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NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Personal Size, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition)

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2017 ECPA BIBLE OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture. That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Personal Size provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the 2017 ECPA BIBLE OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture. That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Personal Size provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus. Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world. The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers.  Features: The full text of the NIV Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color Words of Jesus in red Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps 8-point type size


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2017 ECPA BIBLE OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture. That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Personal Size provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the 2017 ECPA BIBLE OF THE YEAR RECIPIENT You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture. That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Personal Size provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus. Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world. The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers.  Features: The full text of the NIV Targeted book introductions explain the context in which each book of the Bible was written Insightful and informative verse-by-verse study notes reveal new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar passages Key Old Testament (Hebrew) and New Testament terms are explained and expanded upon in two helpful reference features Over 300 in-depth articles on key contextual topics 375 full-color photos, illustrations, and images from around the world Dozens of charts, maps, and diagrams in vivid color Words of Jesus in red Additional study Bible tools: cross references, a concordance, indexes and other helps 8-point type size

30 review for NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Personal Size, Hardcover, Red Letter Edition)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was my first time reading through this edition. One of the reviews below led me to believe there would be nudes. There were no nudes. Do not read this edition expecting nudes; you will be disappointed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    George P.

    NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, ed. John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). One of the fundamental rules of biblical interpretation is that the Bible should be read in context. A corollary to this is that taking the Bible out of context is a great error. Bible readers should strive to do the former and avoid the latter. Context changes everything, you see. The problem is that our cultural context is not the cultural context of the Bible’s original writers, hea NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, ed. John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). One of the fundamental rules of biblical interpretation is that the Bible should be read in context. A corollary to this is that taking the Bible out of context is a great error. Bible readers should strive to do the former and avoid the latter. Context changes everything, you see. The problem is that our cultural context is not the cultural context of the Bible’s original writers, hearers, and readers. For example, the story of Abraham (Genesis 12:1ff.) took place 4,000 years ago. Abraham’s world was characterized by polytheism, concubinage, slavery, sacrifice (of both animals and children), and a pastoral economy. Similarly, the story of the apostle Paul (Acts 9:1ff.) took place 2,000 years ago. It was a world characterized by Greek culture and language, Roman law and politics, Gentile polytheism versus Jewish monotheism, slavery, and very different assumptions than ours about the worth of women and children, among other things. The differences between our cultural backgrounds and the Bible’s cultural backgrounds illustrate the truth of L. P. Hartley’s famous statement, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” To understand the Bible’s meaning here, we must understanding its meaning there. Unfortunately, the Bible’s cultural backgrounds are often opaque to us. Its original hearers and readers would’ve picked up on the meaning of a given Bible passage immediately because they understood its culture from the inside. Contemporary readers have to work harder to understand a text in its original context. There are numerous print resources help readers do this: anthologies of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman literature, Bible commentaries, dictionaries and encyclopedias, histories of the biblical eras, archaeological reports, and scholarly monographs on a variety of topics. The libraries of Bible scholars and pastors usually contain books like these. The average Bible reader often doesn’t have the time to read or resources to accumulate such a library, however. What they want is a reliable, affordable volume that explains the basics of the Bible’s cultural backgrounds. That’s why I’m so excited about the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, edited by John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener, and published by Zondervan. Walton and Keener are respected Bible scholars, teaching Old Testament at Wheaton College and New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, respectively. Both are devout Christians with a high view of Scripture’s inspiration and authority. Keener is a fellow Pentecostal. Both have devoted a significant portion of their scholarly careers to understanding the Bible’s cultural backgrounds. Walton served as general editor of The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Old Testament. Keener authored the IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament. Walton and Keener drew on these resources to write the Old and New Testament sections of the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, respectively. Here are some of the key features of this Bible: Introductions to each book of the Bible 10,000 notes explaining specific verses 320 essays and 375 maps, charts, and diagrams that “summarize and explain important background information from Scripture” (p. iv) The NIV Cross-center Cross Reference system and the NIV Concordance, both of which are common to all NIV study Bibles The focus of this study Bible is the cultural backgrounds of the Old and New Testaments. Walton and Keener identify “three goals” in their introduction to the text: We study the history of the Biblical world as a means of recovering knowledge of the events that shaped the lives of people in the ancient world. We study archaeology as a means of recovering the lifestyle reflected in the material culture of the ancient world. We study the literature of the ancient world as a means of penetrating the heart and soul of the people who inhabited that world (p. x). This focus on history, archaeology, and literature means that the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible does not address questions about the application of biblical teaching to today’s questions, as do many other study Bibles. Instead, its goal is to illuminate the meaning of the Bible in its original cultural contexts. One of the paradoxical themes that emerges from such a focus is similarity and difference. Put simply, biblical religion displays both similarities to ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman culture, the cultural backgrounds of the Old and New Testaments, as well as differences from those cultures. Both are necessary to fully understand the Bible in context. Let me illustrate this with two articles from the study Bible: The first comes from the Old Testament. The religions of both Israel and other ancient near eastern societies involved animal sacrifices and food offerings. See the opening chapters of Leviticus for a biblical example of this. This illustrates similarity. But differences emerge on close inspection—deep differences, in fact. An article titled “Great Symbiosis” (p. 186) explains: In the ancient Near Eastern world, people believed that the gods were initially quite content to live without human beings… As time went on, however, they grew tired of feeding themselves, making clothes for themselves and building houses for themselves. Digging ditches for irrigation to grow crops was heavy labor. They therefore decided to create humans as a slave labor force. The responsibility of humans was to care for the gods in every way. Rituals provided food and drink the gods. Temples provided housing. The gods then became dependent on people to provide the luxury to which they were accustomed and which they deserved. In turn, the gods would provide for the people (so the people could provide for them) and protect the people who were caring for them. This defined the codependent relationship between the gods and humans in the ancient world. Besides the rituals and the temple building, the gods were interested in maintaining justice among the people, but not because the gods were inherently just or because of any sense of ethical right and wrong. Rather, the gods understood that if society was plagued by lawlessness, violence and disorder, the people would not be at liberty to carry out their ritual obligations. Thus there was a symbiotic relationship between gods and people…which was maintained for a smoothly operating ritual system, designed to keep the gods happy. The “Great Symbiosis” describes the relationship between gods and humans in the ancient Near Eastern cultures surrounding Israel. It was fundamentally materialistic, concerned with divine and human needs for food and shelter, and it prioritized ritual over righteousness. Israel’s theology, on the other hand, was primarily moral and prioritized righteousness—a divine attribute—over ritual. The article goes on to say: The difference in Israel was that even though they offered sacrifices to Yahweh, Yahweh did not need these sacrifices as food. In his covenant with Israel he promised to provide for his people and to take care of them, much like other gods did. However, what he required of them was not care and feeding, but covenant fidelity. We could therefore say that the Great Symbiosis was replaced in Israel by the Covenant Symbiosis. Here’s another example, this time from the New Testament. Between 1946 and 1956, scholars discovered 981 texts (or fragments of texts) in caves near the northern end of the Dead Sea called Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls include numerous copies of texts of the Old Testament, as well as texts describing the theology and practice of a sectarian Jewish group living in Qumran, probably the Essenes. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls revolutionized our understanding of Second Temple Judaism, the period between the second century B.C. and the second century A.D., the period during which Jesus lived and the early church began. Scholars noted “significant examples of how the Qumran community parallels the New Testament church.” And yet, despite these similarities, the early church was also very different from the Qumran community. The article titled “Qumran and the New Testament” goes on to summarize the differences: In sum, the Dead Sea Scrolls give us information on the kinds of issues of concern to Jews during the New Testament era: the identity of God’s true people, questions of ritual and purity, and the search for a fresh word of revelation in troubled times. But the community that emerged from Jesus’ teaching was radically different from that of Qumran. In many ways, Qumran depicts for us “the road not taken” by the early Christians (p. 1757). Once we see the cultural backgrounds of the Bible, we realize that surface similarities often masked deep differences. Israel’s sacrificial system was similar to other ancient Near Eastern societies, but its theology was different. The early church’s worldview shared concerns with other Jewish groups, but how it addressed those concerns was different. Although the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible does not focus on questions of application, it seems to me that understanding the similarities and differences of Israel and the Church to their surrounding cultures has enormous practical value. Christians today Christians cannot live in contemporary society without looking and sounding like our neighbors, to a great degree. And yet, there are deep differences. The goal is to be “in” the world without being “of” the world (John 17:13–19). Understanding how first Israel and then the Church struggled to be in-but-not-of helps us with our own struggle to do the same today. Obviously, in a work of this size—weighing 4.3 lbs., this study Bible has 2,400 pages—a reader won’t agree with all the authors’ notes or essays. Walton and Keener take care to differentiate conclusions that reflect scholarly consensus from topics where there is a scholarly difference of opinion. Even so, I found my understanding of biblical passages enriched by encountering them in light of the history, archaeology, and literature of their cultural backgrounds. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is available in print and digital formats. It is available in Kindle format for $14.99, in hardcover for $49.99, and in three leather-bound options for $79.99. The Kindle price is attractive, but I would recommend buying the hardcover or leather-bound copy. