As study Bibles go, the MacArthur Study Bible is one of the most theologically conservative Bibles out on the market today. Although MacArthur’s name is all over it, including some very large cursive M’s on the introductory pages of each book, the study notes are created out of the minds of many different theologians and Bible scholars from Master’s Seminary. It needs to be understood that John MacArthur did not put this study Bible together with an idea of marketing it to the masses, but to reach people who basically interpret Scripture the way he does. That being said, let’s take a look at it as we consider my basic FOUR POINTS OF INTEREST.
FIRST, THE LAYOUT—Is the MacArthur Study Bible appealing? If you like your Bibles black and white, you won’t have a problem with MacArthur’s. Like his theology, there is no room for any gray area--or color for that matter. I am reviewing his study Bible in the NASB (New American Standard Bible), one of my favorite translations. The print is large enough for me to read at around 8-point font, but this study Bible does come in large print with 11 to 13 point font. This is great for us who are in the over-60 crowd! However, buyers beware! If you are planning to take this study Bible to Sunday go-to-meetings, you better bring it in a stroller ‘cause this baby is heavy! This study Bible boasts about 20,000 study notes, charts, maps, outlines, and articles but no pictures (at least not in the study Bible I own).
SECOND, AS TO THE CONTENT—If you are looking for an extremely conservative interpretation of the Word of God, this study Bible is for you. For example, when reading the notes on the creation account found in Genesis 1, MacArthur takes the more traditional stand that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days and rested on the seventh. He leaves little room (I’m being generous) for the proponents of the old earth theory, which I find very refreshing. Another strength of this study Bible is the fact that it has many word studies heavily scattered throughout. If, nothing else, MacArthur is a wordsmith, and for those of you who like to understand what a word means in its original language, he will not disappoint you. A word of caution: if you have any problem with the Lordship Salvation doctrine, you will struggle with this study Bible because MacArthur makes no bones about being in that camp (cf. Romans 10:9). As much as I enjoy this study Bible, the word BALANCE keeps coming back to mind as I view his notes.
THIRD, AS TO THE COVER AND PAPER—The MacArthur Study Bibles I own are all hardbound. But they come in a variety of covers such as: bonded leather, genuine leather, premium leather, and synthetic. The ESV MacArthur Study Bible probably has the greatest variety of bindings and you can spend upwards to $150.00. As to the paper, it is thin but durable with ghosting (bleed-through or shadows). If you like to underline, use a pencil because ink will go through to the other side.
LAST, AS TO A VARIETY OF VERSIONS— You can buy this study Bible in the NKJV (New King James Version), NASB (New American Standard Bible), NIV (New International Version), and the new ESV (English Standard Version). The ESV MacArthur Study Bible offers more notes and a little color, but the emphasis is on little. For some reason this study Bible doesn’t come in the King James Version (that I know of) and I find that puzzling (but the truth is I puzzle easily).
So would I recommend buying this study Bible? Well, I did! However, it isn’t my go-to study Bible, and as much as I enjoy the word studies, I have found other study Bibles that give a better layout overall with no compromise on content. Like I said in the beginning, there is no perfect study Bible (MacArthur’s included).
Next time we will take a look at the Thompson Chain Reference Bible—one of my favorites.