The King James Study Bible, edited by Thomas Nelson
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Having given away one of my previous study Bibles that I used as my regular Church Bible, I felt in the need of another such Bible as I did not want to open up the large number of boxes that contain the vast majority of my book collection. So, quite naturally, I was intrigued by the promise of a glorious and full-color study Bible for the King James Bible, and when I got the Bible I was no less pleased and amused by the irony than I expected. The King James Version of the Bible, for all of its archaic features, has become something of a prestige Bible in contemporary times . Given that the King James Version was originally a light edit of the Geneva and Tyndale Bibles–superior versions–and avoided study notes because of concerns that they would encourage unfriendly application, the mere existence of this beautiful and glorious Bible is itself somewhat ironic in that it appeals to precisely the same urges that King James was trying to suppress hundreds of years ago.
This Bible has much of what one would expect in a Bible of its kind. It is large, sits flat like it would on a desk or table easily, which is necessary given its heft, and features introductions and outlines and solid textual (and visual-through maps) assistance for all of the books of the Bible. It has that pleasingly poetic and archaic form of early modern English and the textual apparatus of the Majority text for those who have no particular fondness for the NU-text. It has, moreover, a variety of topical indices, teachings and illustrations of Jesus Christ, the prophecies and miracles of Christ, comments on the Jewish calendar and biblical prayers as well as a concordance with original language word studies. If you are looking for a fine example of a study Bible, this is surely such an example, and it is little surprise that just as the King James Version has stood the test of time, so has this particular presentation of it, which sprang from the work of Jerry Falwell to provide such a study apparatus for this venerable version of scripture, now in its third edition.
Even as a fond reader of this particular version of the Bible, and someone who plans on using this Bible a good deal, I still appreciate the ironies of it. A version of the Bible that once had no study notes in order to increase the authority of the ruler behind it now has study notes and a larger textual apparatus in order to increase the authority of the version of the Bible itself to readers. A version of the Bible that was once a slightly edited form of more excellent past Bibles in order to change text offensive to the powers that be has become itself such a highly regarded translation of the Bible that it maintains a high degree of appeal even in the face of far newer versions of the Bible and has largely eclipsed the earlier versions of the Bible it is a somewhat pale imitation of. So, as a historically aware student of the Bible, I will enjoy this version and await the day for a similar treatment of the earlier English-language Bibles of the 16th century, in which case I will happily read and review those. In the meantime, this is a bible that encourages a love of learning and scholarly expertise for those who have a high regard for older ways, and that is something to appreciate regardless of the ironies present.
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