Many who read the Bible in a year feel the struggle by the time they reach Leviticus. How can one read Leviticus theologically and devotionally? Enter The Jesus Bible. I received a review copy of The Jesus Bible (Artist Edition) free of charge as a member of BG2 and a #BibleGatewayPartner. This Bible is available for purchase here. Below is my positive review of this wonderful resource.
One of the best diagrams I have seen that illustrates the process of Bible study is the Charles Simeon Trust adaptation of Clowney’s Rectangle. In this diagram, the study of the Bible goes from the text to the original audience through learning the context, structure, and aim. Then it goes to learning about Jesus through theological reflection, and finally, it seeks to apply the text to today’s audience.
It appears to me that different study Bibles seek to function in one of the steps in Clowney’s rectangle. Each study Bibles is different than the other, but each one has their role in equipping God’s people to be better Bible readers. Some focus on deep study of context and exegetical insights by providing the aim and structure of the text or by interpreting difficult passages. Others help today’s reader with application. Some point them to Jesus, and that is what The Jesus Bible is all about.
Here are six features that I like from The Jesus Bible.
1. Articles focus on one story that points to Jesus.
How do passages in Leviticus or Lamentations contribute to the overall story of the Bible? How are they relevant for the Christian? The Jesus Bible demonstrates that the relevance of the text is not determined by the applications, but by seeing Jesus in the text. The Bible is written primarily to point readers to Jesus. Finding applications for life is important (a resource for that is this one), but it’s only secondary to seeing and enjoying Jesus.
In Leviticus, short articles were written to connect themes in the biblical text to Jesus, such as offerings, yeast, fire and ash, anointing, atonement, etc. One example is this:
To be required to live outside the camp meant removal from the community because something made a person unclean. There, far off from family and friends, an awkward society of the defiled waited for permission to return. For the leper, seeing a priest walk his or her way was an anxious moment. They desperately needed the spiritual leader’s pronouncement of “clean.” Once a positive determination was made, proper rituals were carried out, giving thanks to God for healing and restoration.
The priest of Leviticus 14:3 prefigures Christ in the act of moving toward untouchables. In Luke 5:12-14, Jesus encounters a leper who falls on the ground begging to be made clean—a plea born of a desperate existence in crushing isolation. Jesus did more than examine the leper. He touched him and spoke a command that instantly made him clean. Jesus is full of compassion and power. He brings near those who were once far off, enabling them to know love and community through his name.”“Leviticus 14:1-3: Examination” in The Jesus Bible, p. 158
Short articles (like the one above) and page-length articles are scattered throughout The Jesus Bible, aiding readers to see Christ in both the Old and New Testaments.
2. Articles are from well-respected Bible teachers.
Certainly, the notes in any study Bible are not the biblical text itself. They were written not to rival the biblical text, but to help illuminate it by pointing the readers to Christ. While one may not agree with every article and with every Bible teacher represented, the Bible reader can have confidence that these articles are written by Bible teachers who are committed to the biblical text, including Randy Alcorn, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Jon Akin.
3. Each of the Bible’s 66 books has a summary heading that points to Jesus
I love doing thematic summaries for Bible books. I like how the heading of each of the 66 books summarizes how the book uniquely points to Jesus. It would be helpful, however, if they would list the headings of each book in either the table of contents or the index. Here is what they have for the first ten books of each testament:
- Genesis – “Jesus: Our Glorious Creator”
- Exodus – “Jesus: Our Miraculous Deliverer”
- Leviticus – “Jesus: Our Sacrificial Substitute”
- Numbers – “Jesus: Our Gracious Provision”
- Deuteronomy – “Jesus: Our Promised Hope”
- Joshua – “Jesus: Our Perfect Leader”
- Judges – “Jesus: Our Righteous Ruler”
- Ruth – “Jesus: Our Redeemer”
- 1 Samuel – “Jesus: Our True King”
- 2 Samuel – “Jesus: Our Eternal One”
- Matthew – “Jesus: Our Promised King”
- Mark – “Jesus: Our True God”
- Luke – “Jesus: Our Gracious Savior”
- John – “Jesus: Our Great I AM”
- Acts – “Jesus: Our Continued Mission”
- Romans – “Jesus: Our Eternal Salvation”
- 1 Corinthians – “Jesus: Our Hope for Change”
- 2 Corinthians – “Jesus: Our Invitation to Repentance”
- Galatians – “Jesus: Our Justification by Faith”
- Ephesians – “Jesus: Our Peace with God”
I like many of the summaries above. I think these will help readers see the overall point of each book. Certainly, the summaries do not capture everything about Jesus in any given book, and they may represent only an idea about Jesus in the book not necessarily the main idea. Yet they provide a great tool to aid Bible readers in seeing how each book of the Bible points to Jesus.
4. Articles are located in the margin that do not distract from reading the biblical text.
While the content of the notes is the most significant feature of The Jesus Bible, it is also important to note that its typography also matters. Sure, small verse numbers are found in the biblical text, but they are written in paragraph forms with large fonts, making them easy to read (I must be getting old for liking those big fonts).
The short articles and the page-length articles are located in the side margin away from the biblical text. Some study Bibles are so full of notes that it becomes unclear whether the notes take the supreme place in the page or the biblical text.
5. Wide-margin for personal notes.
As you can see from the photo above, there are lots of spaces for writing in the margins! The articles are helpful, but there is no substitute for writing down your own reflections, observations, notes, journal, or prayers right on the page of your Bible. For me, this is a big plus! I would rather have spaces to write than clutter of commentary notes in my Bible.
6. External features: leather-soft, great binding, and attractive color.
Lastly, I have to mention something about how it is printed and bound. The leather-soft cover is always better than a hardbound feel when it comes to a Bible, especially on a Bible that you carry around and actually read.
This review is specifically for the “Artist edition,” which showcases pastel colors in the front and back of the cover with lines that resemble a cross. I showed this Bible to my youngest sister, and she finds it attractive. The copy I have will now be her birthday present. You can order your own copy here.
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