When I reviewed the HSCB Study Bible a few weeks ago, someone suggested I look at the ESV Study Bible. So I got my hands on a copy and went over it carefully.
In summary, what the HSCB Study Bible is for a popular (more general) audience, the ESV Study Bible is for a more academic (studious) audience.
Honestly, I was monumentally impressed with the ESV Study Bible.
The commentary notes are very in-depth. While favoring the Reformed perspective (as the HSCB favors the Baptist perspective), the notes for each verse of Scripture are more in-depth than any other study Bible I’ve come across. They often give different positions on the text, which is a great service for any work like this.
The introduction to each book of the Bible is incredibly detailed. This is a huge strength. Just as you are about to embark on a new book of the Bible, you are given pages of background information that take you to the place, the time, and the situation in a detailed way. The Old Testament book introductions are especially helpful.
The illustrations, charts, and maps are awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Bible with more maps in it. There are 200 color maps, and they appear everywhere. The illustrations are also first-class. It also contains over 200 charts that are very well done and informative.
The articles are excellent. It contains 50 articles on various topics that are solid and educational.
All told, I think every Christian who is into serious study of the Scriptures should own this Bible. In fact, it’s a good idea to have two Study Bibles, rather than just one. (So if you can afford two, I recommend the ESV Study Bible and HSCB Study Bible.)
One reason is to get a different perspective on how interpreters understand various texts. The other has to do with the benefit of having a different translation to consult. For instance, the ESV is very good in translating some texts. But for others the HSCB is much better. For instance, the ESV translates 1 Timothy 3:1 as, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer . . .”
The problem here is that the word “office” is not in the original Greek, and in the ESV it’s not italicized either to indicate that it’s missing from the original. The HSCB does better on this text saying, “If anyone desires to be an overseer . . .” (Darby’s translation is the best on this particular text: “If any one aspires to exercise oversight . . .” As I have demonstrated in Reimagining Church, an overseer — an elder/shepherd — is a function, not an office.)
So long as you know that there is no perfect translation or study Bible, you’d do well to get a copy of the ESV Study Bible. It’s outstanding!
Click the links below to view the impressive video presentation of this Bible and order at a great discount: