The most comprehensive study bible so far
Since i believe that the esv is the most reliable translation available today, i have eagerly anticipated the release of the esv study bible(abbr, esv/sb) with its copious notes and helps. the esv study bible has its own website at [...] which offers many details about its features as well as videos and recommendations. this review is in two parts. part 1 is my general and personal observations; part 2 is the theological observations. part 1- general and personal observations(for a general reader) 1. the general look and layout of the notes is most similar to the niv study bible--- this pertains to the size and color of the type and the bolding of keys words from the text. the esv/sb has some color backgrounds in the notes that the niv/sb does not have. the detail of comment is much more extensive than the niv/sb. the notes of the niv/sb are quite abbreviated in short phrase style while the esv/sb speaks on fuller sentences and offers the potential for considerable more understanding. the language represents a balance between scholarship and readability for the lay person. 2. the notes of the esv/sb represent the majority of evangelical views--when there is consensus of opinion, the notes present what most all evangelicals affirm. where there is more than one opinion the general approach is: "some say...". "others say...." "all views have this in common..." therefore the reader can learn about diversity of views within the church as well as the essentials of the christian faith that all affirm . it is important to state that the esv/sb notes and articles do not criticize or harshly critique a certain view within evangelicalism. the various views are stated accurately and with a charitable attitude towards various views. i have seen up to 4 views presented in certain passages which is basically unprecedented. 3. a unique addition is the online version. of course it can be updated in the future, but for now i find it useful in quick cross-referencing. when you place your mouse on a scripture in the notes, the first 3-lines of text appear in a pop-up box. if you click the mouse, the whole passage appears. the maps zoom in and out with a click of the mouse. 4. the esv/sb is physically thicker and weightier than previous study bibles . with nearly 2700 pages, it may be too heavy to carry to a church worship service or to a college classroom. since it is considerably more comprehensive than previous study bibles, it excels in the personal study. but it can also have great value in a small group study. since a diversity of views is clearly explained, church members from various backgrounds can see other views that may be represented in their group. the extensive articles in the esv/sb equate to a concise systematic theology and a concise theological dictionary built into the back section. the articles on ethics are not commonly found in study bibles yet they speak with contemporary relevance. this completes the practical portion of the review. for some, this review is ready for evaluation. in part 2 below, i will make some theological observations. this is designed for those who have further questions and those who are familiar with the theological terms. part 2 theological observations calvinism vs. arminianism--after doing an electronic word search in the article on doctrine, i did not find the words calvinism, arminianism, reformed or wesleyan. the article on the atonement did not include the extent of the atonement whether definite or universal. therefore an analysis needs to be made from the notes. the notes affirm total depravity and effectual call in john 6:44. unconditional election of individuals is affirmed in romans 9:11, while corporate election is not affirmed. john 6:40 affirms eternal security and phil 2:12-13 affirms god's enabling power in the believer's perseverance. in heb 6:4-8, a controversial passage concerning falling away from the faith, four views are presented but eternal security is favored. conclusion: since ji packer is the general theological editor, it is not surprising that the notes favor calvinism. 2. dispensational vs. non-dispensational. the notes generally favor continuity over discontinuity. rather than making distinctions between israel and the church, the esv/sb uses terms such as "god's people" in both old and new testament. yet throughout the notes, the dispensational view is presented and named as such. in the interpretation of revelation, the recapitulation approach works well for amillennial eschatology. yet, the dispensational view is mentioned several times in the notes which allows the reader to compare the newer view of recapitulation with the more popular dispensational view. in the "70 weeks" of daniel 9, the esv/sb amazingly explains 3 non-dispensational views along with dispensationalism. there is some mention of discontinuity though. the notes on rom 11 allow for the possibility of identifying jews ethnically or biologically near or at the return of christ. the usage of the word "temple" in ezek 40-48, 2 thess 2, and rev 11 all include the dispensational interpretation of a future, physical temple as a possible view. 3. minority views--i mentioned in part 1 that majority views within evangelicalism are included. a minority view that is becoming more popular is orthodox preterism. the preterist or ad70 version of the olivet discourse is not offered in the esv/sb even though the esv translation allows for it. for instance in matt 24:30 the niv imposes a bias against the ad70 view by stating that the sign of the son of man will appear in the sky. the esv states that the sign of the son of man will appear in heaven(where christ is presently ruling). the esv also states that the tribes of the earth will mourn which allows for ad70 interpretation as well. the preterist view is not offered in revelation but a brief summary appears in the introduction. i predict that the esv/sb will enjoy wide acceptance among evangelicals. my recommendation is to buy it and then email the website link shown above to all your family and friends!