Just last week I arrived home from ETS/SBL. While there, I received a copy of Zondervan's new NIV Study Bible, since I am a member of IBR. I felt it might be helpful to give some thoughts on it, since many might wonder (as I did), how does this particular study bible contribute in a sea of newly published study bibles in the past 6 or so years.
This post is just a quick blurb on initial impressions and what the bible feels like aesthetically.
First, much like my reaction when I received my ESV Study Bible in 2008, I reacted to the size of the book. It is HUGE! It is at least 2" thick, and I may stop going to the gym three days a week if I adopt this new study bible as my main bible. Much of the size, again like the ESV one, is due to the amount of content packed into this book. It has ample notes, pictures, graphs, introductions, and like the ESV Study Bible, it has a large section of appendices in the back (I'll cover these in a later post). The publisher, though, may (like Crossway did with the ESV SB) later release a more streamlined edition that leaves out all the back-matter. However, the size is also due to the paper quality. It is a high grade paper, which makes it heavy and durable. The paper is also impressive in how it does not let any of the high definition picture bleed through to the other side.
Second, the binding seems very quality. It is a sown binding, not glued, which adds to the quality and durability. It also means that from page one the book lays open (which means you do not have to lay an elbow on it to read the book.
Third, the list of contributors is impressive. When the ESV Study Bible came out, I did not feel as though it could be matched when it comes to contributors, but the NIV SB may have reached that mark. I am excited to read Jay Sklar's notes on Numbers (he contributed on Leviticus in the ESV SB and received great reviews). But others stand out, such as David Pao on Luke, Mark Strauss on Acts, Doug Moo on Romans, Simon Gathercole on Philippians, Karen Jobes on Esther, V. Philips Long on Nahum, etc. I will cover 'article' contributors when I observe the appendices.
Fourth, I was surprised but glad to see a 10+ page article on 'The Time Between the Testaments by Doug Moo. This is a helpful piece of teaching that should be addressed more often on the lay level. I will be interested to see what it says!
Fifth, each NIV SB includes a free digital access card. This means you can use all its resources on your computer and phone, etc. The ESV SB also had a similar thing, but I rarely used it. However, for those who do not need a program like Logos or Accordance, this may be a good, basic option.
Finally, it's the NIV. I have no problems with the NIV, I simply prefer the ESV. On the face of things, this new study bible has me pretty excited about what it contains, its quality, and the execution in general. But will it be enough to make me want to read a version I wouldn't readily pick up to read? This may be a bigger question for the masses than many SB publishers consider, but a well executed SB may be enough to win them over.