The resurgence of the Reader’s Bible has cultivated a refreshingly simple reading experience that is designed to present the Bible with minimal distractions. There are several variations of such on the market in both single-volume and multi-volume formats for a number of widely used English translations. The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project by Zondervan is among the newest contestants in the multi-volume arena and offers readers a unique experience unlike any other Reader’s Bible currently available.
The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project is an attractive four-volume set clothbound and packaged within a sturdy slipcase. The cover and binding are beautifully designed and constructed for the durability of everyday use. Moreover, the attention to detail that Zondervan has sought to uphold with this set is impressive. The paper is extremely thick and opaque, and a single-column format is nicely complimented by a generously-sized (10.3-point) and readable font (Karmina). I found long reads enjoyable with minimal strain. There are also nice detailed touches that can be found throughout the set, such as the marbled paper artwork that lines the cloth-over-board cover of each volume, the clothbound slipcase that was printed to balance the pattern of the set, or the black text with red accents throughout.
The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project was designed with intentionality. Its purpose is to create an experience that allows readers to rediscover Bible reading. Still, it should be noted that the books are not presented in the traditional order that readers are likely used to finding them, especially in the New Testament where editorial decisions have resulted in a significant canonical reordering of books. The Old Testament closely follows the structure and organization of the Hebrew Bible: (Vol. 1) Torah and the Former Prophets, (Vol. 2) the Latter Prophets, and (Vol. 3) the Writings. The New Testament (Vol. 4) uses each of the four Gospels to divide the canon into four groups of writings that best complement each other historically and literarily. For example, Luke and Acts have been joined together as a single two-volume work and paired with the Pauline Epistles in historical order rather than by size because of the traveling companionship between the two. Matthew has been paired with Hebrews and James because of a similar audience. Mark has been paired with the Petrine Epistles and Jude because of the Petrine focus of the Gospel and the similarities of 2 Peter and Jude. John has been paired with the Johannine Epistles and Revelation because of shared authorship.
My overall impression of The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project is favorable. I sincerely enjoy the style of the NIV as a Reader’s Bible option. I have used the ESV Reader’s Bible (six-volume set) for over a year and have thoroughly appreciated it in almost every regard. The NIV is an excellent alternative translation in general and the Reader’s Bible format allows the readability of the NIV to shine brightly. The quality of The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project is tremendous and readers will notice such immediately upon opening the set. My only complaint concerning the quality is the functionality of the slipcase. It is far too difficult to get a volume in-and-out of the slipcase than one would expect, which is a shame because the slipcase is both good looking and well-constructed. Lastly, concerning the organization of the volume, I will admit that I was somewhat puzzled at the decision to reorder the books. It seemed unnecessary and cumbersome for a Bible that aims to remove distractions and allow readers room to simply read. However, after spending time with the set and setting aside my preconceived expectations, I was sincerely impressed by the insights gained from reading within the presented order—especially within the New Testament volume. In other words, what I expected to be a great hurdle actually catapulted me deeper into the Bible as a reader. It was unexpected and wholeheartedly welcomed.
The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project by Zondervan is more than simply another Reader’s Bible option. The quality is superb and the experience therein is unique if approached with a desire to read the Bible in a fresh way. Undoubtedly, some readers will find the reorganizational freedom of the editorial team to be outlandish and unconventional because it doesn’t adhere to a tradition. Still, those who humbly sit down and start to read will quickly find that the level of intentionality in the details of this set extends far beyond others on the market. The NIV Sola Scriptura Bible Project is outstanding by nearly every count and should be used often. It comes enthusiastically recommended.