DIY NET Bible Reader’s Paragraph Edition

When I first heard of Adam Greene’s Bibliotheca kickstarter campaign, it was as if he gave a voice to all I was longing for in a Bible. There are endless study Bibles, and Bible publishers are comfortable cramming everything they can in on the thinest possible paper. You can’t read the Bible like you could pick up any other book.

Bibliotheca offers a clutter free reading environment for the Bible. He is printing the American Standard Version in four volumes with no section headers, and no chapter or verse notations. It is just the text in paragraph form, in a well bound book that is pleasant to hold and read.

It would be fun to read the ASV, but I thought it would be great to have the NET Bible as a reader’s paragraph edition in four volumes. The NET is an extremely cluttered reading Bible because of the amazing notes. It is a great study Bible. There is a reader’s edition of the NET, but it still has the chapter and verse and some notes. I wanted a reader’s paragraph edition that was purely for reading.

So I exported the NET Bible from Bibleworks 7 without the chapter and verses. Edited the text in MS Word to get it in paragraph form. The NT will be a volume, and the OT will be divided in the law, prophets and the writings. I have printed and bound the writings, and I wanted to share how for anyone else interested in a NET Bible reader’s edition.

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The NET Bible copyright allows a user to print up to 1,000 copies to give away. So making a reader’s edition for yourself is a nice way to take advantage of that. And the permissions team at netbible.org have graciously allowed me to share my files so you can try to make your own.

Here is the word file –  Kethuvim NET – paragraph

It’s not perfect. I was my own editor. I tried to preserve the paragraph’s just as the NET Bible. I attempted to put the Proverbs in couplets, starting in Proverbs 9, that is the only text not in paragraphs. I created chapter headers from the text. In Daniel the mention of a new year with a King became a chapter. I didn’t add anything, but if there was a clear series of section changing vocabulary, I used that text as the chapter header.

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The Process:

I chose a nice off white paper that was thick to print on. It was about $14 for a pack of 500 sheets. Then printed the text as 12 page booklets. I used a bonefolder to carefully fold and crease each sheet, and arranged them into the 12 page booklets until all the pages were in order.

Once all the pages were arranged in order, I used clamps to hold the pages together. I measured and marked where I wanted holes to sew the pages together. Then I used a small hacksaw to saw the holes where they were needed. I removed the pages from the clamp to begin sewing the 12 page signatures together. I used an awl to punch holes all the way through where the saw didn’t complete the job.

Here are a few helpful videos that helped guide me through the process.

This is a good introduction to sewing the signatures by Crafty Loops.

This video also shows sewing the signatures, by Sage Reynolds. He also shows how to tie your thread together (which is nice for a large book like we are doing).

This video is a documentary following Glenn Malkin, but you can follow how he handles different aspects of preparing his book.

This video shows how to make raised bands on the spine of your book by Alex Ogden.

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Here you can see the bonefolder on the sheets. I just had to go through my stack of sheets folding each one, then organize them into the 12 page booklets. So page 1-12 was a booklet signature, then 13-24, etc. Once they were all arranged I sewed the signatures together to make the bookblock. My own Smyth sewn binding.

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After all the signatures were sewn together, I glued the ribbons and a loose fabric mesh to hold it all together. Then added the headbands. The fabric on the cover is a nice Canapetta bookbinding cloth I purchased from Talas online. But old denim or fabric you don’t need would work fine. The book boards came from the particle board back on a dresser my two year old destroyed. The spine board was a Nilla Waffer box, I glued two or three layers together to get the desired thickness. I tried to wrap the spine board around a pipe to get the rounded edge. I glued the fabrick with Elmer’s Glue-All. There is really nice PVA glue you can buy from Talas, but I think Elmer’s is also PVA.

The text block was rounded by gently rolling it back and forth with my fingers. I did not use any kind of hammer to shape the spine. I used a little sand paper to take off some of the jagged edges from the paper. My folding work wasn’t perfect. On the Nilla Waffer spine board I glued some thin strips of vinyl cloth I had, then I used the bonefolder to work the fabric down around the ribs.

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So this is the NET Bible Reader’s Paragraph Edition – The Writings. The goal is to have a four volume set of these. Then I may add a fifth volume of creeds and confessions for family devotions.

