2015 ECPA Christian Book Award winner! Experience the Bible through the eyes of a first-century disciple by exploring the cultural, religious, and historical background of the Bible. This Bible allows you to understand God’s Word in its original cultural context, bringing Scripture to life by providing fresh understanding to familiar passages, beloved stories and all the Scripture in between. The NIV First-Century Study Bible invites you into the questions, stories, and interpretations—both ancient and modern—which introduce you to a world vastly different from your own. Let us read with an eye on the past and with our feet planted in our present questions and circumstances.
Join Kent Dobson as he unpacks the culture of Bible times, and illuminates Scripture passages while asking thoughtful questions along the way. Kent is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, where he initially served as the worship director. He has been featured on Biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. Kent fell in love with Biblical studies in Israel and had the privilege of learning from both Jewish and Christian scholars. After his time in Israel, he returned to the States to teach high school religion and Bible before responding to God's call to the pastorate. Today, he keeps his connection to the Holy Land strong as he leads tours to Israel that combine study and prayer, inspired by the ancient discipline of spiritual pilgrimage.
|About the Contributor(s)||Kent Dobson
Kent Dobson is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, where he initially served as the worship director. He has been featured on Biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Kent lived and studied in Israel where he earned a Masters Degree in History and Geography of the First Temple Period from Jerusalem University College. He also studied Comparative Religion at the Rothburg International School of the Hebrew University.
Kent fell in love with Biblical studies in Israel and had the privilege of learning from both Jewish and Christian scholars. After his time in Israel, he returned to the States to teach high school religion and Bible before responding to God's call to the pastorate. Today, he keeps his connection to the Holy Land strong as he leads tours to Israel that combine study and prayer, inspired by the ancient discipline of spiritual pilgrimage.
Kent lives is Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife and three children.
|Publish Date||Sep 9, 2014|
|Translation||New International Version|
- Review by Randy
• 2011 NIV
• Hard cover
• Book introductions
• Word studies
• Study helps
• ISBN: 9780310938903
• MSRP $49.99
• Buy from Amazon
Cover and Binding
This is a hard cover edition with a sewn binding. It looks to be made well and will lay open anywhere you want. If you want it to look like a hard cover study Bible with the pictures and examples of the pages on the back, you can remove the dust jacket. Underneath is a nice tan and greenish blue with a nice textured look and the words Holy Bible on the front.
Paper and Print
This paper is beautiful. It has a textured scroll look that gets darker toward the bottom of the page. In dim lighting it’s almost too dark, but I want it anyway. It as a creamy/tanish tone that looks like a scroll. It is very opaque and has a rough texture that I like. It is black letter with a light/medium boldness. For me the boldness is too light. It’s a little bit of a strain to see it, especially in a dim room. The font is 8-point with a larger than normal leading. I’m guessing it’s at least 9.5, and it could be larger than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a 10-point leading. Section headings are in a large dark green font in all-caps. The same dark green is used for chapter numbers. The dark green looks really nice against the parchment look of the paper.
This is a double column, paragraph format with notes at the bottom of the page. Translation notes and references appear just under the text, before the line that separates the text from the notes. Word studies and pictures appear within the text – not the notes. Maps appear with either the text or the notes. This is the most interesting layout, and my favorite, that I’ve seen for any study Bible.
Book introductions range from 1-5 pages depending on the size of the book. For example, 1 John is 4 pages, 2 and 3 John are 1 page, Jude is 2 pages, and Revelation is 4 pages. They cover different things, but they are very similar. The introduction for Revelation covers the author, date, occasion, purpose, literary form, distinctive feature, interpretation, and a detailed outline. Some contain photos of places and artifacts.
The notes that are scattered throughout every page include artifacts, charts, maps, models, articles, word studies, and more. You don’t have to turn many pages to find a map, chart, or word study. There are many pictures in full color
There are tons of full color photos of archaeological artifacts that includes clay tablets, manuscripts, tools, pottery, carvings, etc. There are short articles about each one, to give you information on their background. Due to my high level of interest in Biblical archaeology, this is about my favorite feature of this Bible.
These are the kind of charts I like in my Bible. There are 36 charts that include the Miracles of Jesus, Resurrection appearances, Parables of Jesus, Passion Week, the Life of Christ, and much more. The charts are very useful for study and sermon prep.
There are 76 maps placed throughout the text. The maps are labeled and have explanations and facts.
There are 8 models, or 3D drawings, throughout the text. They include the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, Herod’s Temple, etc. They are drawn as a cutaway and are labeled with information. There is a short article about each one.
Word studies go into detail about the original Hebrew and Greek words. They are not keyed to Strong’s dictionaries. They give you the verse they’re found in (on the page with the word study), the word in English, the English spelling of the Hebrew or Greek word, the Hebrew or Greek spelling using the Hebrew or Greek alphabets, the definition or comment about the word, and sometimes a reference.
The NIV footnotes are located under the last verse on the page. They are keyed to the text with small italic letters. The footnotes include translation notes, manuscripts variances, notes on the original languages, and references for parallel passages, prophecies, quotations, etc.
