REVIEW: ESV Study Bible

When I first laid eyes on the ESV Study Bible, I knew I was going to like it. It was thick, which meant it held a wealth of resources. I also fell in love with its very colorful maps, charts, and images. I had never seen a Study Bible more beautiful or excellently produced than this one.

esc study bibleAs I labored on “The Epic of God” and “The Derision of Heaven,” I consulted resources considerably more in-depth than your typical Study Bible. But I still find myself using the ESV Study Bible as a source in my writing. It helps me get a feel for what might be confusing or misunderstood in a particular passage. Its comments help me figure out how to simplify things for the reader—which is exactly what you would want in a good Study Bible.

Since I purchased my first copy, I’ve been a huge fan of the ESV translation. I use it almost exclusively in my preaching. It reads well but is also very faithful to the original text. I have also used this translation as the basis for all my guides to the Bible published by Start2Finish Books. I also like how Crossaway, publishers of the ESV and the ESV Study Bible, conduct themselves as a business. I think it’s really cool that they made their translation FREE as an app for smartphones and tablets. When preaching, I actually use the free ESV app on my iPad Mini and it works marvelously when I read God’s Word with the congregation.

Here are some of the highlights of the ESV Study Bible from Crossway’s website:

  • 2 million words of Bible text and insightful teaching in 2,752 pages.
  • 20,000 notes—focus especially on understanding the meaning of the text, giving answers to frequently raised questions, and providing theological, historical, and archaeological background
  • Book Introductions—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.
  • Over 50 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.
  • 200-plus charts—offering key insights and in-depth analysis in clear, concise outline form; located throughout the Bible.
  • Over 200 full-color maps—use the latest satellite imagery, digital technology, and cartography techniques. The maps are based on extensive research and the most recent biblical archaeology scholarship.
  • 80,000 cross-references—to encourage easy location of important words, passages, and biblical themes.
  • 40 all-new illustrations—created specifically for the ESV Study Bible and printed at key locations throughout the Bible. These include full-color renderings and architectural diagrams of important biblical structures, cities, and objects, shown in precise, accurate detail. The unique dimensional drawings were researched by leading archaeologists and have been beautifully rendered by architectural illustrators. The result is a series of exceptional illustrations—including the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, Solomon’s temple and Herod’s temple, and the city of Jerusalem throughout the history of Israel and during the time of Jesus.

If you have been searching for a new Study Bible, you shouldn’t look any further. If you are a fan of Start2Finish Books, this Study Bible is the perfect reading companion. I’m very happy to commend to you this Bible study resource. Because of Crossway’s generosity, I’m excited to announce that I’m giving away a copy of the ESV Study Bible next week, along with 10 signed copies of my next book. Starting today, you can enter the drawing in multiple ways. The more you share this drawing with your friends, the more chances YOU have to win.

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Michael Whitworth is the founder of Start2Finish and author of several books, including the award-winning "The Epic of God" and "The Derision of Heaven." In his spare time, Michael enjoys reading and drinking coffee, watching sports, and spending time with his awesome family and furry golden retriever.

  1. Daniel August 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Great Study Bibles are full of info and flow. They also aren’t stolen as my ESV Study Bible was… 🙂

  2. Richard August 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Cross references and an extensive concordance

  3. Andy August 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Refernces to original translation and defintions of original language helps for those who have not yet studied these languages.

  4. Lori Dyer August 29, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    We need this bible. My husband Clark left his at the church bldg. and it disappeared. I have an ESV bible for myself and really like it. It’s really easy to understand and would like him to have one as well.

  5. Jeremy August 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Obviously, a good study Bible should have plenty of notes, but one thing that I greatly value in a study Bible that seems to frequently be left out is enough room in the margins to make your own notes.

  6. Kathy August 30, 2013 at 11:30 am

    A great study Bible should be easy to read and set the scene for me to understand what things were like at the time of a particular passage, such as, explaining a local custom that add insight into the scripture’s meaning. In other words, take me there so it resonates with me.

  7. Betsy August 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    A good study Bible should have easy to understand language, plenty of references and helps, original language translations, a good concordance & dictionary.

  8. KayM August 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    A good Study Bible should be readable. A Bible that isn’t read isn’t accomplishing anything. The helps should not be overwhelming, but should encourage the reader to be hungry for God’s Word. I’d love to win this Bible, it’s something I have no means to buy for myself.

  9. Ty September 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Historical context. Cultural explanations. Efficient and concise rather than wordy and unnecessary explanations

  10. Eric Gersbacher September 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    A good study Bible should have a simple breakdown of the statements or arguments not inherent in the normal text like “righteousness means what is right and in Romans 1:17 it means God’s plan to make man right with Him.”

    also, it should have application suggestions like “since God’s righteousness makes us right with Him let us make use of it and work with Him to make others right with Him.” and so forth.

    Pictures may sound like kids stuff but the more ways you can visualize the scene through them I find they help to impress the material in my mind and perhaps this will be so for others. Gustave Dore’s Bible was great but limited in the pictures it had.

    So simplification, application, illustration are Study Bible needs of mine. I totally do not care for maps at all.

  11. Jon September 3, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Open heart, open mind, open Bible!

  12. Robert September 6, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Michael, as you know, a great study Bible must have balance and information. That is why I love my ESV study Bible. For instance, when it comes to the book of Revelation when most study Bible’s lean hard towards some form of pre or post millennialism, this one gives us balance by presenting the amillennialist view as well. It does not say the text is any one of the three but gives a balance and teaching of each. This allows the Bible student to have the information at his or her fingertips and make their own decision. That to me is one of the many great features of this study Bible along with the ESV text itself which is about as true to the Hebrew and Greek (and Aramaic) as is found on the market today.

  13. Jack September 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

    A good Study Bible should include background and historical information. It should define very key words as well as providing maps and charts for more a more expansive learning experience.

  14. Andrew September 6, 2013 at 10:23 am

    A great study Bible should be balanced to include in depth thoughts and thoughts for the casual reader.

  15. Dee September 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    To me, a great Bible study needs a dependable Bible version, a concordance, a dictionary, an open mind and receptive heart, as well as a prayerful attitude. Peace and quite are nice and an added bonus.