DIY Leather Rebind

I came across J. Mark Bertrand’s Bible Design Blog and love just about everything I read there. His reviews of fine Bibles leave me longing for Bibles I don’t have. I don’t have the money to invest in those super high quality Bibles. When he had a guest post by Matthew Everhard about DIY Leather Rebinds I was intrigued. After watching several DIY book binding videos on youtube I felt ready to try it myself.

I was ready to try rebinding my favorite Bibles, but my wife gave me wise counsel to practice on Bibles I wasn’t as attached to, and work my way up to the Bibles that are irreplaceable.

So my test subjects are a 1977 NASB, and a NA27/NRSV Greek English diglot. Both Bibles had a thin cardboard cover with flexiplastic coating on the outside. The NA27 diglot has already experienced cracking and fraying along the spine and edges. Notice the nice black duct tape book repairs that had already been done.

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Duct tape doesn’t last as long as you would think. So this one really needed to be repaired. I used scissors to cut along the spine, then gently pulled the cover away from the end sheets.

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The NA27 diglot has beautiful maps on the end pages, I really wanted to preserve them. It wasn’t perfect, but I was able to keep most of the maps. The ’77 NASB lost the first few pages, but the rest of the text block including the back end sheet remained in tact.

I glued the front pages back on the ’77 NASB, and added new ribbons and new headbands. I obtained some nice leather on amazon from Reed Leather Hides. Burgandy sheep skin and green lamb skin, both were in great condition. The skins were expensive, but they will cover a number of Bibles. I went to the local fabric store and got some vinyl fabric for the interior liner.

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I used the green lambskin on the ’77 NASB, there is only a thin sheet of cardboard (cereal box) on the spine, dark brown ribbons, and a tan vinyl interior.

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For the NA27 diglot, I used the burgandy sheepskin, gold ribbons and the same tan vinyl interior, and the same cardboard spine.

I didn’t try to add bands on the spines, or do anything fancy. There is special PVA book binding glue. I used Elmer’s Glue All, I think it is also PVA. It seems to keep arts and crafts just fine, it’s easy to obtain, and it’s not expensive. I used my weightlifting weights for my book press. About 15 lbs to press both books.

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For the NA27 diglot, I tried to use cardstock paper as an end sheet, and linen fabric over it to give a nice texture. It’s not beautiful, but I think I could polish it up to be a nice end sheet. I totally failed on skiving the leather. I probably didn’t get my knife sharp enough. I’m a long way from nice rounded corners like I wanted. Also, vinyl probably isn’t the best choice for the liner, there is already cracking along the crease. I’ll look into other fabrics on future rebinds.

It was a fun process. It makes me want to pick up these two Bibles more as well. They aren’t perfect. I have so much room for improvement. But the leather smells really nice, it is a major upgrade over the plastic on cardboard covers these Bibles had prior to the rebind.

Celebrating Mother’s Day

As I consider how I choose to celebrate holidays my goal is to “Redeem the Day”. I desire to teach Christ through the holidays. My question, then, is “How can Christ be honored through celebrating this holiday?” Mother’s Day is not a Biblical holiday, however the concept of honoring your mother is: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12, NIV)”.The values of Mother’s Day line up easily with biblical teaching.

I can’t demand honor from my children. The command in the Bible is to honor my father and my mother, not to demand honor from my children. My responsibility is to honor my parents and to create an environment for my children that allows them to learn this commandment for themselves. So, how can I honor my parents? It can be a card and flowers. It can be a nice dinner. It can be listening respectfully to a story already told, advice already given (and not asked for), viewpoints I may disagree with and imperfections that irritate. It may be taking a step toward forgiveness and possibly reconciliation. Honor is a transforming discipline that beautifies a person’s character the more it is practiced. But it’s not easy. Mother’s Day is a good opportunity to consider if and how a mother, or mother figure, can be honored. Mother’s Day can also be a very complicated holiday emotionally. I appreciate Amy Young’s message in An Open Letter to Pastors {a non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day} as she seeks to encourage sensitivity to the many unique situations and emotions this holiday can draw out.

