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Watch “Feasting on the Scriptures,” Episode 1: Reading Whole Books of the Bible

Why is it helpful to read the books of the Bible in their entirety, rather than reading only small snippets or single verses? In the first episode in our Feasting on the Scriptures discussion series, Paul Caminiti of the Institute for Bible Reading explains why. Watch the episode on Facebook or right here:

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post and watch the video, Two Simple Ways to Make Your Bible Reading Easier]

Buy your copy of Saving the Bible from Ourselves in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, Glenn Paauw’s book Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read and Live the Bible Well (InterVarsity Press, 2016) is a natural next step. It goes into more detail about this and other topics related to healthy Bible reading. Many of the ideas in this video discussion series are inspired by Paauw’s book.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Learning to Read the Bible Well: An Interview with Glenn Paauw]

Follow Bible Gateway and the Institute for Bible Reading on Facebook so you won’t miss the next episode April 6, in which we’ll discuss the topic “Reading the Bible as One Story.”

Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel: Find Answers to Tough Questions About the Bible

How reliable is the Bible? What should we make of apparent contradictions in it?

Did Jesus really rise from the dead, or did his followers simply invent the story?

Are there compelling reasons to believe in Jesus Christ?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these or other difficult questions about faith and Christianity, we’ve got a newsletter that’s perfect fou you: Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel. Lee Strobel is a bestselling author (of The Case for Christ, soon to arrive at your local movie theater) and journalist—and in this newsletter, he brings his journalistic curiosity and instincts to the task of investigating Christianity’s claims.

Every week, Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel tackles a different question or issue related to apologetics, the reliability of the Bible, and the rationale behind faith and evangelism. Lee faces each one directly and honestly. Whether you’re a skeptic looking to explore the tough questions about faith, or a believer interested in the rational roots of your beliefs, you’ll find Lee’s weekly newsletter to be both challenging and rewarding.

Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel begins on Saturday, April 1. Click here to sign up today.

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB): An Interview with Trevin Wax

Browse the editions of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) in the Bible Gateway Store

Trevin WaxB&H Publishing Group (@BHpub) has revised the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Renamed the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB) (@CSBible), the text is available for reading on Bible Gateway, as well as in a full line of print Bibles for readers of all ages, with initial products releasing in March and available in the Bible Gateway Store.

Bible Gateway interviewed Trevin Wax (@TrevinWax), publisher of the Christian Standard Bible (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Is Revised; Becomes Christian Standard Bible (CSB)]

Buy your copy of the CSB Ultrathin Reference Bible, Black LeatherTouch in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Why did you update the Holman Christian Standard Bible and rename the translation?

Trevin Wax: The Homan Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), first published in 2004, has been updated to reflect advances in biblical scholarship and to meet the needs of churches around the world. Over the past three years, the Translation Oversight Committee, co-chaired by Drs. Tom Schreiner and David Allen, considered input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers, seeking to hone both accuracy and readability in the text.

The input from both pastors and readers reflected a desire for an English translation that was both faithful to the original languages and understandable for a modern audience. Now the updated version of the HCSB, renamed the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB), optimizes both faithfulness and clarity. As a result, the CSB is trustworthy for pastors to use the translation for study and sermon preparation. Yet it’s also understandable for readers of all ages to read God’s Word each day and to share it with others.

According to Barna, 88% of Americans own a Bible but only 37% read it regularly. Aside from time constraints, frustration with understanding the Bible was listed as the most common reason people don’t read it. The CSB offers the high level of accuracy that people expect from their Bible translation as well as the easy-to-read, modern English they desire.

The new translation name, Christian Standard Bible, more clearly identifies a translation that transcends denominations and is designed to serve a broad audience.

In practical terms, explain the CSB translation philosophy of Optimal Equivalence and how it differs from Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence?

Trevin Wax: Optimal Equivalence is a translation philosophy that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and contemporary English readability. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering—also known as Formal Equivalence—is clearly understandable, a more literal, word-for-word translation is used in the CSB. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a Dynamic Equivalent—thought-for-thought—translation is used. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately as possible for today’s readers.

The CSB provides a highly accurate text for sermon preparation and serious study, translated from the biblical languages by scholars who love God’s Word. Yet it doesn’t compromise readability or clarity for readers who are less familiar with traditional (and sometimes difficult) vocabulary retained in some translations.

