When I became a Christian at Florida State University in the late 80’s, I bought the Bible I saw most of my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship friends carrying. It was the NIV Student Bible with notes by Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford. Wonderful Bible, especially for a new Christian. Every time I had a big question, there was some kind of comment there that didn’t downplay the complexity. Got a college student? The NIV Student Bible is perfect.
A few months ago, I left that Bible (or its successor since I may have replaced it once) on the top of my minivan and drove off. When I retraced my route, it was nowhere to be found. The university president and New Testament scholar Robert Sloan advised me to get a New American Standard Bible, which I did. I bought the one with wide margins by Zondervan. I really like that Bible for taking notes. I looked at a few that offer the room to take notes. To me, the Zondervan model is the most realistic about the space you need for writing.
But then, Crossway sent me their ESV Study Bible. Wow. Each page has several footnotes with clear, highly readable background and explanatory material. The Crossway team clearly put a lot of work into this Bible and the brisk sales attest that their effort bore fruit. I’m now torn as to which Bible I want to use. I’ve carried the ESV Study Bible more lately because it can really help clarify things when a dispute arises.
The best down to earth compliment I can give the ESV Study Bible is that I originally thought I’d re-gift the Bible to a friend, but after digging in and trying it out, I decided I needed to keep it. Thumbs up.
(Disclaimer: I’m a Crossway author with a book coming out this August, but I wouldn’t recommend this Bible unless I liked it.)