As for celebrating the holiday with my family I’ve decided that, as delightful as a “day off” would be while Daddy cares for the boys, I want to celebrate inclusively with my family. Ok, in all honesty, I like to sleep in some if given the chance… I’m so not a morning person! But, for the rest of the time I want to celebrate with my children rather than apart from them.

Here are some fun ideas I’ve seen for celebrating Mother’s Day that should work well with small children. In my mentioning them here I’m bookmarking them for the future, as these are ideas I would like to do but haven’t done yet. Here they are:

  1. A mother’s day journal – This idea from Baby Gizmo Mom’s Best Friend is a wonderful and frugal way to keep mother’s day remembrances through the years! This journal could include a picture of the family each year, a note of appreciation and love from family members, a drawing, and/or perhaps a simple interview “about mom” each year (see #9 below for ideas).

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  1. Having a tea party – It’s nice to sit down, eat finger foods and pretend to be elegant every now and then!
  1. Going out to eat with the family – Go somewhere that’s family friendly! Enjoy not having to cook and clean up, and be sure to tip generously if tipping is involved – thank you to all that work in food services on this day!
  1. Scheduled appreciation activities – Follow this suggestion from Parents.com and schedule some time for hugs! Create a schedule with set times for games, silliness and hugs! One o’clock, time to hop around the table and give mom a hug! Two fifteen, let’s sing “Happy Mother’s Day to You” (to the tune of Happy Birthday)! Three forty-five, now we’ll play “Mother Says”!

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    1. Read a book together – We love books! There are lots of great books out there that focus on a mother loving her children. Here are some that I enjoy and can suggest for Mother’s Day:
      1. Devotion – The books listed above can be used as an easy bridge to talk about God’s love for us. Just as these mothers love their children, our God loves us uniquely and sees us individually (Psalm 139:14, John 10:3,14-15), he loves us with unchanging love (Lamentations 3:22, James 1:17), and he pursues us with his love (Romans 5:8). Some classic devotions from the Scripture that could be chosen for this day are the stories of Eve, Ruth, Hannah, Mary, 1 Corinthians 13, Psalms 139… This short list is not intended to be comprehensive, so I welcome other suggestions!
      1. Appreciation for mothers, grandparents or other mother figures in our lives – Most of us are blessed to have someone in our life that nurtures, guides and/or mentors us that we can show appreciation for. Let’s be thankful for these people! The ways we can find to appreciate people are as diversified as the people we appreciate. Cards, flowers, phone calls, candies, crafts, and meals are classics. Homemade cards can be done ahead of time, too, to offset some of the expense of cards in the store. Other ways to show appreciation could be servicing (cleaning, pulling weeds), creating a home movie, giving a good book, or just spending time together!

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      1. Plant flowers in garden or pots – On the theme of nurturing growth, this seems like it could be a fun tradition! Mother’s Day could be a day to plant flowers together or get the garden growing.
      1. About “me” interview – Put together some questions to ask the kids about Mom. Here are a few ideas:
        1. How old is mom?
        2. What is mom’s favorite thing to do/ color/ food/ book/ place to visit…?
        3. If you had $1000 to spend for mom on mother’s day, how would you spend it?
        4. What is your favorite thing to do with mom?
        5. How does mom show that she loves you?
        6. If mom were an animal what would she be?
        7. If mom were a superhero what would her powers be?
      1. Spend time together (games, walk, etc.) – These moments where I just have some fun with my kids are so precious. Mother’s Day is a good reminder to just stop and play and watch their eyes light up with joy. I need these times to store away in my memory bank and they do, too!
      1. Don’t forget to take a picture with the kids!

What I actually did for Mother’s Day:

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Fingerprint hearts! So cute! I wrote the names on the left side but used a paper to cover it for privacy in this photo.

I created these cute little fingerprint hearts as gifts for the grandmothers and sent them out with a little card. Actually, I made these for Valentine’s Day, but it’s taken this long to get them sent out!

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We took a picture with me DSC_0949and the kids (I definitely want to make this a tradition, too), and, yes, I was able to sleep in a little bit. At church the boys made these special Mother’s Day cards and they are just so precious. The rest of the day was spent enjoying family time together.

