When it comes to the book of Genesis, especially the first section Ch 1-11, much controversy ensues. Why? What is the controversy? Well, there is the creation narrative for one (was the world created in a literal six days or not, does it speak to our issues today regarding the Creation and Evolution debate? and more), the fall of man for another (what is the nature of sin? is there a thing as “original sin”?, did “the devil make me do it”? what are men and women’s roles to be, or who’s the boss?), the flood for another (was it global or local? where is the Ark? etc) and the Tower of Babel (what happened there and more).
Lots of Books and Bibles may address these issues, or not. Thankfully the NLT Study Bible does not dwell in issues of “Creation vs. Evolution” or and thing of this nature. It does have a little excursus on original sin and addresses sexuality and marriage issues (I can only see what is on the download from the NLT Stud Bible blog. Instead, it seems to deal more with the larger issues of the text and how they impacted the culture of the day. It is trying to set up the historical context so the reader can attempt to understand the biblical narrative from the view of the original audience.
For example they write:
One way in which this goal works out is this: In many passages, we don’t discuss the theological implications “for us” in our culture, where it is different from the biblical world. We simply discuss what the text meant in the original context and let people extrapolate from there. This means, for instance, that we don’t have a discussion of “Creation vs. Evolution” in Genesis 1—because that question was really not at play for the original human author and readers of Genesis (I’ll probably post more about Gen 1 in the future).
I think they did the right thing. They don’t discuss the theological implications “for us” in our culture” but instead, they focus on “the original context and let people extrapolate from there.” I think the NLT guys are on to something here – If we let the Bible speak for itself this will help things along quite a bit. Naturally application will come when we’ve taken the time to be sure what the text says and doesn’t say. Afterall good interpretation flows out of observation leading naturally to personal and corporate application of various biblical truths. The upcoming NLT Study Bible will be a refreshing addition to the plethora of Study Bibles already on the market.