Who are the translators of the CSB, the denominations they represent, and why were they selected?

Trevin Wax: The original HCSB translation committee includes more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations who translated the HCSB from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages. In keeping with that trans-denominational focus, the revision and oversight committee, co-chaired by Dr. Tom Schreiner and Dr. David Allen, is composed of top biblical scholars representing a variety of colleges and seminaries as well as a range of conservative, evangelical denominations, including Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, conservative Anglican, and non-denominational Bible churches. These scholars provide oversight for the Christian Standard Bible, keeping the text up-to-date with current biblical scholarship and ensuring clarity for a modern audience. We’ve listed all of the committee members’ names and credentials on www.CSBible.com.

What resources will be available that include the CSB?

Trevin Wax: Holman Bibles will release our first Bibles featuring the CSB this spring, including some existing products with the next text, as well as some brand new Bibles. Spring and summer releases include the She Reads Truth Bible (April 2017), Essential Teen Study Bible (March 2017), Big Picture Interactive Bible (March 2017), the CSB Study Bible (May 2017), Apologetics Study Bible for Students (July 2017), and The Apologetics Study Bible (August 2017).

In addition, Baker Publishing Group will begin publishing Bibles in the CSB in 2018. Their first release, the Baker Illustrated Study Bible, will draw upon Baker’s extensive image archive and collection of bestselling biblical reference works. New Bibles for adults, children, and students are also being created. David C Cook is using the CSB as the base text for The Good Book, a major new church-wide program (April 2017), with other products also in development. Licensing agreements with other publishers for CSB Bibles are in preparation but it’s too early for me to comment on those.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Reading Levels]

What is the reading level of the CSB?

Trevin Wax: Individual books of the Bible measure at different reading levels, due to differing writing styles of the authors, but the average for the full text of the Christian Standard Bible is a 7th grade reading level.

Describe the day-to-day process of the translation work.

Trevin Wax: Beginning with the text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which was translated directly from the original languages, the translators reviewed and modified their earlier renderings based on changes in scholarship or a need for additional clarity for today’s reader. Translators were divided into Old Testament and New Testament teams, with these teams scrutinizing ancient source texts—including the critical Greek text favored by scholars—to determine every nuance of original meaning and intent. The teams sought to preserve the meaning and form of the original, to ensure readability for both seasoned Bible readers as well as those who might be new readers of God’s Word. Representing a variety of conservative, Evangelical denominations, the translators worked together to avoid denominational bias. Additional scholarly reviewers provided further precision and stylist Michael Card reviewed the text to ensure the beauty and clarity of the language.

[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, Read More Than One Bible Version Side-By-Side]

What are the major differences between the CSB and the NIV? CSB and ESV? CSB and NLT? CSB and CEB?

Trevin Wax: The CSB text overall is more literal than the NIV, NLT, and CEB, and more readable than the ESV. Independent research shows that it provides the optimal balance of linguistic precision to original languages and readability in contemporary English. Of course, individual passages vary, but here’s an example, with more available on CSBible.com:

Revelation 3:20: “See!” is an exclamation that calls attention to a situation. Since the second sentence is introduced with “anyone,” the word “him” that follows is clearly inclusive, and it is not necessary to use “they” or “you.”

CSB: See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

NIV: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

ESV: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

NLT: Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

CEB: Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me.

Will the CSB translation be continually updated? If so, what does that process look like?

Trevin Wax: The Translation Oversight Committee (TOC) will lead this effort, monitoring changes in biblical scholarship and English usage. It’s important for the text to maintain the best possible balance of both accuracy and readability, so the CSB text will be updated periodically as the TOC determines it’s necessary.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App?

Trevin Wax: Bible Gateway is the source that so many people use for Bible reading, research, and comparison of various Bible translations. As a pastor, I often used the “parallel columns” feature to review various renderings of Scripture for my own sermon preparation. It’s important to me to provide the Christian Standard Bible text even before the translation is available in print, recognizing that Bible Gateway gives easy access to so many people, enabling them to read the CSB for themselves. It’s my prayer that the Christian Standard Bible will enhance your readers’ understanding and their love for God’s Word.


