Review of the First Century Study Bible

_240_360_Book.1344.cover (1)Bible: First Century Study Bible

Editor: Kent Dobson

Translation: New International Version

Publisher: Zondervan

Context is key in any method of biblical interpretation that is employed. From various countries reading scriptures through their own lenses to two neighbors from different walks of life reading the same passage in different ways, there is no denying that context should be playing a crucial role every time one opens their Bible.

The context I am talking about here is the context of First Century Christians and what scripture meant in the context of the surroundings they encountered. This is both a necessary and welcomed approach for any Study Bible and anyone who wants to take their knowledge of scripture a bit further. As someone who frequently studies theology, preaches, and writes studies, the importance of original context cannot be emphasized near enough and this Bible gets it right on so many levels.

One of the gems in this Bible comes through the annotations for certain verses and passages. One such example is the commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 where more fundamentalist Christians see a condemnation of homosexuality. The commentary mentions that possibility, but also speaks to the Greek words used and the difficulty of translating the phrase used properly. It also mentions pagan sexual practices and alludes to Polycarp seemingly seeing it as a condemnation of homosexuality. For those unaware, Polycarp was an early first century martyr in the church’s history.

Besides this, there are word studies on different Greek and Hebrew words to add depth to the reading. There is a concordance as well which is always an invaluable tool. There are also many relevant charts relating to currency and weights and measures in the first century as well as relevant maps to that time period. These tools make this Bible stand out.

Something that can be said of most Study Bibles is that they each have Introductions before a new Book, Gospel, or Letter is read. This Bible gets very detailed in its Introductions to the point the reader becomes immersed into the environment that surrounds the writing through dating, scholarship debates, backgrounds, outlines, and even textual articles such as an article on the Shema. Also included are “Days In The Life” articles that highlight pivotal groups of characters throughout the Bible such as Sadducees and Midwives.

The translation is NIV and the editor is Kent Dobson from Mars Hill Church. While, at times, there is a conservative slant that seems to win out, on the whole, the Bible is both fair and an invaluable tool for anyone wishing to more deeply study scripture or compliment Bible studies, ministering situations, and academic endeavors.

All the above stated, this Bible is a clear five out of five stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an unbiased and honest 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.


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My name is Charlie Tinsley and I blog about The Bible. I post theology and have leaned towards an emphasis on domestic violence and forgiveness. I serve as Ambassador for the state of Virginia in the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. I hold a Masters of Divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and Bachelors Degree in Science in Religion Summa Cum Laude with a Biblical Studies Minor from Liberty University. I have studied in the two “major fields” of theological thought. I am married and have been for several years and I currently reside in Virginia.

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