First published in 1985, the New International Version Study Bible launched the modern study Bible movement. Study Bibles—which in addition to the original text include commentary, illustrations, charts, maps, and indexes to enhance the reading experience—are a cornerstone of religious education and personal religious practice. It is generally accepted that the first English study Bible was the 16th-century Geneva Bible. Early in the 20th century came the Scofield Reference Bible, followed by the Oxford Annotated Bible in the 1960s. But the NIV Study Bible, which is the standard study Bible for the evangelical world, is the template upon which other contemporary study Bibles are based. The new 2020 edition of the NIV Study Bible is its sixth and most comprehensive revision, even as it maintains the original edition’s commitment to accessibility for evangelical Christians via clear and unbiased interpretations of Scripture.
Steering the work on the NIV Study Bible is Dr. Kenneth Barker, who served as the general editor for the original 1985 edition and holds that role for the 2020 revision. Now approaching his 90th birthday, Barker has worked on the NIV Study Bible for nearly half his life. “Dr. Barker has shepherded one of the most iconic kingdom-building tools in the history of Bible publishing,” says Melinda Bouma, vice president and publisher for Zondervan Bibles. “We are humbled by his tireless and faithful dedication that for four decades has shaped the lives of millions of readers.” He brings decades of commitment to and familiarity with the NIV Study Bible.
Dr. Barker is joined by returning associate editor Dr. Mark Strauss and three new associate editors for the new edition: Dr. Craig Blomberg, and Dr. Michael Williams, and Dr. Jeannine Brown, an expert in New Testament and Hermeneutics and the first female scholar to work on the NIV Study Bible. “As the study Bible is to represent the breadth of evangelicalism,” Bouma says, “I was delighted for Dr. Brown to join the editorial team and help shape this peerless study Bible for future generations.”
The five editors met for seven week-long work sessions over the course of four years, reexamining every annotation, chart, and essay in the previous edition, adding or updating more than 1,000 notes, and adding 100 new articles. The updated notes and analyses were also deepened and broadened. The previous edition of the NIV Study Bible, for example, concludes the annotation for Matthew 1:3, which discusses the controversial inclusion of women in the genealogy of Jesus, as follows:
"By including these women (contrary to custom) in his genealogy, Matthew may be indicating at the very outset of his Gospel that God’s grace is not limited to men or to the people of Israel."
Below is the end of the same note in the new edition:
"By including them (contrary to custom) in his genealogy, Matthew indicates at the very outset of his Gospel that God’s grace is not limited to the people of Israel. Also because all five of these women were associated, rightly or wrongly, with suspicions of sexual impropriety, Matthew is showing that the Messiah’s genealogy is not limited to the upright."
While there’s nothing wrong with the original note, the revised one is richer, adding ideas and context that reflect contemporary readers’ questions and sensibilities.
In addition to textual updates, the new NIV Study Bible underwent a complete visual makeover, including colorful charts, full color photos and illustrations, and fresh typesetting in Zondervan’s exclusive NIV Comfort Print® typeface, which is designed for readability. It’s still the benchmark book that readers have loved for four decades, but with this comprehensive revision, the NIV Study Bible is ready for new generations of readers seeking to deepen their faith and their understanding of Scripture.