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but I think it’s much easier to use. If you’d like to test-drive the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible before you buy it, I’d encourage you to visit the website contextchangeseverything.com, which includes a sampler of the print version of Genesis and Matthew. To see the layout of the Kindle version, click “Look Inside” on its Amazon.com page. _____ P.S. This review was cross-posted at InfluenceMagazine.com. P.P.S. If you found this review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The Cultural Background Study Bible is a Bible that contains a lot of information about the times in which the various sections were written. It has many pictures, maps and diagrams, and of course, commentary. The Bible is pretty large and heavy, but that is to be expected with so much extra content being added to it. I must say that this Bible, or rather the extra content of this Bible, had a lot of unnecessary things, and even absolutely indecent things. First, the pictures. I don't remember The Cultural Background Study Bible is a Bible that contains a lot of information about the times in which the various sections were written. It has many pictures, maps and diagrams, and of course, commentary. The Bible is pretty large and heavy, but that is to be expected with so much extra content being added to it. I must say that this Bible, or rather the extra content of this Bible, had a lot of unnecessary things, and even absolutely indecent things. First, the pictures. I don't remember if I've ever reviewed a Bible that had so many indecent pictures in it. There's the obligatory Adam and Eve (as usual, depicted before the fall of man with conveniently placed leaves), there are ancient artistic depictions of women exposing various body parts, including the lower half of the body, there are ancient depictions of men being circumcised…and so on. And get this, there's even a clay depiction of a woman bathing (not very detailed at all, but still…) from around, and I quote, the "eighth-sixth century BC, a few centuries after David saw Bathsheba"! I’m sorry people (sarcastically said), but this is absolutely absurd. Why would Christians think that looking at photographs of naked people are wrong but that it's okay to stare at a painting, statue, or etching of a naked person????? I don't care how "ancient" the depiction is, or even how undetailed, it's still wrong. Hasn't any one considered that some of the stuff might even be ancient pornography? Whatever the case, It's a denial of the fall of mankind, it's a denial of original sin, it makes it seem as though it is okay to not be ashamed to stare at other people's nakedness/shame, as long as it is ancient or artistic, and it also provides possible "stumbling blocks" to other Christians. My understanding of the Bible is not enhanced by looking at unclothed people. Second, some of the commentary actually seems blasphemous. Just look at this commentary on Isaiah 46:9: "'I am God, and there is no other. ' The Assyrians saw their god Ashur as being the god from whom all other gods derive…In the Hymn to Aten from New Kingdom Egypt, Aten is hailed as the 'sole God beside whom there is none.' In an environment where numerous other deities claimed power, Israel's God is not making an absolute statement of uniqueness, though he could, according to Israel's theology, rather, he is saying that the readers know his uniqueness through past experience, and this will be confirmed through future fulfillment of God's plans." WHAT????????????? God is "not making an absolute statement of uniqueness"? But what does God say in the VERY NEXT STATEMENT IN THAT VERY SAME VERSE ? "I AM GOD, AND THERE IS NONE LIKE ME." This is simply shocking. Let's look at another one: The commentary on Proverbs 3:19: "'By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations.' It is not unprecedented that creation is said to be the product of a deity's wisdom, in the 'Memphite Theology,' the Egyptian god Ptuah is said to produce the world through his heart and tongue, standing for his wisdom and his speech…" Sections in the Bible like this seem to be actually making the case that there WERE/ARE actually other gods like God, without taking into consideration the CONTEXT of the rest of the Bible, and even the evidence of the archeology, that states that other so-called 'gods' are not even gods at all, but rather wood and stone. Essentially the commentators appear to think it valid to compare God to the attributes that man in his stupidity has ascribed to elaborately carved sticks and stones, and then finding "similar", though imaginary, attributes attributed to those sticks and stones they declare that God is not a unique 'god' and that He is compatible to a rock and a piece of wood. I hope that they do not mean to do so, but this is STRONGLY implied. This is very awkward to say, but I don't like this Bible. Or rather, I don't like some of the commentary and other additions to this Bible. I don't know if I've ever said this before, but I'm saying it now: Don't buy this Bible. The back of this Bible says, in bold letters: "CONTEXT CHANGES EVERYTHING". It certainly does. I received a free review copy of this book from The BookLook Bloggers Program (My review did not have to be favorable).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    First of all, this is just a helpful study Bible with tons of great features--charts, articles, footnotes, etc. So many tools to use during one's study time. But since I bought the Kindle addition, I want to give an extra shout-out to the publisher for making it an excellent resource even in the digital format. I bought I different study Bible as a Kindle edition, and it was obvious they had just uploaded the Bible without really thinking about how to make it work. It was clunking and cumbersome First of all, this is just a helpful study Bible with tons of great features--charts, articles, footnotes, etc. So many tools to use during one's study time. But since I bought the Kindle addition, I want to give an extra shout-out to the publisher for making it an excellent resource even in the digital format. I bought I different study Bible as a Kindle edition, and it was obvious they had just uploaded the Bible without really thinking about how to make it work. It was clunking and cumbersome to try to switch between a Bible chapter and a study feature. Not so with the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Bible! Someone clearly put in a lot of work to make sure the reader could navigate all the features easily. I am so pleased and so grateful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob Hayton

