ESV Study Bible review, part 4

This is the fourth and final part of my review of the ESV Study Bible, having owned it and used it for the past six months.

4. Practicalities and conclusion

After looking at the excellence of the translation, the quality of the study materials, and the wealth of additional resources, I’ll finish with some practical considerations and a conclusion.

The page layout is rather different to the two columns of Scripture format you get in most Bibles. A single column covers about three-quarters of the page width, with a side bar for cross-references. Below this is a double column for study notes. What I like about this is that the Scriptures themselves take precedence on the page, which is reinforced by the text being in a larger font size than the notes. Some Bibles seem so cluttered with other people’s thoughts that the word of God can seem rather incidental; that is not the case here. Only when a passage requires a great deal of commentary, or there is a large diagram in the notes (see above), does the main text feel squeezed.

The pay-off for this incredible amount of resource in one volume is this: it’s massive! Honestly, you might want to fit some wheels to it if you’re going to carry it around with you everywhere. With my own copy at home and a friend’s in the office I’m usually OK but this is where the online version comes into its own for those with mobile internet access – that really is the best way to have this Bible and all its resources on the move.

The other big practicality is, of course, cost. I got my hardback copy for under £30, which at the time of going to press was still possible from Amazon. That really is an incredible price for such an enormous amount of material. Fancier covers are available, all the way up to “Premium calfskin” which will set you back an eye-watering, conscience-stirring £150! (The publishers are a charity, by the way, so this isn’t a profit-making exercise.) The thing to be said about getting a leather-bound copy is that this could well be the Bible you use for the rest of your life – why not get a copy that’s going to go the distance with you? And anyway, God gave us cows for burgers and Bibles! If you’d rather invest some of your money in getting the Bible to people who don’t have one, check this out.

Because I’m a bit of a geek, and because they help with my job, I have a dozen different copies of the Bible. Without a doubt, my ESV Study Bible is the one I would keep if I was only allowed to have one. It is an accurate and readable translation, and the amount of helpful resources it includes is staggering. On top of all this, it’s so heavy that if I keep reading it every day it will really build up my arm muscles, resulting in my having been built up in every way by this excellent book!

To finish, here’s J.I. Packer talking about his work on this amazing project. I thank God for him and all the other people who have worked so hard to bring something so important to the Church.


ESV Study Bible review: part onepart twopart threepart four.
The ESV Study Bible is available from Amazon and many other retailers.