Book Review: The Orthodox Study Bible

Let  me begin this review to say that I am a Christian; my experience in Christianity is Protestant with a OSBcoverhistory beginning in the Baptist church then migrating to the “Jesus Movement” and the charismatic. Most of my teen and young adult years were spent in the Pentecostal denominations primarily with the Assemblies of God where I first responded to the call of ministry on my life and I now serve as a pastor with the Free Methodist Church of North America. What does this have to do with a review of The Orthodox Study Bible? I wanted to share my background so my review, comments, and possible biases might be understood…especially if there might be other protestant evangelical Christians who were interested in this particular study Bible.

First Thoughts and Things I liked:

  • I wish it was a version other than the New King James Version; the NKJV is ok, but I prefer the style of the dynamic translation (New Living Translation, New International Version, etc) for easier reading. I think literal translations are not as easy to read, and I’m not so sure they are more accurate to the intent of the original text just because of a word for word translation. Anyway, the NKJV is not a deal breaker, but I would prefer a more readable version personally.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to the Orthodox Church. I have been intrigued and curious about this “missing piece” in history of my own faith. To a large degree, I think that my experience with Christianity has been influenced more by my culture than the history of Christianity itself. Several years ago, I began a journey of exploration into the ancient history of my faith. My earliest experiences with the Orthodox Church have helped to shape me in good ways. I enjoy the sacred mystery and holy reverence of the rites and rituals held in the orthodox tradition; I feel these elements of worship have been missing in my life and I have taken the steps to incorporate them as I learn and understand them more. This Study Bible has been useful in some of these areas.
  • I have enjoyed making comparisons between the Lectionary of my church and the Orthodox Church.
  • I recently (1-2 years ago) began praying the Daily Office; exposure to the Morning and Evening prayers included in the Orthodox Study Bible have been insightful and a welcome addition to my own prayers.
  • I appreciate the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical and Apocryphal writings.
  • I like the artwork included in this Bible.

Additional Thoughts:

  • The sidebar articles were good; I liked them a lot and they served to whet my appetite for more. I think it would have done no harm to expound on these articles; for example, including a bibliography for students to draw resources from if they desire to “dig deeper.”
  • I realize there are commentaries and more exhaustive resources available for the budding theologian, but I found the introductions to the individual books of the Bible to be somewhat lacking in depth and substance. Along this same line of thinking, while there are a large number of “study notes” accompanying the scriptures I didn’t find them to be overly helpful for explaining scripture or giving insight to the ancient and early church. Some of the notes were interesting and more helpful than others, but in general, I found them to be rather elementary in their scope and depth.

Overall Assessment…

I do not want for the areas that I felt were weak in this effort to be unfairly represented. I think this Study Bible is very helpful; especially for the Christian who is curious about the Orthodox Christian Faith. I have been a Bible student for two decades and have many resources at hand in my personal library; as such, my expectations may be higher than what they should be. If the goal of this particular Study Bible is to serve as an introduction to roots of our faith, specifically the ancient church, then I consider it a success. In any event, I am happy to have it in my library and will enjoy it as a supplement to my other study resources. I am hopeful this will be only the first version and subsequent installments will build on this first most excellent release.

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