If you are looking for a Bible with extensive study notes included, the International Inductive Study Bible (now called the New Inductive Study Bible) is the last Bible you should purchase. There is practically no explanatory notes or commentary in this Bible. But if you are looking for a Bible that will help you personally apply the principles of Bible study, then you should give this Bible serious consideration.
Developed and promoted by the good folks from Precepts Ministries International, this study Bible is designed for the person who wants to discover the joy of self-discovery. It’s one thing to look down at the bottom of a page to learn something from a scholar who put in the long hours and gleaned great insights to be shared. It’s another thing to put the hours in yourself. Can you guess which approach yields greater joy and longer retention?
Several years ago my wife and I went through the Precepts training and were certified as Precepts teachers. For both of us, the training was a great refresher course from what we had learned in seminary in hermeneutics. Not as in depth and intense as a seminary level course, but more than sufficient to equip a person with the basic tools needed for a lifetime of enriching personal Bible study.
The Precepts approach to Bible study is built around these three successive steps:
(1) Observation – What does the text say?
(2) Interpretation – What does the text mean?
(3) Application – How does the text apply to my life?
Far too often people approach God’s Word with the third question in mind without giving proper time and attention to the first two steps. Such a casual and naive approach can lead to much confusion and even heartache as God’s Word is mishandled. This study Bible helps you develop the discipline of getting these steps in order, giving you confidence in handling God’s Word for personal application to your life or teaching others.
You will probably not be carrying this Bible to church with you. It is not exactly designed for mobility. Until I got the new ESV Study Bible (to be profiled later), this was easily the heaviest Bible in my library. With wide margins for writing notes, by design the Bible has to be unusually wide to accommodate the extra space. All that to say, odds are that if you get this Bible, it will stay near your desk.
In the picture below, you will notice the use of the colored pencils to mark up the pages. Colored pencils are to Precepts study as bats and gloves are to baseball. The idea is that using colors and symbols to mark key words and concepts helps the student of God’s Word to actually “see” the themes and key truths emphasized in a particular Bible book. For example, if you were to open up my IISB to the 4th chapter of John, you would see a lot of red hearts on the page. Every time John uses the word love in that chapter I put a red heart over the word. I don’t use the IISB near as much as I used to, but occasionally before I preach through a book, I will pull out my IISB, my colored pencils, and set out in another fruitful (and colorful) journey in Bible study.
A quick word about the translation. Mine is the New American Standard (NASB). I know at one point this study Bible was also available in the New International Version (NIV). I am not sure if that is still the case. I would highly recommend going with the New American Standard (NASB). If you are going to do this type of in-depth study, you need a reliable literal (word for word) translation like the NASB, KJV, or ESV. To use a looser (thought for thought) translation like the NIV just doesn’t make a lot of sense when using this kind of study Bible.
Finally, if you are serious about getting a Bible like this, make sure you do your homework on what kind of colored pencils or pens to use. Bible paper is thin and if you use the wrong kind of pen or pencil you will end up with an exceedingly annoying amount of bleedthrough.