Friday, October 17, 2008

ESV Study Bible: First Impressions

Many thanks go to Michele Bennett of Crossway Publishing for sending me a copy of the ESV Study Bible.

As I have mentioned in a previous post concerning the NLT Study Bible, I have made quite the habit of collecting study Bible's. Much like the NLT, and to perhaps an even greater degree, the ESV Study Bible has received much hype and fanfare.
I won't enumerate the various features, except for some observations I have made along the way --if one wants to see all that the ESV Study Bible has to offer, this is the place to click.
The first thing I do when I crack open any study Bible is check for the list of contributors. The ESV much like the NLT, has a very fine list indeed. Old Testament scholars include T. Desmond Alexander, Gordon J. Wenham, J. Gordon McConville, John Oswalt, David Baker, and Duane Garrett among others; while on the NT side scholars such as Andreas Kӧstenberger, Clint Arnold, Simon Gathercole, Frank Thielman, Tom Schreiner, and Scott Hafemann are among the many notables.
The second thing I noticed is the plethora of articles accompanying this study Bible. For the OT, eight articles are included, ranging from an article on OT theology, to how the Hebrew calendar compares with the Gregorian calendar. Six articles are dedicated to background issues for the NT, canvassing the Second Temple period, while five articles cover the NT itself, including an article on NT theology, and an article on the date of Jesus' crucifixion. Moreover, there are 160+pages of articles in the back including articles on Biblical doctrine, ethics, intepreting the Bible, original languages of the Bible, the LXX, and so on. I would say on this score as well as the full-color illustrations that the ESV Study Bible contains, place this ahead of the NLT Study Bible.
Before I toot the horn of the ESV Study Bible too loudly however, I do prefer the NLT as a translation a bit more. I am not advocating one translation philosophy over another per se, but am just stating a personal preference. I do think the NLT is a very underrated translation. The second feature I enjoy about the NLT Study Bible is the Hebrew/Greek word concordance located in the back. This again is not to disparage the ESV, because they do discuss Hebrew and Greek terms in the study notes, but this is merely a stylistic preference on my part. Both the NLT and ESV have included elecronic editions that the user can add their own notes to, so this is a big boost for those who really want to dive in to these respective study Bible's.
In sum, the ESV Study Bible as well as the NLT Study Bible should not present the prospective purchaser with an either/or. This is definitely a "both!" The contributors are to be commended for producing the best two study Bibles on the market. Depending on what mood I'm in, #1 and #2 will continually flip flop---Yes, they are both that good!

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