Over the years I've amassed a small collection of Bibles... the teen study Bible I used in youth, a nice little pocket-sized edition that's great for referencing passages during a sermon, a hot pink metal-covered one I bring on trips, and even a purple covered, sparkly page-edged King James that I use for reference. It's a rather cute collection, but when I started teaching Sunday School I realized just how many questions I had about the texts I used for lessons... because none of my Bibles (save the teen Bible, which I can't even find) had useful notes!
A quick search of Christianbook.com showed me that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of study Bible options. Bibles for historians Bibles with comparative translations, Bibles for life application... it can be pretty overwhelming! I finally settled on a Life Application Study Bible in the NIV translation (I prefer it for study, but I enjoy NLT for casual reading and teaching Sunday school) and WOW! It made such a difference in my readings and how I was able to understand God's word.
My Bible has tons of footnotes - some explain cultural differences, historic background, other other useful information for studying a passage. Some have notes for personal life application (hence the brand name title I chose). There are also extra notes throughout the book with character studies, timelines, maps, big concept explanations, cross references, and even interesting lists that compare different concepts. On top of all of that, each book begins with an overview, map, major themes, major characters, famous passages, and historical background. My Bible has made a major difference in how I value and understand God's word - it helps me to understand the cultural references that are foreign to me, cross reference easily, and even shows me the value in passages I may have overlooked.
So basically what I'm trying to say is... if you don't have a study Bible that fits your life and needs, get one! There are options for every price range (Christianbook even has sales for Bibles that have slight imperfections so you can get great options for a very low cost) and need. I highly suggest looking online because the Bible I found was $50 after tax and shipping, and the same copy was at the bookstore for $80.
Here are some guidelines to help you sift through the plethora of great Bibles out there:
- What translation will benefit you? Are you a veteran Bible reader who wants a refreshing new translation for comparison? A new Christian who wants something easy to understand? A simple Google search can help you understand which translation would work for you. I recommend NIV because it's one of those "in the middle" translations that is widely liked and used.
- What size? Mine is a nice big one that I can mark up and highlight. Are you looking for something that will likely stay at home, or would a smaller one be better if you plan to carry it around? Personal size is the smaller option.
- What style of study? On Christianbook you can refine your search based on what kind of study Bible you are looking for. A good place to start if this is your first one is a Life Application - it has a bit of everything There are other great options out there for those of you who know your Bible well and are looking for different kinds of notes (e.g. comparative translations or languages). And of course, there are different versions for teens and adults.
- What kind of cover? Hardcover? Softcover? Leather? Imitation leather? Again, lots of good options for all price-ranges.
If you have any questions, let me know... and happy reading!