|A20 : by Tony Garland |
I would not generally recommend the Oxford NRSV to students. Mostly because I believe in the general principle that "drinking from a polluted well is bad for your health." In other words, when people produce a study aid which is so heavily influenced by liberal views which deny essentials in a way which would grieve God (the Holy Spirit), I can't see how spending much time in that resource is going to be honored by God Who is the one who gives us spiritual illumination.
Having stated the general principle, I'm not an "ostrich — put your head in the sand" kind of guy either. There are some liberal study aids which can be helpful at points. But, overall, their dangers outweigh their value in most cases—a possible exception being a well-grounded, mature believer who uses them sparingly and prayerfully for peripheral issues. (This is the way I make use of "The Anchor Bible" which is laced with liberal skepticism, but can be helpful if used carefully for information that is not available in other places and peripheral to core doctrines and beliefs.) I'm convinced that much of what poses as scholarly inquiry is really just liberal rationalism, complete with skeptical and antisupernatural bias.
I am not familiar enough with the Oxford NRSV to give a detailed analysis of its strengths and weaknesses—perhaps you can find a review of it by a conservative source somewhere on the internet? For example, you might check the reviews on Amazon.coma and look for those which seem conservative. (On the other hand, reviews of information related to Christianity can be notoriously unreliable from a secular source.) My personal approach to the Oxford NRSV to date has been to spot-check it in a few places in a book store, see the overall liberal bias, and basically stay away from it. This is much the same way I treat commentaries.
I recognize that many will find my avoidance of such resources "simplistic," but I am well aware—having come from a background of rational skepticism and a desire to pander to academic interests—how slippery such a slope can be. I prefer to stay away from such resources in favor of more time in the trustworthy text.
In summary, I would recommend sticking with more trustworthy resources in the main—even for experienced Christians. However, if a well-grounded believer desires to look for additional perspectives in more liberal discussions, there may be a time and place for it. But only prayerfully and with caution.
I agree with your assessment regarding the Scofield. Very helpful summary notes and where there are notes, they are quite helpful. But there are large vistas with little in the way of helpful aid. (This is especially true of cross-references to related passages, something I utilize very heavily.)
In relation to Study Bibles which convey a dispensational approach to Scripture, I list several in the following Q&Ab:
All of them are available in modern translations (NASB or NKJV) so should be very readable, even for those who find the KJV difficult. Sorry I can't be of more assistance regarding the details of the Oxford NRSV.