It seems that there has been a wave of new study Bibles hitting the market over the last six months. The NLT Discover God Study Bible is the latest in the streams of study Bibles. The Discover God Study Bible appears to be based on the work of Dr. Bill Bright. One motto of this work is, “The most important thing we can teach another believer is who God is.” Another motto found in this study Bible is, “We can trace all our human problems to our view of God.” Therefore, “the Discover God Study Bible is designed to do two things. First, it will help you build a strong foundation – a more accurate view of God. Second, it will help you build on that foundation, teaching you how to follow God.”
The first 62 pages or so of the Discover God Study Bible set forward a topical link system to connect important scriptures about God. There are 10 key topics that this Bible guides you through to study: Bible, God, Salvation, Worship, Adoption, Holiness, Warfare, Church, Purpose, and Ministry. A few pages of scripture citations are devoted to each of these ten topics. It is an excellent resource for those who need foundational teachings on these topics. I was quite surprised at some of the information in these topical guides. The most eye opening topic under Worship was Sacraments in which in has two topics: the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. I completely disagree with this assessment. The Lord’s Supper and baptism are not acts that bring grace upon a person. I would like someone to show me where the scriptures teach that the Lord’s Supper is a way God administers his sanctifying grace to us. So, while being thorough with its topics, I believe that some of the points leave much to be desired.
As we enter the text itself, the study Bible is in greyscale. The maps in the back are in color, but the charts and graphics in the study notes are in greyscale, similar to the NLT Study Bible. One feature that I really love about the NLT Discover God Study Bible is that the text is in single column paragraph and the study notes are in double column. I believe this is ideal. I was disappointed with the NLT Study Bible formatting the text in double column paragraph and the study notes in triple column paragraph. The NLT Discover God Study Bible is formatted better. One formatting preference that I do not like is that this study Bible uses red letter. Many people love the words of Jesus in red. I do not, but at least it is in a darker red so it is not as difficult to read as other red letter Bibles. Another good feature is that the study notes are not bound to the Discovering God theme. It follows like most study Bibles, making comments where necessary on complicated, difficult, or important texts. But it also makes study notes based upon the ten key topics identified at the beginning of the study Bible. These study notes tie back to the topical guide, encouraging the student to learn more about that particular topic about God. Throughout the text there are greyscale boxes called “My Response To God.” These encourage the student to consider and particular text and act accordingly. There are also Discovery Verses that are highlighted through out the text, emphasizing a particular scripture to observe and mediate. The introductions to each book of the Bible offer sections about discovering God in that book and how to grow by studying the book. Each introduction also offers a few key facts about the book, including authorship, recipients, the date of the writing, and the setting.
Overall, the NLT Discover God Study Bible is well done. It is formatting in such a way that will encourage one to read. Formatting is beautiful and certainly pleases my eyes, making me want to read more. Some may find the topical guide at the beginning useful, but I imagine that most people may ignore that section. The study notes are good. At least the notes do not ignore baptism or backpedal away from the fact the baptism was performed by Christians. Unfortunately, more and more Bible are ignoring this important act in our response to God. However, I am disappointed to see the topical guide call baptism and the Lord’s Supper “sacraments.” I think that is simply not true. It is a tough choice between the NLT Study Bible and the NLT Discover God Study Bible. The notes seem better and more thorough in the NLT Study Bible. But the formatting is far better in the NLT Discover God Study Bible. I would make my selection based upon which is more important.