I was recently given the The ESV Study Bible as a gift for graduating seminary. Finding solid resources for Bible study is one of the things that you inherently learn as a seminarian. You learn which scholars are well learned on certain aspects and books within the cannon of Scripture, thus you turn to those men for wisdom when it comes to their area of expertise. This is where the ESV study Bible surpasses other resources similar to it.
The 2750 pages represented are a massive resource for personal Bible study. Under the direction of Theologian Wayne Grudem, the scholars who contributed to this study Bible have blended practical application with deep theological reflection in a way that is helpful to the layperson, learned Bible teacher, and even Bible scholar.
Even with all my excitement for such a wonderful resource, I think Dr. Al Mohler provides us with a healthy reminder in his article titled “How should a study Bible be used?”
“1. Read the text of the Bible first. Meditate upon the text and read it with care. Apply your own knowledge of the Bible in order to understand the particular text within its context and place in the biblical story-line. Consider and note other texts that come to your mind as directly related to this text. Read the text with full attention and conviction.
2. Look carefully at the cross-references that the study Bible links to the text you are reading. Do not look only to the citations, but read the actual passages. This assistance is still the main contribution of a study Bible — making related and parallel passages more accessible. A first principle of interpreting the Bible is to interpret the Bible by the Bible. In other words, to allow the Bible to interpret itself text by text.
3. As a third step, take full advantage of the notes, articles, and other helps printed alongside the text. In some cases, short articles will help in understanding contested issues or matters that might otherwise require a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia. Where appropriate, maps can be very useful, along with tables of measurement and similar points of reference. The very best of the study Bibles will also offer some level of commentary within the notes.
Of course, it is the Bible itself that is inspired, inerrant, and infallible — not the study materials included in study Bibles. Therefore, judge the notes by the biblical text, and never the other way around. Where possible, use more than one study Bible in order to maximize this learning process.”
To read the whole thing, click here.