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« Review: The NET Bible | Main | HCSB Minister's Bible to Receive Updated Text in Early 2010 »

Review: Holy Bible: Mosaic (NLT)

Stop #3 on Tyndale House's Holy Bible: Mosaic Blog Tour

both-bindings-2Long ago, the body of Christ recognized that the Canon of Scripture is closed. Thus, no matter how inspiring a Christian voice can be—such as Martin Luther King Jr. in "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"—we don't tack that on in our Bibles somewhere after the Book of Revelation. I understand that. But at the same time many contemporary Christians completely miss out on the voices of other believers from the past two millennia since the Bible was written. Often this comes from simply not having an easy way to access them.

I'm sometimes guilty of such "chronological snobbery" myself. When preparing to teach a passage from the Bible, I tend to only look at articles, reference works, and commentaries written in the last fifty years of so—if even back that far. I mean, surely contemporary writers have consulted previous thought, right? Well, probably not. And I don't want to say I dismiss the past. I regularly read from historical Christian voices for other purposes—sometimes curiosity, sometimes for devotional purposes and always with a deep respect. But the average believer in my circles tends not even to do this. And for many of my peers, one might think that Christendom didn't really begin until the Reformation.


So now, along comes Holy Bible: Mosaic from Tyndale House Publishers (already most seem to be referring to this Bible as "the Mosaic Bible" or "Mosaic NLT." I'll probably do the same). The title of this Bible comes from the definition of a mosaic itself. As described in the "Mosaic User's Guide:

Mosaics are curious things. Bits and pieces of stone and glass that on their own may be interesting, but only fleetingly so. Together, however, those pieces form images that move us in unexpected and profound ways. From the simplest forms to the most complex, it is the combined effect of tiles arranged in their diversity that brings about something much greater than the sum of its parts. ... But as Christians, we are part of something much larger than simply the here and now. We are part of a mosaic—a patchwork of people, places, times, and cultures—that depicts one person: Jesus Christ. ... The purpose of this Bible is to provide a way to encounter Christ on every continent and in every century of Christian history. ... [Y]ou will find an extensive block of weekly meditations that draw on the collective wisdom of the global church across two thousand years of history, which will engage your heart and mind and guide you back into God's life-changing word.

And that's what the Mosaic Bible does: it incorporates Christian voices from two thousand years of history and from all over the world. These voices are collected into a series of readings that are organized around the Christian year. Now, I'll admit up front, that growing up in Southern Baptist churches, I've never formally celebrated the Christian year in any meaningful way. When Kathy and I moved to Kentucky, I noticed that many of the Baptist churches recognized Advent, and a small few observed Lent, but most did not. In fact, I only observed Lent—in a very clumsy way, miind you—for the first time this past year. But as I've grown older, as I've learned more about Christian history, I've had more desire to engage myself with many of the Christian traditions of ages past—and those traditions that many Christians still observed today. I don't think that's "non-Baptist" of me. What I do think is that often in an attempt to emphasize God's grace over the church's traditions, we've been guilty of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Traditions can be very healthy. They can help ground us and give meaning for the days as we express our faith.

The Mosaic Bible is divided into two sections. The first contains a year's worth of readings and reflections around the Christian year. These aren't "daily" readings, although they could certainly be broken up into that. Rather, they are readings for the week to keep one focused on Christ. It's interesting to me that these readings are held in a separate section from the biblical text. But really, this is a good idea. It separates them from holy Scripture so that no one might be confused as to what is God's word and what is from human thought. The readings are printed on a cream colored paper and include color images of Christian art from ancient mosaics to modern treatments.

epiph6_chinese2-2Just as the readings represent a wide diversity from history and location, so does the artwork. I was especially struck by the painting on p. 80 shown to the left. It is a depiction of the parable of the Lost Son by an unknown artist in Hong Kong. This image goes with the readings for Epiphany, week 6: "Seeking and Saving." And yet, the nature of the painting itself, with Asian style and imagery reminds us that Christianity isn't limited to our own culture and thought.

I've suggested to the folks at Tyndale House that the section of readings could be published as a separate book all by itself. They are keeping this idea under consideration. However, in the meantime, there will be a separate Mosaic book for Advent readings as well as one for Lent.

