Review of NIV Dad’s Devotional Bible

I was excited to see the NIV Dad’s Devotional Bible become available. As a soon-to-be-new-dad, and a first-time dad to boot, I figured I could use all the help I could get.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that these days you can get a Bible for just about anything. In the old days you’d buy different translations like KJV, NIV, NKJV, RSV, and the whole other alphabet soup of versions. But then Zondervan got clever. They’d take the regular Bible and create versions for niche audiences. There are study Bibles, Bibles for leaders, for moms, for students, for teens, for ministers, for kids, for those suffering from illness, for those recovering from illness, for the military, for weddings, for gardeners, for music lovers, and a ton more.

At first I welcomed this trend; after all, there’s no harm in getting more Bibles out into the world, and these things can make great gifts for people in certain situations. But I have to admit I’ve been a little disappointed at the last few of these “specialty” Bibles I’ve read. I do appreciate Study Bibles where each page is annotated with information and commentary that helps you understand the passages you’re reading better. But in the case of a lot of these specialty Bibles, the content could very well have been published as a separate book. In fact, it probably would have been better published in a separate book.

This Bible is a classic example of this. There are 260 devotional readings scattered throughout the book, but it seems more like two books awkwardly mashed together rather than content that’s really integrated; as you read the Bible occasionally you’ll get interrupted by a page with a devotional; conversely, the devotionals say “skip to page 505, skip to page 515, skip to page 526” so the contents of the Bible almost seem to get in the way.

As for the devotionals themselves, while they’re tangentially related to the Bible passages they’re juxtaposed with, in some cases I think the connection is a little too tangential. In most of the devotionals the personal stories the author recounted of his and his family’s life for some reason didn’t really resonate with me. Just as a random example, in the devotional next to Acts 8:26-35, the author starts out by talking about how he in college agreed to act in the play The Fantasticks. He talks about how he got onto the stage and was excited that “it was showtime”. Then he abruptly cuts to the account of Philip and the Ethopian and talks about how that moment was “showtime” for Philip. Yes, I see the connection, but it seemed just a little bit of a stretch for me. Your mileage may vary of course. I definitely encourage you to use the “Look Inside” feature of Amazon to see if the writing resonates more with you than it did with me.

For a Bible like this, I would rather have seen a collection of authors rather than one author. Reading account after account of this author’s own life got a little repetitive after a while; I would have like to have seen accounts from different fathers with different kinds of kids. I also would have loved to have seen practical advice I could have used in teaching my kids the Bible; next to the account of Noah’s Ark, instead of a piece that talks about, say, creative ways to introduce a child to the story, there’s inexplicably a devotional talking about the 1984 Cubs (again, he made it technically relevant but it still seemed like a stretch). Bottom line, I would have liked it to have been a little more relevant for my daily needs as a new father.

That said, I did love this Bible once I got to the end, at page 1411. There are a couple pages that give brief synopses of each book in the Bible and talk about their relevance to dads. On page 1429-1467 there’s a section on typical Bible-related questions that kids ask, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the answers they do provide good reference.  The last section is one that provide a topical index relevant to each of the fruit of the Spirit, an interesting addition but one that I’m not sure is the most relevant thing to dad’s Bible there could have been. It seemed a little more like filler.

Bottom line, the Bible itself of course gets a 10 out of 5 stars, but this compilation gets about 3 of 5 for me. Again, this is just me, so I definitely encourage you to take a look for yourself.