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Congratulations to the ESV Study Bible

By Mark D. Roberts | Friday, March 20, 2009

Last night I attended the 2009 Christian Book Awards in Dallas, Texas. The awards are given by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association in several categories: Bibles, Children & Youth, Christian Life, Bible Reference & Study, Inspiration & Gift, Fiction, and Book of the Year. The awards ceremony is not unlike others of its genre, but without as much glitch or attention. You can learn more about the award winners here.

Book of the Year honors went to the ESV Study Bible, published by Crossway (my publisher for Can You Trust the Gospels?). It may seem odd for a study Bible to take this award. But the ESV Study Bible has already made a huge mark among Bible readers. I want to congratulate my friends who worked tirelessely on this Bible project, especially Justin Taylor and J.I. Packer who were editors of the Bible.

Topics: Recommendations |

6 Responses to “Congratulations to the ESV Study Bible”

  1. Jim S. Says:
    March 20th, 2009 at 7:09 am

    I love the ESV Study Bible. I am not terribly impressed by the vanilla translation, but the resources in the Bible itself are great. Add in the additional resources on the website, and it is terrific. I have used several of the charts in my own teaching. A good choice.

  2. Bill Goff Says:
    March 20th, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I bought an ESV Study Bible last year and enjoy using the study materials. However due to the small print, I often need to use a magnifying glass to read it.

  3. Mark Roberts Says:
    March 20th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Bill: Yup. At least online we can increase the font size. It’s called getting older. Sigh.

  4. Rick Says:
    March 20th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I begin looking into this Bible after reading about it on your blog last year. I was thrilled when I found one under the Christmas tree and have been appreciating its translation and resources since then.

  5. David Says:
    March 20th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    After purchasing an ESV Study Bible it appears clear to me that it is the best study Bible on the market.

    Unfortunately, that is not an enthusiastic endorsement as one might suspect. I have long been concerned (and annoyed, frankly) at the lack of quality explanatory notes and introductory materials in study Bibles that actually explain what the author meant and what the Bible’s original readers and hearers understood. And, it would seem, the ESV Study Bible offers much of the same. For instance, Clinton Arnold (the ESV Study Bible contributor for Paul’s letter to the Colossians) states that the theme of the letter is (and I quote in full):

    “Christ is Lord over all creation, including the invisible realm. He has secured redemption for his people, enabling them to participate with him in his death, resurrection and fullness.”

    What he says above is true, in so far as it either speaks to vital aspects of the main theme or leads one to the letter’s main theme. Yet, in the section of the Introduction to Colossians entitled “Theme” Arnold fails to mention the main reason Paul wrote the letter - that is, calling to maturity God’s new community in Christ. Of course, this call to maturity is partly based on what Arnold says is the theme, but his explanation misses or obscures the main thrust of the entire letter. When he finally does mention this in his Introduction it is found at the bottom of a long list of themes of Colossians. But this is not one theme among many in the letter - it is the very heart and purpose of the entire document.

    The main argument of the letter (i.e., probatio) is found in 2:6-2:23. Here Paul calls the Colossians to continue living and being strengthened in the faith (2:6-7), which is made possible by our identification with Christ’s baptism and resurrection when they were baptized (2:8-15). Because we are in Christ, therefore, Paul calls them to stop submitting to the rules of this world rather than Christ (2:16-23). This leads into the exhortation section of the letter (i.e., exhortatio) in which he provides principles for living the new life in Christ, beginning in the Church (3:1-17), then the home (3:18-4:1), and then in the world at large (4:2-6).

    The above analysis of Colossians is based largely on a rhetorical analysis of the letter based on first century Greco-Roman letter writing rhetoric which Paul utilized masterfully. Now, it seems to me that this could have been easily written for non-experts to understand and apply. So, I ask, why is this sort of analysis essentially absent from every study Bible that has been published in the last 25 years regardless of translation?

  6. Charlie Says:
    March 21st, 2009 at 8:19 am

    The ESV Study Bible is a fine work, especially the study tools part of the book. However, I am still not impressed enough with the translation itself to actually buy one. Not that it isn’t a fine translation of the more literal type, but in terms of readability IMO it is no better than the NASB or NKJV…still too many “beholds” and other archaic words. My overall preference is still the NLT Study Bible. It has pretty decent study notes and a very readable translation.


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