Happy Mother’s Day! And thank you to all those who, in the same spirit as our Lord, seek to mentor and/or encourage those around them, be they small children or grown, who proclaim good news to the afflicted, who bind up the brokenhearted, who proclaim liberty to captives, who release prisoners from darkness, who proclaim the Lord’s favor, who comfort those who mourn, and who seek beauty, joy, and praise. You are greatly appreciated and your worth is immeasurable.

 

Celebrating the Passover – Part 3: Day of

How it all went down:

We had a blast! We will definitely do this in the future. All in all, it probably took about an hour to go through the story with the kids. We started as soon as Daddy got home from work:

Building a pyramid
Building a pyramid
  1. Slavery in Egypt: We pulled out the Mega Bloks and built a “pyramid” together while explaining that the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt and had to work very hard. They enjoyed building with Daddy although we had to work fast since the little one was more focused on deconstructing than building. The pyramid was knocked down soon after completion!
  1. Birth of Moses: Our son loved that we used his teddy bear for baby Moses and spent the rest of the evening calling him, “baby Moses”! We explained that when baby Moses was born his mommy had to hide him because soldiers were trying to find him so we put him in a basket (box) and hid him in the Nile River (a blue blanket). Then we “discovered” him as Pharaoh’s daughter and had to run as Miriam around the table in the kitchen to find his mommy. In the future maybe we could take assigned roles, but it didn’t bother anyone this time to play all the roles.

    "Baby Moses"
    “Baby Moses”
  1. Calling of Moses: Daddy continued to tell the story of how Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house but then ran away to become a shepherd (this is an abbreviated version, as they get older we can be more detailed), while I stepped out to grab the burning bush. I had envisioned some wonderful Hollywood effects (fan, costumes, lights) but the crinkly paper and flashlight through the vellum paper was exciting enough for toddlers! Keep it simple!!!
  1. Plagues: I wanted to continue a repetition of a conversation between Moses and Pharaoh for each plague – “Moses said, ‘Let my people go!’ and Pharaoh said, ‘No!’”. We remembered to do this between plagues sometimes, but forgot sometimes. I hope next year to be a bit more consistent with this exciting reinforcement!

Plague 1 – Water to Blood: I added a few drops of red food coloring to the bottom of my glass and poured water in. Amazingly, it turned red! The amazement was lost on my eldest who immediately said, “I want to drink that. I want juice!” So, moving quickly along to plague number 2!

Frogs!
Frogs!

Plague 2 – Frogs: They had a lot of fun playing with the paper frogs! They would have played with them quite a bit longer if I stopped there. I just left them all out and moved along with the plagues.

 

Plague 3 – Gnats/Lice: skipped

Plague 4 – Flies: My flies got a few smiles from the boys and my two year old leapt into action to catch them (he’s so fast!), but the frogs were still so much more fun…

Plague 5 – Livestock diseased: skipped

Plague 6 – Boils: Hmm… apparently this one was pretty scary. There were some tears when I attempted to put a sticker on my two year old’s arm. Maybe I should have given him the sticker to put on me. I put a few on my arm and we moved along. He wanted a sticker on his arm later, though.

Plague 7 – Thunder and Hail: We dumped out all the “hail” on the boys. They loved it! This was one of the highlights of the day. They threw the paper up in the air and had a lot of fun with it.

Plague 8 – Locusts: skipped

Plague 9 – Darkness: I lit a candle and commented that although we are enjoying playing as we learn about the Exodus, it was a time when many people were suffering a lot. This of course went over their heads but maybe in the future this would open up some discussion about what happened.

Painting the doorpost
Painting the doorpost

Plague 10 – Death of the firstborn: We quickly put the paper on the wall beside our door and squeezed a bit of paint into the disposable cup. Our two year old enjoyed some highly supervised painting beside the door as we told about the Passover lamb and the tenth plague of the death of the firstborn. The little one was very curious about what we were doing and did a little finger-painting! So, we quickly grabbed the wipes and cleaned some fingers, moved the papers up higher, and Daddy told the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, being followed by Pharaoh, and being trapped by the Sea of Reeds while I quickly set up the hallway.