Continuing with the mosaic theme, two sections called "tesseraes" are included at the end of the readings. The first lists all the many sources for the Christian voices in the order of the weekly readings. The second lists these same sources in chronological order. Want to spend the next ten or twenty years reading through Christian history? Here is your list of names to begin.

In regard to the the layout of the biblical text, the Mosaic Bible may be the best reference Bible yet released with the second edition NLT text. A two-column format is used with center collumn cross references. Included within the cross references are selected words studies to 100 Hebrew and 100 Greek words as previously seen in the NLT Study Bible. If the first portion of Christian readings could be contained in a publication on its own, there's no reason why the biblical text wouldn't work as a Bible by itself as well except for the occasional reading icon in the margin.

I'd reported a few months back that the NLT Mosaic Bible is almost a wide margin Bible. There are wider margins on the outer edges of the pages, but unfortunately, there is no space for writing next to the inner columns of text. Thus, if you're one of the many who long for a wide margin NLT Bible, this isn't it, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Last night I took this Bible with me for the class I was teaching at IWU. I found the text easy enough to read from with my students. Granted, the Mosaic Bible is more suited for personal use and meditation, but it's still good to know it could be used for public proclamation if one wanted to do so.

As seen in the picture at the top of the page, the NLT Mosaic Bible comes with two covers. One is a multicolored hardback with the Apostles Creed on the back. The other is is a "deluxe edition" with an imitation leather cover. From what I've seen in pictures, the latter is the one I would recommend and will eventually get for myself (it's only about $10 more on Amazon). For whatever reason, I simply prefer a leather Bible or one that at least looks leather. I'm tempted to take the Mosaic Bible with me as I go on my church's men's retreat this weekend, but I probably won't unless I can find the deluxe edition in time.

Nevertheless, I commend to you the Holy Bible: Mosaic to use for your personal use and devotion. I think I'll wait until Advent, but I imagine I will use the weekly meditations over the coming year as they're intended. For anyone who doesn't want to wait, but wants to jump in right now, a schedule is kept on the Mosaic website. And in case you're wondering, Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" is quoted on p. 251 as part of the 15th week of Pentecost. The theme? Justice.

Win a Copy of Holy Bible: Mosaic from Tyndale House Publishers and This Lamp

For This Lamp's part of the Mosaic "blog tour," general editor Keith Williams will be responding to your questions in the comments. He's willing to do this for more than just today. So leave a question for him in the comments of this post for him to answer. I'll let folks participate until the end of the week. Then I'll compile a list of the individual names of persons asking questions and have a drawing on Sunday. The winner will receive a new hardback copy of the Holy Bible: Mosaic. The only persons excluded from the contest are those who have already received a free copy from Tyndale House.

Useless Trivia About the Mosaic Bible

I promised that I would have information about the Mosaic Bible that (to my knowledge) has not been repeated anywhere else. Well here it is: according to the metadata of the sample PDFs, Holy Bible: Mosaic was created in Adobe InDesign for Windows. Even though I'm a Mac user (and have my own copy of Adobe InDesign CS3 for the Mac), I will try not to hold this Bible's Windows origins against it.

For More information on the Mosaic Bible...


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (1)

I have moved this review to my new site. Here are the original comments left. If you wish to continue the discussion, please post here and not at the old site.

Thanks for the review, Rick. As a fellow "low church" evangelical, I'm wondering if you think that the Mosaic material is presented in a context that promotes further learning about Church traditions (like the NLTSB's "Recommended Reading" sections) or whether they've been excerpted from their context to fit the devotional format being presented here?

Also, is there any overlap with the concept of lectio divina that Eugene Peterson has promoted with The Message?

Finally, you said: If the first portion of Christian readings could be contained in a publication on its own, there's no reason why the biblical text wouldn't work as a Bible by itself as well except for the occasional reading icon in the margin.

