I received a review copy the NET Bible First Edition in black a few weeks ago. The cover itself is a very nice bonded leather with hubs on the binding (a classic look). The one thing that I do wish is that they had gone with a genuine leather cover or something that would be a bit sturdier. The contents of the Bible are so large that I doubt the cover can withstand continued use without cracking or tearing (though the true test will be time of use). The pages are smyth-sewn which is a huge positive. This ensures greater durability of the binding and also for the bible to lay flat when open. The pages themselves are thin, probably a little thinner than normal Bible paper (not nearly as nice as the Lockman NASB’s – large print ultrathin reference Bible and wide margin single column reference Bible). The overall the Bible itself is well-made.
The translation itself is very good. It is toward the formal equivalence end of the spectrum. There are places where the NET has clarified ambiguities that are found in the original text. This has made a more idiomatic translation than the NASB and the ESV. Yet, there are places where this causes the NET to be more accurate such as, John 1:18 and John 3:16. One of the features of the NET that is unique are the chapter and verse markings. The NET includes the chapter number along with each verse marking, ex: John 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and so on. This is not a problem for me, though it did take some time to become acquainted with it. The satellite maps that are found in the back of the Bible are full color and topographical. These are by far some of the nicest looking maps that I have ever seen in any study resource. They truly open your eyes to the features of the areas in question. The maps are a bonus.
Now, time to discuss the study notes. These by far are worth their weight in gold. There are three different types of notes: study notes, technical commentary, and technical notes. The study notes are what you would find in other scholarly study Bibles. The technical notes are alternative translation options or a more literal translation option. The technical commentary notes are filled with a vast treasury of notes on the original languages. The notes are much like technical notes you would find in a Greek or Hebrew grammar. Yet, the blessing is that the notes are found beneath the text in question. In a grammar you have to search the index to find if there might possibly be help in regard to a text you are studying. The Bible came with a Bible.org Bible Library resource C.D. I have not even had a chance to examine this added resource. It seems like the NET Bible is like the gift that keeps on giving!
I truly like the translation itself. I believe that it is very accurate and yet readable. The scholars are from Dallas Theological Seminary. Therefore they are conservative evangelicals. It has been stated that the NET will be revised every five years beginning in 2010. This helps you to realize that the translators are striving for the best translation of the Word of God possible. The only drawback for me as a pastor is that people will have to buy a new copy every five years (though I don’t want to sound cranky, I am not, and I personally don’t mind doing so).
I read somewhere that someone was hoping that the NET would replace the NIV as an idiomatic translation. I don’t know if that will happen but I do believe that it is that good. I would highly recommend the NET Bible as a preaching and teaching resource. I would say that it is non-negotiable to own it as a study resource. At the very least, download the electronic version on Bible.org.