Parting the Sea
Parting the Sea
  1. Sea of Reeds: I broke the crepe paper holding back the streamers to allow them to fall across the hallway, quickly stuck the pictures of fish on the wall, and laid the sheet on the floor. The story of the parting of the waters was barely finished when my two year old came barreling through the streamers, giggling in delight as the waters parted for him. Then again, and again, and again… he loved it! The little one enjoyed pointing at all the fish on the wall, but he was a bit leery of going through the streamers. He would back up to it, but that’s as far as he got on his own.
Ice cream with honey... mmm...
Ice cream with honey… mmm…
  1. Sinai: While they played in the Sea I scooped up a bit of ice cream with honey. The little one will have to wait till next year, but the two year old was quite happy to sit down for a cold treat. We finished the story telling how Moses led the Israelites to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah from God. We retold the whole story while we finished up our treat and then they played with the props while I cooked dinner.

All in all it took us about an hour to tell the story to the kids once we started. As they are older and want to interact more with each piece and discussion might happen more I expect this could take longer. But we absolutely want to do it again. It was a lot of fun and they enjoyed interacting with the story. The parting of the sea was the favorite part. It lasted about half an hour (which I was really amazed by!) until our son pulled down the streamers, to the great relief of our little one! They then put all the streamers in the living room and made another “sea”. We told the story again at dinner and at bedtime since he was really excited to talk about it again. Then we cleaned up all the remains of the evening. It was a great way to remember the Passover and we look forward to doing something similar next year!

Celebrating the Passover – Part 2: Preparation

We wanted to tell the story of the Exodus through a toddler-friendly, hands-on, active experience for our children. Many of my ideas came from biblebeltbalabusca.com. The prep work probably took me about three hours. I wanted to do as much as possible before hand so the story would flow smoothly and quickly (short attention spans!). Here’s what I did:

Preparation

1. Slavery in Egypt: Make sure the Mega Bloks are in one location for quick access for building.

2. Birth of Moses: Check to make sure we have a blue blanket and a box accessible in the living room.

My burning bush with tissue paper
My burning bush with tissue paper

3. Calling of Moses: Create a “burning bush”. I cut out a cereal box and glued some green tissue paper to it. I also had some red vellum paper from Joann’s that made lovely “tongues of fire” that I cut and taped to the back of the bush and individual tongues of fire to the front of the bush. I had a flashlight on stand-by for some “special lighting effects”.

4. Plagues: I decided to pick and choose on the plagues to represent since some of them are a bit harder to pull off (maybe in the future), so here’s what we chose:

Plague 1 – Water to blood. I used the ol’ “food coloring in the bottom of the glass” trick. My prep work was to put the food coloring vial in the glass so I would have it available to grab.

Glass with red food coloring on stand by!
Glass with red food coloring on stand by!

Plague 2 – Frogs. There are lots of tutorials for folding index cards into frogs online. We folded about 15 and put them in a bag. When the kids are older they can help make these.

Origami frogs
Origami frogs

Plague 3 – Gnats/Lice. We skipped this one.

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Flies with pipe cleaner and tissue

Plague 4 – Flies. I twisted a couple of pipe cleaners around a dowel, cut them in two, and added tissue “wings”. Then I tied them to the dowel with a string. All ready to plague my kids!

Plague 5 – Livestock diseased. We skipped this plague. Maybe in the future we could have some stuffed animals get sick.

Plague 6 – Boils. I pulled out some “dot” stickers to have ready.

Ready for quick application
Ready for quick application

Plague 7 – Thunder and Hail. We wadded up a lot of paper (filler paper from some online orders we had made earlier) and put it in a box. I’m sure in the future the boys would be happy to help make “hail” with me.

Crumpled paper for hail
Crumpled paper for hail

Plague 8 – Locusts. We skipped this one.

Plague 9 – Darkness. Since the kids go to bed early we would need to go into the garage or a closet to achieve some darkness. I decided instead to have a candle and match ready to represent this plague.

Ready to apply beside door and paint
Ready to apply beside door and paint

Plague 10 – Death of the firstborn. We cut out large patches of butcher paper to put beside our door. I put painter’s tape on the back so it would be ready to quickly slap in place. I also had some red paint, a small paper cup, and a paintbrush ready.

