The Access Bible does what no other Bible in print has done: it marries impeccable, ideologically balanced scholarship with helpful annotations, sidebars, maps, and other study aids that first-time Bible readers need to understand what's going on. With apologies to the author of Ecclesiastes, this really is something new under the sun--a Bible that anyone, regardless of religious education, can pick up and read. It will neither talk down to you or make you feel you've gotten in over your head. The translation, the New Revised Standard Version, is the only contemporary translation that preserves the bones of the King James style and renders that style in straightforward language. The annotations, which appear in helpful places on the book's well-designed pages, also include a glossary and concordance to help readers understand and locate key terms in the Bible. The Access Bible makes reading the Bible as easy as it can be. Deciding what to do with all this knowledge, that's the hard part. (The Access Bible comes in several bindings, and is published in two different versions--one with the Apocrypha, a collection of writings endorsed by some denominations but not others--and one without.) --Michael Joseph Gross
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