains two such characteristics in his new John commentary (ZECNT), which is currently 50% off on our website.

Building on the pioneering work of C. H. Dodd, who “In the twentieth century … provided the most focused analysis” (53), Klink provides readers an extended introduction to two unique features of John in order to help readers interpret it rightly: dialogues and monologues.

Johannine Dialogues: Functions and Forms

Klink identifies two functions for the dialogues in John’s gospel. First, they serve an important role in developing its broader narrative, where the meaning lies not only in what is said, but in how what’s said moves the plot forward.

The dialogue brings meaning to Jesus’s person and work so that the characters—and therefore the readers—are exhorted to take a particular action, thereby moving the plot along toward it ultimate goal: “that you may believe” (20:31). (54)

Second, the dialogues give meaning and direction to the pericope where they occur. This narrative device serves to offer the necessary material to interpret the more narrow elements of the scenes themselves, as well as move the broader plot forward.

Such insights into the function of a dialogue provide lenses with which to understand the passage’s details and developing movement. Only by understanding the dialogical structure of the scene can the reader make sense of not only its details but also the rhetorical meaning of the interaction. (54)

Johannine dialogues come in three forms: social challenge, taking the form of an informal debate where the honor and authority of the interlocutor is challenged; legal challenge, in which a principle, idea, or point of law is formally debated; and rhetorical challenge, where conflict between two parties is intensified by reestablishing antithetical positions, rather than necessarily advancing an argument.

Klink suggests primarily seven formal dialogues in John’s gospel between Jesus and other characters, utilizing these three forms:

  1. Nicodemus (3:1–21) social
  2. Samaritan Woman (4:1–42) rhetorical
  3. Jewish Crowd (6:22–71) social
  4. Jewish Authorities and Jewish Crowd (7:14–52) social
  5. Jewish Authorities (8:12–59) legal
  6. Jewish Authorities (9:1–41) legal
  7. Jewish Crowd (10:22–42) social

Like Dodd, he makes clear John used dialogues deliberately in his narrative composition:

Using the conventions and patterns of ancient dialogue, the Gospel’s dialogues offer a dramatic theological presentation that engages the reader at numerous levels, drawing them more fully into the depth of the Gospel story that began in the conflict between darkness and the light (1:5) and ends in the cross. (57)

Johannine Monologues: Functions and Forms

Also unique in John’s Gospel is the use of several extended discourses, or monologues, of Jesus. Klink explains, “a monologue is similar to a dialogue in that it is set in the context of an engagement and conflict, but rather than engaging point for point it allows for a lengthy argument.” (57)

Like dialogues, Jesus’s monologues contain similar elements of rhetoric, challenge, and conflict. They also function similarly: “its significance is not merely the meaning of the language and the propositions of the argument but also what the language does” (57), especially how it is connected to the narrative elements before and afterward.

Klink explains that monologues will contain within the narrative flow dialogue and audience engagement. Yet attention isn’t meant to be on the conflict and resolution inherent within such scenes. Instead, “The monologue brings meaning to Jesus’s person and work so that the listeners—and therefore the readers—are exhorted to take a particular action.” (58)

He identifies four substantial monologues in John’s Gospel:

  1. The Identity of (the Son of) God (5:19–47)
  2. The Shepherd and the Sheep (10:1–21)
  3. “The Hour has Come” (12:20–50)
  4. The Farewell Discourse (13:31–16:33)

“As a whole, the monologues provide robust insight into the identity of Jesus and the work given to him from the Father,” concludes Klink. “The monologues also serve the narratives by facilitating the Gospel’s plot, depicting in great detail God’s own argument and explication of his person and work in the world.” (58)

***

Leveraging the important interpretive insights of these two narrative features, Klink helps readers of the Fourth Gospel exegete it with care and precision in order to offer its theological and homiletical insights to those they shepherd.

Interested in learning more about the uniqueness of John’s Gospel? Don’t miss out on purchasing this commentary at half it’s normal price, available on our website.

This blog was written in coordination with Zondervan Academic.

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Last chance: Sale on Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Revised Edition

Posted by on 06/14/2017 in: ,

Expositor's Bible Commentary - Revised Edition

Right now, the 13-volume Expositor’s Bible CommentaryRevised Edition is over $200 off at Olive Tree.

This commentary set is a favorite of pastors, teachers, and Bible students for its scholarly but accessible approach to helping you understand the biblical text’s core meaning. It’s full of world-class scholarship from D. A. Carson, George Guthrie, John Walton, Andreas Kostenberger, and many others.

“If there is one set of commentaries that all pastors and teachers should have, this is it,” writes Daniel I. Block.

Get the complete collection on sale now at Olive Tree.

Don’t wait! The deal will disappear soon.

