NLT Study Bible Blog.
Isaiah 2:1-5 (Mosaic, Advent 1)
Isaiah envisions a future time when "the mountain of the LORD's house will be the highest of all" -- when people recognize God's rule and revere his name, when the nations listen to his instructions and do as he says. At that time, conflicts and wars will cease as "the LORD will mediate between nations and settle international disputes." Nations will be at peace with one another, not because their grievances have been suppressed, but because they have been resolved by the LORD.

Isaiah calls this future time "the last days." "In the NT, [this expression] is used to refer to the period that began with the coming of the Lord Jesus (Heb 1:2) and more specifically to the period immediately preceding the end of the present age (2 Pet 3:3)" (NLTSB, note on Isa 2:2). Hebrews 1:2 refers to Jesus' first advent as "these final days" -- "These final days refers to the historical era inaugurated at Christ's coming (see Isa 2:2; Acts 2:17). Whereas the revelation of the OT era came in a wide variety of forms over time, God's ultimate revelation was given through his Son, Jesus" (NLTSB, note on Heb 1:2). 2 Peter 3:3 also talks about the last days, and the note comments, "Peter was not merely predicting an event in the future; he was speaking about his readers' situation. In the NT, the last days refers to the period from Jesus' first coming to his second coming (see Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2)" (NLTSB, note on 2 Pet 3:3).

The last days are "already, and not yet" -- just like everything else about our Christian hope. Jesus has come, and he has established his kingdom over earth, and he has instructed his students to teach everyone to obey him (Matt 28:18-20). At the same time, Jesus has not yet come again, and we long to see his kingdom established. When we read Isaiah's description of that future time when God's rule has spread over all the earth, it sounds like a far cry from our own time, and every other time in human history.

And so we wait for the coming of the LORD. Come, Lord Jesus, and establish your name as the highest name on earth. Come, Lord Jesus, and teach the nations to walk in your ways. Come, Lord Jesus, mediate between the nations and settle international (and local!) disputes.

In the meantime, as Isaiah urges, "Come, descendants of Jacob" -- and all who wait for the Lord -- "let us walk in the light of the LORD!" (Isa 2:5).

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posted by Sean Harrison at 7:00 AM
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Advent Mosaic
This fall saw the launch of Holy Bible: Mosaic, an innovative new devotional Bible. The weekly Scripture readings are based on the Revised Common Lectionary, and are accompanied by devotional reflections and artwork from every century of the Christian church, every continent, and every major Christian tradition. It is a feast for the eyes and the spirit.

Earlier this week I returned from a week at the Evangelical Theological Society and Society for Biblical Literature annual meetings in New Orleans. While there, we handed out several hundred Mosaic Devotions for Advent (along with several hundred cards advertising The response to Mosaic was very strong and very favorable.

During the four weeks of the Advent season, I plan to post five posts per week based on the Scripture readings and meditative focus of each week in Holy Bible: Mosaic and Devotions for Advent. The focus of the first week is "Longing," and the first post on Isa. 2:1-5 will be published this coming Monday morning.

I invite you to read through Devotions for Advent with me and join me in discussing these Scripture readings and the devotional reflections from Mosaic.

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posted by Sean Harrison at 12:06 PM
2 Comments Links to this post, Day Two
We had a stunning first day out of the gate with At least, I was stunned, and so was the server. We got so much traffic that our server couldn't take the load, and died a bloody, memory-swapping death. A friend commented: "I heard that your server crashed and you need ... to point to new servers. First off congratulations, since your site is popular enough to crash the servers! :-)".

So, we stayed up late, got up early, and have now moved the site to another, more robust location. Ah, growing pains! It's a good kind of pain.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in and enthusiasm for the new site. Here are some of the comments that we have already received:
  • "I haven't used this extensively yet, but the functions you've included seem incredibly useful. I can't wait to recommend it to the teachers and leaders of our church. . . . And will you have Hebrew tools available soon? Thanks for developing this great resource!"
  • "I love the variety of tools! An interlinear and a reverse-interlinear. And the Greek text. This will prove to be very helpful. I'm sure this will become a standard resource for many of our leaders, especially those who haven't yet invested in Bible software such as Accordance or Logos."
  • "This is a game changer for me!!!"
  • "Just realized today that parses AND provides glosses for Greek words...WOW, what an OUTSTANDING resource."
Thanks, folks. What other input do you have for us?

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posted by Sean Harrison at 2:55 PM
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Today we are announcing the beta release of, a new website dedicated to helping people study the Bible in the original languages alongside the NLT text.

The website is based on a detailed morphological matchup between the Greek New Testament and the NLT text. The matchup is produced by James Swanson, an author and editor who has devoted his career to writing and editing concordances, and lexicography based on semantic domains. This matchup allows us to produce an interlinear that includes an exhaustive Greek-English Concordance of the New Testament.

One of the benefits of using the NLT for this kind of study is that the NLT translates the meaning of each Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic word in context. So, for instance, in the above screenshot of the concordance for χαρις ("grace, favor"), the NLT text on the right highlights all of the different ways that this word is translated into English. This enables us to see very easily the full range of meanings that is possible for a given Greek word, a benefit that is not available when using more "woodenly literal" translations.

I am personally very excited about this release. As one of the men who attends our Wednesday evening Bible study said, "This tool will help average people like me to understand the language of the Bible so much better." And as Jim Swanson said to me in an email, "The site is just beautiful. I could go on and on about the various features. . . . Thanks for making my vision and long work come to harvest time."

So visit the site (, sign up for free, and take it for a spin. And then please let me know your thoughts and suggestions here in the comments or using the on-site feedback link.
posted by Sean Harrison at 11:20 AM
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Exploring Scripture with the NLT Study Bible
This fall our weekly home Bible study group began reading through the Bible. Our basic aim is to read each week's passages around the dinner table with our families, then to meet as families and discuss the passages that we have read. Since reading plans are part of my job description, I created a reading plan for us to use, which you can download here (254KB PDF).

Unlike other Bible reading programs, this one is designed to take four years to complete the OT, two years to read the NT, Psalms, and Proverbs. That is because this reading plan is designed for dinner-table Bible reading, and one-year Bible reading plans are too fast for that, especially if you want to allow time for conversation about the passages that have been read. On days that we read together as a family (which is approximately half of the evenings most weeks), we like to spend about 30 minutes reading and discussing Scripture, and about 30 minutes reading another book (we're currently working on Little Britches by Ralph Moody, a book and a series that I would certainly recommend both for enjoyment and for life lessons).

Our weekly family Bible reading brings me to the topic of this post. This week, I am beginning a series of blog posts called "Exploring Scripture with the NLT Study Bible" (label: Exploring Scripture). Every week, I plan to choose one or more passages from our family reading and explore some question or interesting issue in the text, using the NLT Study Bible as my first point of entry, but going beyond it as far as time allows. My aim is not to pimp the NLT Study Bible, at least not directly, but to see what are its strengths and weaknesses in daily, family use. I expect that this process will highlight places where the NLTSB is strong, but I also expect that it will uncover weaknesses that should be remedied. Ultimately, my aim is to prepare for the inevitable process of creating a second edition.

So I want to extend a serious invitation to you. First, what questions about the text would you like to see addressed in this series? Second, if you would like to read through the Bible with our Bible study group, please let me know by getting in touch with me, and come share your own thoughts in the comments each week or on your own blog. Or, if you just want to do something similar in your own -- reading the Bible with the NLT Study Bible and writing about it -- let us know that, too (comments on this post are a good place to do that), so that we can follow along with you on your journey.


posted by Sean Harrison at 8:50 AM
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