I'm sure that Keith will correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that this layout of the biblical text (less the icons and wider margins) will be released later this month or next as the new slimline center-column reference Bibles. They'll be the same physical size as Mosaic, but the CCRB text will be a bit larger (using the space that the icons took up) and they will be red-letter editions; otherwise they should be identical.
ElShaddai Edwards | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 7:30 am | #

As a contemporary contributor on pg. 264, I'm delighted to see you've found value in this publication from Tyndale, and David Sanford, and I hope it's a blessing to you, and those you share it with. It certainly was a long journey to assort the elements together to come up with a mosaic of all the centuries of Christianity in art and written word.
Lisa Colón DeLay | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 7:58 am | #

Excellent review, Rick!
Joel L. Watts | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 9:32 am | #

Does either edition have a sewn binding?
Dave | 09.24.09 - 10:05 am | #

Will this be available in local stores or is only available at their website and/or right now? I'd love to be able to leaf through it...
Marianna | 09.24.09 - 10:23 am | #

I've been convicted of the importance of remembering the contributions of other Christians in our heritage ever since I read Calvin MIller's Walking with the Saints. And reading from Spurgeons's Treasury of David has been part of my devotional life for the last few years (yes, I'm a slow reader, savoring every word, especially those wonderful quotes from other believers through history.) My question is this: what is the reading level of the Biblical text of this version?
Latayne Scott | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 10:25 am | #

Good review Rick. Do the Christian readings include Catholic traditions or info on their leaders?
Claudio | 09.24.09 - 11:05 am | #

Is the art printed on high quality glossy paper? Is it similar in reproductive quality to what one would find in an art book? Or is it a lower quality reproduction?
Larry | 09.24.09 - 11:22 am | #

Also, is there any overlap with the concept of lectio divina that Eugene Peterson has promoted with The Message?

In the Catholic tradition, lectio divina is normally performed with Scriptural text alone, although some also include mystical meditation on inspired art or on inspired commentary, e.g., this discussion.
Larry | 09.24.09 - 11:46 am | #

For an entry:

How did they decide and find what quotes to include in the devotional?

Scripture Zealot | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 12:30 pm | #

Thanks for the great review, Rick, and thanks to everyone else for the great questions and comments!

@ElShaddai Edwards
The Tesserae does give enough bibliographical information to find the readings in context where possible. For example, there is a quote in this week's meditation from Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection. I posted a link to the full text in the Mosaic online forum.

Lectio divina could easily be used with this Bible, especially because the Bible text is printed independent of any extraneous material on the page. I can see practitioners of lectio using the Scripture readings assigned on a given week as their focused reading. The rest of the Mosaic material will be there to inspire their other devotional thinking as well.

And yes, your understanding about the center column reference Bibles is exactly correct.

Thanks again for your contribution!

No, they are both high quality glued bindings. Both bindings were printed in Italy.

Yes, they should be available in any local Christian bookstore, as well as other retail outlets (I know Borders has them). If you don't see one on the shelf, ask about it. I've already heard stories of stores selling out, though. Check out this video review from a store in Maryland.

The NLT is translated in such a way that anyone shoule be able to read and understand it. Reading levels are subjective, but I have seen the NLT pegged between 6-7 grade reading level.

We have brought together voices from every major stream of Christian tradition. Some major Catholic voices that appear throughout include Gregory the Great, Aquinas, Chesterton, Nouwen, and John Paul II

The Mosaic material was not printed on glossy paper, because we wanted people to be able to take notes and/or draw in the whitespace using pencil as well as ink. The paper reminds me of the paper in a Moleskine journal, and the print quality is quite good. Perhaps not museum quality, but close.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 12:50 pm | #

As I understand it, the individual contributors (authors of the contemporary meditation for each week, e.g., Lisa Colon Delay from comment #2) selected some of the quotes for the week they put together. Then the editors at Credo Communications supplemented them to ensure that we were including all the streams of tradition, centuries, and continents. Then, I edited everything to give it it's final shape.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 1:13 pm | #

Thanks, Keith and Larry, for the information and links - they're much appreciated!
ElShaddai Edwards | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 2:12 pm | #

Rick, I forgot to ask about the print size used to the Mosiac Bible. How does it compare with the NLT Study Bible in terms of font?
Claudio | 09.24.09 - 4:30 pm | #

I've been looking forward to Mosaic since April. I worship at a congregationalist church that does observe the Christian year, and one of our pastors is a seminarian who's been really pushing lectio divina-inspired contemplative practices to energize the congregation's prayer lives. So I'm excited to bring Mosaic with me into some small group settings.