    Zondervan has released a monumental study Bible. The "NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible" promises to bring the ancient world of Scripture to life for contemporary readers. The array of resources presented and the depth of research made accessible could almost be described as incredible. This Bible is presented in a beautiful format and the study notes and articles are written by top-notch evangelical scholars. The editors, John H. Walton (professor of OT at Wheaton College) and Craig S. Keener Zondervan has released a monumental study Bible. The "NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible" promises to bring the ancient world of Scripture to life for contemporary readers. The array of resources presented and the depth of research made accessible could almost be described as incredible. This Bible is presented in a beautiful format and the study notes and articles are written by top-notch evangelical scholars. The editors, John H. Walton (professor of OT at Wheaton College) and Craig S. Keener (professor of NT at Asbury Theological Seminary) are experts in their fields. They have drawn from the work of other evangelical tools in creating this study Bible: most notably, the "Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament", (edited by John Walton), and the "IVP Bible Background Commentary" for Old and New Testaments, (the NT volume of which was edited by Craig Keener). Introductions focusing on the historical setting, cultural/religious setting and literary setting are provided for each book of the Bible. Broader introductions for different genres and collections of books are also provided, and over 300 articles are furnished on a variety of cultural background topics. Nearly 400 full-color photos, illustrations and images brighten the pages of this volume. There are dozens of detailed maps and the study notes are by no means brief. I would say it rivals the ESV Study Bible for length, but the focus on the notes is largely centered on historical and cultural background information. So many modern readers of the Bible skip past background info and dive forward into application of the text. This is a shortcut that is not usually going to produce the most wholesome and meaningful results. Understanding the ancient world of the text of Scripture can help us better see the parallels with our own day and age. New insights can open up to us new vistas of thought, and cautions can prevent us from misappropriating passages in ignorance. The book of Lamentations was my area of focus for this review. The introduction was not overly long but appropriately set the stage. Historical detail is a must for understanding what can be quite dark verses for the uninitiated. The pictures of captives from Lachish being led into exile, or of mourning captives being led away by the Assyrians gave an appropriate frame of reference for the text itself. The parallel laments of other ancient cities help inform the reader as to the genre of the book. The many notes explained odd references and brought out a fuller depth of meaning. What does it mean for those who pass your way to “clap their hands at you” (2:15 – derision)? Or why is a measuring line stretched out over a wall that then wastes away (2:8 – to determine which parts are too unstable to be reused)? What could the stones being thrown at those in a “pit” possibly signify (3:53 – stone covers placed over abandoned cisterns sometimes used as a gruesome end for enemies)? The design of the Bible with its tan colored center column for cross-references, and its beautifully designed cover pages make it inviting to peruse. The extensive indexes make sure the resources you are looking for are accessible. Timelines and an excellent concordance are additional features that complement this work well. Of particular note are charts explaining Hebrew terms that have no exact English equivalent, and a helpful glossary of key Greek terms. The tables of parallel Ancient Near Eastern literature that attest to the Bible’s historicity or compare with it, are informative and invite the reader to pursue further study. One final note of caution. Many evangelicals may not be prepared for the level of comparisons to be found between the Bible and other ancient literature and stories. Rather than explaining away or ignoring such parallel literature, this study Bible prepares the reader to know how best to understand the existence of such parallels and often points out how such parallels inform and enrich our understanding of Scripture and need not threaten our belief in Scripture’s status as the Word of the Living God. I highly recommend this new study Bible and am happy to add it to my shelf as I seek to grow in my understanding of the world of the Bible. Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dave Weiss

