CSB Heart of God Teen Study Bible. Baker, 2019, 1712 pages (9-point font)
Reading Level: Teen, ages 12-15
Recommended for: ages 12-18
The theme of this teen Bible comes through loud and clear: the Bible is a book about God, and rather than starting with our feelings and responses to it, the place to begin is with God’s purposes and actions. Extensive book introductions summarize the theme and message of each book, then provide back-matter in the form of author, audience, and probable date or dates. An outline of the book and its place in the biblical narrative rounds out the introduction. The text is divided up into separate readings, usually 1-3 chapters long, each of which encompasses a unit. Each reading begins with “Setting the Stage,” a brief paragraph explaining theme or purpose. Each reading ends with “Seeing the Heart of God,” a recap with one or two questions, usually one observation and one interpretation or application.
But that’s not all. Other in-text features include “Biographical Snapshots” of Bible characters and their significance to the overall narrative, “Behind the Scenes” Bible facts and customs, “Big Questions” about difficult passages, and “Encountering God” expositions of God’s character and his relationships with individuals and humanity. The Appendix lists all these, as well as miracles and parables of Jesus, weights and measures, and reading plans (no maps).
Mark Strauss, a New Testament professor at Bethel Seminary San Diego, is the general editor—and, I presume, the author of most of the sidebars and introductions. From what I read, the extra-biblical material is generally quite good, but the presentation can be a bit intimidating. I might have kept the Setting the Stage and Seeing the Heart passages in place, but moved the longer sidebars and boxes to the appendix, with page references in footnotes (e.g., “See ‘Slavery in the Bible’ on page ___”). In passages with significant theological implications, the preponderance of sidebars seems distracting. Otherwise, it’s a Bible that puts the attention where it belongs, effectively directs a student’s attention, and gives glory to God.
Note: if you’d like to explore further, the Amazon preview of the ebook gives the complete text of the Heart of God Study Bible from the Introduction through Numbers.
Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
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