I now own a copy of the ESV Study Bible and am profoundly thankful that I do. If you do not own one, I would encourage you to purchase one as soon as possible. The Westminster Book Store is offering them at almost 50% off for a limited time–use your powers of common sense, click here, and buy one (or several) for yourself and your family.
I have had some time to work through it and have actually used it already in my theological work. In an article I wrote on the geography of the Promised Land, for example, I found it an excellent resource and relied heavily on it. The Study Bible includes heaps of study notes carefully vetted by theologian Wayne Grudem and more well-detailed, eye-catching maps than you can shake a laser-pointer at. I have long used the Reformation Study Bible–which I’m still quite a fan of–but in all honesty, the ESV Study Bible blows it away.
Here are some of the specs of the new text. Only in the strange world of evangelicalism is something like a study Bible ogled in the manner of a hot new car–but this is the world in which we find ourselves.
The features of the new Study Bible: “The ESV Study Bible includes 20,000 notes, written specifically for the ESV Study Bible. These notes focus especially on understanding the meaning of the text, giving answers to frequently raised questions, and providing theological, historical, and archaeological background—all for the purpose of helping readers to understand the Bible in a deeper way.The ESV Study Bible also provides a wealth of additional resources. The introductions to each book include essential information about the author, date, and place of writing; an extensive chart of key themes; a summary of how the book fits in with the rest of the biblical storyline; a description of literary features; an outline of the book; and a large full-color map showing the setting of the book.
Another unique feature is the inclusion of over 50 helpful articles on topics such as the authority and truthfulness of the Bible, reading the Bible for application, the Bible in worship and prayer, the reliability of the biblical manuscripts, the relationship between archaeology and the Bible, an overview of biblical theology, and many more.
Other key resources include a system of over 80,000 cross references and an extensive concordance (which together facilitate easy location of important words and biblical themes). In addition, over 200 color charts, located throughout the Bible, provide clear, concise presentations of essential information.”
There you go. I have little else to say on the matter. Whether a pastor, student, homemaker, carpenter, dancer, or Chuck Norris devotee, I would encourage you to buy this new resource, read it, meditate on it, let it strengthen your spiritual life, and feel free to use it as a coffee-table book in a pinch. I will be doing all of the above, as only a hard-core evangelical can.