    This year for my devotional time, I decided to read this Bible. Now when I saw read this Bible I don't just mean the text of the Scripture, I mean all the notes, articles, etc. This Bible is fascinating. It not only gives the Scripture and commentary on the meanings of the passages, but it also gives what is known about the surrounding cultures and how the teachings of the Bible relate to the practices of the peoples and cultures around them. Now I will admit there were times when I got frustrat This year for my devotional time, I decided to read this Bible. Now when I saw read this Bible I don't just mean the text of the Scripture, I mean all the notes, articles, etc. This Bible is fascinating. It not only gives the Scripture and commentary on the meanings of the passages, but it also gives what is known about the surrounding cultures and how the teachings of the Bible relate to the practices of the peoples and cultures around them. Now I will admit there were times when I got frustrated, because at first glance it appears to teach that the teachings of Scripture were derived from the cultures around them. Then I had a thought. Every person on earth comes from Adam and Eve. Further all people are descended from Noah. This means all these surrounding cultures have a connection to the God of the Bible, whether they knew it or not, therefore it is not that the teachings of Scripture were derived from the people around them, but rather that their cultural memories were still somewhat connected to their origin. When they stepped away from the God of the Bible to go their own way, their teachings were changed to fit a corrupted world view. In this way it is not surprising that their teachings seem remotely similar to the Word of God. It's similar today. People who step away from the faith, tend to create gods in their own image. Some similarities will remain here and there, but the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth is found in the God of the Bible. This Bible was a good read. I learned a lot from the commentary and it cemented one of my core beliefs. We who love the Lord need to read the Bible from a position of belief. When we find areas where we are at odds with its teachings, our first step should be to pray and ask God to show us where we are wrong, because He never is.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shelley Adams

