The English Standard Version Study Bible (“ESVSB”) is certainly gaining acceptance as a version and study Bible all over the English-speaking world. For myself, I find the version very easy to read and find it to be an extremely clear word-for-word translation.
FIRST, THE LAYOUT --The ESVSB has a layout that is very appealing. The print is clear, and even though there is some ghosting (you see the printing from the opposite page coming through) it is not distracting. The Scripture is read in paragraph and clarion form, so you read it like a book with side column references. It has lots of charts, graphs, maps and articles, but not a lot of pictures compared to other study Bibles. It also doesn’t have a lot of color, but the study notes at the bottom of each page are highlighted for easy following.
SECOND, AS TO THE CONTENT, the ESVSB is overall theologically conservative, although I was disappointed by their view on the first 11 chapters of Genesis (especially the origin of creation). It seems to leave an opening for “old earth” which I believe is a departure from plain sense of the text. I also found the notes on the gifts of the Spirit found in First Corinthians to be slanted toward a Charismatic or Pentecostal view. Even though this study Bible doesn’t cater to my theological bent in all areas, it is still a solid study tool. Usually I refer to the ESVSB when I am sitting in Sunday school and find it very helpful as I follow our teacher, Art Burdick.
THIRD, AS TO THE COVER AND PAPER, it is of excellent quality with a solid binding that is sewn. I have the hardbound version; however, you can get this study Bible in just about any binding you can imagine. Crossways (the publisher) has made it a point to give its customers the greatest variety of materials on the market today. You can spend as little as $30 or less (hardbound) or as much as $225 (goatskin cover) and anything in between.
LAST, AS TO THE VARIETY OF VERSIONS--You can find other study Bibles out on the market that use the English Standard Version. For example, the MacArthur Study Bibles comes in New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and now English Standard Version. But the ESVSB notes only come with the English Standard Version Study Bible.
Overall, what do I think about the ESVSB? Although I haven’t read it cover-to-cover, I have gained helpful information when needed at a glance. Remember, a study Bible is not a “cure all” for all your biblical and theological questions. I did find this study Bible to be helpful, even with some difficult passages. The editors and contributors run the gambit between the Reform, Reform Baptist, Charismatic, and even Covenant camps. Some of their contributors are also professors from some of the more moderate evangelical schools. I believe all of the contributors take a high view of the Scriptures and treat the basic tenants of our faith with the utmost care. The salvation message is clear and gives glory to Jesus Christ, treating the Word of God, as it should be, the Word of God. Would I recommend the ESVSB to people in my congregation? Yes, but it wouldn’t be my first choice -- but still a good choice.
On my next blog, I will review the MacArthur Study Bible. You will want to be informed on this one so don’t miss it!
This is Pastor Whalen, wishing you joy in Jesus!