Book Review: Teen Study Bible (NIV)

Zondervan is all into publishing niche Bibles. Not just different translations, but Bibles for different markets, from women who are looking for some guidance on family life, to teens who are hoping to have some questions answered. Niche marketing sells, especially when well-meaning family members have decided that Someone needs a Bible.

I doubt if any teen would choose this as their Bible. If anything, it might appeal to a younger child looking forward to their teen years. The problem with anything marketed to “teens” is that what appeals to that demographic shifts like sandbars in a hurricane. They are never where you think they should be, and their interests, speech patterns and priorities change so quickly that by the time anything aimed at the demographic is published, they have moved on.

The Zondervan Teen Study Bible has a very evangelical outlook. It draws parallels between the lives of biblical figures and what modern teens might be experiencing. Honestly, I think that is a bit of a stretch. here’s an example, from one of the “Instant Access” sidebars, this one in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 2: “You know that prayer is important. Everyone knows that. But it’s not easy to find the time, Jesus was so busy it was hard for him to find time too.” First, it has a very superficial understanding of prayer, as some activity we shoehorn into our day. Second, it suggests that Jesus was just tearing around the countryside, being busy. Possibly, these are two viewpoints with which many theologians would take issue. But they are presented as facts in this sidebar.

I doubt if I would buy this for a teen in my family. Some, who have experience with Bible study and scriptural analysis, might find it useful. It is already rather dated in appearance and tone. I would suggest finding a standard NIV or New English translation, giving it to the teenaged student, and letting them make of it what they will. The evangelical overlay here is pretty heavy-handed.
NIV Bible teen study

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