    For the past twenty five years I have made the daily reading of Scripture a priority and chosen a different translation or type of Bible each time to read through from cover to cover. This one came highly recommended, but it turns out to be my least favorite of all the Bibles I’ve read. The Bible itself is beautiful and I love the way the Scriptures were presented. Where this one fell flat for me was with the commentary. Too often it seemed to focus on redundant similarities between the people o For the past twenty five years I have made the daily reading of Scripture a priority and chosen a different translation or type of Bible each time to read through from cover to cover. This one came highly recommended, but it turns out to be my least favorite of all the Bibles I’ve read. The Bible itself is beautiful and I love the way the Scriptures were presented. Where this one fell flat for me was with the commentary. Too often it seemed to focus on redundant similarities between the people of God and the societies that surrounded them or delve deeply into customs of other religions. It seems harsh to criticize this for being too focused on culture when it is meant to be a cultural background commentary, but while I expected to encounter such information, I didn’t expect it to be as repetitive and obvious as so much of it was.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ibjoy1953

    MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK This is the neatest Bible. All throughout the Bible you find insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. The pictures help make this Bible as well. I love the muted colors and the beige and brown theme throughout. The Bible is hardcover with s beautiful dust jacket. If you enjoy studying the scriptures, this Cultural Backgrowns Bible will be a wonderful addition to your study tools. And if you have ever wondered about when something was written, or w MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK This is the neatest Bible. All throughout the Bible you find insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. The pictures help make this Bible as well. I love the muted colors and the beige and brown theme throughout. The Bible is hardcover with s beautiful dust jacket. If you enjoy studying the scriptures, this Cultural Backgrowns Bible will be a wonderful addition to your study tools. And if you have ever wondered about when something was written, or wondered what life was like in Bible times, this Bible may just been what you need. This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers Review Program. I was not required to write a review of this book. I chose to write this review, and the opinions are mine alone!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    This is the best study Bible I have seen. The footnotes, the articles, and the extra content before both Testaments is so helpful for getting into the context of the ancient books, and for equipping readers to make their own informed interpretive decisions. My only critique is the lack of author attribution in the footnotes and articles, particularly in the Old Testament section. Walton is billed as the chief editor of the OT even though he didn’t write most of the content. I wish all of the sch This is the best study Bible I have seen. The footnotes, the articles, and the extra content before both Testaments is so helpful for getting into the context of the ancient books, and for equipping readers to make their own informed interpretive decisions. My only critique is the lack of author attribution in the footnotes and articles, particularly in the Old Testament section. Walton is billed as the chief editor of the OT even though he didn’t write most of the content. I wish all of the scholars who contributed were better cited than just in the acknowledgments page. Other than that, highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lynna

    Excellent side notes and pictures avout the way of life during Jesus time before and after Resurrection

