Book Review: NIV College Devotional Bible (Zondervan)

College Devotional BIbleCollege students are busy, with class, homework, living on their own, a social life, and (often) work vying for their time. Amidst this busyness, it’s relatively easy to neglect the more important things in life, like reading your Bible. To help address this problem, Zondervan has released the New International Version College Devotional Bible.

The College Devotional Bible is intended to encourage Bible reading among college students by emphasizing regular devotions and a series of reading plans that help keep students in the scriptures. Included in this Bible are 222 devotionals, which include a scripture reading, a short devotional story (historic, pastoral, or narrative), and reflection questions. These are generally good devotional moments, geared toward busy students and the questions they may come across while at college. While it would have been helpful to have an index of all these devotions, having them tucked within the contexts of the scriptures serves as a good encouragement to read this Bible along with the devotional content.

The hardback construction of this the NIV College Devotional Bible is solid and appropriate for students, who (let’s be honest) are not often known for their delicate care of books. The text is easy-to-read and is a dark shade of blue that gives the eyes a nice break from the black of many textbooks. The devotional readings are easy to spot, accord well with the passages of scripture they appear alongside, and are brief enough to hold the attention of those easily distracted. In addition to the devotions themselves, the Subject Index and Reading Plans listed in the back of this Bible are additionally useful tools.

My biggest concern with this Bible is the lack of contextualizing information. The Bible is immediately applicable to our lives today, yes. But it is also an ancient book that was written in a different time and place, full of attitudes and insights that contemporary 21st century American college students are largely unaware of. While there are standard New International Version textual notes at the bottom of the text, there are literally no additional introductions or study helps. Apart from a two page “Quick Start Guide” and a three page “Preface”, the NIV College Devotional Bible is all devotions and all Bible. In some ways, that’s a good thing. But it’s not the best idea of the audience this Bible is marketed towards, namely, students in college settings where their values and beliefs will be challenged on a regular basis.

Overall, this is a Bible designed and marketed for college students, intended to help them read through the Bible on a regular basis and apply it to their lives. For this, the NIV College Devotional Bible is to be commended. But any recommendation of this particular Bible comes with a caveat that those who use it should not be afraid to consult other Bibles and resources in order to better understand the contents within. The major emphasis of this Bible is to “Take up and read, take up and read.” And in the hope that more college students do, the NIV College Devotional Bible comes recommended.


I received this book from Zondervan and Book Look in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

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