Bio: Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher for LifeWay Christian Resources and publisher for the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Translation. A former missionary to Romania, Trevin hosts a blog at The Gospel Coalition and regularly contributes to The Washington Post, Religion News Service, World, and Christianity Today, which named him one of 33 millennials shaping the next generation of evangelicals. His latest book is This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel. Trevin earned his PhD in Theology at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, and his Masters of Divinity at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.

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Does Your Spiritual Life Need a Reboot? Take the “10 Minutes with Jesus” Challenge

Do you feel that, despite your church attendance or prayer or other activities, there’s something missing in your spiritual life?

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to take your Bible reading more seriously, but have let that slide and regret it?

Do you wish you could jettison the guilt and sense of obligation that hover around religion, and experience the simple joy of knowing Jesus?

If your spiritual life could use a kickstart, no matter what the reason, we’d like to challenge you to spend 10 minutes with Jesus for 16 straight days. Ten minutes a day doesn’t seem like much, but you’ll be amazed what a difference it will make.

Here’s how it works: when you sign up for the 10 Minutes with Jesus challenge, starting on April 1 we’ll send you a link each day to listen to a bit of Scripture, walking you through the story of Jesus’ life at an easy pace. To make it as painless as possible, we’ve drawn the audio from Breathe Bible (Tyndale House, 2017), a vivid new audio New Testament experience that features an all-star cast including Kevin Sorbo, John Rhys-Davies, Bailee Madison, and many others.

Each day’s reading is 10 minutes or less, and by the time you reach Easter, you’ll have listened to the entire Gospel of Mark, a few minutes at a time! You’ll have walked through the entire story of Jesus, and you’ll have rediscovered the simple joy of spending time in God’s Word. And maybe you’ll be inspired to keep up your newfound habit after Easter!

So stop by the 10 Minutes with Jesus page to sign up today. It begins on April 1. We hope you’ll join us for this unique experience!

Was Jesus’ Death on the Cross Faked?

by Lee Strobel

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel: Find Answers to Tough Questions About the Bible]

The plush setting was starkly incongruous with the subject I was discussing with Alexander Metherell, MD, PhD. There we were, sitting in the living room of his comfortable California home on a balmy spring evening, warm ocean breezes whispering through the windows, while we were talking about a topic of unimaginable brutality: a beating so barbarous that it shocks the conscience, and a form of capital punishment so depraved that it stands as wretched testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.

I had sought out Metherell because I heard he possessed the medical and scientific credentials to explain the crucifixion. But I also had another motivation: I had been told he could discuss the topic dispassionately as well as accurately. That was important to me, because I wanted the facts to speak for themselves, without the hyperbole or charged language that might otherwise manipulate emotions.

As you would expect from someone with a medical degree (University of Miami in Florida) and a doctorate in engineering (University of Bristol in England), Metherell speaks with scientific precision. He is board certified in diagnosis by the American Board of Radiology and has been a consultant to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health of Bethesda, Maryland.

The Torture Before the Cross

Initially I wanted to elicit from Metherell a basic description of the events leading up to Jesus’ death. So after a time of social chat, I put down my iced tea and shifted in my chair to face him squarely. “Could you paint a picture of what happened to Jesus?” I asked.

He cleared his throat. “It began after the Last Supper,” he said. “Jesus went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives—specifically, to the Garden of Gethsemane. And there, if you remember, he prayed all night. Now, during that process he was anticipating the coming events of the next day. Since he knew the amount of suffering he was going to have to endure, he was quite naturally experiencing a great deal of psychological stress.”

I raised my hand to stop him. “Whoa—here’s where skeptics have a field day,” I told him. “The Gospels tell us he began to sweat blood at this point. Now, c’mon, isn’t that just a product of some overactive imaginations? Doesn’t that call into question the accuracy of the Gospel writers?”

Unfazed, Metherell shook his head. “Not at all,” he replied. “This is a known medical condition called hematidrosis. It’s not very common, but it is associated with a high degree of psychological stress.

“What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, there’s a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. We’re not talking about a lot of blood; it’s just a very, very small amount.”

Though a bit chastened, I pressed on. “Did this have any other effect on the body?”

“What this did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive.”

“Tell me,” I said, “what was the flogging like?”

Metherell’s eyes never left me. “Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows.

“The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.

“The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was just terrible.”

Metherell paused. “Go on,” I said.