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

    It goes without saying that I have not read this entirely, nor do I agree with every note in this study Bible. However, I have found it to be consistently interesting, helpful, and edifying.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael O'Flaherty

    It took a long time to read every iota in this tome, but glad I did. Very enjoyable and illuminating. Recommended for anyone interested in a deep dive into the various cultures in the Bible. I am blessed to be near-sighted, but if you are not, make sure your prescription is up to date.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Very interesting, the commentary gets a bit repetitive at times.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Cheng Chung Lai

    Illuminating The very cultural background of which illuminates the course of the study of bible. A highly recommended tool to all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Missyjohnson1

    The cultural information is excellent. The NIV version is easy to read and understand.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John Kight

    Properly understanding the context of a historical document such as the Bible is necessary to unlock a meaning that leads to application. Context changes everything in the arena of biblical interpretation and it is near impossible to do serious study of the Bible without a sufficient understanding of the context. As is frequently repeated, the golden rule of biblical interpretation is “context, context, context.” It is here that the recently released NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible edited b Properly understanding the context of a historical document such as the Bible is necessary to unlock a meaning that leads to application. Context changes everything in the arena of biblical interpretation and it is near impossible to do serious study of the Bible without a sufficient understanding of the context. As is frequently repeated, the golden rule of biblical interpretation is “context, context, context.” It is here that the recently released NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible edited by John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener provides a much needed resource for pastors, students, and laity. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is both beautifully illustrated and rich with content. The full-color layout immerses the reader into the Bible like never before. There are plenty of high-quality photographs and illustrations throughout, as well as numerous maps, charts, and diagrams. Still, one of the most fascinating aspects of this Study Bible is the extent to which the publisher has sought to bring the reader into the cultural background beyond mere written content. The reader will encounter extensive high-resolution photographs of various artifacts, written documents, biblical manuscripts, and more. The experience of the Study Bible alone is well worth the cover price. It is truly as close to a total immersion into the biblical world as many readers will get in this lifetime. As the title suggests, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is based on the updated 2011 NIV translation. The content of the study notes are above expectation. First, and probably foremost, the sheer amount of notes packed into this Study Bible is amazing—much, much more than a typical niche Study Bible. In fact, I would say the amount of notes is similar in number to that of any of the major Study Bibles released in recent years. Moreover, throughout the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible there are various sidebar topical discussions on cultural themes that arise with each book of the Old Testament and the New. These discussions vary in length—from a paragraph to a couple pages—and cover a ton of important subjects. For example, in Genesis the reader will discover conversation surrounding the historical setting of Genesis, ziggurats, cosmic history and mythology, patriarchal religion, covenant, and much more. Almost every other page has a significant entry relevant to the culture and background of a given book of the Bible. There is much to be celebrated about the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. As stated above, I think that one of the most impressive aspects of this volume is the intentionality to bring the reader into the biblical world. The combination of visual and written content is paired with a unified mission like no other Study Bible I’ve ever seen or used. The closest comparison is the HCSB Study Bible, which succeeds in part visually, but lacks the depth of cultural interaction and content seen here. I also found the layout and organization of the Bible to be incredibly useful and well-executed. There is a ton of content on every page, but reading through it doesn’t feel as cumbersome as one might think. It is visually pleasing and the print quality is excellent. The font may be difficult for aged-eyes, especially in the study notes, but the print quality itself is akin to all previous Zondervan full-color Study Bible publications. It is currently available in hardcover, Italian duo-tone imitation leather, and black bonded leather. Premium ebony leather would be preferred (specifically the same build and quality of the Zondervan NIV Study Bible), but the options available at this time are more than sufficient. The newly released and highly anticipated NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible edited by John H. Walton and Craig S. Keener is a phenomenal resource and deserves a spot on the shelf of all serious students of the Bible. This is a resource that will be consulted often and be used for many years to come. It is a resource that will drag the reader into the biblical world and illuminate the text like never before. If you are looking for a Study Bible that will uniquely compliment others in your library, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is one that could not be recommended more. It’s an instant classic that will quickly make its way to the top of your most used resources list. It comes highly recommended! I received a review copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Every year I purchase Bibles for high school and college graduates, and each year I am excited to explore the new study Bibles that are available. In the past, I have purchased and recommended CEB and NRSV Wesley Study Bible (CEB is a great, accessible translation, and NRSV is my go-to study translation), as well as a handful of various NIV study Bibles. But last week, I received a Bible in the mail from Zondervan that is already at the top of my list of recommendations for anyone looking for a Every year I purchase Bibles for high school and college graduates, and each year I am excited to explore the new study Bibles that are available. In the past, I have purchased and recommended CEB and NRSV Wesley Study Bible (CEB is a great, accessible translation, and NRSV is my go-to study translation), as well as a handful of various NIV study Bibles. But last week, I received a Bible in the mail from Zondervan that is already at the top of my list of recommendations for anyone looking for a study Bible: The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. The first thing that stood out about this Bible – other than the appeal of context-focused study notes – was the editors. The Old Testament editor is Dr. John Walton, who is perhaps best known for his books, “The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate” and “The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate.” Both of these books opened my eyes to a completely new way of thinking – not only about the cosmos, but about ancient Near-Eastern ways of thought. The New Testament editor is Dr. Craig S. Keener, another well-recognized and highly acclaimed biblical scholar. Keener has written a number of commentaries, including the IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament and a four volume exegetical commentary on Acts. From the very beginning, Walton’s influence is apparent, as the notes on Genesis 1 focus on the functional (as opposed to material) origins of our first creation narrative. In addition to that trademark language, there are several instances in which the mythologies of the ancient Near East are drawn upon, compared, and contrasted with the language and account of Genesis 1. This is also one of the few study Bibles that I have encountered that discusses similarities and differences between the Genesis 1 account of creation and the Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish (the others that have made mention of the Enuma Elish are the NRSV New Interpreter’s Study Bible and The JPS TANAKH “The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition” – though I admit that I have not done an exhaustive search). Ahead of each book is an introduction, which details authorship, genre (so important!) and cultural, historical and narrative background information. It provides an approximate timeline when appropriate, and identifies some of the themes of the book. It contains many maps, vivid color photographs and illustrations, and often has more notes than biblical text on a page. To its credit, the study Bible gives a very satisfactory explanation of Apocalyptic Literature, and identifies Zechariah, Daniel and Revelation as such (though I do wish it had been more clear about Daniel’s divided structure). There are some shortcomings. To give an example, the opening pages of the Gospel of John (as well as the epistles of John) make no mention of the Johannine community as a people among whom the stories of John might have found authorship, taken shape, or at the very least for whom it may have been written. Though certainly an unsettled hypothesis, I would have liked to have seen mention of it. Instead, and perhaps more immediately notable, the authorship is assumed to be John the disciple – which is at least as contested as the Johannine community hypothesis. It’s more than possible that I’m being overly critical, but with its strengths in mind, I was surprised (and a bit disappointed) to find this weakness. It is unfair to speculate, but I always fear that marketability is given higher consideration than scholarship at times. Overall, however, I have to admit that I have been extremely excited by what I’ve seen in this Bible. I expect to use it as my personal study Bible for the forseeable future, and it will definitely find its way into the hands of graduating seniors this fall. I received this Bible as an ARC.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I am reviewing the hardcover edition. This bible is also available as an ebook. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible By Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton, General Editors which is published by Zondervan is an excellent resource. It would be an incredible help for seminary students but I know that it will also be so helpful for the bible studies that I belong to. I prefer study bibles because they take away the guesswork when studying scripture and allow the reader to get more out of what they I am reviewing the hardcover edition. This bible is also available as an ebook. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible By Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton, General Editors which is published by Zondervan is an excellent resource. It would be an incredible help for seminary students but I know that it will also be so helpful for the bible studies that I belong to. I prefer study bibles because they take away the guesswork when studying scripture and allow the reader to get more out of what they are studying. I love the notes, illustrations, introductions, charts and the maps. I love all the color! Colorful illustrations including the maps and illustrations are so helpful to reader. There is a great timeline at the beginning of the Old and New Testaments that are in color and are very informative. At the beginning of the Old Testament there is a section on Major Background Issues from the Ancient Near East. I think that once a reader has the historical background, social, political and economic, they can interpret what is happening in the portion of the Bible they are reading and have a much greater understanding. There is an interesting section providing an introduction to the Torah. At the beginning of the New Testament there is a section on Hearing the Gospels as First Century Hearers Heard Them. As a historian, I find that I have a much greater understanding of the books of the Bible once I understand the historical context. There are some excellent maps at the end of the Bible as well. Overall, I find the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible to an excellent addition to my bible study library. I know that I will refer to it over and over. The NIV translation is my favorite translation so it is a winner right off the bat. I am a proud owner of this newly published bible and highly recommend it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Prairie Sky Book Reviews

