This morning I sat down to read 2 Corinthians. Before diving in, I took my time reading the introduction in my ESV Study Bible and considering what it had to say. It was amazing. When you understand why the author is writing what he is writing, and what is going on behind the words on the pages, it helps you understand more of the context in which this is being said. It also help you see more of the meaning behind the text. Though it does not change the actual words or the truth they proclaim, it helps you understand it in a more personal way.
Now, before I go any further, you have to understand that the notes, articles and introductions in any Study Bible are not the inerrant, inspired Word of God like the actual words of the Bible are. But, after much research, the best scholarship they could provide, and years of insight, they help guide the reader to know more about what is being said and to bring you to other passages that will help your reading of the Bible.
So back to the story.
I read the introduction to 2 Corinthians and it was very helpful. Instead of diving in and reading the text, it gave me a lot of the background and a fresh understanding of why Paul wrote this book. From this intro, I started reading and felt like I could understand what Paul was saying with a lot more context. From there, his words became even more powerful.
So what’s in the ESV Study Bible that makes it so amazing? Well, a LOT of notes, introductions, articles, and cross references. In the introduction to the ESV edition, they talk about how this is not an entirely new thing but rather this edition was written on the shoulders of so many wise men who have gone before them. Benefiting from centuries of study, the contributors were able to provide more insight into both the meaning and occasion of the text. Developments in historical understanding, archeology, language research and other contemporary sources that give us an understanding of what was going on then, help enrich the understanding and background of the text.
At no point does any footnote or article make a theological stand on a controversial passage. Instead, they clearly state what the scripture says. And if the issue is not clearly decided by the text (such as the second coming), the contributors have done a very wonderful job of presenting what the text says and providing differing understandings.
The Resurgence, a blog I really enjoy reading that is written by a variety of current Evangelicals, just did a series on the ESV Study Bible. I found it this morning after I wrote this post, so please go here and enjoy their posts about the Trinity. Here’s a quote from The Resurgence that gives the resasoning for their series:
The ESV Study Bible is our bible of choice. To show you how good the notes are, we’re sharing pieces from the ESV Study Bible’s article on the Trinity.
If you don’t have one already, I would highly recommend purchasing an ESV Study Bible. You can find them in many different bookstores. Here’s a link to CBD, who has them at a great price.
One last note: Crossway, the publisher, provides a lifetime warranty on the binding. That means if it starts to fall apart, you can send it in and they’ll fix it. I don’t know how many bibles I’ve had to retire because the binding has fallen apart (including my NIV Study Bible). This is especially nice on a bible as thick as this…
Can’t decide which one to buy? I started with a hardcover. It is a great edition and makes a nice book if you like the hard binding. But after a little while, I really wanted to go with a soft cover. I couldn’t stand a textbook feel for a book so important to me. So I was able to switch with a good friend of mine who purchased it for the online version (as I did) and the TruTone was on sale for less than the hardcover. Since neither of us had written anything in it and both were in pristine condition, we swapped. I’m VERY happy with the TruTone.
Here are a few peeks inside (Thanks to CBD) the ESV Study Bible to show you how great and extensive the notes are: