Review of the NIV Integrated Study Bible


As part of the Booksneeze program, I’ve been reviewing a lot of Bibles lately. I promise I’ll go back and review a couple regular books soon, but there was one Bible I saw that I had to take a look at: NIV Integrated Study Bible.

The concept and execution of this Bible are excellent. Every verse in is arranged in the order of which it happened. So for example, you’ll find Psalm 90 right after Number 36, as the Psalm was written by Moses. Similarly, Psalm 63 is put smack dab in the middle of 1 Samuel 23 and 24, as it was written by David at that precise time. Deuteronomy 4 and Exodus 20 are written side-by-side, as are many of the events of the four gospels.

Some of the choices aren’t going to be without controversy; for example, you’ll find the contents of the book of Job right after the account of Joseph, even though scholars don’t all agree that he lived in that time period. Still, it’s a fascinating way to read the Bible, as it’s a way to take it all in like a chronological history book.

Adding to the “history” feel of this Bible, the contents are divided into several distinct periods of history, including:

– Creation through the Patriarchs
– Exodus to Conquest
– Conquest Through United Kingdon
– Divided Kingdom and Exile
– Return to the Land
– The Life of Jesus
– The Early Church

Each of these sections has an introduction that provides context into the period of history, as well as a fascinating timeline that points out milestones by year. In fact, on the bottom of every page of the Bible is a running timeline that shows exactly where you are in history.

Even though the Bible is called a “Study Bible”, it doesn’t have any study notes nor commentary. That said, for seasoned Bible readers, it’s a fascinating way to read the Bible and understand some of the passages in context with others around it.

As is customary with my reviews of Bibles, I’m not going to review the translation nor the text of the Bible, but rather the format and “value-added” features that the Bible editors added. But because other reviewers have mentioned it, I do want to spend some time talking about the fact that, like all NIV Bibles published after 2011, this one uses the “new” NIV translation that some have called “gender-neutral” or trying too hard to be accepted in a “politically correct”.

I admit, I’m still undecided about whether or not I like the new NIV translation. This is the first time I’ve read the 2011 NIV and based on some scathing commentary on it I’ve read about it across the Web, I was expecting the worst.

But as I read it, I really don’t find most of it as offensive as others seem to think it is. When God is referenced, He’s still a “He”, when countries are referenced in poetry, they’re still “she”. And most of the places where I notice that the word “he” is replaced with “anyone” or “whoever” (e.g. “Whoever has ears, let them hear”), I don’t see it as really changing the meaning of the underlying verse.

That said, there are more than a few verses where adjustments have resulted in the meaning of verses becoming a little more ambiguous, and those were enough to cause several large denominations to discourage use of the NIV Bible. Personally, I don’t mind reading it as a second Bible, but I’d still want to keep a KJV, NKJV, or RSV around as my main Bible.