I feel hugely privileged to be able to write the following book review of the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible(Crossway, 2018). It’s only been in my eager hands for a day, but I wanted to share my first impressions. Before even opening my hard-cover copy, I’m already loving the promising subtitle, “Christ in All of Scripture, Grace for All of Life.”
Thumbing through, I’m excited to see that it’s in the same single-column format as my ESV Journaling Bible. Once you experience that format it’s really hard to go back to the double-columns. Of course that difficulty also applies to the ESV translation itself. That was enough thumbing for me. I wanted to dig right in.
The introduction makes clear right away what makes this Study Bible different from other Study Bibles. Editor Bryan Chapell states their twofold goal as being,
“(1) to enable readers to understand that the whole Bible is a unified message of the gospel of God’s grace culminating in Christ Jesus, and (2) to help believers apply this good news to their everyday lives in a heart-transforming way (vii).”
That statement is exactly why I wanted to get my hands on a copy of this Study Bible in particular. I’m not a student of Study Bibles. Even though we have several in the house, the last time I actually regularly studied the notes in one was back as a teenager when I had a copy of the NIV Student Bible. In fact, a good portion of the doctrinal error from my formative years I can pretty much trace back to those notes. Praise the Lord for ministries like The Gospel Coalition, Ligonier, Desiring God, and The Proclamation and Charles Simeon Trusts! Not only did those resources help correct so much of the error I had been exposed to, through them I kept hearing that various authors, pastors, and teachers which I had come to respect had contributed notes to this volume.
So when I turned to page xvii and scanned the list of contributors, it was like walking into a room full of old friends. Michael Horton, Kathleen Nielson, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Ray and Dane Ortlund, Graeme Goldsworthy, David Helm, Colin Smith, Nancy Guthrie, Iain Dugoid, Kevin DeYoung, Burk Parsons, Dan Doriani, Vern Poythress… (xvi-xix) Really? You’re all here? I’m imagining myself showing up to the Bible Study I was at tonight, only all my best and most learned friends have shown up too, and we get to study God’s Word together! So what that none of these contributors know me from Adam? I know they know Jesus, and have helped me immensely the past few years to see how all of scripture bears witness to Him (vii) and that scripture isn’t the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth of my Student Bible Days, but the amazing revelation of God to man concerning His Son, Jesus Christ and the salvation He grants to all who believe in His Name.
Oh, and besides not knowing me from Adam, these contributors actually do have a pretty good handle on Adam, himself. Since the ladies Bible study I’m in was studying Genesis 2 tonight, I took the opportunity to quickly check out the notes for that chapter. And there was Jesus! William VanGemeren (a brand new friend :), traces the story of Sabbath through scripture to Jesus Christ Himself, our Sabbath Rest (6). I had to get to Bible Study, so I couldn’t read more, but that little morsel was enough for me to know what a feast would be awaiting me later on. I really can’t wait for my next bite!
Although I was provided a free copy of this book through Crossway, I am under no obligation to write a positive review.