Thursday, November 05, 2015

Study Bibles for Expositors -- Hebrew-Greek KEYWORD Study Bible by AMG Publishers

Part 1—Hebrew-Greek KEY WORD Study Bible—AMG Publishers

If you would be a serious expositor of God’s Word, you are constantly on the lookout for good resources that will help you to pull all you can from the biblical text.  One of tools that you need is good study Bibles.  There was a time not too long ago when we would have had to say a good study Bible but as times have progressed there are many choices of study Bibles that are available for us to use.  For the month of November I intend to do a review of a host of study Bibles that I have found helpful to me in the last several years.  Another reason that I am going to spend November to do this would be because of Black Friday being just around the corner.  If you live near a chain Christian bookstore, you can pick up many of these study Bibles very cheaply and even more so if you decide to go with hardbound instead of bonded or genuine leather. 


Table Containing Bishop G. A. Mangun's Bible

Bishop G. A. Mangun's Bible
I realize that we are rapidly moving toward an age when the printed Bible is being replaced by all manner of electronic devices.  As a pastor, I have continually been very vigilant about people bringing their Bibles to church and not to rely on an electronic device.  I am aware that some would scoff at this encouragement to have a Bible that people can hold in their hands but there is something about the turning the pages in the Book and being able to write in the margins and underline Scriptures that mean something to you which greatly increases its value to you.  

A few years ago, my middle son, Nathan and I, visited the Pentecostals of Alexandria.  After the service Pastor Anthony Mangun invited us back to his study.  In his study on a special table, he had set aside a place for his father's Bible to be placed.  Nate took several pictures of the Bible and has kept them in his phone for several years now.  Nobody would have been interested in the Bishop’s iPhone or iPad but his Bible is a very valuable treasure for the Mangun family.  I have some Bibles that I want to be very valuable to my family when I have passed on to my reward.  That is why we still need books to carry instead of devices because they just aren’t even equivalent!   

DISCLAIMER:  I am going to review a wide range of study Bibles but just because I have written a review of this Bible does not mean I endorse all that is in it.  I use it as a tool.  For the curious, over a twenty-five year ministry I have more than eighty Bibles of a wide range of translations, various study editors, and so forth. 

The first study Bible I am going to review is the Hebrew-Greek KEY WORD Study Bible that is published by AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The executive editor is Spiros Zodhiates, Th. D.  The one I have is a King James Version but it also comes in the New King James, English Standard and the New American Standard versions.

BOOK INTRODUCTIONS:  At the beginning of every book of the Bible there is a brief introduction that may range from a full page to a few paragraphs.  Zodhiates and his scholars certainly come from a view that they believe that the Bible is inspired and inerrant.  You gain this idea by reading the introduction to Genesis and the study notes below Genesis 1:1-6.  Not all study Bibles hold that particular view and it is important that as a reader you are aware of those Bibles that seem to question the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.  One example of this is the NKJV Chronological Study Bible.  The writers are those who put much emphasis on textual criticism and move the order of the books to accommodate the time in chronological order.  Be careful of study Bibles that are constantly seeking to modify what the original author’s intent is.     

UNDERLINED WORDS WITH NUMBERS:  One of the things you will immediately notice about the H/G KEYWORD Study Bible are the underlined words on the pages.  You will also find an accompanying number that is bold and is superscripted with the word in the verse.  This number represents one of James Strong’s exhaustive concordance designated numbers.  Strong was aware that many readers of the Bible might not have a background in the ancient languages of Hebrew and Greek.  He created a numerical system to simplify being able to read the ancient texts.   This number corresponds to a dictionary in the back of the Bible.  The numbers that are bold have more information than the numbers that are not.  If you want to get even more mileage from this mode of study, you can take the number created by Strong and look it up in a lexicon like Thayer’s or the workhorse of them all Kittel and Friedrich although you will have to resort to the index volume to work with that one. 

SUPERIOR LETTERS:  This refers to the grammatical structure of NT words.  If you have taken any Greek at all you are aware of the tense, voice, and mood of a verb.  While this is taught in basic Greek there are times when it is helpful to know so that we can home in on making a stronger point with preaching/teaching.  This Study Bible also has a very helpful bookmark that has the codes on them also.    

CENTER COLUMN CROSS-REFERENCES:  This study Bible has a fairly extensive cross-referencing system that has become ever so important to me as I work through a text that I preach.  Cross-referencing makes your preaching so much stronger because you have a range of verses to see what that text is really getting at.  The best commentary on Scripture is Scripture!   

PARAGRAPH HEADINGS WITH TITLES:  Team Zodhiates did an excellent job in this area.  They have taken the entire Bible and divided it up into paragraphs so that you can look at certain texts as a unit of thought rather than as just taking a single verse and hauling it out and breaking every hermeneutical law known to God and man.  As I have developed as a preacher I have began to look at Scripture through a 20/20 lenses.  That means what do the 20 verses before that verse and the 20 verses after that verse have to say.  Preachers who take a verse out of context are bowing at the altar of idolatry of self.  They are literally saying that what they have to say is more important than what God has to say.  That is where Team Zodhiates will help us with getting it right.  If you approach the text it is easy for an expositor to see what he has to deal with as sermonic material.  Take your preaching serious and the church you pastor will take the Word serious. 

RED-LETTER:  I am not sure if I have a study Bible that has words of Jesus in red-letters as well as this Study Bible does.  They are very clean and crisp all throughout the NT.

KEY SYMBOLS:  Some verses will have a small key out beside it.  This means that there is a corresponding note at the bottom of the page.  Although overall considering the fact it is a study Bible there are relatively few of them throughout.       

DISLIKES:  When I write book reviews, I rarely tell you what I do not like about the particular book.  However, with these Study Bible reviews, I have decided that I would tell you some of the things that I do not like about them.  There are a couple of things that I do not particularly care for in this particular Bible.  First, I do not necessarily like how they underlined the words that are keyed to the Strong’s numbers in the back.  It seems to me that it makes the page too “busy.”  While I can understand why they would underline the words that are keyed in to the text, I have been underlining things in my Bibles for so long that I wish they would have only put the numbers beside the word and left it at that.  The second thing I do not like and maybe that is probably not as much a dislike as it would be a request for some improvement.  I wish they had had more commentary at the bottom of the pages of the Bible.  There are some pages that have no commentary at all although at the end of the Bible they have placed New Testament grammatical codes and notations, a concordance, a guide to transliteration from Hebrew and Greek to English, and the annotated Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. 

This description obviously does not do the H/G KEYWORD Study Bible total justice, it does give you a fairly good idea of how helpful this tool can be in your personal library. 

More on the way. . .

Thanks for reading. . .


Philip Harrelson 

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