Over the past few years, the New International Version of the Bible has done much updating of its text. And 2015 is the translation’s 50th anniversary. As part of that celebration, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible has been recently released.

Many features in the new study Bible are ones that have long been used, such as lists in the side margins of related verses that are thematic cross-references.

Footnotes that are a part of the NIV translation come under the Scripture. And verse-by-verse commentary fills the bottom half of the page.

The Old Testament and New Testament each opens with an introduction. Then each section has an introduction. For instance, the first five books of the Bible — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy — are collectively know as the Pentateuch, and a seven-page article gives background information about the Pentateuch. Then each book has an introduction.

All of these explanatory sections are filled with photos, maps and text as needed. These items pop off the page because the new Bible is printed in full color.

The study Bible then pulls from newer ideas in Bible publication.

Here are examples from the Gospel of John:

Maps aren’t relegated to the back. The page that faces John 4 has a full page map titled Jesus in Judea and Samaria.

In addition to locating towns, nine numbered spots on the map offer more information. For instance, No. 1 is Caesarea, and the map says that this was the most important port in the Holy Land during the New Testament. Spot 4 is where Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman, Spot 6 is where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and Spot 7 is where Jesus called Zacchaeus, the famous short man of the song, down from a tree.

John 5 tells the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man lying beside the pool of Bethesda. A drawing of what the pool and surrounding buildings looked like is inserted into the section.

Small charts are scattered throughout the Scripture and commentary.

For instance, in John 6 there is a chart of “Jesus’ Seven ‘I Am’ sayings in John.”

The first one, I am the bread of life and living bread, is in chapter 6:35, 48, 51.

The “extras” in the back include 28 articles on theological topics, including creation, sacrifice, holiness and worship.

A concordance follows, as well as a four-page index to the maps. And just for tradition, the standard NIV color maps are at the end.

Another feature is a code that allows the user to access the study Bible’s digital edition.

So far, my only complaint is that the type is small for my eyes, and I hate to think how large and heavy a large print version would be.


The publisher has a website dedicated to the new study edition. Visit nivzondervanstudybible.com/ to learn more and to view a free sampler that includes Genesis and Romans.

On the NIV site, visit:

thenivbible.com/made-for-you/ — for information about the history of revisions made since 1978.

thenivbible.com/made-for-you-video/ — for a video with members of the current Committee on Bible Translation.

thenivbible.com/products/ — for a list of the various types of NIV Bibles available.

Both the study Bible site and the NIV site offer a lot of information for those seeking in-depth knowledge about the translation and the study Bible.