It would appear that as technology creates new and easier opportunities in the publishing industry, the publishing industry then has created an exploding Bible publishing industry. The number of translations has steadily increased for roughly the last 50 years. More recently though, the number of specialized Bibles has increased. From varying authors, varying emphases, and varying specialties, Christians find themselves inundated with choices depending upon their own preferences.
To be honest, for myself I love when new study-type Bibles and am often quick to pick them up. I find that the different ones often emphasize different aspects when commenting upon texts, and so having several in my grasp can open up a confusing passage for me. I understand the need to rely upon God’s word, as it alone is the truth, while all others are subject to human fallibility. However, neither do I negate the helps that a good, solid Bible can provide. Thus, I find it important to look at the different Bibles as they come available.
Just a few months ago, Holman Bible Publishers with Dr. Terry Kirby released the I Am Bible. Pastor of Alpha Baptist Church (Morristown) and a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Kirby spent roughly five years pulling together the information that created the unique characteristics that have become the I Am Bible. A tour of the book reveals just what type of book this is.
Having difficult tracking who was speaking at any given time between God and one of the prophets, Dr. Kirby reflected upon versions of the Bible that draw attention to the spoken words of Christ by making them red. Building upon this concept, he considered what it would look like if someone did this for all of the spoken words of God throughout the Bible. It was a process that took three steps, and not short ones:
1. Step one was simply to highlight all of the passages in which God was speaking by making them a bold font to distinguish them from the rest of the text.
2. Second, the author took the time to go back through all of those bolded passages to determine to whom God was speaking and note.
3. Finally, he wrote up some brief notes for each passage explaining what was accomplished by God’s word.
Clearly it was a process that has taken time and one can appreciate the commitment made in order to accomplish such a task.
To further aide Dr. Terry Kirby’s goal of making Bible reading easier, Holman Bible Staff have added four appendices: What God says about himself, what Jesus says about himself, a glossary for the King’s English (because the Bible is a King James Version), and a concordance.
No doubt Dr. Kirby has indeed made Bible reading a bit easier with this concept because it allows readers to track conversations within Scripture a bit easier.
The technical aspects of the Bible are to be expected because they mirror most other Bibles. at a two-column format throughout with a typical font size, it runs about 1000 pages. It is currently only available in the King James Version, which means there are no other options if you prefer a different translation.
I appreciate the publishers attention to certain aspects that add to the quality of the product. First is a layout that is both pleasing to the eye and functional with each of the notes placed directly at the center of the page for a quick reference, which minimizes eye movement back and forth between top and bottom of the page (as with the layout of most study Bibles). Second is the paper. Because of the volume most Bibles must be printed on extremely thin paper, yet the publishers her chose to go with a thicker paper that means less bleed through for highlighting and easier page turning.
Despite the use of thicker paper though, the margins are extremely narrow meaning there is little room for note taking. With paper so well-equipped for the use of pens and highlighters, it is a little bit disappointing that more room wasn’t left for the Bible student.
My secondary complaint on the technical side is the font used. Generally Holman Bible Publishers lean towards using block style fonts that I don’t particularly care for as much as some others. In this case the font they chose provides an added hindrance. It causes the bolded font and the unbolded font to blend together, thus making it sometimes more difficult to distinguish between the two when searching for something. In this essence, it partly defeats the purpose of the Bible in the first place then.
Finally, we come to the most important aspect of the book and the author behind it. The theology. If a book is built upon faulty theology then money is better invested in other books. This is especially true of Bibles. I must add a disclaimer here before moving on. While I made sure to glance at every note in the Bible (about 1,000 in total) I didn’t not necessarily read each one with an intense scrutiny because the sheer volume makes this difficult. Although I did try to be diligent in this task. In this regard though, the major concern about the theology is mitigated by the brevity of the notes. This is not to understate the importance of theology as that affects everything, yet the author is generally simply stating who God is speaking to, what the purpose is and citing a verse.
In terms of accomplishing his goal to make the Bible more easily read, Dr. Terry Kirby also highlights verses that New Testament authors quote from the Old Testament where God is speaking. This is important because a quick glance tells you that the citation is a time in which God was speaking, where the citation is found and the context which helps in New Testament studies.
So the question becomes, would I recommend the book? Perhaps the best answer I can give is that there are no reasons that would cause me not to recommend it. However, the notes are so limited that I don’t find it to be the best investment. In it’s place I would suggest a person do one of the following:
1. Take the money you would invest in this Bible and put it towards a good study Bible (MacArthur Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, Holman Christian Study Bible, or NIV Zondervan Study Bible are good ones to consider) because often they will include this information and more for a similar price.
2. Invest in a journaling Bible and use do the same thing for yourself. Certainly it can take years to complete (as it did Dr. Kirby) you are more likely to learn much more by doing it yourself.
The end result is that the book is helpful, but not to the degree that I would recommend it over other resources out there.
To purchase a copy of the I Am Bible click the following links: Hardcover, Black Leather Touch, Brown Leather Touch.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free of charge from Holman Bible Publishers for review purposes. However that did not impact the review and/or recommendation given.