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Bible Study Aids Comments: 1999

Below are assorted e-mails I have received from readers asking questions about/ and or commenting on various Bible study aids. The e-mailers’ comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

> Hello Gary

My name is Bill _____, I read you file on the Translations. I could not agree more. I myself changed over to the NKJV 3 years a go and will not go back. In Dec. of 97 I got my Thompson Chain Reference Bible in the NKJV, AND I LOVE IT. In fact I when I give out Bibles I give out the TCR Bible. I hope that you have a copy. The TCR save me from going in to a cult. I can not say enough about it.<

I have had other readers speak highly of the TCR Bible. I do not personally have a copy; but I do have a ""Reference Bible" which has cross-references similar to the TCR. And my Bible software programs also have many such cross-references.

The key is to have a system that enables one to "compare Scripture with Scripture" and that is what the TCR and other reference Bibles do.

> Like you over the years I have learned that the NIV in not a good translation. I have found all the missing verses and the other mistake in the NIV and will not use it. I have put your web site on my book marks, and you will hear from me again.


Glad we agree on the NIV : ) And I am thankful you have found my site to be helpful.

> Gary,

I hope you are doing well. Say, I was wondering if you could tell me which commentaries you find most useful.

Many thanks, and take care,

Let's see, my all around favorite commentary set is Calvin's Commentaries: a good mix of critical and devotional comments. I have read through several of the volumes.

Then for purely devotional purposes, Matthew Henry's Commentaries are, of course, a classic. I have read through his comments for several Bible books.

Jameison, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary on the Whole Bible is also very helpful. It is available in an abridged one volume format which I have up to a six volume edition. I believe there is also a newer version with some comments from modern-day scholars added.

Then a very critical treatment of the OT is found in Keil and Deilizsch's Commentary on the Old Testament, a ten volume work. I believe it is now available in a newly re-type set edition. But be forewarned, at least a basic knowledge of Hebrew is needed to undersigned all of the comments. But even without knowing Hebrew, most of the comments should be understandable.

The 12 volume Expositor's Bible Commentary set is very good, with a couple of reservations. First, it uses the NIV as it primary text. However, the comments are generally based on the Hebrew and Greek so the NIV doesn't get in the way too much. Second, the textual notes pretty much ascribe to a Critical Text viewpoint. But with those reservations it is helpful.

Then Gordon Clark has several books on individual books of the NT. I own and have read all of them and they are excellent. Then again, all of Clark's books are. I also have several commentaries by various authors on individual books of the Bible.

There's also several good commentaries on the Online Bible CD ROM: most notably John Gill's commentary. In fact, most of the above commentaries should be available in both digital and hardcopy format. So depending on your needs you might want to check about digital versions before spending money on the hardcopy ones as the digital versions are generally considerably cheaper.

Those are all that I personally have. There's many others out there of course; but I can only comment on the ones I have used. I have links to sites selling hardcopy and digital versions of the above and many other commentaries on the following page on my site: Christian Books and Software Sites.

> Gary,

Thanks very much for your advice on commentaries.

Take care,

>Hi Gary,

You wrote, "I have not seen MacArthur's Study Bible..."

I had it and returned it. For those who are dispensationalist they will not like it. For those of your readers of the

Dispensational bent (like me! <smile>), I would recommend the NKJV Believer's Study Bible edited by Criswell. I just bought it on sale from CBD [Christian Book Distributor's] for $19.95 (it listed for $69.95!!!!). It's VERY well done! And of course, the New Scofield Study Bible KJV flavor. And, Ryrie's Study Bible.


Thanks for the info. Since I am not Dispensational I guess that would mean I would like MacArthur's Study Bible : ). But, I would agree with about the Believer's and Ryrie's study Bibles. I have both and they are worthwhile. Even a non-dispensationalist like me can get a lot out of it (and just ignore the dispensationalist stuff).

>Hi Gary,

A reader wrote you: "...I would add the Nelson Study Bible (NKJV)" to the list of good study Bibles. While is was produced by folks who I think are mostly dispensational, I believe the notes are excellent..."

I looked at the Nelson Study Bible—it's NOT Dispensational. More's the pity!


Thanks for the info again.

> >Thanks for the info. Since I am not Dispensational I guess that would mean I would like MacArthur's Study Bible : ). <<

> Ha! But before you do, check out some comments on his Study Bible from here.

God bless,
2/17/1999 <

Well, this review is pretty much a "mixed bag" of things I'd agree with, one ones I wouldn't and ones I'm not sure on. To comment on each point quickly:

"CRITIQUE OF MacARTHUR STUDY BIBLE - Dr. John MacArthur is a very popular Bible teacher and author. Dr. George Zeller has a 15-page critique of MacArthur's new Study Bible and teachings (Order for $2 postpaid from Dr. Zeller at: 349 East St., Middletown, CT 06457). He acknowledges that most of the study notes are helpful and true to the Bible, but points out some serious doctrinal problems with some of the notes."

This would probably be true of most study Bibles: any reviewer would probably agree with most of the notes (most with things like historical backgrounds); but disagree with some based on his theological view. As I said before, even though I would disagree with the dispensationalism of Believer's or Ryrie's - overall they are good study Bibles.

"These relate to MacArthur's denial of the Eternal Sonship of Christ,"

This is a complicated issue. It would depend on how MacArthur is wording things. And probably would be an issue that would go over the head of most Bible readers anyway. But it is potentially serious.

"his denial that Christ died as a Substitute for all men,"

A basic Calvinist position known as "Limited Atonement" (the "L" in "TULIP"). So, as a five-point Calvinist, no problems here for me.

"his denial of the two natures of the believer,"

This one I'm not sure on as it would be matter of what is exactly meant.

"his teaching on Lordship Salvation,"

MacArthur has been accused of teaching salvation by works because of his views here. But from when I used to listen to him on the radio I'm pretty sure that's not true. Otherwise, I basically agree with the idea.

"his teaching that faith is the Gift of God,"

Another basic Calvinist position I would agree with.

"his departure from dispensationalism,"

Again, no problem for me.

"and his teaching that the Gift of Prophecy is for today."

Well, charismatics would love this one. I doubt I would agree with it; but it would depend on exactly what MacArthur means by "prophecy." Without actually having MacArthur's Study Bible I cannot be more specific on such points.

> ... what about study Bibles? There seem to be thousands of them, and I'm interested in buying one or three... what is your opinion? I am definitely leaning toward MacArthur's NKJV, but am interested in the Open Bible, Life Application Bible, NASB Study Bible, etc... your opinions?

Thank you for excellent information!


I have not seen MacArthur's Study Bible. But I have had readers comment to me that have used it and they have all said it is very good. I used to have a copy of the Open Bible. It is helpful; but it does not have bottom of the page footnotes like most study Bibles do. In other words, there are separate, full page articles on various matters but not verse by verse comments. It also has some cross-references but not as many as most study Bibles.

The Life Application Bible I have seen and am not too thrilled with. The notes are very extensive but I thought were off base. But its been a while since I looked at it so I cannot remember specifics. I haven't seen the NASB Study Bible so I cannot comment.

My favorite is the New Geneva Study Bible. It is about the same size and scope as the NIV Study Bible but has the advantage in being based on the NKJV. And I think the perspective of the notes is better. It has both bottom of the page, verse-by-verse comments and full page doctrinal articles, along with extensive cross-references and other helps.

>I believe I read somewhere on your sight that you recommend the New Geneva Study Bible. My personal favorite is the Thompson Chain Reference (NKJV). This Bible does not have any commentary but uniquely uses thousands of cross references that allow the reader to understand Scriptures based on what they say about themselves. The are many study Bibles that are loaded with doctrinal commentary that is often tilted to one particular denomination. The Thompson Study Bible forces the reader to compare Scripture with Scripture-providing a superior method of study. Check out the Thompson Study Bible for yourself. I would be interested in your comments.<


I've seen the Thompson Chain Reference Bible before. I've never had one but I know several people who do and they seem to like it. I didn't know it was available in the NKJV though. The last time I saw an ad for it, it was only available in the KJV or NIV. Thanks for the info.

>Do you find The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge helpful?


The ORIGINAL Treasury can be very helpful. It provides cross-references like in most study Bible; though far more. Even more helpful is to get a Bible program with the Treasury on it. That way, you can more quickly move to the cross-referenced verses. The Online Bible, BibleSoft's PC Study, Hermeneutika’s BibleWorks and many other such programs have it on it.

However, I will caution you that the NEW Treasury is not worthwhile. It basically doubles the size of the book making it very difficult to handle. The number of added references is not that great; but what it does add is a lot of commentary of a very poor nature. I purchased it quite some time ago and got rid of it shortly thereafter and bought the original Treasury instead. I used the original Treasury for some time until I got a computer and the above mentioned programs.

I hope that helps.

>The only one I have seen is whatever is the most recent in the bookstores. I haven't bought one yet. I don't know how to ask or what, exactly, to look for in order to get the ORIGINAL. Is there some date, revision, or other key word(s) I could use to specify ORIGINAL to a book retailer?


The New one will specifically be called The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. The copyright is probably within the last ten years or so. The original will simply be The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. The original copyright was over a century ago, although the edition you're looking at would have "reprinted" then some more recent date.

I no longer have either of them. As I said, I got rid of the New one shortly after getting it; and I donated the original one to my church after I got the computer programs with it one. But the above should be what you need.

> Gary,

I was reading in your Comments on Bible Versions (1998) page and came across an e-mail from "Steve" who was looking for the KJV/ NKJV Parallel Reference Bible. Well, turns out I was able to get a copy from Nelson/Word Direct. Now, this was about 18 months ago, and the salesperson said they had "a few" left in their warehouse. Amazon.com doesn't have any.

You might want to pass this info onto Steve. Nelson's book ordering number is 800-441-0511 and the ISBN for this Bible is 0-8407-1124-7.<

Thanks for the info. I will pass it along to Steve.

>One other comment. I also read over some of your exchanges on study Bibles. I agree that the NIV Study Bible has very solid notes. Alas, I'm with you on the NIV translation. I still break mine out once in a while, but just for the notes. Though I don't own one yet, I've looked over and like the New Geneva Study Bible.

I would add the Nelson Study Bible (NKJV) to the list of good study Bibles. While is was produced by folks who I think are mostly dispensational, I believe the notes are excellent. Like the NIV SB, they present the various takes on "problem" passages, and generally indicate a preference for what I would consider the best option. They even take a solid stand on topics like election and predestination. Check it out, if you get a chance.<

I have heard good things on the Nelson Study Bible from other readers. So it does sound worthwhile.

>Finally, let me warn you not to mistake the Nelson Study Bible for the Nelson Classic Personal Study Bible, which is also a NKJV. The Classic Study Bible is blatantly Arminian and should be avoided like the plague.<

Take care!
Christopher Gesh

Thanks for the warning!

Notes: Many of the books and software programs mentioned in the above e-mails can be ordered at reduced prices from Books-A-Million.

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