 

 

 

 

5. Parting of the Sea of Reeds:

Crepe paper across hallway: I’d purchased some crepe paper to hang in our hallway. We have a lovely overhang between our hallway and kitchen that is just perfect for a “wall of water”, so I measured the length and cut pieces of crepe paper to attach to painters tape and hang across the hall. It helped a lot to have some assistance with this so we could roll the crepe paper back and forth to attach it to the tape and cut it at the right length. I then “parted the waters” and used a bit of extra crepe paper to tape it up high since I didn’t want them to play with it until Daddy came home from work the next day and we could tell the story together.

Crepe paper across hallway for Sea of Reeds
Crepe paper across hallway for Sea of Reeds
Parted and taped up high until we're ready
Parted and taped up high until we’re ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish: I printed some fish and colored some of them with my toddler the day before. We didn’t color all of them since there were quite a few. Maybe next year I can start coloring a while before the holiday. I put painter’s tape on the back so I could quickly put them on the wall in the hallway.

Fish papers ready to put on wall with tape
Fish papers ready to put on wall with tape

Sheet: I had a white sheet ready to put on the floor in the hall for a different textual experience. It felt nice and cool to walk on.

6. Coming to Mt. Sinai: This was the final event of the story and we had some vanilla ice cream (to represent the mountain) and honey (to represent the Torah) on hand.

Ok, ready to go!

Celebrating the Passover – Part 1: Intent

The holidays celebrated in the Bible provide insight into God’s character, context to Jesus’ teachings, and are a wonderful opportunity to highlight stories from the Bible. We’ve chosen, for this reason, to celebrate many of the traditional Jewish holidays alongside our other celebrations during the year.

Passover snuck up on me this year! I circled it on the calendar and was thinking, “oh, it’s late April”. Days passed and I suddenly realized, “it’s the day after tomorrow!” Thankfully I had already put a bit of thought into what I wanted to do as I prepared for Easter last month. Normally Passover and Easter will be close together but this year they were a month apart. Passover follows the lunar Jewish calendar, and Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (however, the Eastern Orthodox Church requires that Easter always follow after Passover, so the date is frequently later in this tradition).

Since Passover and Easter are so closely knit together and usually fall in the same week I’ve chosen to focus on only one major celebratory meal that week. We celebrate a kind of Seder meal at Easter. Maybe in the future we’ll explore doing a light Seder meal during Holy Week as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, but I rather like the idea of focusing on the events of the Exodus (salvation from slavery in Egypt) prior to focusing on the fulfillment of salvation from slavery to sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Navigator’s Hand

The Navigators have a great illustration to show ways to interact with the Bible. The hand illustration has five methods labeled across the fingers: Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, and Meditate.

Image from www.navigators.org

Hear: If you only go to church on Sunday and never open your Bible, you will still hear the word (hopefully!). If you turn on your favorite local Christian radio station then you will hear the word. When you listen to a sermon, or a devotional, or a Christian song or hymn, someone else has meditated on the word and you are getting their fruit second hand. This can still be valuable, but not as valuable as going to the source for yourself.

Read: Reading is different than studying. At the Christian book store there are hundreds of study Bibles, but there aren’t many Bibles that are designed for pure reading. When you sit down with your study Bible, there are notes, section sub headings, word studies, cultural notes, and all sorts of other really helpful information. But that isn’t how you normally sit down and read. When the Message was first published, it was a Bible with no chapters and verses. It was a Bible designed to be read. The NIV has just released a Books of the Bible edition also with no chapter or verses. The ESV has also released a reader’s edition. There is value in being able to sit down with your Bible and read large portions at a time. Read, then read again. Read fast, then go back and read slow. Read with your style of reading, then take advice from others. Reading is a skill, and there is always room for improvement. Learn to ignore the section headings, put paragraphs together and see the big picture. The main point of reading is to OBSERVE the text: What does it say?

Study: This is where your study Bible is really helpful. After you have read, and you have paid attention to what it says, then you are ready to INTERPRET: What does it mean? In reading you are sticking to the text to see what it says. In studying you can bring in commentaries, but it is important to interact with the text first. The commentaries are useless if you don’t know what the text has said first. But there are some great commentaries. If you want to find out about available commentaries for the different books of the Bible, www.bestcommentaries.com is a great resource. If you want some great commentaries for free there are a few places to get some (Constable’s Notes, ICC OT & NT, Keil & Delitzsch commentaries). Something may not be clear from your initial reading: names, places, cultural references, idioms. A good commentary can provide some help. A commentary may come to conclusions you disagree with, however, I find it helpful to wrestle with the differences. Articulate why you disagree, and perhaps write out your thoughts. I am not endorsing everything said in all the commentaries listed above, but there is very useful insight. Learn to sift the good from the bad when it comes to the commentaries. But more importantly keep your study focused on the text after you have OBSERVED what the text says, then INTERPRET what it means. The better your observation the better your interpretation.

