The 7 Best Study Bibles

Updated August 26, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

7 Best Study Bibles
Best High-End
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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Whether you are a theological student or simply looking to improve your personal knowledge, you'll find one of these study bibles enlightening and educational. Featuring the New King James Version, the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New Living Translation, our selection includes editions that come with a host of additional resources. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best study bible on Amazon.

7. John F. MacArthur NKJV

The John F. MacArthur NKJV is a comprehensive resource that is the result of 35 years of theological work by the author. It does a thorough job of explaining the historical context behind God's world and unfolding the meaning of the text.
  • includes an overview of theology
  • index to key bible doctrines
  • binding tends to fall apart
Publisher HarperCollins Christian
Model n/a
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Zondervan NIV

The Zondervan NIV is one of the top selling bibles of its kind because it includes character sketches and over 10,000 application notes to help you understand and apply the message of the Scripture. It also contains 100 profiles of biblical personalities.
  • features study directives
  • point of view is very objective
  • does not include bookmarking tabs
Publisher HarperCollins Christian
Model n/a
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Holman Bible Staff Edition

The Holman Bible Staff Edition includes insightful study help right next to the related biblical text, making it easier to understand and analyze your reading as you go. It also includes 20 articles and essays on theological issues to get you thinking.
  • lots of unique photographs
  • 62 historic timelines
  • text is a bit small
Publisher B & H Publishing Group
Model n/a
Weight 5.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Study Bible for Women

The Study Bible for Women has lots of notes and word studies that will help you answer many of the hard questions found throughout the Bible. With extensive book introductions, presentation pages, in-text maps, charts, and timelines, it makes for a compelling read.
  • deep dive into scripture
  • will ignite a passion to be a mentor
  • pages are too thin to highlight
Publisher B & H Publishing Group
Model n/a
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Tyndale NLT

The Tyndale NLT offers notes explaining difficult passages and gives you details on what life was like in biblical times. It is also a good source of guidance on how to apply the Bible to your personal life, with 10,000 real world applications on which you can act.
  • attractive two-tone cover
  • comes in a large print format
  • makes the word easier to comprehend
Publisher Tyndale House Publisher
Model n/a
Weight 4.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Ronald A. Beers NASB

The Ronald A. Beers NASB represents the most literal, word-for-word translation for putting scriptural truths into practical action. It will help you understand the lessons of the Bible and help you figure out what God's work means for your life today.
  • written in single-column format
  • includes harmony of the gospels
  • has over 100 personality profiles
Publisher HarperCollins Christian
Model n/a
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Thomas Nelson NKJV

The Thomas Nelson NKJV is the cornerstone Bible for anyone interested in serious Bible study. It includes detailed charts, in-text maps, and a prophetic reference system that makes it easy to digest. It also helps you access terms in their original languages.
  • verse-by-verse breakdowns
  • in-depth articles on key subjects
  • includes expository topics
Publisher HarperCollins Christian
Model 3885BG
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Studying The World As We Know It

Religion can be a contentious issue. From the conflicts between and among the world's largest organized faiths to the squabbling over minute aspects of translation through years of reading and worship, it becomes increasingly difficult to find two human beings who agree completely on matters of divinity.

Isn't that the point, though? At least in the last half a century or so, an individual's personal relationship with his or her almighty has come to outweigh the more inflexible institutional doctrine that once punished diversion from a strict interpretation of the word.

Of course, in order to have that kind of personal relationship with the history and stories contained in a religion–within or without its organized houses–one must be versed in its verses. That's where these study Bibles come in, with their unique and effective qualities toward enlightenment and elucidation.

When you pick up a copy of the Bible and simply read it, the chances that you'll comprehend the entirety of the language used are about as good as those that you could pick up Shakespeare and perform it properly without any help. The language is just too dense, too packed with the complexities of successive translations, epic and simple metaphor, and cryptic religious imagery.

As you work your way through a good study Bible, you'll encounter re-translations of more complicated passages into modern, understandable language that will help you apply the morals and messages therein to your daily life. Some even have specific exercises that will help you actualize your study in the real world.

The best among these Bibles also offers you essays and explanations regarding difficult theological issues, the ways in which certain passages would have been interpreted at the time they were written compared to today, and etymological breakdowns of specific and important points in the language.

Find The Right Word

You could, if you so chose, divide the Bible up by the Old and New Testaments and into two categories of study, studies in fear and love respectively. You might even say that, as is the case with many people, having a kid softened God up a bit. The difference in body count between the Old and New alone is enough to illustrate the extremity of the change in perspective.

What about all that fear in the first book, though? Well, that becomes a set up, really, for the message of the New Testament. It's as though the Old Testament sets you up with a riddle: How do you survive in the face of fear from all directions–fear of your oppressors, fear of your God, fear of your fellow man, fear of your own sin? Then, the New Testament comes along with the simplest of answers: love.

Understanding such a shift comes down to a lot more than just the hormonal and psychological effects of becoming a parent. And a look at how a given study Bible regards the differences between the two testaments, at how they suggest each informs your daily life, will either sell you on its quality or have you packing it back up for a refund or exchange.

Perhaps, your daily life is in need of a little positivity, a little perseverance in the face of our busy, over-productive society's pressures. Perhaps, you need a little love in your life. Some of these Bibles have specific exercises in them designed to breathe the love of God into the quotidian interactions with your fellow man. You'll find interpretations of the word that will inspire you to greater empathy and regard for the plight of others, and help give you the strength to meet adversity with love.

For readers more interested in scholarly pursuits than personal development, there are Bibles on this list that feature maps, translation notes, and tautological, theological essays above all else. In theory, personal development is inevitable, so even the eggheads among Bible students will have love to gain and faith to find in the pages of their headier study tomes.

A History Of Reinterpretation

There's scarcely enough room on our servers to do justice to the complex and controversial history of the Bible. The New Testament's four gospel canon (Mark, Luke, Matthew, John) that makes up the cornerstone of modern Christianity, for example, was suggested as an exclusive canon as early as 180 CE, which began the exclusion and suppression of all other gospels discussing the life and works of Jesus.

Bishops and popes over the next few centuries continued to suppress non-canonical gospels for reasons that are difficult to surmise, though conspiracies abound with varying degrees of madness and plausibility. The Old Testament is only slightly different, in that its history is one of studious copy and scrutiny by religious authorities and zealots of its day and region.

Men with agendas have always fueled the local and global interpretation of the Bible. Even among the contemporary translations, the so-called New International version, the American Standard version, and the slightly older New King James version, there are differences in translation and application as determined by men with specific goals in mind.

If you reach far enough back, you'll find over 5,000 hand-written Greek copies of the New Testament still intact. It remains the most copied and distributed tome in the history of man. It's passed through plenty of filters, both linguistic and political, but a good study Bible can help you see through the haze of history, and to the true meaning of the words within.

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Last updated on August 26, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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