“One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, ‘As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.’ A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.’

“We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock.”

“Do you see evidence of this in the Gospel accounts?”

“Yes, most definitely,” he replied. “Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross. Finally Jesus collapsed, and the Roman soldier ordered Simon to carry the cross for him. Later we read that Jesus said, ‘I thirst,’ at which point a sip of vinegar was offered to him.

“Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there’s no question that Jesus was already in serious-to-critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.”

The Agony of the Cross

As distasteful as the description of the flogging was, I knew that even more repugnant testimony was yet to come. That’s because historians are unanimous that Jesus survived the beating that day and went on to the cross—which is where the real issue lies.

“What happened when he arrived at the site of the crucifixion?” I asked.

“He would have been laid down, and his hands would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam. This crossbar was called the patibulum, and at this stage it was separate from the vertical beam, which was permanently set in the ground.”

“The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were driven through the wrists,” Metherell said, pointing about an inch or so below his left palm.

“Hold it,” I interrupted. “I thought the nails pierced his palms. That’s what all the paintings show. In fact, it’s become a standard symbol representing the crucifixion.”

“Through the wrists,” Metherell repeated. “This was a solid position that would lock the hand; if the nails had been driven through the palms, his weight would have caused the skin to tear and he would have fallen off the cross. So the nails went through the wrists, although this was considered part of the hand in the language of the day.

“The pain was absolutely unbearable,” he continued. “In fact, it was literally beyond words to describe; they had to invent a new word: excruciating. Literally, excruciating means ‘out of the cross.’ Think of that: They needed to create a new word, because there was nothing in the language that could describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion.

“At this point Jesus was hoisted as the crossbar was attached to the vertical stake, and then nails were driven through Jesus’ feet. Again, the nerves in his feet would have been crushed, and there would have been a similar type of pain.”

Crushed and severed nerves were certainly bad enough, but I needed to know about the effect that hanging from the cross would have had on Jesus. “What stresses would this have put on his body?”

Metherell answered, “First of all, his arms would have immediately been stretched, probably about six inches in length, and both shoulders would have become dislocated—you can determine this with simple mathematical equations.

“This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Psalm 22, which foretold the crucifixion hundreds of years before it took place and says, ‘My bones are out of joint.’”

The Cause of Death

Metherell had made his point—graphically—about the pain endured as the crucifixion process began. But I needed to get to what finally claims the life of a crucifixion victim, because that’s the pivotal issue in determining whether death can be faked or eluded. So I put the cause-of-death question directly to Metherell.

“Once a person is hanging in the vertical position,” he replied, “crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation.

“The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones.

“After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again he’d have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore.

“As the person slows down his breathing, he goes into what is called respiratory acidosis—the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, causing the acidity of the blood to increase. This eventually leads to an irregular heartbeat. In fact, with his heart beating erratically, Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death, which is when he was able to say, ‘Lord, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ And then he died of cardiac arrest.”

“Even before he died—and this is important, too—the hypovolemic shock would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called a pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, which is called a pleural effusion.”

“Why is that significant?”

“Because of what happened when the Roman soldier came around and, being fairly certain that Jesus was dead, confirmed it by thrusting a spear into his right side. It was probably his right side; that’s not certain, but from the description it was probably the right side, between the ribs.

“The spear apparently went through the right lung and into the heart, so when the spear was pulled out, some fluid—the pericardial effusion and the pleural effusion—came out. This would have the appearance of a clear fluid, like water, followed by a large volume of blood, as the eyewitness John described in his gospel.”

I pulled out my Bible and flipped to John 19:34. “Wait a minute, Doc,” I protested. “When you carefully read what John said, he saw ‘blood and water’ come out; he intentionally put the words in that order. But according to you, the clear fluid would have come out first. So there’s a significant discrepancy here.”

Metherell smiled slightly. “I’m not a Greek scholar,” he replied, “but according to people who are, the order of words in ancient Greek was determined not necessarily by sequence but by prominence. This means that since there was a lot more blood than water, it would have made sense for John to mention the blood first.”

I conceded the point but made a mental note to confirm it myself later. “At this juncture,” I said, “what would Jesus’ condition have been?”

Metherell’s gaze locked with mine. He replied with authority, “There was absolutely no doubt that Jesus was dead.”