Memorize: In Matthew 4, Jesus is tempted by Satan. Satan uses some Bible verses as part of his temptations. Jesus quotes scripture from memory, and uses them in context of their true meaning to refute Satan. The value of memorizing scripture is immeasurable. It gives you the foundation to have scripture come to mind when you are weak, when you are vulnerable, and most importantly when you need it. Memorizing helps improve your OBSERVATION of the text, and to reevaluate your interpretations. Memorization helps you focus on the structure of sentences, and helps lead you to the next step of Meditation. Try to memorize verses in context, get the whole paragraph or full thought the verse communicates. There are some challenges to memorization. I started memorizing verses from the NIV, but then I came across the NASB and wanted to start changing versions. It’s hard to memorize verses from multiple versions. One solution, try memorizing in the original languages as a gateway to learning Greek and Hebrew. Another challenge is passage of time. I had a stack of Bible verses I had memorized. I’ve lost that stack of verses, and can’t recreate it. I’ll have to re-memorize those verses, because it takes time and commitment to memorize and retain.

Meditate: What are you thinking about when you drive to work? While you are waiting at the dentist? When you are awake at night and can’t fall asleep? Why not fill that time with scripture? Meditation is thinking on something. When you memorize scripture you have already begun the process of meditation. You can’t avoid thinking about what you are memorizing. Each phrase learned of a verse leads one to ponder its meaning. Meditation on scripture throughout your day also helps you to think about how it applies to the different things and situations you come across. It helps you put into practice the scriptures. This is APPLICATION of the text to your life: How to live it? Great application comes from great interpretation that came from great observation.

The goal of every sermon is to get you to do something. The best sermons are the ones that come from the text, and the pastor walks you through what it says, helps you see what it means, and then hammers it home with how you can do it in your life. But any sermon you hear, good or bad, can lead you to the text. You can read for yourself, and study to go deep. Memorize the parts that you want or need to work on most, and meditate. The Holy Spirit guides you and empowers you to do the Father’s will. He leads you through the text. This is how God has communicated Himself to us, and how He continually speaks to us. Stay in the Word!

Review of the NetBible

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The NetBible is a Bible that is available for download for free at bible.org. It was created out of a desire to have a Bible under a copyright that allows it to be downloaded for free. Every Bible has some copyright restrictions, some versions allow more use than others in publications. The NetBible is extremely generous in its allowance. It is the only translation that can be downloaded and printed (up to 1000 complete bibles) and given royalty free. The majority of the translation team is from Dallas Theological Seminary, there are a few from other seminaries and churches. I must confess for my review, that I am a DTS alum. I love the faculty, and believe in this project.

My review is of the premium bonded leather full notes edition. This Bible was gifted to me at a DTS meeting for alums a few years ago. There was no expectation to produce a review of the Bible, but I enjoy it so much I wanted to offer a sincere review. I bought a first beta edition of the NET Bible in 2001, back when it was only 57,875 notes. That was prior to my DTS studies, and part of what drew me to the seminary.

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The bonded leather does have a plastic feel to it, but it is pliable. I am afraid to bend it too much, I believe it would leave a crease. The text on the spine reads ‘THE NET BIBLE’ centered near the top, ‘with 60,932 translation notes’ centered on the lower part of the spine just above the publisher stamp ‘bible.org’. There are three faint ribs on the spine to provide a little extra texture. There is an additional stamp ‘Premium Bonded Leather’ on the back cover. (Bible.org also offers a leather edition that I’m sure is a much nicer cover.)

