My first real introduction to the New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (NIC) was in Dr. Kistamaker’s class on the Epistle to the Hebrews. The assigned reading for the class was, compared to my others, quite light. We were to read Hebrews, FF Bruce’s Epistle to the Hebrews from the NIC, and one other commentary. I thoroughly enjoyed Bruce’s commentary as it was very approachable, yet technical when it needed to be. Over the course of my seminary days I added a few more NIC volumes to my library, and was always happy with the addition.
The NIC Goes Digital
Bible software users have long awaited the day when the NIC would be made available digitally. A few months ago Logos Bible Software announced that they were bringing NIC to the Logos format. The production process has been completed and the set is scheduled to ship on 10/15/09 (note – If you place your order before the 15th, you can lock in the pre-pub rate, which is more than $800 off retail).
I managed to get my hands on an advance copy and wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts with you.
If you’ve been around Going to Seminary for any length of time, you know that I went to Reformed Theological Seminary. The main reason I went to RTS was that I wanted to go to a seminary where, for the most part, I could simply trust my professors. Sure, there are some people who go to seminaries outside their tradition and belief structure in order to challenge themselves… I wasn’t one of those people. I’m the kind of guy who just wants to sit down and not have to worry too much about “should I believe what my professor is saying?”
The same is true for commentaries. Sure, I like to have commentaries in my library that I might not necessarily agree with, but I also like to have commentaries that I know I can generally trust. As a conservative, protestant, evangelical, the NIC is just that kind of commentary. With authors like Fee, Bruce, Moo, Longman, Waltke, and others, the NIC sets me at ease before I even crack open a book. Backing this up is the mass of support behind the series. Reading the recommendations on Logos’ product page reassures me that, indeed, this is a series that is right up my ally. Along with this it is good to note that 29 of the 40 commentaries from the NIC are listed on the BestCommentaries.com “best” list.
The books of the NIC all include an introductory section that pay excellent attention to the authorship, date, purpose, structure, and theology of each book. After this, each book of the NIC will offer a verse-by-verse commentary. Now, this last point might seem like a “duh” kind of thing… but how often have you opened a commentary to a difficult verse, only to find no entry? What kind of help is that? Not with the NIC, every verse is dealt with.
If there was one critique I’d offer of the NIC, it is the decision to transliterate the Greek and Hebrew. The fact of the matter is that you either know the languages, or you don’t. Transliteration isn’t much of a help for people who don’t know the original language, because even if you can pronounce it, you still don’t know what it is. And if you do know the languages, then odds are you’re not a fan of transliteration. Also, with regards to the digital version, while Logos often can understand the transliteration and, when you double click a transliterated word it will open a lexicon, occasionally I found that Logos had trouble with the transliterated version. Thankfully I have Greek and Hebrew Bibles in my library, so when really needed to get to the original language, I was able to via the Bible text.
40 books in your backpack
One thing I noticed about my print edition of Bruce’s commentary was its size. It wasn’t the biggest book I’ve ever had, but with my laptop, ESV, Bruce, and my lunch in my bag for class, my bag was heavy to say the least. Not to mention I had no room for anything else! That’s what I love about having the NIC in Logos. Now I can carry all 23,832 pages with me all the time with no added weight.
Think about it. Just carrying two or three of these commentaries would fill a bag. Granted, how often do you need to have an entire commentary set with you? Not too often. But isn’t it nice to know it is there if you want it? No matter if you’re sitting in class or at the coffee shop, it is always nice to know that you can instantly look up a verse or reference in a high quality commentary.
Links, Languages, and Library
Having the NIC in Logos is so much better than having it in print. Granted, from time to time I like the feel of a book in my hand, but when it comes to studying God’s word, there is a lot to be said about the efficiency Bible software provides.
To begin with, the NIC is linked to a number of other resources within your Logos library. In particular, the Bible. When I’m studying a passage I can have both the text and the commentary open. As I move through the scripture, the commentary tracks with me. Not only that, but every scripture reverence in the NIC is tagged and, when I hover over it with my mouse, the text will be revealed. This feature alone is worth the price of admission!
Think about it–how often do you actually take the time to look of the scripture references that an author puts into his book? I said be honest! Me, I’d say occasionally at best. But the author put them there for a reason, right? With the NIC in Logos, to see the reference, all you have to do is mouse over the verse and there it is.
Along with interacting with the Scripture, the NIC also delves into the original language. As I mentioned previously, the NIC’s decision to transliterate leaves me a little wanting. While reading the transliteration is easy enough, in order to really interact with the original language that the commentary addresses, I find myself going to my original language text to be the base for my searches and study. If there was one thing I’d change about NIC, this would be it.
One of the many beauties of having the NIC for Logos is that I literally have a library at my fingertips. While you can buy the NIC as a stand alone product, the great thing about Logos is that you can actually have an entire theological library with you as well. This is extremely helpful when you want to explore outside the NIC. With just a click of the mouse you can open theological dictionaries, lexicons, and hundreds of other resources to study and passage or subject addressed by the NIC.
One of the things I really like about NIC is the footnotes. The first reason I like them is because I despise end notes. I hate having to flip to the back of a book to find out this hidden knowledge that wasn’t quite right for inclusion in the text itself. Footnotes make it much easier to engage when I looking for the deeper nugget of information. The second reason I really like the NIC footnotes gets back to something I mentioned earlier. The NIC is a very approachable commentary that gets technical when it has to. This often occurs in the footnotes.
The NIC in Logos increases my love of footnotes by providing them as I’m reading with a very simple mouseover. Simply hovering over the footnote gives me a pop-up window with the entire footnote right there. This is so wonderful as it allows me to stay right on track with my reading. No need to look down at the bottom of the page, only to have to then try and find my place back in the text after I’m finished with the footnote. Now I can mouseover, read the footnote, and keep on trucking!
The NIC is an amazing scholarly, protestant, evangelical, commentary series. It gives verse-by-verse commentary on almost every book of the Bible, including immensely helpful introductory information. The only thing better than the commentary series itself is being able to have the entire thing with you, on you laptop, wherever you go. The NIC for Logos is a great resource that every seminarian should consider.
NOTE: If you’ve followed my life on this blog, you know that I now work for Logos. That in no way changes the fact that the NIC in Logos is sweet and that you could totally consider buying it!