Which is all by way of preface to the questions:

Does Mosaic contain resources to help guide group discussion, or is it more about readings and bibliography for the individual?

Will the readings and reflections ever be published as a stand-alone? A lot of the people in my congregation are willing to buy a new book or a devotional for a study group. I'm just about the only congregant I know willing to buy a big ol' Bible for the extras.

Thanks to Rick and Keith for letting us ask some questions and get a peek behind the scenes!
RS Rogers | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 5:03 pm | #

Question for the guy, "what inspired you to put this version together?"
Jordan | 09.24.09 - 6:54 pm | #

The font of the Bible text is ever-so-slightly smaller than the Bible text in the NLTSB. It is larger than the text of the study notes in the NLTSB.

@RS Rogers
Mosaic doesn't have anything that will explicitly guide group discussion, but I think it lends itself to that context relatively well. Group members could read the Scripture passages and content together and have excellent conversation.

There aren't any plans (right now) to publish the Mosaic content in its entirety as a standalone volume, however we have produced two booklets that have the content and Scripture readings for the seasons of Advent and Lent. These are smaller in size and do not contain the entire Bible, only the selected readings for those four/seven weeks. But, they only cost $1.99 and $2.99 respectively. I think they would be great for group study. The Advent version is available to sample online.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 6:58 pm | #

Will you ever make a Chronological version of this Bible?
Erin | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 7:22 pm | #

The short answer to that question is that I thought about the sort of thing I might like to have in a Bible. Church year, historical perspective, timeless approach to contemporary issues, diversity of traditions, relevant biblical artwork, whitespace for both aesthetics and interaction, deference of content to Scripture.

I'm not sure what that would look like; I think the chronological format is useful on it's own, but I think the Mosaic content works best with the traditional canonical ordering of Scripture.

The idea for this Bible came about from a collaborative process that is explained a bit here, but from my end it was really a matter of thinking about the kind of Bible that me and my friends would really love to use in our own devotional life, both individually and corporately.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 7:47 pm | #

Somehow I inserted my answer to Erin in the last comment in the middle of my comment to Jordan. Sorry about the confusion.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 7:48 pm | #

Do the readings at the beginning of the Mosaic NLT correspond chronologically to the books of the Bible?
Matt Garner | 09.24.09 - 7:51 pm | #

No, the readings in Mosaic are connected to the church year. Each week has at least four passages of Scripture assigned, usually with one OT reading, one Psalm, one NT reading, and one Gospel reading. These readings were adapted from a couple of standard church lectionary sources that are in use around the world (the Book of Common Prayer and the Revised Common Lectionary).
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 7:56 pm | #

Thanks for taking the time to answer Keith.
Claudio | 09.24.09 - 8:46 pm | #

We all know that the NLT is a translation that seeks to present the text in an easy reading, natural English style. My question has to do with the translation of the readings which were not originally written in English. For example, with the Greek and Latin Church fathers did you use an existing scholarly translation into English, or did you make a fresh translation following the style of the NLT?
Lowell | 09.24.09 - 9:10 pm | #

My pleasure!

Interesting question. The answer is that we took both approaches. The majority of the time, we were using standard, old English translations complete with archaic language and spellings. This was especially true of older English language sources; in those instances we wanted to maintain the original wording as long as it was intelligible. However, in a number of places (especially for sources in Greek, where I could do some new translation myself), we produced a fresh, NLT-style translation of the original text.

So even in the language, this Bible is giving you a fresh mix of old and new.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.24.09 - 11:11 pm | #

My question is...can this Bible be incorporated into a Bible study by using the mosaic material to talk about certain Scripture?

...or is there no real connection between the mosaic material and the Scripture portion?
Brian | Homepage | 09.25.09 - 12:51 am | #

All right, now you've gone and done it. You made me post so I have to abandon my "lurker" status.

