Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The ESV Study Bible
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 13, 2008
The ESV Study Bible has launched with eight editions: Hardcover, TruTone Nat Brown, TruTone Classic Black, Black Bonded Leather, Burgundy Bonded Leather, Black Genuine Leather, Burgundy Genuine Leather and Premium Calfskin Leather.

In any edition the ESV Study Bible looks great. It is contemporary in its coloring (white is dominant with orange accents in the hardcover) and in the rectangle which shows up throughout (on the cover, to mark headings, and even as a bullet for lists of information). The rectangle has no deeper significance than a simple design element. In an interesting but effective design decision, the TruTone editions have this triangle stitched to the cover. The leather editions have "ESV" in large gold letters on the spine with "Study Bible," "English Standard Version" and "Crossway" in smaller gold type. The TruTone has the same text but with the "ESV" embossed. The hardcover features black and orange backgrounds on the spine with the text printed over top. The standard ESV guarantee applies to these Bibles, meaning that a customer who discovers manufacturing defects during normal use can return the Bible to have it replaced with one of equal or greater value.

The Bible is made to be durable. It is smyth sewn which is the binding process considered by many to be the best and longest-lasting method. It allows the Bible to lie flat even on page one and on page 2,752 (at least in the TruTone). It is printed on "high-opacity, high-quality French Bible paper" and in a single-column format with the cross-references in the inside margin. The paper is thin and light but still sturdy. My two year-old put the Bible to the test when she inadvertently stepped on it while it was lying open. The page wrinkled under her heel but did not tear. I also learned from her that chewing gum can be removed from the cover of the TruTone while permanent marker cannot. The fonts are very dark and easy to read with a heavy black serif font for the biblical text and a thin black sans-serif for the notes and cross-references. The page headings are in a bold gray with page numbers in a thin gray. Chapter numbers are a large gray serif font while headings are italicized black sans-serif. The pages display a fair bit of bleed-through where, when you look at a page, you can see the ink showing through from the previous page or two. Most of us are accustomed to this bleed-through in our Bibles. Where it is a bit more apparent and distracting is where it shows through on the maps and illustrations.

One feature that has received much attention in the ESV Study Bible is its use of color. Most study Bibles offer maps and illustrations only in grayscale. The ESV Study Bible, though, offers full-color illustrations and maps. This is quite a nice feature. The splashes of color throughout, including colored highlighting and shading, are unexpected to my eye but very effective. Though the standard glossy maps in the back of the Bible are superior in quality to the ones scattered throughout, even the smaller maps are nicely done and provide important geographical context without having to slip to the Bible's final pages. The illustrations, commissioned specifically for this project, are very well done and nicely supplement the notes.

ESV Study Bible Online
The ESV Study Bible is one of only a couple of study Bibles to offer an extensive online component to accompany the Bible. Included with each Bible is a registration code that will allow the customer to access the ESV Online Study Bible. There they will find the complete text of the Bible along with all of the study notes, articles, maps, and all the other features of the Bible. Unique online features include the ability to create and save personalized online notes; to search and follow interactive links between notes, maps, articles, charts, timelines, illustrations, and cross-references; and to listen to audio recordings of the ESV. It adds interactive features that are only possible in a computer-based environment. While the online component is a useful addition to the Bible (and a free one!), at this time it seems under-developed and I suspect many readers will find that they do not refer to it very often.

Format
Each book of the Bible begins with an extensive introduction. This may include sections dealing with Time, Date and Title; Author; Theme; Key Themes; Purpose, Occasion and Background; Literary Features; Outline; and so on. Particularly important is the History of Salvation Summary which sets each of the books within the context of the wider body of Scripture and hence within the history of salvation. Introductions may also include timelines, maps, and notes on literary features specific to that book. In every case, the reader will receive a thorough explanation as to the book's authorship, purpose and context in God's plan of salvation.

The text notes vary in density but typically comprise about half of each page in the New Testament and perhaps a third in the Old Testament. They focus primarily on explanation and rarely on application. In one handy feature, highlighted notes correspond to primary points in the outline while highlighted verses and headings within the notes correspond to secondary points in the outline.

Scholarship
The ESV Study Bible has been produced by as good a group of scholars as any study Bible. The General Editor is Wayne Grudem, the Theological Editor is J.I. Packer, the Old Testament Editor is C. John Collins and the New Testament Editor is Thomas Schreiner. The study note contributors represent a broad cross-section of reputable Evangelical scholars. The articles included within the Bible have been contributed by some well-known pastors and scholars, including John Piper, David Powlison, Darrell Bock, Leland Ryken, R. Kent Hughes, Daniel Wallace, and many more.

Controversial Theology
One concern people are likely to have when considering a new study Bible concerns the theological perspective offered in the notes. Does this particular study Bible take a Reformed or Arminian position on salvation? A complementarian or egalitarian perspective on gender roles? An amillennial or premillennial position on the end times? I looked through many of the notes seeking what this Bible says on some of the more common controversies: end times, spiritual gifts and soteriology. I found this an interesting comparison with the Reformation Study Bible. It seems to me that the Reformation Study Bible came from a much more narrowly-defined theological position; it was Reformed, it was cessationist, it was amillennial. The ESV Study Bible, on the other hand, offers a wider or less-defined perspective. Where the doctrine is clear and undisputed among Evangelicals, so too are the notes. But where doctrines are controversial and within the area of Christian freedom or disputable matters, the notes tend not to take a firm position, even when the author or editor is firmly in one camp or the other. Whether this is positive or negative may well depend on the individual reader.

