When the Bible first began to really make sense in my spiritual growth, it came through the help of some good study Bibles. While I was in college, I purchased a new study Bible each year (with a different translation) with the goal of reading through it and taking notes that given year. Even now I can look back and see evidences of grace and sanctification in what God had been teaching me as I worked through these study Bibles.
And yet, despite all the good that study Bibles bring to the table, there is a real danger of becoming a second-hander when it comes to personal study, interpretation, and wrestling with the biblical texts. It is tempting to simply look at what a commentator had said below the line and assume it is just as valid as the inspired text. There is a danger of bypassing what Spirit says and what the human author said to find out what ____________ said.
Nevertheless, personal study Bibles do have an important role to play in the spiritual and doctrinal development of believers today, and the best ones provide the resources and tools necessary to do the hard work of going deep with God in His Word. From what I can tell so far, the ESV Study Bible does just that and perhaps better than anything available today. The ESV does not spoon-feed you commentary for a sound-byte generation or drive-by devotional; rather, it provides you with more than 2,750 pages of meaty resources, including:
* 25,000-plus notes—focusing especially on understanding the Bible text and providing answers to frequently raised issues.
* Over 50 articles—including articles on the Bible’s authority, reliability, and interpretation; on biblical archaeology, theology, worship, prayer, and personal application.
* Over 200 full-color maps—created with the latest digital technology, satellite images, and archaeological research; printed in full color, throughout the Bible.
* 200-plus charts—offering key insights and in-depth analysis in clear, concise outline form; located throughout the Bible.
* 80,000 cross-references—to encourage easy location of important words, passages, and biblical themes.
* More than 40 new full-color illustrations—including historically accurate reconstructions of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, Solomon’s temple, Herod’s temple, the city of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time and throughout the history of Israel, and many more.
The ESV editorial team, under the leadership of Justin Taylor, has done a fantastic job of putting together 93 first-class biblical scholars to contribute with articles and resources what would be the equivalent of a 20-volume resource library. To have these resources readily accessible in one volume will do much to further the vision of a Blue Collar Theology, and I am happy to commend the ESV Study Bible to you for your consideration.
A final note should be made here. We live in a biblically illiterate age where there are more Bibles, more sermons, more articles, more journals, more magazines, and more books available than ever before, and yet we are suffering from spiritual anemia today. You can have the genuine leather edition of the best study Bible in the world, but if you do not read it, it will be worthless to you. The Bibles we have are not to be living room decoration; our lives should rather be a showroom of the inward transformation that comes from those who “day and night” meditate on the law of the Lord. I know it sounds like I am preaching to the choir, but the point needs to be made that we should treasure God’s Word regardless if it comes with the bells and whistles. It is my hope and prayer that the vision of BCT will encourage all Christians to treasure and apply the Word of God in their lives. Indeed, it is my prayer that the ESV might re-introduce believers to the life-changing revelation of God preserved and handed-down to us.