“Is there any possible way—any possible way—that Jesus could have survived this?”

Metherell shook his head and pointed his finger at me for emphasis. “Absolutely not,” he said. “Remember that he was already in hypovolemic shock from the massive blood loss even before the crucifixion started. He couldn’t possibly have faked his death, because you can’t fake the inability to breathe for long. Besides, the spear thrust into his heart would have settled the issue once and for all. And the Romans weren’t about to risk their own death by allowing him to walk away alive.”

“So,” I said, “when someone suggests to you that Jesus merely swooned on the cross . . .”

“I tell them it’s impossible. It’s a fanciful theory without any possible basis in fact.”

Again,” he stressed, becoming a bit more animated, “there’s just no way he could have survived the cross.”

________

Taken from The Case for Christ Movie Edition by Lee Strobel. Click here to learn more about this title.

Lee Strobel uses his experience as a Chicago Tribune reporter to interview experts about the evidence for Christ from the fields of science, philosophy, and history. Strobel’s award-winning story is now featured in the major motion picture film, The Case for Christ, in theaters April 7. (Note: if you plan to see the film, it’s important to see it the first weekend as sufficient attendance will open up more theaters for Easter weekend.)

The movie edition includes updated material on archaeological and manuscript discoveries, fresh recommendations for further study, and an interview with the author that tells dramatic stories about the book’s impact and responds to critiques of the book by skeptics.

Lee Strobel was the award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and is the bestselling author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. With a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale, Lee has won four Gold Medallions for publishing excellence and coauthored the Christian Book of the Year. He serves as Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University. His story is now featured in the motion picture The Case for Christ. Visit Lee’s website at: LeeStrobel.com

Want More from Lee?

Sign up for Investigating Faith, Lee’s weekly email newsletter, delivered to your inbox by Bible Gateway. Learn More

________

Feasting on the Scriptures: Tune in Thursday for a Live Discussion About the Challenges and Benefits of Bible Reading

Update: This video discussion is complete, and you can watch it on Bible Gateway’s Facebook page! Follow us on Facebook so you’ll be notified about the next episode in this series.

Do you believe that Bible reading is important? Do you wish you spend more time in the Bible, but struggle to find time to read and understand it? Join us this Thursday for a live discussion with the Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR) as we explore the topic Feasting on the Scriptures!

Thursday’s discussion is the first in a series of live discussions about the challenges and benefits of regular Bible reading. If you want to read the Bible more but have trouble connecting with Scripture, this discussion is for you!

We’ll host the discussion on our Facebook page this Thursday, March 30, at 11AM EDT. To make sure you don’t miss it, visit Bible Gateway’s Facebook page, then “Like” and “Follow” us. Make sure that underneath the Following tab, Notifications are checked “On.” That way you’ll be notified when we begin our broadcast on Thursday.

We love the work the IFBR is doing to encourage Bible reading and understanding, and we’re excited to talk with them about this important topic. Please join us on Thursday for the first installment of Feasting on the Scriptures!

4 Ways to Fight Bible Illiteracy

John D. BarryThis guest Bible Gateway Blog post is by John D. Barry (@JohnDBarry), general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible).


[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word]

Bible illiteracy is on the rise, especially in the United States. We desperately need the transformative work of God in our hearts. Here’s why we’re failing to engage people with the Bible and what we can do about it.

Buy your copy of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

1. The Real Problem Behind Bible Illiteracy

People are curious about the Bible—blockbuster films about the Bible and TV specials demonstrate this to be the case. Yet, engagement with the Bible itself is lacking; statistically, this has been proven to be the case.1 It’s ironic and disheartening but there’s hope.

If people are curious about the Bible, but lacking enough interest to read it and understand it, then perhaps the problem is with us who know the good book well. Maybe we need to do better.

2. We Need to Offer Guidance and Have Passion

If the Bible is as transformative as we claim it is, it should ignite an unquenchable passion in us. We must then take this passion and use it as a catalyst to tell others about the God we love and his book.

But we all know that passion is not enough. The Bible is often overwhelming and perplexing—interpreting the Bible is a messy and complicated business. The central message of the Bible is clear: God loves you and Jesus died for your sins so you can have relationship with him (John 3:16–17). Yet, what about those complicated passages that hard to understand?

