Published by Holman Bible Publishers on March 2020
Genres: Academic, Non-Fiction, Devotional
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In the CSB Life Essentials Study Bible, renowned Bible teacher, Dr. Gene Getz guides readers through Scripture by expounding on 1,500 life principles found throughout the Bible. Distilling these truths into life principles, Dr. Getz helps readers remember and apply the Bible's wisdom to everyday life.
The CSB Life Essentials Study Bible integrates a multimedia digital study system with more than 250 hours of in-depth video teachings from Dr. Gene Getz on these essential life principles (accessed through smartphone-accessible QR codes). Questions follow each principle to inspire personal reflection or group discussion. A topical index and cross references for all 1,500 life principles is included, and each book introduction provides a list of corresponding life principles found in that book.
The Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible is the result of a lifetime of study and well over a decade of work. Originally published in 2011 after seven years of work, Dr. Getz’s text and video teachings have been completely reworked for this 2020 edition. This has been an intensive labor of love for Scripture and for those whom he is teaching. With nearly a half-million words of commentary and 300 hours of video content, this interactive study Bible is set to revolutionize the way you study Scripture.
Bible Principles will give away a Bible to a ministry in need for every Bible purchased on their website. Buy one here!
The Concept | Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible
I have a whole shelf of study Bibles. Some are rather minimal, basically occasional explanatory footnotes. Others have extensive notations and commentary that help readers understand culture, context, or interpretation. The Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible goes one step further, offering a few paragraphs of commentary, but also linking to a ten to fifteen video of Gene Getz teaching over that topic via a QR code. Just wave your mobile device over the page and you suddenly have a short teaching from Getz on that very topic. (I think the only way to get more immersive would have been to engineer pop-up holograms…maybe fifty years from now, who knows?!)
There will be some who say that this is distracting and takes away from the reading experience. The same can be said of regular study Bibles and it’s a legitimate concern. Are you reading Scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you? Or are you reading one person’s interpretation of Scripture? Users need to take care that they are going to the Word for the Word, and not for whatever pastor or Bible teacher’s teaching.
Thus, I would recommend that the Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible not be the only way you read the Bible. Let it be a magnificent supplement and teaching tool, but don’t let it overtake the purity of just you and the Word. (That’s how Getz got his 1,500 principles after all!)
The Principles | Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible
Getz’s commentary is divided into 1500 (FIFTEEN HUNDRED) life principles. This means there is around 300 hours of video teaching included. The average small group video-based curriculum is four to six weeks long, maybe three hours of total video content, and costs $40 or more. For the same price, you can purchase the Life Interactive Study Bible and you’re set for years.
Pretty much every page of Scripture contains at least one principle. Even the typically “dry” areas of Leviticus and Numbers come to life with modern application through Getz’s teaching. And while the principles are written to be encountered throughout the text, there’s also a topical index that allows you to search for videos by topic. (Also to note, you can access all the video materials separate from the study Bible for free at BiblePrinciples.org.)
The one limitation that I see is that Getz’s principles are anthropocentric. Humanity and our perspective—what we are do, how we are to respond, what we should feel—is a common theme. This is obviously purposeful on Getz’s part. Nearly every principle has “we” or “us” or “our” as its focus. The problem becomes that Scripture is God’s story about what he is doing, not just us. Now it is called the Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible so, you know, it is meant to have that central focus. But this shows why you also must take the Bible first, and then the principles, because—even with 1500 principles—what you can learn from Scripture is even greater than what Dr. Getz is teaching.
The Translation | Christian Standard Bible
The Life Essentials Interactive Study Bible is exclusive to the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). The CSB is a relatively new translation (first published in 2017) that is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (first published in 2004). It is a very readable, accessible translation done by top conservative, evangelical scholars.
The CSB has been my “daily reader” for the past couple of years and, while I don’t agree with every translational choice, I’m fine with it as a translation. The main issue I have, though, is a large one. There is a definite translational bent toward the belief that women should not be church leaders. For instance, Romans 16 contains the names of two female church leaders: Phoebe and Junia. The NIV 2011 has:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. – 16:1
Greet Andronicus and Junia…are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. – 16:7
In this translation, Phoebe is called a deacon and Junia is an apostle. But in the CSB:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae. – 16:1
Greet Andronicus and Junia…They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles, and they were also in Christ before me. – 16:7
In the first verse, the word deacon/servant is διάκονος (diakonos) and is where the English word deacon comes from. In the second, there is enough debate over the Greek grammar what is intended that the NIV translation should at least be noted.
Since the CSB comes from publisher Broadman and Holman and parent company Lifeway, which is in turn the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, this translational choice is no surprise. Like I’ve been mentioning throughout this review, this should not be the only Bible you read or the only translation you read. Other than its complementarian bent, I haven’t really encountered or seen much translational controversy over this translation.
The Commentator | Dr. Gene Getz
Gene A. Getz (1932-): A college and seminary professor, writer, and pastor who successfully integrated the philosophy of renewal into a local church setting. He is perhaps best known for his 1974 text, Sharpening the Focus of the Church, which looks at the church through the lenses of Scripture, history, and culture. Out of this book came the Fellowship Bible Church movement, which has hundreds of churches across the U.S. today.
A popular and prolific author, many of his books focus on developing local church leaders and Christian character. Getz has had significant influence across evangelical Christianity. Listen to Life is Story’s interview with Dr. Getz here.