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These Exegetical Commentaries Are for You, If…

Posted by on 06/12/2017 in: ,

Right now the Zondervan Exegetical Commentaries on the New Testament and Old Testament are steeply discounted (50% off).

If you identify with one or more of these statements, this commentary series is for you:

  1. you would like help interpreting the words of Scripture without getting bogged down in scholarly issues that seem irrelevant to the life of the church.
  2. you would like to see a visual representation (a graphical display) of the flow of thought in each passage.
  3. you would like expert guidance from solid evangelical scholars who set out to explain the meaning of the original text in the clearest way possible and to help you navigate through the main interpretive issues.
  4. you have taken Greek and would like a commentary that helps you apply what you have learned without assuming you are a well-trained scholar.
  5. you would find it useful to see a concise, one- or two- sentence statement of what the commentator thinks the main point of each passage is.
  6. you want to benefit from the results of the latest and best scholarly studies and historical information that helps to illuminate the meaning of the text.
  7. you would find it useful to see a brief summary of the key theological insights that can be gleaned from each passage and some discussion of the relevance of these for Christians today.

View the deals now.

Don’t wait, because this sale ends June 26, 2017!

P.S. Daniel I. Block explains the series’ approach in this video:

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How does the Expositor’s Bible Commentary Approach Scripture?

Posted by on 06/07/2017 in: ,

Expositor's Bible Commentary

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary series set the gold standard for expositors—for understanding the biblical authors and teaching their message today.

Save 50% on this 12-volume commentary set right now. Don’t wait.

ABOUT THE EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY

The Gold Medallion Award–winning Expositor’s Bible Commentary offers pastors, teachers and students a comprehensive tool for the exposition of the Scriptures and the teaching and proclamation of their message.

How does this commentary approach Scripture?

Hear from the General Editor, the late Frank E. Gaebelein:

The chief principle of interpretation followed in this commentary is the grammatico-historical onenamely, that the primary aim of the exegete is to make clear the meaning of the text at the time and in the circumstances of its writing.

This endeavor to understand what in the first instance the inspired writers actually said must not be confused with an inflexible literalism. Scripture makes lavish use of symbols and figures of speech; great portions of it are poetical. Yet when it speaks in this way, it speaks no less truly than it does in its historical and doctrinal portions.

To understand [Scripture’s] message requires attention to matters of grammar and syntax, word meanings, idioms, and literary formsall in relation to the historical and cultural setting of the text.

About the contributors:

  • 78 international contributors from the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand are included
  • Many evangelical denominations are represented including Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian, and Reformed
  • Contributors include Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Leon Morris, D. A. Carson, general editor Frank E. Gaebelein, and many others

The contributors represent the best in evangelical scholarship committed to the divine inspiration, complete trustworthiness, and full authority of the Bible.

Learn more and see the sale today.

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Look Inside: Reformation Study Bible Notes (NKJV)

Posted by on 05/22/2017 in: ,

Just released for Olive Tree’s Bible Study App is the new edition of the Reformation Study Bible Notes. We are excited to be able to partner with Ligonier Ministries to be one of the first to offer this outstanding Bible study resource. The Reformation Study Bible Notes (2015) have been thoroughly revised and carefully crafted under the editorial leadership of R.C. Sproul. Over 1.1 million words of new, expanded, or revised commentary from 75 distinguished theologians, pastors, and scholars from around the world contribute to make this an unparalleled discipleship resource. Includes new award-winning maps, topical articles, concordance, and historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms, and more.  It is a fantastic resource and we want to give you a look inside this new edition of the Reformation Study Bible Notes.

In the screenshot below (taken from an iPad 2) I have my Bible text open in the main window to Acts 19. As I scroll through the Resource Guide in the Split Window I can see all of my enhanced resources that have an entry pertaining to the current text that I’m reading. I notice that the Reformation Study Bible Notes has entries for commentaries, maps, outlines, and introductions. The numbers indicate how many entries are available for each enhanced resource.

The Reformation Study Bible Notes – in the resource guide – shows six entries under the Commentary section for Acts 19:1-10. When I click on the the Reformation Study Bible Notes it then shows me a preview of those six entries.

I can then click on any of those previews to read the full commentary. As I read on in the text, those entries will stay in sync with my passage no matter what translation I have open in the main window.  Any Scripture reference I see becomes a hyperlink that I can tap and read without having to leave my current Bible passage.

Maps in the The Reformation Study Bible Notes can be found in two places in the Resource Guide.  First, under “Place” tap a location you are interested in.  I chose Ephesus in this case. After tapping Ephesus, all of the maps in the The Reformation Study Bible Notes tagged with that location will appear. You can then pinch and zoom the map for a larger view.

