Writing a book review on a book of such importance as the Bible constitutes a unique experience regardless of how many times one has undertaken the process. Most book reviews focus on the meaning, implications, and history behind the content of a publication. With the Christian Bible, however, these tasks are insurmountable in a single book review, for these questions are the purview of the life of the Church as well as whole academic fields. Thus, as I have said before, attempting to summarize the contents of the Bible for a mere book review remains foolishness at best, since could not possible hope to do justice to what must be said.
Musings on reviewing Bibles aside, this particular review examines the New International Version Proclamation Bible (Zondervan, 2013). As with nearly every translation or version of the Christian scriptures, the contents of this Bible are well worth reading and are commended to readers and listeners everywhere. This general affirmation in mind, the duration of this review will focus on three aspects of the Proclamation Bible: the “Proclamation” Front Matter, two front cover designations, and some general notes on the style and construction of this particular Bible.
There are nearly seventy pages of front matter in this Bible, most of which is geared toward proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, that is, as preparation material for the coming pages. There is a standard NIV preface explaining the translation approach and style of this Bible, followed by an editors’ preface outlining the reasons for the emphasis on proclamation in the genre and book introductions. Next come a series of short essays. These include introductions to the historical reliability of the Bible, the Bible and theology, how to apply the Old Testament, how to apply the New Testament, some reflections on preaching the Bible, a short history of biblical interpretation, thoughts on studying the Bible in a small group setting, and an explanation of how to find the “melodic line” of a biblical book. These essays –written from a broadly evangelical perspective—are generally very helpful, especially for those new to the Bible.
The dust jacket of the Proclamation Bible contains two somewhat curious statements. The first is a byline taken from 2 Timothy 2:15 which reads, “Correctly Dividing the Word of Truth.” This reviewer remains uncertain of what to make of this statement, as little clarification is offered as to why this appears on the cover. Obviously the editors of this Bible believe that this Bible is the Word of Truth and that they are rightly handling it. But given the fact that everyone who reads this Bible is going to interpret it at least somewhat differently than everyone else, this byline is perplexing. This isn’t a manual on how to rightly handle the Bible—it’s a Bible with some helpful essays and study tools attached.
The second dust jacket statement comes from Tim Keller, who writes that, “There are many Study Bibles, but none better.” This statement remains curious because the Proclamation Bible hardly represents your typical study Bible, as there are no notes and commentary placed beneath each page of biblical text. While some might complain about this lack of study notes in a “study Bible”, this reader found it a refreshing shift away from notes which are sometimes helpful but often times distract readers from reading the text above the line. A mentor of mine once said that, “Study Bibles often inhibit Bible Study.” The Proclamation Bible by-and-large avoids that critique. There are plenty of study aids in this Bible, including section overviews, excellent introductions to each book of the Bible, a plethora of cross-references, and a fairly lengthy (for a Bible) concordance. The individual book introductions are among the best this reviewer has read, blending theology, history, and biblical study into brief but rich previews.
To offer some general notes on this Bible: the type is clean and easy to read, the hardback construction feels more than adequate for the bulk of the Bible and should hold up well, and the dust jacket is durable. The pages are also high quality, striking that delicate balance between “thin and light” and “durable enough to write on.” There are also two built-in book marks, a feature that avid readers and cross-references will appreciate. The minor issues of the dust jacket curiosities aside, this Bible comes highly recommended, especially for readers who may be overly reliant on in-text study notes. The NIV Proclamation Bible will serve as a solid resource for many years to come.
I received this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
 This Bible uses the New International Version 2011 text. As previously notes, these reviews will not serve as a platform for critiquing the approach or results of the NIV translation.
 Who, in the interest of full disclosure, I tend to greatly enjoy and often agree with.