Not anticipating this, I am a bit surprised by the number of Bibles that have come my way for review over the last several months. The fact that so many have come my way is indicative of just how quickly new Bibles are being developed and dispersed in this era. The advancement of Bible publications is a tremendous and valuable resource for believers, giving them tools to enable a deeper study and understanding of the Word. Yet at the same time, we must be cautious to ensure that we aren’t replacing the Bible text with the Bible notes (read some of my previous thoughts here ). So when asked to look at a new study Bible, such as the KJV Word Study Bible, I am vigilant of this aspect.
Recognizing that even the best of English translations fails to capture the depth and preciseness of the original text, Zondervan and a team of editors put together a study Bible based upon the meaning of significant biblical words. Spread throughout the Bible are notes on 1700 different Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words. The entire format of the Bible is all about performing a word study, so it includes a concordance, notes about various words, and four different indices (one that lists the words in alphabetical order according to English translation, one lists that lists the words studied in their biblical order, and the last two lists are alphabetical according to the original languages). While each book of the Bible has an introduction, the intros are short giving only slight background information of the book, it’s layout and a list of key words found in that particular book. It is a red letter edition, meaning that the words of Christ are listed in red, something that I have often been critical of because it elevates the words of Christ above the rest of Scripture, Yet, this is not a make it or break it point for me either.
Overall the notes are very brief and lack much depth. For example, their definition of slave or servant fails to capture the identity of those in servitude and its significant in the Christian life when the word is used by an author like Paul. So while the editors have noted specific words, there is not a great deal of profundity. That does not mean the Bible is totally useless. Even some of the briefest descriptions help give some brief insights that many pastors fail to expound upon in their preaching. For example, they are quick to point out the original usage of the word for baptism indicates to dip or immerse, thus lending credit to the understanding of baptism by immersion (versus sprinkling or pouring). They even do well at making the point that the word ‘Christ’ is more than a name for our savior, but is a title that conveys great significance about who the Lord Jesus Christ is.
Admittedly I have not gone through every single note of the Bible for the sake of time. Of the extensive reading I did, the writing was presented in an easy and understandable manner. The brevity of the notes does not convey deep theological leanings, so my observations noted no major theological issues, but only a simple explanation of the varying words.
The concept behind the KJV Word Study Bible is worth appreciating. In a culture that underemphasizes precision in language, believers often need instruction and insight to understand the depths of what is being read. Therefore, the KJV Word Study Bible is a welcome addition. Personally though, I like more depth and insight that this Bible misses. Therefore, because of its brevity, I would be more inclined to recommend some alternative resources that look at a specific word’s usage across time, culture, and Scripture, even going so far as to look at the usage by individual authors.
Some Recommended Resources (note that some of these resources utilize Strong’s numbers while others utilize the Goodrick-Kohlenberger numbers, however, most will offer up conversion tables at the back of the book to help):
- The Complete Word Study New Testament & The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (The first book is the New Testament text combined with details about the individuals words, including parts of speech, tense, Strong’s numbers and other insights while the other is a comprehensive dictionary of the words used).
- The Complete Word Study Old Testament & The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Just like the New Testament series, but of course emphasizing the Hebrew and Aramaic texts instead).
- The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (an analysis of Greek words looking at its classical usage, LXX usage, and New Testament usage based upon each author’s utilization of it).
- The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis and The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (Each of these sets are five volumes and offer more information than the average person would want. They are also extremely expensive. Therefore, they are best suited for those who would utilize them on a regular basis. They are both great sets and I highly recommend them, but they come with a serious investment as well).
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the KJV Word Study Bible free of charge from the publisher for the purposes of review. However, my review and recommendation were not influenced by the publisher but a response to my own reading of the book.