Over the past few months, my anticipation has been growing regarding the release of the Holy Bible: Mosaic (New Living Translation). Since I heard of the concept from Mosaic‘s general editor, Keith Williams (@KeithWilliams), I have developed high hopes and high expectations for what I wanted this bible to be. Last week, I graciously received a review copy from Laura Bartlett at Tyndale and have been pouring over this bible ever since. After a week with this work I can sum up my review in a few works: My expectations were not only met, they were far exceeded!
Opening this bible for the first time, it is readily apparent that it is neither a study bible nor a devotional bible in the traditional sense. All the devotional material is contained in the first 350 pages, preceding and completely separate from the biblical text except where cross-referenced by marginal notes. I confess, I really like this approach to devotional material. One of the stated goals of Mosaic is to offer ‘the complete text of the Bible without interruption’–a goal it has achieved with this unique approach to separating devotional material from the biblical text.
The devotional material that makes up Mosaic is structured into weekly meditations ordered to follow the church year. For those of us in liturgical traditions, this approach is instantly recognizable, but for those in other traditions, the introduction offers a short explanation of the form, function, and purpose of the church calendar. Each meditation has its own theme with scripture passages drawn from, but not rigidly tied to, the Revised Common Lectionary. While centered on scripture, each meditation presents readers with approximately six pages of beautiful artwork, quotes, hymns, poems, prayers and space to write down their own reflections. The materials presented in these meditations are drawn from the entire spectrum of Christianity, from the 1st century to the 21st century and from Mennonite to Eastern Orthodox. As stated in the introduction, all this is ‘designed to bring you into contact with the global, historic church as you engage with God’s Word.’
As an Air Force chaplain, Mosaic offers me a unique treasure beyond that obviously offered in the Word of God. The written material in these meditations lends itself to use not only individually but corporately for worship, devotion, study, and pastoral care. In addition, the materials are drawn from all regions of the world, which allows me an instant connection with the people our troops will be working with and living among–and if we cannot broach the language barrier, the artwork in Mosaic, also drawn from all cultures, can create a powerful visual connection with members of any culture and ethnicity. While I will have several study bibles in my office / tent / chapel, Mosaic will be the one bible I will have in my hands or in my rucksack at all times!
I will not endeavor to offer a review here of the text of the New Living Translation (2nd ed, 2007 text) itself. Others have done such reviews in painstaking detail. I shall only point out that, through the last ten years, I have gone from the NASB to the ESV to the NLT as my primary text for preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. The details of this bible’s textual layout, however, warrant a few words. Mosaic is a typical two-column layout with one of the most extensive center-column cross-references I’ve seen in a NLT edition. In addition to scriptural cross-references, there is also a basic word study cross-reference listing of 100 important Hebrew and Greek (200 total) words with expanded definitions, usage, and other information just before the over 100-page dictionary/concordance. The margins of Mosaic are just under an inch (top, bottom, and outside), which isn’t much room for extensive notes but which provides a small writer like me enough room to make a few notes. Mosaic is also a black-letter edition, so there can be no complaints about Tyndale’s historically rose or pink-looking ‘red-letter’ editions. The font used in Mosaic may be a bit small for some, but while smaller than that used in some other bibles I have, it is wonderfully crisp, clear, and easily and most readable of any NLT edition I own.
Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend Mosaic for anyone looking to grow deeper in their walk with God, be challenged to see Christianity beyond their own denominational or ethnic boundaries, or anyone looking for a fine edition of the New Living Translation. Tyndale has given us a great resource in Mosaic, and I thank them not only for their tremendous efforts but for the opportunity to review it!
Note: I am participating in Tyndale’s Mosaic blog tour on Friday, October 2nd. More details can be found at: www.holybiblemosaic.com Stay tuned for a Q&A with Mosaic‘s General Editor at Credo, David Sanford and a Mosaic giveaway!