First my comment: I like the idea of this bible. While I have been in non-liturgical churches before, I am currently worshipping in a denomination that comes from a reformed heritage where the traditions of worship are very important. I think this edition will serve to bring a hightened appreciation of that past to those who have not considered it before. I hope to be able to view one of these bibles shortly in my local bookstore.

Now for my question. Has there been any thought about providing this bible in a leather-bound (preferrably not bonded) format? Yes, I know that there is a "deluxe" edition that features a "imitation leather" binding, but that's now what I am looking for. Yes, I know that imitation leather is animal-friendly, but there is just something about the feel of a good leather bible...

Incidetally, I fully enjoyed the interactive demo that Rick posted in his review. More, more!

Mike Jaggers | 09.25.09 - 1:40 am | #

Who are some of the scholars that provided translations for the greek and hebrew words?
GiBee | Homepage | 09.25.09 - 8:42 am | #

The material in the front is not intended to be a direct commentary on the Scripture passages. Rather, it is a collection of insights centered around the group of Scripture passages and the theme of the week. They are definitely connected to one another, but not in the same direct way as the content you would find in a study Bible.

Lurkers are always a pleasure to meet. Welcome! As to your comment, I shared about my similar experience (and hope) in a guest post on today's stop on the blog tour.

There are no plans for additional bindings as of right now, but that could change. I'd also love to see this Bible in a nice, high quality leather.

The Greek and Hebrew word study system was initially developed by James Swanson, who has worked on a number of Greek and Hebrew tools. He chose the words and verses that would be included and provided the first draft of the definitions in the dictionary.

I then went through and decided exactly where to place the superscript letters in the NLT text to indicate which word(s) are translating the underlying Hebrew or Greek word(s), wrote the introductory article for the dictionary, and revised the definitions throughout.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.25.09 - 12:27 pm | #

What a fascinating project. How long have you been working on this? I mean, how long did it take from the time you first thought of this until you had a finished product?
Rob C | 09.25.09 - 11:26 pm | #

Are any of the Eastern Fathers included in the readings?
Tim Hall | 09.28.09 - 1:04 am | #

@Rob C
The idea was born in a meeting during the summer of 2006. I got my first glimpse of the hardcover edition on July 30, 2009.

@Tim Hall
Yes, several Eastern Fathers are included. Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Chrysostom to start. There is also at least one modern Orthodox voice, Kallistos Ware.
Keith Williams | Homepage | 09.30.09 - 5:48 pm | #

Sorry, I didn't announce this earlier, but Mike Jaggers, you're the winner of our Mosaic NLT giveaway.

Assuming you haven't already received a free copy of Mosaic, send your name and mailing address to and I'll mail you your certificate for your free copy.
R. Mansfield | Homepage | 09.30.09 - 8:09 pm | #

The artwork alone in this Mosaic is winning me over!

Even many churches who consider themselves non-liturgical still follow the Revised Common Lectionary's listing of weekly Bible readings so this is a great way to study up on Sunday's lessons before attending services. (I'm assuming these are the RCL texts?) One question...maybe I'm missing something, but if the weekly recommended texts are already supplied, as shown in page 31ff of the trymosaiconline pagebook, isn't the inclusion of the full Biblical text in the second half of the volume somewhat redundant? I like the idea of large, easy-to-read full-text Bibles for home and small lectionaries (like the first half of the Mosaic) for taking to church. This seems to try to be both.

This layout (minus the lovely artwork) and selection of readings is quite reminiscent of the (Lutheran) Treasury of Daily Prayer--see
bill | 10.01.09 - 11:02 am | #

I like Tyndale's Lucerna typeface. The combination of the Mosaic font size and the thin paper makes it hard to read. Actually this might be a characteristic of NLT. I even looked at a Lg Print edition of NLT (not Mosaic) and found it difficult to read because of ghosting of print on the reverse side.
Thicker pages would make this bible sooo much more readable.
I also agree that Leatherlike seems to offer limited durability and maybe leather would be a better investment. An data on how Leatherlike wears or ages in Hot or Cold weather?
PLS | 10.12.09 - 6:26 pm | #

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

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