by John Klawiter, M.Div. junior
The Bible is a lot of things, but simple isn't one of them. It wasn't easy to write. It's sometimes hard
to fully comprehend. And finding the right Bible for you or a loved one can seem as daunting as parting
the Red Sea.
"Selling Bibles is one of the most complicated things we do in the bookstore," says Roberta Shaw, office
coordinator at the Luther Seminary Bookstore.
Bookstore customers are faced with myriad translations, editions, types and audience-specific Bibles to choose from.
Terry Boehlke, Bookstore manager, suggests taking the following three factors into consideration:
1. Have your translation chosen.
2. Know how you plan on using your Bible (devotions, Bible studies, etc.).
3. Have a price range in mind.
"A lot of people don't know there are different translations," says Shaw. "Often, people will ask for 'the real Bible'--and they mean the King James Version. Usually, they grew up with it and they don't know
there are choices."
If you're Lutheran, your best bet is NRSV (New Revised Standard Version). More than 90 percent of Bibles sold at the Luther Seminary Bookstore are the NRSV translation. "That's pretty unusual for general Bible sales," says Boehlke. "NRSV is not one of the bestselling translations overall but it fits our mainstream Protestant market perfectly."
Here, seminary faculty and Bookstore staff weigh in on options for three of the Bookstore's most popular
customers: a seminarian, a confirmation student and someone new to the faith.
Most seminarians buy study Bibles, which provide notes in the text and descriptions of the events taking place, says Boehlke.
The New Interpreter's Bible (Abingdon Press)
"I like the New Interpreter's Bible for its extensive notes and high-quality attention to matters of structure, message and theology."
--Mark Throntveit, professor of Old Testament
"The New Interpreter's Bible seems to have additional emphases that appeal to students. The notes have the flavor of the dual exegetical [passage study]/expositional [passage exposition] style of the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary series."
HarperCollins and Oxford Annotated Study Bibles
"They are good study Bibles for all the Bible courses here because they have scholarly notes and good introductions to each of the books."
--Kathryn Schifferdecker, assistant professor of Old Testament
The confirmation student
"Most churches that buy Bibles in large quantities select NRSV and that translation is being used in the new Lutheran Study Bible," says Boehlke.
Lutheran Study Bible (Augsburg Fortress)
"This study Bible is trying to speak to the confirmation student and anyone seeking re-engagement with or fresh approaches to Scripture. The newly-released Lutheran Study Bible includes insight from various scholars from around the country, including more than a dozen current or former Luther Seminary faculty."
"I like the new Lutheran Study Bible because it has helpful study notes without being too academic. It has a particularly Lutheran focus and it has questions for further reflection that can be used as starting points for discussion."
The Message (NavPress Publishing)
"The Message draws people in and engages them in the text, a good thing for youth; but it is a paraphrase, not strictly a translation. Still, it is a very good way to get into the Bible."
Learning Bible (American Bible Society)
"I like the NIV version of the Learning Bible because it is helpfully noted, and for its simple presentation, connections with art and user-friendly format. Also, truth in advertising leads
me to explain that my wife and I are responsible for 75 percent of the Old Testament notes!"
Someone new to the faith or becoming reacquainted
Lutheran Study Bible (Augsburg Fortress)
"With many people opening their Bibles because of the ELCA Book of Faith Initiative, the Lutheran
Study Bible is an attempt to engage people who are learning about the Bible. Like the Initiative itself, this Bible is meant to open things up to conversation. Study notes are clear and direct and assume that the reader has relatively little experience reading and studying Scripture."
--Gary Anderson, manager of Augsburg Fortress store at Luther Seminary
Good News Bible and Contemporary English Bible (American Bible Society)
"[I recommend] 'meaning-for-meaning' translations like these as opposed to study Bibles, which are 'word-for-word' translations."
Regardless of translation, depth of insight or amount of scholarly content, Boehlke and Anderson agree that one thing is vital above all. "As long as they are reading the Bible," says Boehlke. "That's the most important thing."
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