NIV Integrated Study Bible
ed. John R. Kohlenberger III (Zondervan 2014)
Rating: 2/5 (3.5/5 for effort)
The NIV Integrated Study Bible is designed around an intriguing (and probably much wished-for) organizational principle: the sixty-six books of the Bible are reorganized and presented in chronological order to allow the reading of biblical events in the order that they occurred. This is a novel departure from the traditional organization of the English Bible, which is arranged largely by subject (i.e. history books, law, wisdom books, prophetic books, gospels, epistles, etc.), and it opens up interesting possibilities for biblical study.
For all the promise of the concept, though, the NIVISB is an imperfect achievement. Most importantly, the editorial decisions concerning the dating of many books demonstrate a theologically motivated departure from the received traditions of the Church. These decisions are likely in order to accommodate more narrow (largely dispensational) readings of Scripture, and are accompanied by next-to-nothing in the way of introduction or commentary defending the choices. Additionally, the translation itself is lamentable; in terms of translational fidelity, aesthetic virtue, and power of language, the NIV ranks decidedly lower than other contemporary translations, and it would have been preferable to see the considerable labor required to produce this ISB brought to bare on one of those instead. Finally, the arrangement of this edition makes navigating the Bible difficult. Chapter and verse references are of little help when the books are divided and strewn throughout the book (e.g. Psalms, Chronicles, etc.) or mashed together in parallel presentation (e.g. Samuel, Kings, Matt., Mark., Luke, John, etc.), and the Index designed to alleviate this problem is only slightly less frustrating to navigate.
While the NIVISB is well-bound and visually attractive, the same cannot be said about it conceptually or literarily, and it’s a real shame.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.