The commentary notes are located at the bottom of the page. The commentary includes cross references, references to other material, theological from historical writers, general facts, historical points about the first century, etc. Most of the notes are not heavy on theological bias, although there is some. They are mostly factual. Some just tells of traditional interpretations. As always, for anything doctrinal I recommend doing your own study.
There are 54 textual articles that cover points in the text, such as The Shepherd God, The Return of the Lord, Wine Making, Pour out my Spirit, The Authorship of Paul’s Letters, etc. They range from a half a page to a few pages. The articles cover the way the topic was interpreted in the first century. The articles are interesting and well written. They do a good job of keeping everything in context.
Day in the Life Articles
There are 16 articles that cover what life was like at a specific point in time. These articles cover topics such as Desert Shepherds, Midwives, Priests and Levites, Israelite Kings, Farmers, Disciples, etc. They take several pages and cover the topic in a good amount of detail. They include photos and drawings of places, artifacts, objects (such as boats and tools), and more. These articles do a good job of showing what life was like at that time.
There is a nice list of helps in the back. The helps include:
Table of Weights and Measures
This is a one-page table that covers weights, length, and capacity in both dry and liquid measures. It’s a good basic table that’s easy to use.
There are 12 pages of endnotes. The endnotes are the citations that are given in the notes. They’re mostly books. This is a good addition because you have a good reference for where the information came from. This is especially good for doing your own research.
The bibliography is 3 pages and provides an interesting list of books for further study.
Topical Index to Articles
The index to the articles is 5 pages. They are arranged alphabetically according to topic. Some give the page number while others give the Scripture reference.
There is an 8 page glossary that includes historical characters, places, etc. There are entries for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran, Aristotle, Aramaic, John Chrysostom, Clement of Alexandria, Polycarp, Pentateuch, the Shema, Yahweh, etc. Most of the people in the glossary are from Church history. The glossary is a good addition for a Bible like this. It does have quit a few entries, but I would like to see even more because it just adds to the value and makes the glossary more complete.
The concordance in this Bible is huge. It has 153 pages with 3 columns per page, and very it’s extensive. There are 10 columns for entries of God in various forms. Variations include God-breathed, God-Fearing, God-Haters, Godless, Godliness, Godly, God’s, and Gods.
There are 16 pages of maps. The maps are colorful and look really nice. They are printed on the same paper as the rest of the Bible, so no super thick paper here. There is an index to help you find what you’re looking for. Also, the maps are labeled well and are easy to use.
This Bible has a lot to offer on the study of first century life. It does a great job of setting the scene of the original writers. Those interested in archaeology and history will appreciate The First Century Study Bible the most. It’s also good for sermon prep and classroom prep for those that like to include information about first century culture.
Zondervan provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review – only an honest review.
(Posted on 12/11/2014)
- Review by Victor
I received the hardcover version, which is good. I just wonder how good this jewel will look in leather. In a scale of 1 to 10 I will give the presentation of this Bible a 10+ . Love the type of paper, the tones and fonts, the graphic design and the way the commentary has been placed trough the Scriptures, it makes the lecture of the Bible a pleasant and easy to understand adventure.
The work done has wonderfully blended an encyclopedia with the sacred text, so much that one to forget there are added notes.
In this edition you will find book introductions, study notes with key words explained . Writings from early church writers, rabbis. Apart from the knows maps most bibles have, The First Century Study Bible, will provide you with extra maps inserted in the text.
One of the extras that I love is the concordance at the end, plus it has a topical index to articles and a glossary. It really is an encyclopedia within the Bible.
Personally I would say this is a gift that I would love to get, I am sure many Christians will feel the same. I recommend this Bible. (Posted on 9/24/2014)
- Review by Dr. David Teague
1) The title is misleading. It gives the impression that so-called "first century" interpretations are more correct because they come from the time of the New Testament. In reality, the notes are full of ancient theological speculations which the apostles avoided.
2) Note on Deuteronomy 4:35 "Monotheism is Born" - By phrasing the title of the note like this, the impression is conveyed that monotheism was invented.
3) Note on Genesis 1:1 "What was before Creation?" The quote from Philo that wisdom is older than creation is pure speculation and suggests polytheism, or even Arianism. Again, it can create needless doubt and confusion.
4) Note on Genesis 2:4 "One God" - Dobson introduces his own speculation that Elohim is a "force." He then defines YHWH as the personal God who gets "his hands dirty" in the creation of the world. This is utter speculation that borders on belief in a Gnostic demi-urge. It's poor scholarship which implies that Elohim and YHWH are not the same. This can cause needless confusion and doubt.
5) Note on Genesis 2:10 "One river, one Eden" - Dobson calls eternal life an “ancient speculation” which the book of Revelation then picks up. In other words, eternal life is just a concept which someone invented.
6) Note on Genesis 4:1 Dobson suggests, without rebuttal, that Eve had sex with either the serpent or an angel.
I can't imagine using this book in a church. A study Bible should clarify the text, not create confusion and doubt. Sadly, this book harms the reputation of the Zondervan publishing house among evangelical Christians. (Posted on 8/18/2014)