Family Ministry Today

The Center for Christian Family Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Study Bibles for Teens and Graduates

by Derek Brown – May 13

J. B. Cheaney, writing at, has provided a helpful review of several popular study Bibles for teenagers.  She gives a brief summary of each study Bible, offers some evaluative comments, and ends each review with a score (1-5) for overall value.

In this week’s WORLD column, I wrote about the need for young people to own for themselves the principles their parents taught them—in biblical truth above all.  That makes the choice of a Bible even more crucial, perhaps, than it was for younger kids.  Our free-market system ensures that where there’s demand there will be supply, so a diligent shopper will find no dearth of “Teen” and “Student” Bibles out there.  The problem may be sorting out which is best for your own young adults.  I have my own opinions but I don’t know your kids, so individual preferences and needs must be taken into account—you might even ask them!  Today’s post is a tour of readily-available titles (I found them all at Mardel), for barely-teens to the college- and career-ready.

First, consider whether your teen needs a Study Bible, Devotional Bible, or Reading Bible.  What’s the difference?  A study Bible is designed to help the reader engage intellectually with the text, by providing theological and textual notes, cross-references, maps and charts, timelines, and anything else that will help clarify the meaning. Devotional Bibles are designed to help the reader engage emotionally with the text.  They’re usually slanted toward the reader’s age group, interest, and/or demographic (have you seen Zondervan’s new NIV Homeschool Moms Bible?) and contain lots of sidebars with encouraging  thoughts, leading questions, and key verses.  “Life Application” Bibles tend to be a blend of study and devotional.  Everything else falls into the category of reading Bible: just the text with little supplementary material (besides the omnipresent “weights and measures”—does anybody actually refer to those?).  Some rearrange the text in chronological order and some, like the ESV Literary Study Bible, include notes to enhance “just reading.”  At the teen age, I would personally lean more toward study Bibles than devotional, though again, it depends on the individual.  And if the budget allows, consider buying one for just reading.

Read the whole article here.