Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pulpit Review: Zondervan Bible Resources

Rasmussen, Carl G. Zondervan Atlas of the Bible (Revised Edition). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. 304 Pages. Cloth. (Map of New Testament Jerusalem Inside) $39.99. (LHP) 

Brown, A. Philip II, Bryan W. Smith, Richard J. Goodrich, Albert L. Lukaszewski. A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible (A Reader's Hebrew Bible and A Reader's Greek New Testament in One Volume). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010 (2008, 2007). 574 + 1672  Pages (plus maps). European Leather. $74.99. (P)

Our Advent focus on Bible resources continues with two more from Zondervan.


The Zondervan Atlas of the Bible is a revision of the Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible. The title change alone may be a wise marketing move by Zondervan due to the previous controversy over the TNIV and now some backlash to changes in the 2011 New International Version, which will simply be called "NIV." Local merchants have been asked to move the previous inventory of NIV Bibles to make way for the revision early in 2011. Changing the title makes this Bible Atlas a more likely option to purchase for use by readers of other Bible translations.

The back cover claims that this volume "represents the most comprehensive Bible atlas designed for students, Bible study groups, adult learners, travelers/pilgrims to the lands of the Bible, pastors, teachers, and all lovers of the Bible." To be fair, Rasmussen's edition with extensive new pictures he took himself, is quite helpful, friendly, and accessible. I would be wary about tossing around the term "the most comprehensive" especially since Crossway, the publishers of the English Standard Version, recently published their own Bible atlas which is at least as comprehensive as Zondervan's. In addition, while this atlas is more compact (an inch-thick, letter-paper-sized volume) compared to the Crossway atlas we recently reviewed (50 more pages, and significantly taller and wider), Zondervan's is only $15 less (retail). (Online retailers may help you save $20 on the ESV Atlas and about $15 on this one.)

Which to choose? You may wish to choose the one that best compliments your typical translation used in Bible study. I'm personally blessed with both. 

I heavily used the NIV before learning Greek and Hebrew. I kept using my NIV-based Concordia Self-Study Bible alongside the NASB and NKJV before the arrival of the English Standard Version. Since that has become a version used in Lutheran Service Book (as the NIV was used in Lutheran Worship, 1982), the ESV has been my English translation of choice. Zondervan has noted the increase in use of the ESV, and recently added it to their Glo Bible software package. (A review of Glo is pending by QBR. In the meantime, note the significant discounts on this software at Amazon.

The Zondervan Atlas of the Bible is divided into three main sections:
  1. Geographical
  2. Historical
  3. Appendices (which is proper and preferred to the modern "Appendixes")
Timelines throughout help the reader keep Bible history in the context of other historical events, reinforcing Scripture's veracity. Maps are colorful and engaging. Photos are simply stunning, perhaps THE major reason to invest in the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible. Here's your first coffee-table book purchase of 2011, if not before... 

Zondervan listened!

I must begin our review of A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible writing those words. 
All you can see in the picture above is the box with a cellophane hint of the treasure inside.
This is a slight revision of two books we reviewed two years ago (QBR 3.1, 69-70). Back then, we asked that the Hebrew Bible be given a ribbon bookmark and that maps be added to it comparable to those in their Greek New Testament edition. 
This edition has two ribbons and OT maps! In addition, a sturdier cardboard appears to have been used underneath the black leather cover. As I said before, Zondervan listened! And they kept the silver edging of the previous edition of the Hebrew Bible when it was published separately.

Other than that, the contents of the volumes (now combined) are the same, but with newly added title pages for a joint edition. Therefore, our previous critiques still apply. We hope that a future edition will revise the way that chapter and verse references are given at the top of the page, giving the whole range of the Bible text given on a page rather than the current arrangement.

What is a Reader’s edition? The original Greek or Hebrew/Aramaic text is paired with definitions and dictionary forms of rarer words at the bottom (instead of the usual text-critical notes). The editors assume that users have had an introductory course in Biblical Hebrew or Koine Greek. The Greek footnotes feature words that occur 30 times or less. The Hebrew footnotes feature words that occur 100 times or less. Occasional variants between this edition and NA27/UBS4 are noted at the bottom of each page of the Greek portion. There is an appendix showing differences with the BHS text. 

I would call A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible a devotional edition rather than an academic one. Having a basic Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic dictionary on each page is a very good way to do an unique "study" Bible. 

Studying Scripture in the original languages in this one volume is a great way to end (or begin) each day. And the best part for tired or waking eyes is the large print  that I didn't buy when I first began study of Biblical Hebrew and Greek!

To add to the life of my copy of ARHGB, I bought a brown Zondervan Bible cover from our local Christian bookstore (

Supplement your readings from Light from the Path or Northwestern Publishing House's Treasures Old and New ( with Zondervan's A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.