    I was thrilled to be able to review the “Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible”. After having my interest piqued several months ago to learn more of the historical and cultural context surrounding Biblical events, I was eager to learn more, and the “Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible” provided me with a way to do just that. For, as the subtitle says, it truly does bring the ancient world of scripture to life. This Bible offers so many invaluable tools to dig deeper into Scripture. Through the countless I was thrilled to be able to review the “Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible”. After having my interest piqued several months ago to learn more of the historical and cultural context surrounding Biblical events, I was eager to learn more, and the “Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible” provided me with a way to do just that. For, as the subtitle says, it truly does bring the ancient world of scripture to life. This Bible offers so many invaluable tools to dig deeper into Scripture. Through the countless verse-by-verse study notes that explain the historical and cultural context of the passage, you will gain remarkable insight about all of the details of the time period that people who lived during that time would have readily known as a way of life. But the benefits don’t end there! Full color photos of everything from a signet ring similar to that of King Xerxes from the book of Esther, to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before his arrest, offer a fresh new look at even those stories we know best. Also, many in-depth articles are interspersed throughout the text highlighting topics ranging from archeological discoveries pertaining to Biblical accounts (such as the mysterious Shroud of Turin), to a discussion of ancient music notation that may have been used in the Psalms. I could go on as to the many more wonderful features included in this Bible, but instead I will simply encourage you to experience for yourself the amazing opportunity to learn and understand scripture in a whole new way, that the “Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible” can give you. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review. While I have done literal studies of the Bible, as well as word studies in the Bible, I have always thought that with the amount of translating and re-translating that the Bible has gone through that something is lost. And that something is so vital. Not only that but culture has changed so much in the past thousand years, how much more has it changed in three thousand or five thousand years? And because of those changes, how can I I received a copy of this Bible in exchange for an honest review. While I have done literal studies of the Bible, as well as word studies in the Bible, I have always thought that with the amount of translating and re-translating that the Bible has gone through that something is lost. And that something is so vital. Not only that but culture has changed so much in the past thousand years, how much more has it changed in three thousand or five thousand years? And because of those changes, how can I possibly understand what the original writers of the Bible really meant when they put words to scraps of sheep skin or parchment, or whatever they used? I was really looking forward to this Bible to help shed some light on the questions I have had for so long. And immediately, I wasn't disappointed when I looked into the Hebrew to English translation chart that is found at the very beginning of the book. Perhaps the introductions to each book didn't give me all the information I craved, but it helped me to understand the context more. It is very interesting when the authors do introduce information about surrounding religions around the same time, to be able to see the little things that were similar to our own religion and beliefs. Sometimes I wonder what helped us to succeed where other cultures and religions failed. Overall, I can't say much bad about this Bible, though I did want a little more meat sometimes in the descriptions of some of the contexts.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Create With Joy

    When we study the Bible, it’s so important to have the right tools on hand to help us to fully understand what the writers of each book truly intended to convey to their original audiences. As accurate as our modern translations are, the English language does not always fully convey the expressions and idioms that were used in the original writings or the subtle historical and cultural references that the original audiences would have intuitively understood. That’s why the NIV Cultural Backgrounds When we study the Bible, it’s so important to have the right tools on hand to help us to fully understand what the writers of each book truly intended to convey to their original audiences. As accurate as our modern translations are, the English language does not always fully convey the expressions and idioms that were used in the original writings or the subtle historical and cultural references that the original audiences would have intuitively understood. That’s why the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is such an invaluable reference tool to add to our biblical libraries. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is based on the premise that “context changes everything”. As you explore the numerous study notes inside this Bible, you’ll gain new insight into familiar of Bible passages and gain clarity into puzzling portions of Scripture... This review is an excerpt from the original review that is published on my blog. To read my review in its entirety, please visit Create With Joy. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Herron

    I received a review copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I haven't read it all, but what I have read so far I'm extremely impressed with. The study notes are a great resource, I highly recommend that anyone who wants to learn more about cultural backgrounds of different books of the Bible and specific verses should look into this Bible. You can read my full review/thoughts about this Bible on my blog, sydneyann.com I received a review copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I haven't read it all, but what I have read so far I'm extremely impressed with. The study notes are a great resource, I highly recommend that anyone who wants to learn more about cultural backgrounds of different books of the Bible and specific verses should look into this Bible. You can read my full review/thoughts about this Bible on my blog, sydneyann.com

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rob Morgan

    Excellent Very helpful aid to studying the Bible! The guide to culture at the time the books were written provides many insights.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Josh Talbot

  25. 5 out of 5

    M.M. Beeman

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joe V Gossman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diego Munoz

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve Martin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Diane

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wendy L Whaley

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