March 19, 2014
The hardback edition of The MacArthur Study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) published by Crossway provides readers with a sturdy, well-made Bible with profuse study notes written from a conservative Christian perspective, sometimes referred to as a fundamentalist view.
In studying the Bible for forty years, the editor and well-known pastor John MacArthur gained a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, which he shares in almost 25,000 footnotes in the study Bible that bears his name. Although I’m personally not fond of seeing the name of any individual on the face of any Bible, the footnotes show insights and a clear understanding of the times, culture, and spiritual environment.
For example, a footnote regarding the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5:1-7:29 says, in part: “Christ plumbed the depth of the law, showing that its true demands went far beyond the surface meaning of the words…and set a standard that is higher than the most diligent students of the law had heretofore realized.” In commenting on the individual verses included in that famous discourse, we read that the phrase “those who mourn” in Matthew 5:4 refers to “mourning over sin, the godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation without regret.” And, in 5:5, the footnote regarding the meek says, “Gentleness or meekness is the opposite of being out of control. It is not weakness, but supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”
In addition to interesting comments in footnotes throughout this study edition, another feature I particularly liked was “The Progress of Revelation,” listing books of the Old and New Testaments in their most likely time sequence. For instance, Job probably preceded Genesis – not by the date of the subject matter, of course, but according to the time written. And, in the New Testament, the book of James was most likely written prior to the four gospels.
Another unique feature in this study edition is an “Introduction to the Prophets” with a chart showing, for example, that Obadiah ministered to the peoples of Edom around 850 to 840 B.C. Most students of the Bible know that the prophet Jonah reluctantly spoke to the people of Nineveh around 784 to 760 B.C., but as this timeline shows, Nahum did, too, over 100 years later.
In the back pages, additional study helps have been provided in the maps, concordance, list of “Key Bible Doctrines” by topics with relevant scriptural references, and an “Overview of Theology” written from a conservative Christian perspective. Apparently, these study aids by MacArthur can be found in other translations, too, but the review copy which Crossway kindly sent me uses the ESV, highly recommended for its accuracy and poetic flow.
© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer
The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV, hardback