The real treat of this Bible is what is inside that cover. This translation is fun to read. It is honest with the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic underlying the translation. It explains itself with an overwhelming amount of notes. A quick skim through the NET Bible reveals most pages have over 50% notes less than 50% text. Some pages have almost all notes and just a verse or two of text (See Gen 1:1 and John 1:1). The notes are divided into four types, study notes (sn), text critical notes (tc), translation notes (tn), and map references (map). The translation notes help guide to commentaries, technical articles, language reference works. The references are technical and may appeal to the serious Bible nerd. The study notes are also helpful to bring out cultural background and other useful information to help illumine the text. The overall intent of the NET Bible notes serve a different purpose than those of something like the Life Application Study Bible. Like in its title the Life Application Study Bible serves to provide application from the text, rather than explain and dig into word meaning and textual issues.

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The text in the NET Bible is paragraph format in double columns. Poetry starts a new line with each verse. Scripture quoting scripture is indicated with bold italics, if it is an allusion to scripture it is only in italics. Every verse has the chapter and verse included in bold. This does make devotional reading cumbersome, but I have gotten used to it. There are no chapter breaks in the text, but there are section headers that usually break two chapters apart. The section headers have a space between the preceding and following sections to set them apart, and they are in italics to distinguish from the text of scripture. The notes can be a distraction in the full notes edition. The notes are a smaller font than the text. Younger eyes are probably fine with the small font, I like to have a magnifying glass. These notes are so valuable they are worth the trouble. The paper is very thin and there is noticeable bleed through. The notes appear to have consistent line matching near the bottom of each page. The line matching on the scripture passages is less consistent. The section headings do not have a full space above and below, so each section heading throws off the line matching. The text is still readable with the bleed through.

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The NET Bible is a good readable translation. I really enjoy reading it, and it is a fun translation to read aloud with my children. The English used is very colloquial. It includes all you would expect in your Bible vocabulary (justify, sanctify, glorify, redeem, etc.) but it still maintains a very readableness to it. This is a delightful translation to read. It avoids the stiffness and formality of an overly literal translation, but still gives you a literal translation in the notes.

With the flaws in my printed version, I do more devotional reading with the AndBible app on android. AndBible allows you to download the NET Bible, and you can read without the notes, and you can even remove the verses. Bible.org has also published a compact version and a readers version. These additional versions provide a more pleasant reading experience than the full notes version. The full notes version provides a wealth of information that no other study bible provides. It is a gateway to exploring the text, learning about the underlying original languages, and getting into resources that will help unpack the text.

The NET Bible attempts to make clear the meaning of a passage, even over traditional interpretation:

Matthew 6:9  So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored (NET)

Matthew 6:9  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (ESV)

The NET Bible is bold. It has some translations that don’t make it into other versions. The notes allow the translators of the NET to do this because then can explain their decision.

Judges 11:39  After two months she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. She died a virgin. Her tragic death gave rise to a custom in Israel. (NET)

Judges 11:39  And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel. (ESV)

Malachi 1:2-3  yet I chose Jacob and rejected Esau. (NET)

Malachi 1:2-3   Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. (ESV)

Romans 3:21-25  21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed–  22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. (NET)

Romans 3:21-25  21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–  22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (ESV)

Please understand, I love the ESV. I only use it for illustrative purposes, in each of these comparisons the ESV translations are similar to most other evangelical translations. The NET is bold it its approach to translating, honest with the text. The translators are able to explain their approach in the footnotes. It is a valuable translation to have available to reference when preparing to teach a sermon or small group lesson. It is available for free at bible.org, but it is nice to have a print version. My copy is the bonded leather, I may break down and buy the nice tuscany leather cover after the next major update.

The technical details from bible.org

Full Notes Features:

  • All 60,932 translators’ notes
  • Full color satellite maps of the Holy Lands
  • 9.5 point font
Print Bible features:

  • Premium Cromwell Leather
  • Premium Bible paper
  • Premium Smyth sewn binding
  • Gold gilded edges and a premium ribbon
Bible Specifications

  • Width – 6 3/4″
  • Length – 9 5/8″
  • Thickness – 2″

Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. The “ESV” and “English Standard Version” are trademarks of Good News Publishers. Use of either trademark beyond the use described in this Permission Notice requires the permission of Good News Publishers.

Scripture quotations designated “NET” are from the NET Bible, copyright 2005 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.netbible.com