There are questions that come my way with some regularity. And it’s one that I’m always pleased to respond to quickly. One of them being: “Which would be the perfect religious gift?”
My favorite religious gift ideas come from Holyart items made of genuine Bethlehem olive wood imported from the Holy Land. This olive wood comes from Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth, the area in which Christ had lived and preached the word of God to the people. The wood is never harvested by killing live trees, which is almost unheard of today. It is only taken from branches cut for pruning maintenance or from trees that died due to old age or disease. Some of the wood may even be hundreds or thousands of years old. Suppliers of the olive wood certify in writing that the wood is from the Holy Land and that it was cut only from dead or dying limbs. What a wonderful idea to know the origin of the gift and the story behind it.
The other probably most common question is: “So, which study Bible do you recommend?”
I currently use and recommend the ESV Study Bible.
The follow up question is usually: Why do you recommend that one? The reasons include:
- The English Standard Version is a faithful, recent English translation of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible. It is an “essentially literal” translation that emphasizes “word-for-word” correspondence with the original text, rather than a “thought-for-thought” or “dynamic equivalence” approach used in some other translations.
- The notes help bring clarity and understanding. I find the insights and applications in the verse-by-verse notes that accompany the text to be consistently helpful.
- The 40+ articles on a variety of topics make it like having a basic theological library all in one volume. There is a wealth of learning here for those willing to read and study.
- The editors and contributors are experienced and trusted. The General Editor is Dr. Wayne Grudem, whose Systematic Theology I also recommend highly. The theological editor is Dr. J. I. Packer, long a respected evangelical theologian and leader.
Of course, in my weekly study and preparation I read and compare the original texts and a number of English translations and paraphrases including: the King James Version, the New International Version, the New American Standard Version, the New Living Translation, the Message, and others. I encourage you to do the same.
However, if you only get one Bible to use in your daily reading and study, I highly recommend the ESV Study Bible. It’s available in our Ingleside Bookstore (as well as online) in a variety of bindings and price points. I really think you will be glad you made the investment!