The Bookshelf: The CSB Reader’s Bible

So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Our faith grows as we read and study Scriptures but a recent study shows that only 37 percent of Americans read the Bible once a week or more.

How can we grow that number?

No one translation or edition of the Bible will capture the attention of a public that appears to be at least somewhat resistant to reading the Scripture, but the CSB Readers Bible offers an engaging format that puts a quality translation onto a reader-friendly page.

Chapter markings, verses and text headers have been eliminated from this edition as have footnotes, study guides, photos, devotions, and all of those other “helps” that have crept into a myriad of other editions of the Bible. As a result, any given page looks like the page of any book with single-column, left-justified print that focuses reader attention where it should be – on the words of the Scriptures.

I had never thought the headings, chapters and verse numbers made a difference in how I read the Bible. I learned differently when I settled in to read the book of Ruth. Without the visual cues to which I have been accustomed, I read the book’s four chapters much faster than I ever had before. It never occurred to me that all the “page furniture” could be a distraction – but it clearly was.

The CSB Reader’s Bible doesn’t leave the reader totally without guidance, however. Chapter beginnings are subtly marked with a blue capital letter, as can be seen on the photo on this page. Quotations from the Old Testament are also presented in bold, which is helpful for identifying those occasions in which the gospel writers referred to the prophets.

That’s where the purpose of this edition of the Bible runs up against its usefulness for deep study. Without a footnote, the reader has to consult other sources to find out what Old Testament texts those bold-faced quotations come from. It’s also hard to use this edition in a small group setting due to the lack of verse numbers.

But, that’s OK. That’s not the purpose of this particular edition. This edition is meant to connect the reader directly with God’s word, allowing an immersive experience without the clutter. And that’s just what it does.

If you get distracted while reading, or find yourself bogged down in a plan to read through the Bible, consider the CSB Reader’s Bible. I know that, for me, this will not be an edition of the Bible that just sits on the shelf to collect dust. It will be the go-to version when I want to read a few pages before bed or the entirety of one of Paul’s letters during breakfast.

Additional thoughts

Why chose the CSB version? The translation philosophy for the team that created the CSB version strove to balances literal translation with readability in the English that we speak today. As a result, the translators use literal translation when the word-for-word translation is understandable, and a more dynamic – or thought for thought – translation for other areas. The result is a translation that is both understandable and accurate to the original texts.

When did verses get added to the Bible anyway? The chapters we use today were first added to the Scriptures in the 12th century by Stephen Langton though some form of chapter divisions can be found in manuscripts dating to the fourth century. Verse divisions were added by Robert Estienne in 1551.

 

Disclaimer: B&H Publishing provided me with a free copy of the CSB Reader’s Bible in exchange for my unbiased review.

Wednesday Selah: What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

It’s been a long time since I posted one of my Wednesday Selah posts.

A quick refresher: Selah is a term in the Psalms that has commonly been translated as “pause.” I wrote more about it in the introductory post to the series.

I thought I would restart the series with a song that has meant a lot to me this year.

When I headed out to Passion 2017, I was thinking about my One Word for 2017. I had tried it a couple of other times, but nothing ever seemed to stick.

As Hillsong United led the college students in this song, it dawned on me that I didn’t need a word for 2017. I needed the Word for 2017. And with everything that has happened over this year, I keep coming back to the words of this song and how powerful the name of Jesus is.

 

The Bookshelf: Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski

I had the privilege of talking to Mike when he visited Safe Harbour, a local ministry for the homeless and potentially homeless, for a fundraiser. He was easily one of the more intriguing interviews I’ve had in some time. When the book came up on sale at Amazon, I had to get it. The book was just as good as the interview. He offers first-hand insights from life on the street, freely admitting that his experience was different from others because he knew for certain that he would be leaving the situation. Mike offered keen spiritual insights as well as practical (and welcome) advice for connecting with the homeless in your town.

The Bookshelf: Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

When B&H Publishing offered the chance to read an advance copy of Maria Goff’s first book, I jumped.

That was back in March.

Looking back, I can’t say exactly what got in the way of reading the book as I had promised. Family. Work. Going through a running program. Whatever it was, it was bringing me closer to my family and co-workers as I made new friends with my running buddies.

Now that I’ve read the book, I’m pretty sure Maria would approve.

The books features a series of vignettes ranging from the early days of Maria’s relationship with Bob, extending through raising their children and all of the adventures they had in between as Maria provided the anchor to a home in which love was the primary language. Each story is told with simplicity and vulnerability, and is ultimately connected to the teachings of Jesus or to other stories and letters of the Bible.

And that is the note on which I very nearly stumbled hard not three pages into the introduction. Maria writes, “Paul said in one of his letters to a friend named James that sometimes life is like looking in a mirror and then forgetting our appearance.”

The verse to which I believe she is referring is James 1:23-24:

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

That letter wasn’t written by Paul. It was written by James. And I can’t think of a different reference – nor could I find another reference – that came close to what Maria wrote.

Certainly some may call that nitpicking over a single sentence, but I was worried for a bit about how accurately Scripture would be used, and – to be honest – I wondered about the editing. It seemed odd that I would have caught something like that immediately when editors did not.

Those worries and concerns dissipated somewhat as I quickly read through the first chapters of Maria’s story, and finding myself in agreement that life – and love – isn’t always about the big moments and the extraordinary experiences. It’s found in the small encounters we have daily.

The more I read, though, the slower it went. To some extent, it seemed like the stories were covering the same ground.

Would I recommend it? I know others absolutely raved about it, but I just never got there. Don’t get me wrong. It is a good read, and I think many people would enjoy it. So, yes, do read it if it sounds like your cup of tea!