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I was recently shown an excerpt of commentary from the NIV edition of the Life Application Study Bible from Tyndale/Zondervan. Frankly I was rather surprised by how blatant the eisegesis was in that specific case. Since I don't have a full copy of it to review key passages I can't tell whether this is a persistent issue or just one poorly thought out bit that slipped through.

It's remarkably hard to find reviews of Study Bibles online that delve into what kind of theological background the commentary is from. Some of them are obvious¹ but most of them seem to specialize in being as "middle of the road" as possible. It's easy to find descriptions of how many maps and illustrations and reader aids a given work includes and most tout "a broad range of scholarship", but a lot harder to find anything specific about the backgrounds of the actual commentators.

With that in mind I'm looking for a general break down of what went into the writing and editing of this particular work:

  1. Who were the major contributors and from what theological traditions do they hail?
  2. Were there any explicit boundaries set by the project as for as what hermeneutical approaches and/or theological traditions would be represented in what light?
  3. Are there strong theological biases² evident at any point in the commentary? Specifically is are there consistent trends towards explanations that endorse specific views on key issues such as:
    • Arminian vs. Calvinist views on soteriology.
    • Complementarian vs. Egalitarian views of gender roles.
    • Premillennial, Postmillennial, or Amillennial views on eschatology.
    • Dispensational vs. Covenantal views on the nature of the church through history.
    • Credobaptist vs. Pedobaptist views on baptism.
    • Cessationist vs. Continuationist views of apostolic gifts?
  4. Are there any notable trends in which denominations or traditions have embraced the use of or disapproved of the content of this work?

Note this same commentary content seems to have been published alongside a number of different English translations. As far as I can tell it isn't important to this question that the NIV edition is used for review.

¹ For example it's no mystery what theological framework the notes in the MacArthur Study Bible will represent. One can easily lookup the general editor's views on a variety of subjects and understand how he'll be evaluating passages.

² I don't use "bias" in a negative sense here, in fact I think bias is both impossible to avoid and even necessary, but I like to understand specifically what presuppositions are involved all the time.

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  • The LASB is published by Tyndale House, publishers of The Living Bible paraphrase, which is commonly alleged to have an Arminian slant. – Robert Columbia Jan 30 '18 at 17:12
  • @RobertColumbia True, but Tyndale is a publishing clearing house that publishes stuff all over the theological map including a few hard core Calvinistic titles, so that doesn't really cinch the case. I'm looking for some actual analysis of this work here. – Caleb Jan 30 '18 at 17:14
  • I don't have enough information to give a full answer, but Ron Beers was the creator and General Editor of the LASB (tyndale.com/authors/ronald-a-beers/1049) and you could look at some of his other works to get some insights. (e.g. thriftbooks.com/a/ronald-a-beers/261012) – Joshua Lindsey May 16 '20 at 19:39
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Question: What general theological framework(s) are represented in the Life Application Study Bible commentary?

KB: The Life Application Study Bible NIV (LASB) is the version I have used for about 16 years now so I’m very familiar with it. I use both the Kindle version and the leather-bound version of the LASB. You mention the LASB 'commentary' by which I take it you mean the application notes and other material outside of the Bible itself.

Here is how the NIV Bible describes its theological framework:

From the Preface to the LASB (2nd Edition):

“The complete NIV Bible was first published in 1978. It was a completely new translation made by over a hundred scholars working directly from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The translators came from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, giving the translation an international scope. They were from many denominations and churches — including Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Brethren, Christian Reformed, Church of Christ, Evangelical Covenant, Evangelical Free, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Wesleyan and others. This breadth of denominational and theological perspective helped to safeguard the translation from sectarian bias...” [KB: emphasis added]

The publisher makes this mention of contributors specifically to the life application study notes:

Tyndale House Publishers gratefully acknowledges the role of Youth for Christ/USA in preparing the Life Application Notes and Bible Helps.

KB: The full list of contributors is about 10 pages long so I won't reproduce it. There are many types of notes and ‘commentary’outside of the actual Bible itself in the LASB. Some of them may have a point of view while others are strictly textual or historical in nature. I have read much of the extra material in the LASB and I have not found a particular bias or personal point of view.

You had many in-depth questions that are far beyond the scope of this answer so I won't be able to help with those.

If you want more in-depth information, I recommend you go to the NIV web site or take a look at this page: The History of the NIV Translation.

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  • Thanks for taking the time to answer, but this only does a very little towards answering the question. Most of this is about the Bible translation, which is out of scope for the question. I was asking specifically about the extra-Biblical commentary content. On that topic you pretty much only say "I haven't noticed anything", but you haven't noted your own theological background so I could judge what issues might or might not stand out to you. Keep in mind several excepts I've seen have had egregious blatant bias, so it will take a little more to identify those as systemic or exceptions. – Caleb Apr 28 at 10:32
  • Caleb You are right. I did not answer some of your more detailed questions which were very complex. However as no one else had even taken a stab at answering in three years, I stepped in. You seem to have the position that the NIV LIfe Application Study Bible is somehow biased. I'd be interested to see the excerpts you're referring to which contain 'egregious blatant bias.' Then we might have something to go on. – Kurt Brouwer Apr 28 at 16:46

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