We all have questions when we reach these passages—even those of us who specialize in the profession of Bible study. Imagine someone new to the Bible encountering the difficult passages.

We need guidance that’s interesting and compelling. I believe this comes in church community, but we also need study Bibles and Bible study tools.

3. We Need to Honestly Answer the Difficult Questions

Often all that stands between a person and faith is a question. But often we don’t approach matters of theology from the standpoint of helping someone explore their questions. Instead, we try to give them the common answer as quickly as possible.

The exploration stage of faith, even for those who are already committed to Jesus, is critical. An unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates supposedly remarked.

Everyone knows there are multiple viewpoints on the Bible. And people are searching for answers to their difficult questions. We need to help them fairly engage issues of interpretation—presenting options and letting them decide for themselves. If we believe truth is really that, truth, then we must not be afraid of any questions people might have. We must trust the Creator of all truth to lead.

How we got the Bible was a long process. How to interpret a given passage is often open for debate. There are faithful Christians who widely differ on their interpretations of major issues, such as the end times. So why not help people engage with the difficulties? Feeding our curiosity for the Bible will draw us closer to its ultimate Author.

4. We Need to Express Our Beliefs

Expressing our beliefs in the God we love and serve is a great testimony to Jesus. People can see a life transformed. And there are few who can resist wanting the same for their own life.

We must put in a good word for Jesus, as my pastor so often remarks. And we must love people fully and compassionately. Our love is the way they’ll know we’re Christians (1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13). This love is seen in a faithful and fair answer. This love is seen in walking alongside someone in his or her Bible study. This love is seen in our passion for Christ. This is how we fight Bible illiteracy.


1 See my articles, “Evangelicals Want Moral Government but Are Ignorant of the Bible” (November 5, 2012; ReligionToday.com, now ChristianHeadlines.com) and “How Western Christianity Lost Its Luster and a Solution” (July–Aug 2013; Bible Study Magazine, pg. 2). Compare the “State of the Bible 2016” by Barna Group and American Bible Society.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 4 Ways Examining Multiple Views Will Transform Your Bible Study]

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 6 Steps to Take Your Bible Study from Dull to Incredible]


John D. Barry is general editor of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible and the CEO of Jesus’ Economy, an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. At JesusEconomy.org, people create jobs for the impoverished by shopping fair trade. They can also give directly to a cause they’re passionate about, such as creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. 100% goes to the developing world. Anyone can join the movement at JesusEconomy.org.

The NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) is filled with innovative graphics, rich commentary, and insights from multiple points of view—all designed to inform readers’ faith and to engage their curiosity, no matter where they are on their faith journey. To learn more, visit www.NIVFaithlifeStudyBible.com.

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Quiet Time for Your Soul: An Interview with Sheila Walsh

Sheila WalshStep away from the noise and into the arms of your loving Savior.

Bright screens, beeping notifications, a never-ending list of activities and to-dos. Is it any wonder we are weary? But Jesus says “come as you are” to find quiet waters and refresh your soul in the Scriptures.

In this Q&A, Sheila Walsh (@SheilaWalsh) talks about her new book that she wrote with Sherri Gragg in the 5 Minutes with Jesus series, Quiet Time for Your Soul (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, 5 Minutes with Jesus]

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Why is spending daily time with Jesus a challenge for so many women—including yourself?

Sheila Walsh: Our lives are so hectic! Too often we collapse into bed only to realize we’ve hardly given any thought to God at all. That’s why I wanted to offer something “doable” with the 5 Minutes with Jesus series. Each day has a short devotion, a take away, and several verses of Scripture right there for you.

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You created the 5 Minutes with Jesus devotional series to help women carve out time daily to be with Jesus. Is five minutes really enough?

Sheila Walsh: It’s my hope this series will create a hunger in the hearts of women for more, but even a few minutes in the presence of God can be powerful! During some of the most difficult times of my life, God used short simple verses of Scripture to strengthen and sustain me. I know those five minutes with God can make a huge difference in a woman’s day.
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The latest 5 Minutes with Jesus volume is Quiet Time for Your Soul. This title sounds inviting—do you find that quiet is missing from the lives of women in the 21st century?

