I was recruited after the ESV had been launched to be Theological Editor of the Study Bible. What that has meant is that I have read the text of every article that has been submitted. There are 1.1 million words in the Study Bible. I don’t know who else has read them all, but I know that I have. The editing was a matter of ensuring that everything stated was factually accurate and that the articles flowed well. I’m excited now about the Study Bible—I believe it’s the best thing of its kind that’s going.
The reason why I’m so enthusiastic about it is largely that it takes a wider view of its task than other study Bibles do. Other study Bibles provide you with information and that’s it. The ESV Study Bible goes a step further. It’s a study Bible which not only explains the texts and expounds them accurately, but it has in it a whole series of articles for the making and shaping of discipleship to Jesus Christ on the basis of the Bible. It can be, in a very significant sense, a single-volume resource for pastoral ministry, and indeed for personal life, because it’s doing the job which professional catechists have been doing ever since Christianity started—teaching people the truths that Christians live by and teaching them how to live by those truths.
The ministry of an adult catechist is something which the early church understood very well. Every church worth its salt had an adult catechist to instruct inquirers. The catechism ministry has fallen very much into disuse in our time. And it is my privilege, I think, first of all to appreciate its importance, and then myself to model it in the writing and the teaching that I do. And then, in this particular project, to contribute to other people entering into the ministry of the adult catechist, with many more people profiting from that ministry on paper. Because that is what the ESV Study Bible really is—a catechizing document. Catechists teach people the truths that Christians live by and teach them how to live by those truths. That is what the material in the ESV Study Bible, taken as a whole, actually does. That’s the benefit that the reader of the Study Bible will get from the articles on Christian doctrine, on Christian ethics, on Christian faith and life, and a Christian stance in relation to any number of errors and alternatives that our time has produced.
What is it that I like most about the Study Bible? I think the simplicity and straightforwardness of its presentation of just about everything. The language that the drafters of the various articles have chosen seems to me to be down-to-earth, everyday language that any reader will find easy to understand. The text that the Bible works with, of course, is the ESV text, which has a straightforwardness, a simplicity, and a crispness which I very much appreciate. I like brisk, economical statements, and the ESV Study Bible is full of them.
The ESVSB will do two things for you, which you badly need. It will tell you what the Bible text means, at every point from Genesis to Revelation, and it will show you how to live by Bible truth and position yourself as a faithful Christian in the modern world. To do those two jobs together, I believe, is to render major service to Christians today.
The Trackback Thursday Contest Continues!
We will be giving away a new ESV Study Bible every day through Wednesday 11/11/09. Here’s a reminder on how the contest works.