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What do you get when you cross a Bible, a commentary, an atlas, a Bible handbook, an Old Testament and New Testament introduction, and a systematic theology? One big book! Weighing in at four pounds, more than 2,750 pages, and two million words (most in very small type), the ESV Study Bible is perhaps the largest study Bible in print. The sheer size suggests that it would have been more useful as a companion volume, but the Christian market apparently demands a large study Bible.

In addition to the print format, there is also an online version providing all the content of the printed edition. There are two major benefits of the online version: the color photos, maps, and charts can be accessed profitably for teaching purposes, and the font size can be increased to make the text more legible.

The content of the study notes reflects historic Christian orthodoxy. All the fundamentals of the faith are affirmed as well as some less popular views (e.g., inerrancy and complementarianism). The notes and introductions try not to offend opposing positions, so they either avoid some topics or present alternate positions equally. Some questionable positions are presented as credible (e.g., an old earth, a late date for the Exodus, a local Flood). Questions of dispensationalism and eschatology are noticeable. The slant is toward covenant theology, and either postmillennialism or some form of an inaugurated eschatology appears obliquely in various notes. Premillennialism is discussed directly only once, but it is treated largely as the interpretation of Revelation 20; the Old Testament basis is largely ignored or reinterpreted (e.g., land promises are fulfilled under Solomon).

A well-trained pastor could profit greatly from the material here, but I would hesitate to recommend it otherwise, despite many helpful articles and notes.

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