Bible Study Magazine

BSM.jpgHeiser, Michael S., ed.

Bible Study Magazine (Nov.-Dec. 2008)

Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008. Pp. 50. Paper. $4.95 US | $5.95 CAN | £4.95 UK.

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Ryan Burns from Logos Bible Software was kind enough to send over a copy of the inaugural issue of Bible Study Magazine.  After flipping through it for the last few days I can say that it looks like a promising venture.  The first thing I noticed about it was that the pages had a flat finish instead of a glossy one and my eyes couldn’t have been happier.  There’s quite a few adverts in the magazine, something like 20 out of 50 pages have some form of advertising on them, but I suppose that’s par for the course with magazines in general.  They have their statement of faith on the same page as the letter from the editor (p. 3) and they kept it simple with the Apostles’ Creed.  I would have liked to have seen the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed but what they have will do.

There’s a nice little word search entitled “Humbling Hezekiah” which is based on 2Kings 18, as well as a funny cartoon on p. 8.  The main article is an interview with apologist Josh McDowell (p. 11-16).  I have to admit that I’ve never been a fan of McDowell’s writing but I learned a few things about him in the interview that maked me like him better.  For example, when he spoke about the role that apologetics played in his conversion he was honest in saying that they only got him thinking, in the end it was the “tender love of the risen savior” (p. 12) that convinced him to trust Jesus.  He also recognizes the role that presuppositions play in a person’s worldview and acknowledges that all the evidence in the world for the resurrection or existence of God won’t convince someone who presupposes naturalism.  It was also interesting to learn that he wrote his first book on 12 legal note pads in one sitting!

Other articles include a brief interview with Peter Flint where he talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls and their importance for the Christian faith and Bible study (p. 19-22).  Following that is short article from Daniel Wallace on “Choosing a Bible Translation” (p. 23-26).  He gives brief synopses of the KJV, (N)RSV, ASV, NASB, REB, TNIV, NLT, HCSB, ESV, NET, and even the New World Translation (NWT) that the Jehovah’s Witnesses use.  In the end he recommends that everyone should own at least an RSV, NIV, and NET.  Another article of note was the “Not Your Average Bible Study: Facing Today with the Book of Hebrews” (p. 31-34) which lays out an 8 week study plan for the first chapter of Hebrews.  There’s even a small section to record your notes.

And while the material in this slim magazine is helpful and good in its own right, I think the editors would have done better to maintain a more consistent theme.  For example, the outline for studying Hebrews 1 is a major section so perhaps the theme of this issue could have been the book of Hebrews.  Rather than interviewing an apologist they might have liked to interview a scholar who has written a major commentary or monograph on the book of Hebrews.  Perhaps the article on choosing a translation could have reflected some of the differences in translation of certain key passages in the book of Hebrews or the manner in which Hebrews 1:8 quotes Psalm 45:7, a passage over which there is no little contention.  The “Thoughts from the Church Fathers” (p. 39) could have quoted Cyril of Alexandria from any section of his Commentary on Hebrews rather than his Commentary on Luke.  The “D.I.Y. Bible Study” section which features an article on “Using Bible Dictionaries” (p. 35) that basically quotes what various dictionaries have to say about a certain portion of Scripture could have focused on a passage from Hebrews rather than Acts 17:22-25.

I think I’ve sufficiently made my point with the above suggestions but all in all Bible Study Magazine looks like it’s going to be a nice little publication for people who love the Bible.  Its diversity is more likely to attract a bigger audience than the limited scope I’ve proposed above would, and if I were more given to reading magazines I’d probably get a subscription, but since I prefer books I’m going to have to pass.  However, if you enjoy magazines I’d recommend it with no problems; $14.95 for six issues seems a reasonable enough price.  If you’re interested in subscribing then go here.

B”H

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9 thoughts on “Bible Study Magazine

  1. Interesting. While I likely would have passed on it with McDowell on the cover (I’m not a fan, either), I appreciate your review. Still, other than the outline for the first chapter (!) of Hebrews, how does the magazine reflect the title?

  2. Will: Overall I think it reflects the title well. Aside from the article on Hebrews there’s the abovementioned article on choosing a translation which is of course the first place to start with Bible study. There’s another article on “Using Bible Dictionaries” which doesn’t actually teach the reader “how” to use a Bible dictionary, but rather it examines what various dictionaries have to offer on a certain passage, in this case Acts 17:22-25. There’s also a testimony towards the back entitled “How Bible Study Changed my Life and Saved My Marriage.” I think they might have done better to stick with a constant theme throughout though and I do believe that I’ll ammend the review to reflect this opinion.

  3. It seems to me that Josh is re-inventing his narrative. He used to have a page on his website titled “Are You A Skeptic?” that contained the following narrative:
    I too was a skeptic too until I took a good hard look at the claims ofJesus Christ. In college I met several students who challenged me to take a closer look, to study and examine the Christian faith.
    I took the challenge, feeling certain I could prove Christianity to be false, a religion built on nice stories that couldn’t stand up to the test of truth.
    But as I dug deeper and deeper into the claims of Christianity, I was shocked. I found facts, not fiction. I found so much evidence that I could only come to one conclusion Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was crucified, He died, and He was resurrected on the third day.
    Soon after this discovery, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. That was 39 years ago. My life has been completely changed because I have a personal relationship with Christ.

    That doesn’t sound like the story he is selling now.

  4. I could not find that page anymore. The current bio is not nearly as explicit about his conversion being based on investigating the evidence:

    As a young man, Josh McDowell considered himself an agnostic and believed that Christianity was worthless. After being challenged to intellectually examine the claims of Christianity, Josh discovered compelling and overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. After believing in Jesus Christ, Josh’s life changed dramatically as he experienced the power of God’s love.

  5. It looks like the future of this magazine (intellectually speaking) could go either way. Will they take the high road of presenting what genuine scholars (e.g., Flint, Goodacre) with a heart for Scripture say, or will they give us more of the likes of Josh McDowell?

    If they put McDowell on the cover, they might also (gulp) put Rick Warren on the cover.

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