There must be quite a market for study Bibles, because they keep making more of them. And some older ones are being updated and revised. Like The Reformation Study Bible.
It was published in 1995 as The New Geneva Study Bible, using the New King James translation. 1998 saw the name changed to The Reformation Study Bible. In 2005, a second edition emerged, switching translations from NKJV to ESV. Now in 2015, a third edition hit the market with a long list of new features. It’s already out in ESV, and an NKJV version is on its way.
Study notes multiplied from 760,000 to 1.1 million words. Ten more maps, fourteen theological articles, ten creeds and confessions, almost 600 pages, and an extra 3/8 of an inch in thickness expand the contents. In addition, purchasers of this Bible gain access to over $400 worth of e-books, subscriptions, and online teaching series.
There’s a lot here. Is it worth it?
This study Bible is beautiful. I’ve been reading the leather-like light gray version, but cheaper hardbacks are also available. I’m tempted to judge this book by its cover, with its soft leather-like substance and three marvelous, protruding ribbon bookmarks.
Upon opening and flipping, I find the page layout pleasing. The font of the biblical text is easy to read and in single-column format. Theological notes in shaded gray boxes pepper the volume. The back matter (articles, creeds, and maps) draws my attention.
This study Bible is a delight to handle and to read.
The Reformation Study Bible (RSB) will appeal to some and not to others. I trust it will help many; I fear it will hinder some. The difference depends on how it is used.
If you know how to determine the main points and trains of thought of Bible passages, you will find some real help here. The RSB will clarify the meanings of words. It will connect many passages to each other. It will tie things nicely with larger theological issues. But if you look to the RSB to give you the main points and trains of thought of Bible books, I think you’ll be disappointed. The RSB is heavy on correlation and observation of words, but it is light on main points, trains of thought, and application.
In addition, if you’re already familiar with the significance and teachings of the Reformation, you’ll be at home with the RSB. It explains the Reformation and Reformed theology (the covenants, Christ-centered interpretation, doctrines of grace, etc.) with plain language and clarity. It makes lofty concepts understandable and accessible. But if you’re not sure about Reformed theology, or if you’d like to understand how these teachings are drawn out of careful literary analysis of the Scripture, you’ll be disappointed. While I wouldn’t say this study Bible imposes its teaching on the Scripture, I must admit it often doesn’t show its work by drawing its teaching from the Scripture.
Study Bibles serve well as reference works, but sometimes they distract people from studying the text itself. Therefore, if we think of study Bibles as commentaries, we can be on guard against detrimental addictions. If you can resist the addiction, I’m happy to recommend The Reformation Study Bible. You can buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books.
Study note: Disclaimer. Amazon and WTS links are affiliate links, so this blog gets a small commission if you click and buy anything. The Greek word for disclaimer is “disklaemeros.” Pliny the Younger used this word in his famous work Natural History.