I’ve been eagerly awaiting the ESV Archaeology Study Bible for several years now, as the publisher contacted me at an early stage about including some of our photos in it. Now that the project is completed, I am very pleased to see the results. I think this will be a very useful study Bible for many.
Let’s start with the numbers. In addition to the ESV Bible text, the reader gets to enjoy:
- 2,000+ study notes
- 400+ color photographs
- 200+ maps and diagrams
- 200+ sidebars
- 15 articles
That’s a lot. To take it on a smaller scale, I counted 15 sidebars accompanying John 1–7, including Bethany and the Place of Jesus’ Baptism, Stone Vessels and Ritual Purity, The Temple Mount, Herod’s Temple, etc.
You get a sense for the helpful background information included in the sidebars by looking at those for 1 Corinthians, including Celibacy in Antiquity, Greco-Roman Sacrifice, Roman Banquets, the Isthmian Games, Meat Markets, and House Churches.
Wherever you flip in the Bible, you find abundant explanatory information. I’m doing some work on the post-exilic period and I see these helpful articles:
- Ezra: Zerubbabel’s Temple
- Nehemiah: Topography of Jerusalem
- Esther: Darius’s Foundation Record at Susa
I didn’t expect to see much for the Psalms, but I was very wrong—nearly every page is half-filled with study notes. I am very impressed.
Who is responsible for all of this?
John Currid was the editor for the Old Testament and David W. Chapman was the editor for the New Testament. They were helped by a couple of dozen scholars who wrote study notes and articles. Here are a few names that may be familiar to our readers:
- Steven M. Ortiz: Joshua, Judges, Ruth
- Lawrence T. Geraty: Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
- Boyd Seevers: Isaiah–Daniel
- Paul H. Wright: Matthew–Luke
- Mark Wilson: Acts, Revelation
- Articles written by Barry Beitzel, Larry G. Herr, Barry Beitzel, Gerald L. Mattingly, and others
As you would expect from Crossway, the approach is generally conservative. Regarding the difficult issue of the Conquest, I think that some conservative scholars who have worked for years on this issue will be disappointed that their research was essentially ignored. It will be interesting to see what reviewers say about this.
Did I mention that there are many maps and charts? The maps are similar to the ones in the well-known ESV Bible Atlas, but of course in a study Bible like this, you get them right in the text where you need them, without the need to pull your atlas off the shelf.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic resource, and I’m very grateful that our team could contribute some of the photographs. Those who tell us that we should make our photos into a book are now going to hear this reply from me: buy the ESV Archaeology Study Bible!