Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: Compass Study Bible

My first ever review!

A while ago I was asked to write a review about Thomas Nelson’s new Compass Study Bible. (Check it out here or here.) This Bible is written in the relatively new "The Voice" translation and has several unique features. Before I tell you about them, let me say, I REALLY like this Bible and the way it is put together.

Okay, so here are some of the features (and what I thought of them):

Screenplay text

I thought this was a nice feature to have. The Bible is written with parts of the text in screenplay format, so that it’s easy to follow who is speaking. (e.g. instead of "and Jesus said" it says "Jesus: " followed by Jesus’s words).

Explanatory text 

Instead of having hefty footnotes (or worse, endnotes) there are two ways in which things are explained:
    1. Italicization: this is within the text of the Bible and shows you where the writers have added words or phrases that were not in the original text that was translated, but instead was added to give the modern reader a better understanding or insight into the scripture.
    2. Text boxes/notes: at certain points within the text there are boxes (which are easily distinguishable from the Bible text) which offer further explanations, or relate this text to other parts of the Bible, or other bits of insight into the passage, or the time in which it was written.
I found both of these to be very valuable in making the text more approachable, especially to newer readers of the Bible. It was a very nice feature to have particularly when reading the law books, because it gave context to some of the laws.

Reading plans

This Bible has two reading plans. One is a Bible-in-a-year plan, that gives you a reading for each day of the year so that you can read the Bible, in order, in 365 days. Pretty cool. The second is called "40-day Retreat with Jesus" which has 40 (duh) short readings and a suggested 7-step guide for how to set aside time to read it (finding a quiet place, reading the passage multiple times, praying as you read, etc.) I really liked that that was included, and I’ll probably try that reading plan sometime soon.

Topical guides

There are two of these
    1. Topical guide to the notes: Remember those text boxes that I mentioned above? There’s an index of all of them, giving key words, a brief comment about it, and the location of the box in the Bible.
    2. Topical guide to the scriptures: This one works a bit like the mini-concordance that you’d find in the back of many Bibles: it gives a general keyword, then it has a more detailed subcategory (e.g. Communion has the subcategories “With God and Christ”, “With Other Believers and Saints” and “Lord’s Supper or Table”, each of which has specific examples with references)

Roadmap to God’s Promises 

This feature I didn't particularly care for (not that it was bad, I just didn't find it useful). It gives scriptures grouped by category such as “Jesus is your Savior”, “What to do when you don’t understand God’s ways” and “What the Bible has to say about the Church”. I think that others will really like it, since it contains a lot of scriptures that come in handy in many challenging life situations

A bit about The Voice translation

As I said it’s pretty new, and this was my first time ever reading it. I’ll leave it to the theologians to give detailed commentary on the translation itself, but I will tell you that deviating from the method of most Biblical translations, which are generally either word-for-word or thought-for-thought, the writers instead translated it using what they call “contextual equivalence”. This method, as the name might imply uses the context of the writing to translate. As a side note, I have to say that this translation does not read like The Message: you can definitely follow along in other (more traditional) translations, which can be a bit hard to do when reading The Message.

Other than the features that I've already mentioned, The Voice has a few other quirks. Two that take some getting used to are Lord (Yahweh), which is written as Eternal, or Eternal One; and Christ, which is written as Anointed, or Anointed One. Reading this really made me take a step back and appreciate these two names in a new way. (It was also a nice reminder that Christ is a title, not Jesus’ last name, lol).

I really like this translation for several reasons. It’s easy to read since the language is modern, but without being colloquial. It’s still the Bible! They managed to modernize the language without making it sound like just any other book. But I guess most strikingly is that the way it’s written makes me look at familiar passages differently, almost like I’m seeing them for the first time. I loved that I can read John 1:1, which I've known from memory for like, ever, and see it with new eyes because of the way that the writers chose to translate it: Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend it to someone who's trying to get into reading the Bible, or for someone looking to read the Bible with fresh perspective. If you've read the same translation of the Bible for your whole life, you might have a bit of culture shock reading this one.

Be blessed and shine anew!

Disclaimer: I was asked to review this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers & Shelton Interactive. Other than the free Bible, I wasn't compensated in any way for writing it, nor was I required to write a positive review (I just really liked the Bible, lol).


  1. :). Maybe when it's released I'll get a version!

  2. Hey! Thanks for this review! I think it's time for a new bible so I'm going to have to visit the bookstore and check this one out

    1. should! If you want to get a feel for The Voice translation, it's on, and in the Bible Gateway app.


A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23