Sheila Walsh: Yes! Our plugged-in world never stops for a second. Even at night our mobile phones beep and buzz. I believe we’re exhausted from it all. Our hearts are aching to hear from God, and his still small voice often speaks in the silence.

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When we quiet our souls and spend time in Scripture, we connect to things that are true—including the fact that we’re loved by God. How does sitting quietly in God’s love impact the rest of one’s day?

Sheila Walsh: The way we launch our day is powerful because it tunes our hearts for all that follows. That’s why it was so important to me that each devotion remind the reader of four truths:

  1. God wants you to rest in his peace.
  2. He is for you, not against you.
  3. There is no greater power on earth than his forgiveness.
  4. Your history does not dictate your destiny.

Just a few minutes resting in these powerful truths can transform your whole day.

How do you use small blocks of time to strengthen your walk with the Lord?

Sheila Walsh: Some time ago I began a new habit. In the morning, before I even let my feet hit the floor, I pray Psalm 143:8 to the Lord, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for unto you I entrust my life.” Then I follow the verse with a simple prayer to begin my day. It’s become a wonderful way to set my mind and heart on God for the entire day. Making time for even a few minutes with Jesus makes a difference!

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Helping Kids Love the Bible: An Interview with Sheila Walsh]


Bio: Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than 5 million books sold. She’s the author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess series, God Loves Broken People, The Shelter of God’s Promises, and novel, Sweet Sanctuary. Sheila lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.

Sherri Gragg fell in love with stories as a child, discovering that she could travel to any place and any moment in time between the covers of a book. Today as a writer she takes her readers with her on the journey. Her first book, Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence, utilizes cultural background and archeology to immerse the reader in some of the most riveting moments of the Gospels. Sherri is a nationally published freelance writer and award winner in the 2012 Writer’s Digest Competition and lives with her husband and five children in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Africa Study Bible Launches Worldwide Celebratory Events Planned throughout Africa and in the United States

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After a seven-year, cross-continental effort, Oasis International (@OasisIntLtd), in partnership with several major Christian organizations, is launching the Africa Study Bible (Tyndale House, 2017) (@africastudybibl): the first study Bible developed by Africans with over 2,600 notes written by 350 contributors from 50 countries. Oasis is working with local leaders throughout Africa and the United States to host dedication events. Leaders of some of the largest denominations in Africa as well as Christian government officials are expected to be in attendance.

[Read the New Living Translation (NLT) version of the Bible on Bible Gateway]

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“The Africa Study Bible (website) is a project that has almost unprecedented ability to positively influence the body of Christ in Africa, perhaps more than other single continental-wide project in the history of Christianity,” says Dr. Danny McCain, University of Jos, Nigeria.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Africa Study Bible: An Interview with Matthew Elliott]

[See the Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars Updated Edition (Zondervan, 2010) in the Bible Gateway Store]

Click to read the Gospel of John as a sample of the Africa Study Bible (pdf)

Events are scheduled for

  • Nairobi, Kenya—March 30
  • Accra, Ghana—April 3
  • Chicago, USA—April 10-12
  • Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa—June 4-11
  • Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria—June 29-July 1

The President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, has already recorded his video blessing the project, as churches prepare to display national Christian unity at the launch event preceding national elections.

“Africans are bringing the power of Scripture to their own people in a new and culturally relevant way,” says Dr. Matthew Elliott, president of Oasis. “Under the leadership of an 11-member editorial board of scholars from across Africa, we’ve brought together 350 writers and editors from 50 countries, representing 50 denominations. This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church.”

To celebrate the launch in the United States, Oasis will host the African Voices Conference, in partnership with Tyndale House Publishers and Urban Ministries, Inc. (UMI), at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago. The conference opens Monday, April 10 with an evening of thanksgiving and dedication of the ASB, hosted by UMI at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Over the next two days, April 11-12, distinguished leaders and scholars from Africa will offer 30 lectures on topics ranging from missional theology to the roots of Christianity in Africa. The conference also includes an ASB-focused Moody chapel, a Moody faculty development forum, a luncheon with the African guest speakers, and a dinner with Dr. Paul Nyquist, president of Moody, Dr. Mark Taylor, chairman and CEO of Tyndale, and C. Jeff Wright, CEO of UMI. Special musical guest Aaron Shust will also be participating in the conference events.

