The Bible is unquestionably my favorite book! God’s Word is so precious to me, and it is no secret that I love to get my hands on a new Bible. Over the years I have purchased and have been gifted too many Bibles to count, but I certainly don’t regret having any of them. One day I hope to have a library with an entire wall dedicated solely to my collection of Bibles. The most recent addition to my plethora of Bibles is the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. This particular study Bible was written by more than 50 pastors and Bible scholars and includes over 375,000 words of study notes, 80,000 cross-references, and even a concordance.
In most cases, it is standard protocol to read each word in a book before writing a review. However, due to the copious amount of content included in this Bible, I had to develop another system for reviewing. I have taken a good bit of time to study this Bible and will organize my thoughts into four categories, followed by an overall review.
As indicated in the title, the “meat” or Scripture of this particular Bible is translated in the English Standard Version. This translation is widely used among many believers today and can be easily read and understood by mature Bible readers as well as novice Bible readers. Personally, I am a huge proponent of the ESV for two specific reasons: reliability and readability. While no translation is entirely perfect, (based on my studies) I have found that the ESV is an excellent literal translation that does not compromise the intended meaning of the Scriptures. Known as a “word-for-word” translation, the ESV aligns very closely with original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts. In terms of readability, the ESV is among my top choices of easily understood translations. All in all, I think there are few translations available today that provide such a great balance of textual accuracy and comprehension.
What I love most about the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible is the gospel-centered commentary. For many years I struggled with seeing and understanding that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be found throughout all 66 books of the Bible. Unfortunately, I studied Scripture in such a disjointed fashion that I actually viewed the various books of the Bible as isolated stories as opposed to components of one big story. This Bible is perfect for helping the reader to see the “Big Story” of Scripture. The content in this Bible illustrates the fullness of God’s redemptive plan and aids believers in applying those truths to their life. The introductory content found at the beginning of each book is informative, engaging, and lays the foundation for seeing Christ as you read/study that particular book. I also love that the commentary is written very plainly and is easy to comprehend. Each time I open the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible, I am enthused to turn each page and read more!
I must admit that I am a full proponent of theologically rich content in any book, but especially biblical commentary. There is a great benefit in understanding the biblical, historical, systematic, and practical theological truths that are presented throughout Scripture. The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible certainly does not disappoint in terms of highlighting all of these. Additionally, I have found that the theological insights included in this Bible are not only rich, but they are communicated in a way that is not intimidating or overbearing for the reader. Having examined commentary from both the Old and New Testaments, I would comfortably recommend this Bible to the new or mature Christian.
While the look and feel of a particular Bible may not be very important for many, aesthetics is an element that I personally like to take into consideration. As part of this review, Crossway provided me with a complimentary hardcover copy of this Bible through the Blog Review Program. Although my preference is the leather-bound Bible, I was delighted with the design of this hardcover Bible. The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible is beautifully designed, and the theme seamlessly flows from the cover of the Bible, throughout the pages, and even in the online content shared by Crossway. As for the layout, the Scriptures are listed in a single-column format on each page with cross-references listed in the centermost portion of the Bible. The commentary is recorded in a double-column form at the bottom of each page. Spacing and margins are relatively small, but still large enough to scribble a few notes if needed. This Bible is available in the following styles: TruTone® - (Burgundy/Red) Timeless Design; Top Grain Leather (Black), Hardcover, TruTone® (Deep Brown).
Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. This Bible has challenged me to see and apply the gospel-centered truths of Scripture to my own life and ministry. I am truly thankful to those who have contributed to this faithful work, and I pray that this Bible will be helpful to people near and far.