The second place is under the “Maps” Section.  Tap the one you want, Tap the “two arrows” button, pinch and zoom for a larger view.

The Reformation Study Bible Notes also includes many theological articles also linked to the Bible text you are reading.  Under Topics, tap a subject you want to learn more about. I choose “Baptism” in this case.

The Reformation Study Bible Notes also gives you book outlines, and book introductions. These are easy to access from the Resource Guide which pulls in entries based on where you’re reading in the main window.

The Reformation Study Bible Notes also includes 10 historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms.  To access them, open The Reformation Study Bible Notes in the Main Window > Tap Go To > Tap the “3 dots/3 lines” icon to Change from Grid View to List View > Tap Back Matter > Tap Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms > Tap the Creed or Confession you want to read.

You can also access all of enhanced content by navigating to the “end matter” in this way.

As you can see, the Reformation Study Bible Notes contain a ton of content that will help you go deeper in your Bible study.

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Look Inside: Reformation Commentary on Scripture Series

Posted by on 04/28/2017 in: , , ,

The Reformation Commentary on Scripture (RCS) provides a crucial link between the contemporary church and the great cloud of witnesses that is the historical church. The biblical insights and rhetorical power of the tradition of the Reformation are here made available as a powerful tool for the church of the twenty-first century. Like never before, believers can feel they are a part of a genuine tradition of renewal as they faithfully approach the Scriptures.

Hear from landmark figures such as Luther and Calvin, as well as lesser-known commentators such as Peter Martyr Vermigli, Johannes Oecolampadius, Martin Bucer, Johannes Brenz, Caspar Cruciger, Giovanni Diodati, and Kaspar Olevianus. The series introduces you to the great diversity that constituted the Reformation, with commentary from Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Anabaptist and even reform-minded Catholic thinkers, who all shared a commitment to the faithful exposition of Scripture.

Many of these texts are being published in English for the first time, and volumes also contain biographies of figures from the Reformation era, adding an essential reference for students of church history.

Several features have been incorporated into the design of this commentary and we wanted to show you just a few.  (Screenshots are from an iPad Pro.  Click on images for a larger view)

Pericopes of Scripture

The scriptural text has been divided into pericopes, or passages, usually several verses in length. Each of these pericopes is given a heading, which appears at the beginning of the pericope. For example, the first pericope in the commentary on Galatians is “1:1-5 Greetings and Blessings.”

Overviews

Following each pericope of text is an overview of the Reformation authors’ comments on that pericope. The format of this overview varies among the volumes of this series, depending on the requirements of the specific book of Scripture.

(see screenshot above)

Topical Headings

An abundance of varied Reformation-era comment is available for each pericope. For this reason we have broken the pericopes into two levels. First is the verse with its topical heading. The reformers’ comments are then focused on aspects of each verse, with topical headings summarizing the essence of the individual comment by evoking a key phrase, metaphor or idea. This feature provides a bridge by which modern readers can enter into the heart of the Reformation-era comment.

Identifying the Reformation-era Texts

Following the topical heading of each section of comment, the name of the Reformation commentator is given. An English translation (where needed) of the reformer’s comment is then provided. This is immediately followed by the title of the original work rendered in English. Tap on the name to read a brief biographical sketch of the Reformation commentator.

The Footnotes

Readers who wish to pursue a deeper investigation of the Reformation works cited in this commentary will find the footnotes especially valuable. Tapping on a footnote number will cause a box to pop up on the screen, where in addition to other notations (clarifications or biblical cross references) one will find information on English translations (where available) and standard original language editions of the work cited.

The Bible Study App makes the Reformation Commentary on Scripture even more powerful!

Here’s how.

Resource Guide

Open your preferred Bible translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window.  You’ll see relevant commentary “hits” from the Reformation Commentary on Scripture  in the split window.

The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.  This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the commentary syncs to exactly where you are in your study.  No more flipping pages back and forth.  No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

Linked Reference Pop ups

One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying.  This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With the Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text.  All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.

Copy/Paste into Notes

Commentaries are full of great content.  I often find myself reading a passage, going deeper with the commentary and finding that “perfect quote” that sums up what I was thinking but didn’t know how to express it in written form.  However, in the world of hard copy commentaries, I have to re-type it into my personal study notes.  With the Bible Study App, all I have to do is highlight the text I want, copy it and paste it into my notes.  This feature saves me a ton of time, not to mention the wear and tear on my fingers!

Integrated Dictionary (iOS Extra)

In the iOS app, you have additional options.  Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options to Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup and More.

If you tap “Define” you will get the integrated iOS dictionary pop-up.  This is extremely helpful when you run across a word in the commentaries or even the Bible text that you do not know.

Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

Another iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap on a verse number and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Save, Share, Guide, and More.

If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.  You can even choose to open the commentary in the main or split window.

