Chock full of cultural and historical notes, gorgeous photography, maps and tables, this bible is an excellent way to gain understanding of scripture that may otherwise entirely escape one’s notice. It also adds insight to common misperceptions about many scriptures. One way this is done is put put things in perspective and remind the reader not to measure actions against today’s standards, but the standards of the time it was written. Weights, measurements, monetary values are all explained in a way that allows the reader to translate and compare it to todays standards.
A woman gives up or donates a bolt of purple fabric. Big deal right? You can get anything from burlap to silk on clearance in any fabric store. In biblical times, spices, fabrics, dyes and many other materials were precious commodities. Aside from purple being associated with royalty (an indication of social standing to even possess it), to give up a large bolt of purple is akin to your average J.C. Penney shopper giving up the one and only piece of Versace or Prada they have.
A camel going through a needle? NOT going to happen. Again, there is information on architecture and mountain passes that will offer a broader insight as to what was meant by that scripture. A cracked jar? So what, toss it in the recycle bin. This bible gives insights to different types of containers, their importance in everyday life and the value of the craftsmen that produced them.
This bible also offers arguments against widely held beliefs and doesn’t insist on being “right” about everything. The Levitical portion demonstrates that very well by offering a history of speculations and educated guesses and calling them just that. When they don’t know for sure, the say so. It cites resources and invites the reader to want to know more.
Some may argue that it’s not a five star bible. This body of work does not claim to be a study of Hebrew and Greek language, and it’s not. It’s a complete biblical text supported by Arcaeological research. I buy a new version of the bible every other year or so unless I see a good deal in a used book store. The next one will be specific to original language and text.