Beware of the title! This book is essentially identical to the NIV first-century study Bible, albeit containing only the first five books of Scripture. The full NIV translation of the Pentateuch is included, along with a page-by-page commentary.
Other features common to study Bibles are included, such as maps, charts and individual book introductions. It is a well-made volume, bound with imitation leather and a cord to literally bind up the book when closed.
It is replete with detailed diagrams and full-colour photographs, ranging in subject from incense shovels, to Menorah mosaics, to Mount Hor.
Unlike the NIV first-century study Bible, this has an introduction to the Torah itself (as well as introductions to Genesis, Exodus, etc.). The five books are reassuringly endorsed as ‘God’s divine revelation’ (p.vii), but the question of Moses’ particular authorship is left open and ambiguous.
‘If modern readers want to understand Jesus, they must start where Jesus started: the Torah’ (p.viii). This sets the tone for the commentary that follows. It is preoccupied with the early contexts and rabbinic interpretations of the Pentateuch.
Musings of the first-century BC philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, are frequently cited. His bizarre view that Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s sons who were killed by God for offering ‘strange fire’ in Leviticus 10) were actually translated rather than executed is included in commentary. This concern with contemporary, cultural backdrops takes precedence over doctrine or personal application.
In summary, I am puzzled why someone would want only a small fraction of God’s written revelation. Perhaps it would be useful as common ground when witnessing to Jews, but beyond this I would always invest in an unabridged Bible.
The lack of commitment to the traditional view of Mosaic authorship of the Torah also makes me reserve wholehearted endorsement of this book.