This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the commentary when you want to see what it says about a particular verse.

As you can see, the within the Olive Tree Bible App give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Click here to learn more about The Reformation Commentary on Scripture.

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The Geneva Bible, A Bible of Firsts

Posted by on 02/27/2017 in: ,

An Interview with Dr. David A Bennett:

When it was first printed, the Geneva Bible was the most reader-friendly version of the Bible ever translated, with numerous innovations making it ideal for the common reader. What sets the Geneva Bible apart? I recently sat down with Dr. David A. Bennett, a local antique Bible collector and amateur historian of Bible history, to find out.

Q: Can you give us a brief history of the Geneva Bible?

During Queen Mary’s reign, from 1555 and 1558, she burned 288 Protestant ministers at the stake for their denial of one tenet or another of the Roman religion. During the 1550s, when the Protestants of England were under such fierce persecution, many of their minsters fled to Geneva, Switzerland, to a theocracy maintained by Calvin and his contemporaries. Such a blessed company of Protestant theologians and scholars produced a Bible in 1560 aptly called the Geneva Bible. John Calvin, John Knox, Myles Coverdale, John Foxe, and several other Reformers may have collaborated on the Bible, but most of the work was done by William Whittingham, the pastor of the Geneva Church and a dear friend of John Calvin. The Geneva New Testament of 1558 was barely off the press when work began on a revision of the entire Bible, a process that took two more years. The new translation was checked with Theodore Beza’s earlier work and with the Greek text. In 1560, a complete revised Bible was published, “translated according to the Hebrew and Greek, and conferred with the best translations in divers languages”. Not only was the Geneva Bible innovative and influential, it has a remarkable history. The Geneva Bible was a product of vicious persecution endured by the English reformers. Its marginal notes edified the people and infuriated a King. While previous English translations failed to capture the hearts of the reading public, the Geneva Bible was instantly popular. Between 1560 and 1644 at least 144 editions appeared. Even forty years after the publication of the King James Bible, the Geneva Bible continued to be the Bible of the home. Two of the prime attractions of the Geneva Bible were its cost – the average cost of this printed Bible was less than a week’s wages for a working man – and the commentary amply interspersed throughout the Bible. The Geneva Bible was the first study Bible ever printed, a fact which both endeared it to the laity and irritated the clergy and monarchy, as neither archbishop nor king was allotted the god-like status each sought. The Bible brought to the American colonies by the Pilgrims in 1620 was their much-beloved 1599 Geneva Bible. During the decades following the publication of the King James Bible in 1611, both political and commercial meddling by monarch and bishop was implemented to finally subvert the influence of the Geneva Bible.

Q: What sets the Geneva Bible apart from other translations?

The Geneva Bible was a Bible of firsts:

  • First entire Bible in English translated from the original languages, not depending upon the Latin Vulgate at all
  • First English Bible translation intended for use by lay Christians, following on the heels of Martin Luther’s 1534 German Bible for the German laity
  • First Bible in English to use contemporary verse divisions
  • First to use italicized words where English required more than a literal Greek rendering
  • First Bible in the English language with commentary, so it’s the first study Bible
  • First English Bible translated by a committee and not an individual

Q: Besides the study notes, are there any substantial ways in which the Geneva text differs from that of the KJV?

Using the verbiage of types and antitypes, the Geneva Bible was the antitype or fulfillment of Tyndale’s pioneering work, as well as the type or prototype of the King James Bible to come 50 years later. Fully 80% of the books Tyndale translated into English are present in the Geneva Bible, as also 80% of the King James Bible is attributed to the Geneva Bible – minus the marginal commentary! Quite frankly, its marginal notes both fanned the flames of the Geneva Bible’s success, but also resulted in its eventual demise and the succession of the King James Bible as the de facto English Bible for centuries to come. Had not the marginal commentary been so polarizing, there is good reason to suspect that neither the Bishop’s Bible nor even the King James Bible would ever have been conceived.

Q: How does the Tolle Lege edition that Olive Tree is releasing differ from the original 1599 Geneva Bible?

Today’s readers will find it difficult to read the original print edition due to its archaic typography and outdated spellings and word usage. For example, it is quite interesting to notice the progression of the English language, during which English acquired the use of the letter “j” to use in appropriate places where only “i” had been used before, and the consistent delineation of “v” and “u” as we know today.

The Tolle Lege Press edition removes the major obstacles for the contemporary reader, returning this historic Bible to its rightful place of influence and importance. The original 1599 Geneva Bible gave God’s Word back to the people, and Tolle Lege Press desires that the tradition continue.

Thanks to Dr. Bennett for his time and insights into the 1599 Geneva Bible. You can find the 1599 Geneva Bible available on the Olive Tree store here.

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