The ESV Study Bible is finally here! Mine arrived on Monday and I’ve been enjoying exploring its pages in every spare moment. All of you who have ordered one will no doubt be doing the same; I don’t think that many will be disappointed by this study Bible. In my opinion, it fulfills its goal of helping readers “to understand the Bible in a deeper way.”
There are many other goals fulfilled and uses possible for this Bible. In all seriousness (but with a bit of tongue-in-cheek on a couple points) here are my top 5 uses for the ESV Study Bible. Feel free to make your own additions to my list:
The ESV Study Bible provides the same thru-the-Bible-in-one-year reading plan as the Literary Study Bible. I’m glad because I think it is the best I’ve ever used. A few of the unique features: the readings go chronologically through the Old Testament (versus canonically) and the Gospels and Epistles are mostly grouped by author (e.g. I read Luke and then Acts).
2. Fashion Statement
If you want a Bible that will make you appear deeply spiritual and theologically minded, this is the way to go. You will achieve best success with the premium calfskin binding, though the red and black color scheme of the hardcover makes a bold statement.
3. Private Study
With 80,000 cross-references right beside the text, this has to be one of the most exhaustive study Bibles available. Between that and the 80+ page concordance, you have a great base for word or theme studies. This would also be a good choice for a personal daily use Bible to mark up with sermon notes, prayers, spiritual journaling, and highlighting.
4. Muscle Toning
This is a massive Bible. The hardcover edition weighs at least five pounds and will strengthen your biceps and triceps with consistent, daily use.
5. Reference and Research
This is the first Bible I’ve seen that includes full-color maps, illustrations, and charts throughout the text–not just in a handful of pages at the back. There is also a clever use of shading to help distinguish between various types of study notes such as commentary, summary, etc.
When the website said that this study Bible would be like a 20-volume resource library, they were telling the truth. At the back is what I would call almost a 150-page mini systematic theology plus many more articles. I must also mention the included online edition which allows you to make your own notes, listen to an audio recording, and use interactive links between the charts, maps, notes, and text.
As with every study Bible, the editors and writers approach it from their own personal perspective, doctrinal stance, and bias, but so far I’ve seen a desire to clearly distinguish between the infallible Word of God and the fallible words of men. They encourage you to start and end with Scripture itself, not allowing the notes and information to steal your primary focus and energy from God’s Word. This Bible’s notes are not going to knock you over the head with a denominational theological agenda. However, they admit they are Reformed evangelicals. Still, even if, like me, you don’t subscribe to all of their theology, there are abundant helpful notes and charts on history, culture, and themes.
My current focus of study is the Pentateuch. I’m finishing up reading it with the Literary Study Bible while beginning a second, slower read-through using the ESV Study Bible with Schnittjer’s The Torah Story and Merrill’s The Bible Knowledge Word Study. All the books happen to be very heavy hardcovers so I am getting more upper body muscle toning than I really wanted…