“Another study Bible? Seriously? Don’t we have enough already? What makes this one stand apart from all the others?” Sound familiar? This is the same way I opened my review of the Tony Evans Study Bible in the Fall 2019. In it, I offer a brief overview of the history of study Bibles.
Now, here we are in the spring of 2020, and there’s another Study Bible making its way out into the world. It’s called the Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible with “1500 Principles to Live By” written by Dr. Gene Getz and featuring the Christian Standard Bible translation which I reviewed here.
Interactivity seems to be the new trend in study bibles, and why not? Adding QR codes to the printed text is an innovative way for the editor to help readers understand the text, and in this case, how it applies to everyday life.
Not only do we get to hold the Bible in our hands and have a handy place to stash the bulletin each week, we also have access to video introductions to each book AND 1500+ additional videos with even more help with interpretation.
That said, I’m not actually a fan of this type of study Bible. Notes and videos are included to promote a specific worldview and interpretation while dismissing other possible interpretations as problematic and “a violation of the Scriptures.” Sadly, this is how popular patriarchal interpretations are passed down from generation to generation.
Dr. Gene Getz is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Rocky Mountain College. He has earned advanced degrees from Wheaton Graduate School and New York University.
He served as a professor at Moody and Dallas Theological Seminary and then became a church planting pastor, launching the Fellowship Bible Church movement. He is heard daily on radio in a 2-minute feature entitled “Bible Principles.” Dr. Getz has also authored over 60 books.
Video Overview of the Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible
Below is the promotional video for the study Bible, and you can click here to download a 24-page sample including a step-by-step explanation of how each “principle to live by” was derived.
The 8-Step Process to Find the Principles to Live By
The LEISB is laid out in such a way that Dr. Getz’s methodology for discovering the principles is made clear. He explains his approach step-by-step in the introduction to the LEISB as well as in a video on YouTube. Simply scan the QR code featured on page xii, and you’ll be able to learn directly from Dr. Getz!
The Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible (LEISB) is jam-packed with over 1,500 life principles found throughout the Bible. Distilling these truths into life principles, Dr. Getz helps readers remember and apply the Bible’s wisdom to everyday life.
Scan this code to check it out for yourself:
Learning this this approach might help you recognize principles on your own. In fact, you might find some that he missed! Which brings me to the following question:
Book of Rules or Book of Wisdom?
The question you need to ask yourself is this: Was the Bible intended to be a rule book filled with answers? According to evangelical scholar and professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, Dr. Peter Enns, the answer to that question is a resounding NO.
“For many Christians, the Bible is a how-to manual filled with literal truths about belief that must be strictly followed. But the Bible is not static, Peter Enns argues. It does not hold easy answers to the perplexing questions and issues that confront us in our daily lives. Rather, the Bible is a dynamic instrument for study that not only offers an abundance of insights but provokes us to find our own answers to spiritual questions, cultivating God’s wisdom within us.When we come to the Bible expecting it to be a textbook intended by God to give us unwavering certainty about our faith, we are actually creating problems for ourselves. The Bible, in other words, really isn’t the problem; having the wrong expectation is what interferes with our reading.
This study bible is set-up and laid out differently than other study bibles I’ve used. The introduction to each book provides very little in the way of historical context while, instead, focusing on the principles contained therein.
The text and commentary are intermingled on the page, but it is obvious which is which: (1) the Scriptures are in a serif font, and the commentary is in a sans serif font; and (2) the commentary is placed inside a grayscale-gradient box with a QR code.
The LEISB contains the Christian Standard Bible version (which I reviewed here) and a variety of study helps created and curated by Dr. Getz:
- Commentary and application questions on 1,500 life principles
- 200+ hours of free in-depth video teaching to accompany each life principle
- Two-color interior design
- Smyth-sewn binding
- Presentation page
- Two-column text
- Topical subheadings
- Black-letter text
- 9-point type
- Textual footnotes
- Full-color maps
This Bible reminds me of the Life Application Study Bible that first came out when I was in college (last century). You won’t find a lot of history or archaeology in the written notes; however, he does address some of it in the videos.
The LEISB is the culmination of a lifetime of study, teaching, preaching, and pastoral ministry of Dr. Gene Getz.
He seems like a very sweet man with a heart to help people. He wants everyone to focus on applying the PRINCIPLES of the teachings to their own lives.
That said, because of how he interprets passages which mention homosexuality, I will not recommend this study Bible. (See more on this below.)
What’s Missing from this Study Bible?
As I stated in my review of the Tony Evans Study Bible:
I was extremely disappointed to see NOTHING about the intertestamental period anywhere in the LEISB. I think that any study Bible should have SOMETHING about the 400 years between the rebuilding of the Second Temple and the birth of Jesus. This time period is often referred to in Baptist circles as “400 years of silence,” but I can easily argue that they were far from silent.
It is unfortunate that the readers of the LEISB will embark upon their study of the New Testament with no knowledge of how the Sanhedrin came to be; how the Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians, Zealots, (and Essenes!) were formed; where synagogues originated; and so much more. It’s critical that any teacher of the New Testament understand what happened under the reign of the Seleucid Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who the Hasmoneans were, and why Herod held so much power in the Judean province under Roman rule. Not to mention Rome’s role in Judea. This history should be an essential part of EVERY study Bible. Full stop.
Complementarian, Not Egalitarian
When interpreting passages regarding women’s roles in marriage and in the church, Dr. Getz does his best to steer clear of controversial pronouncements and, instead, focuses on the principles of “equality in Christ” and “submission to one another.” Sadly, this is a missed opportunity to clearly state that some women have been called and equipped to lead the church.
Exclusive, Not Inclusive
In the video that accompanies the text from Leviticus 18:24-19:2 (Leviticus Principle 13 – Sexual Sins), Dr. Getz says:
“…And that takes you into degrading homosexual sins. And God very specifically in the Old Testament deals with h sins… And so he deals with that sin. And he deals with it in Romans. And the interesting thing is, as you know, that there are actually ‘Christian’ (quote/end quote) groups that are condoning not only heterosexual sin and premarital sex, but condoning homosexual sins, promoting it as a normative lifestyle. And the Scriptures do not support that viewpoint. And again using the Scriptures to support that is a violation of the Scriptures or a total reinterpretation of the Scriptures.”
This is commonly known as the “No True Scotsman” fallacy where one person sets up his own litmus test for what it means to be a Scotsman (or in this case a Christian) and then people who don’t pass that test aren’t considered Christian. Well, guess what?
There ARE a lot of Christians who are LGBTQ and/or allies for LGBTQ family and friends, and we read the same Bible.
I do NOT recommend this study Bible. You’d be much better off getting a regular Bible and researching the interpretation yourself. Be sure to use multiple sources from different publishers.
Although this study Bible is a major step forward in technology, there is still a long way to go in application and interpretation. I hope someday, we will have a study Bible which reflects the diversity and inclusion Jesus modeled for us, and I look forward to reviewing that study Bible when it is published.
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