“The event at Moody will be a wonderful opportunity for both students and guests to learn more about the tremendous ways that God is building his church in Africa,” says Elliott. “More Christians live in Africa than any other continent and by 2050 nearly 40 percent of the world’s Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Five of the ten countries with the largest number of Christians will be in Africa. The ASB highlights the growing impact of African leadership on the global church.”

With nearly every evangelical study Bible written from the viewpoint of the United States or the United Kingdom, Africans have lacked a resource that connects with their experience, hindering discipleship.

Designed to grow the faith of church members in Africa and teach them to apply a biblical worldview to their culture and society, the ASB uses the New Living Translation and includes over 2,600 features such as application notes, stories and proverbs, touchpoints that link Africa and the Bible, learn notes that explain basic values and theology, and major theme articles that apply the Bible to key issues. The ASB brings unique African perspectives to the global Church and allows Christians around to the world to better understand God’s Word through African Eyes. Tyndale House Publishers will release the ASB in English in the United States in early May and a freestanding app is available April 1 in iOS and Android. French and Portuguese translations are already in development.

Oasis partnered with Tyndale House Publishers and Tyndale House Foundation to create the Africa Study Bible. Other participants and supporters include Wycliffe, Willow Creek and Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students), Scripture Union, Center for Early African Christianity, PJA (Publications pour la Jeunesse Africane), SIM, UMI, Association of Evangelicals in Africa, and Moody Bible Institute.

The Amplified Bible Translation: Available for the First Time as a Full-Featured Study Edition

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Helps Readers Grasp the Full Meaning Behind the Original Hebrew and Greek Texts

The Amplified® Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@Zondervan) is intended for both beginning and experienced students of the Scriptures who want a Bible that contains the key features of a study Bible combined with the impressive study tools already included in the Amplified® Bible translation.

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The Amplified Bible translation was created to deliver enhanced understanding of the rich nuances and shades of meaning of the original Bible languages. For this kind of study, no working knowledge of Greek or Hebrew is required—just a desire to know more about what God says in his Word.

Amplification is indicated within the English text by parentheses, brackets, and italicized conjunctions. For example, the Greek word pisteuo, which the vast majority of versions render as “believe,” also includes the ideas of “to adhere to, cleave to; to trust; to have faith in; to rely on, to depend on” as in John 11:25-26: Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”

Recently revised, the Amplified Bible translation is even easier to read and better than ever to study and understand. It includes more amplification in the Old Testament and refined amplification in the New Testament. The Bible text has been improved to read smoothly with or without amplifications, so that the text may be read either way.

The Amplified® Study Bible consists of the same study material that Amplified Bible readers love, with the addition of even clearer wording for deeper understanding.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (AMP) If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength; but wisdom [to sharpen the axe] helps him succeed [with less effort].
THE AMPLIFIED STUDY BIBLE NOTE: The wise person will sharpen the axe. A person of limited training will have to work harder, as though with a dull axe, than someone wiser whose tools are maintained.

Colossians 2:9 (AMP) For in Him all the fullness of Deity (the Godhead) dwells in bodily form [completely expressing the divine essence of God].
THE AMPLIFIED STUDY BIBLE NOTE: In this verse Paul clearly proclaims the incarnation, the fact that God became a man bodily. This contradicts the Gnostic idea of the inherent evil of physical bodies and the claim that Jesus is merely a spirit.

First-of-its kind, The Amplified Study Bible features additional study tools combined with the insights included alongside the Amplified Bible text.

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Features include:

  • A unique system of punctuation, italics, references, and synonyms to unlock subtle shades of
    meaning as found in the original languages
  • More than 5,000 concise study notes provide helpful, practical, application-oriented comments on passages of Scripture and open the Word for readers to apply it to life
  • 330 practical theological notes draw attention to important doctrinal content in the Bible and
    explain how to apply it every dayBuy your copy of The Amplified® Study Bible Soft Leather-Look Brown in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day
  • Book introductions give background information about each of the Bible’s 66 books
  • Translators’ footnotes offer clarification and information about original-language texts
  • A concordance provides an alphabetical listing of important passages of key words
  • Full-color maps of Bible lands are included to enhance study

Zondervan
Zondervan is a world leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, part
of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its
bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products
are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand
Rapids, Mich. For additional information, please visit www.zondervan.com.

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