Review: Bible Study Magazine

by on December 3, 2008

Introduction

Logos Bible Software has just released the first edition of Bible Study Magazine (BSM). At first I was a bit skeptical and thought the computer software company might be overstepping their boundaries. I was wrong. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised overall with the layout and “feel” to the magazine. The stated goal of the magazine is to provide readers “with tools and methods for Bible study.”

Inside the Magazine

The first thing I noticed was how colorful the magazine was. It seemed as though every page shouted for your attention. I use shouted not in a negative way. Rather, I say shouted because it was though each page said, “Hey, I have something important for you and you need to check it out!” Simply flipping through the magazine is not really possible because of the placement of comments in the margins and the use of pictures throughout. Your eye is regularly drawn to the page as you can’t help yourself from reading what is there.

Every addition of BSM includes

  • Bible Study Tips–explaining difficult passages
  • A Moment with God–everyday people sharing how they have quiet time amidst their crazy schedules.
  • Feature Story–Generally the face on the cover of the magazine
  • On the Cutting Edge–archaeological and historical findings
  • Not your Average Bible Study–maps out an 8-week Bible study to be used personally or in a group.
  • On Teaching–advice on teaching the Bible
  • D.I.Y. Bible Study–using Bible study tools effectively
  • In the News–the latest news concerning the Bible
  • Thoughts from the Church Fathers–quotes from the past
  • Greek Word Study w/o Greek–A 4-step process to studying the Greek text w/o going to seminary
  • If Only Someone Would Explain it to me–complex biblical concepts in layman terms
  • What They Don’t Tell You in Church–facts about the Bible that will
  • I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible–pointing out what we usually do not see
  • Shelf Life–reviews on books and commentaries about the Bible
  • Bible Comics and Puzzles

Critique

The positives are many. The aesthetic appeal with the use of all the colorful pictures and ads bring life to the magazine. I really liked their use of bloggers in a print magazine. Bloggers have a noticeably different writing style than those who normally contribute to magazines and other forms of print media. In addition to bloggers, BSM used professors from various seminaries and bible colleges as well as other freelance writers. When you bring all of these various writing styles together in one magazine, you are presented with an eclectic publication that will find an audience with just about anyone from the newest believer to the oldest and from the layman to the scholar.

What is more, the scholarly articles are written with the layman in mind while the “not-so-scholarly” articles are written with the scholars in mind. For example, BSM makes use of the margins to explain words like “canon” and “Koine Greek” for those who are not familiar with those words. However, BSM also uses the margins to present some “deeper information” than what the article presents. In doing this, BSM does an excellent job of bridging the gap between the layman and the trained scholar.

Another postive was the way in which BSM attempts to keep everything interrelated. For example, in the “Greek word study without the Greek” section, the passage of Scripture that is being discussed is Luke 8:46. In the very next section, “Thoughts from the Church Fathers,” they quote Cyril of Alexandria on Luke 8:43-48. This is only one example, but it is obvious that the editorial team painstakingly made sure that there was a flow from cover to cover.

For all the many positives, there were some negatives. Perhaps the most glaring was the way they interspersed the ads throughout the magazine. Some of the ads were strategically placed on the same page that included an article about what was being sold. One example of this would be the inclusion of a sales add for Zondervan’s book How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth by Fee and Strauss in the middle of an article entitled Choosing a Bible Translation.

While I recognize this as a strategic (and probably effective) advertising approach, I think it leads to unintentional confusion. On the very next page, opposite the Zondervan book ad, is another ad featuring Josh McDowell talking about how great the New Living Translation is. The fact that it immediately follows the article on choosing a translation seems to imply an endorsement of the NLT by BSM. In all fairness, though, there were ads for the ESV and the NASB as well.

I also got the feeling that the magazine came with a Logos salesman. I realize that this magazine is published by Logos and they are going to advertise their product everywhere, but I think this is a case where less could be more. Yes, I appreciate knowing that I can find more information on the Dead Sea Scrolls or how to defend my faith, but every URL they offer that begins with logos.com/ leads to a page where I have to purchase something. Perhaps instead of putting all of these links in the margin where they have provided other excellent information they could place it at the end of the article beneath the author’s short bio or reserve a section in the back of the magazine that explicitly states that Logos offers many resources on what has been presented in the current issue of the magazine. With everything else going on in the margins, this became more of a distraction than a help.

Recommendation

I believe the editorial staff did a wonderful job of sticking to their main purpose of “providing readers with tools and methods for Bible study.” The negatives mentioned above dealt only with the ads and not the content of the magazine. That is a significant point that should be made. Do I agree with everything that was said in the magazine? No. Do I ever agree with everything that was said in any magazine or book? No. While BSM does not try to bring about debate and disagreement, it is going to happen and that is fine. I found nothing in the content of the magazine that was heretical. What I did find was a lot of tips and advice to believers to delve further into God’s word and plumb the depths of His glory and mercy and love.

There is a lot of information about the Bible being published today. Bible Study Magazine is a much welcomed resource that will enhance anyone’s study of God’s word regardless of education and/or age. If you know a new believer who is wanting to learn how to study God’s word, this magazine would enable them to study deeper the Bible quicker. If you know an older believer who sometimes struggles with his study of God’s word, this magazine would help them see the Bible from a fresh set of eyes.

From the colorful pages to the content found within, I welcome the addition of this magazine into my home and church and believe that you would, too. It would make a great Christmas gift as well.

Comments

I have subscibed to BSM in hopes to find exactly that a means to study the Bible. I was very excited until I read your statement of faith. It was going real good until the mention of the Catholic Church. Its hard for me to see how this can be a non-denomination publication with that being said. There is a good chance I want renew the BSM.

God Bless, Neal Moody

@ Neal: If you are referring to the mention of “the holy catholic Church” in the statement of faith, then there are two things you need to be made aware of.

First, that statement of faith is simply the Apostle’s Creed. This Creed is the only creed I am aware of that every Christian (and I mean true believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ), regarding of denominational affiliation or doctrinal leanings, can agree upon.

Second, the use of the word “catholic” in this creed is not referring to the Roman Catholic Church. If you look up the word “catholic” in a dictionary you will discover that it here refers to a universal church; i.e., the true church of the redeemed in Jesus Christ.

I hope that helps clear up any misunderstandings. Please feel free to contact us here at GtS (or me since I wrote the review) regarding anything else.

God bless.

Terry Delaney