To satisfy my curiosity, I opened my NIV Study Bible, Reformation Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible and ESV Study Bible and compared their notes on several areas of controversial theology--spiritual gifts, predestination and spiritual gifts. None of these Bibles offered notes that were unbiblical so I was left looking for the differences in perspective. In general I found that the MacArthur Study Bible offered the most defined position. This makes good sense as it represents the position of a single individual. This was followed by the Reformation Study Bible which offers the position of many individuals but each of them drawn from a very consistent theological position. The ESV Study Bible came next, offering a charitable but open view on most of these issues. The NIV Study Bible seemed almost to shy away from some of the issues. So while it is clear that the ESV Study Bible is not distinctly Reformed in its position, neither is it Arminian. It is not cessationist or continuationist and is neither amillennial nor postmillennial. In fact, it seems as if it emulates the parent who tells one of his children to cut the last piece of cake in half and the other to choose the first piece. In many cases a person from one perspective wrote the notes while a person from the other perspective screened them. This ensures the notes maintain both charity and some degree of objectivity in those areas of dispute.

Having looked at the areas of dispute, I would not hesitate to recommend the ESV Study Bible to either new or mature Christians. The matters at the heart of the faith are described and defended while the matters of lesser importance are presented charitably and non-dogmatically.

Conclusion
I suspect that many of the people reading this review will already be owners of at least one study Bible. I feel it is important to affirm that there is nothing innately wrong with the Reformation Study Bible, The New Geneva Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible and many of the other similar products. If you are currently using one of these Bibles and are happy with it, there may be few compelling reason to rush out and purchase the ESV Study Bible. I have used the Reformation Study Bible and its predecessor for many years with great benefit. I have no doubt that I will continue to refer to it.

With that said, I think the ESV Study Bible is an incredible resource. A long list of endorsers have expressed their excitement for its theological faithfulness, its accessibility, its insight, its scholarship, its practicality and its sheer excellence. I would simply append my name to this list. I agree wholeheartedly with C.J. Mahaney who writes, "I can't imagine a greater gift to the body of Christ than the ESV Study Bible. It is a potent combination indeed: the reliability and readability of the ESV translation, supplemented by the best of modern and faithful scholarship, packaged in an accessible and attractive format. A Christian could make no wiser investment for himself, a pastor could recommend no better resource for his congregation." This is a powerful resource and one that can aid any reader of Scripture. It is one I recommend wholeheartedly.

Early in this review I wrote, "Today, if you drop by my home in the early morning, you are likely to see me reading from the Literary Study Bible." I think it's safe to say that, if you drop by my home early tomorrow morning, you are likely to see me reading from the ESV Study Bible.
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on February 13, 2011
Of the making of many study bibles there is no end as perhaps Solomon might have said today (Ecc. 12:12)! While there are many study Bibles that in my estimation would be better off having never been printed there are also some study bibles which are extremely useful to the Bible student. One such useful study bible is the ESV Study Bible which was released a couple years ago. The study bible was embraced by many as a faithful study tool which served a comprehensive guide to the Bible including such features as notes, introductions, essays on OT and NT theology and literature, maps, concordances, and illustrations.

A complaint that is commonly raised by those who use the ESV Study Bible is the size and weight of the book. If any Bible qualified as a "tome" it is definitely the ESV Study Bible. The size and weight was of course understandable in view of the amount of content placed between its 2700+ pages. I have used the ESV Study Bible profitably in the past and continue to do so but the size and weight always made it somewhat unwieldy. I was therefore glad to see that Crossway was releasing a personal size edition which is significantly smaller and lighter than the regular edition.

I decided to compare the two editions to see what the differences were.

- The content of the two editions is exactly the same except that the articles found in the back of the book (i.e. "Bible Doctrine", "Biblical Ethics", "History of Salvation", and "The Bible and World Religions") have been removed in the personal size edition. While these articles are of good quality, they take up about 150 pages and thus add more bulk to an already large book. The personal size edition is without these articles making the book far more manageable.

- I cannot verify the page thickness on both editions but they feel quite similar to my fingers and are both thick enough to not make bleed-through much of an issue.

- The concordance has been somewhat reduced in the personal size but still includes enough words to be useful.

- The wonderful articles contained throughout the Bible such as the introduction to the Pentateuch, Wisdom Literature, the Gospels, and NT theology among others have all been retained. This was a wise decision since these articles are quite pertinent to the study and interpretation of the Bible itself and are a significant element of the study tools found in the Bible. All the notes remain the same in both editions and have not been reduced at all. The amount of cross references also appear to remain the same.

- The dimensions of the new edition make it a worthwhile purchase for ESV SB owners if they desire to carry the study Bible around. The dimensions of the personal size are almost exactly the same as my ESV Reference Bible (except for the thickness). It is also much lighter. You can comfortably hold the Bible in one hand.

- The font size of the Bible text is 7.7 which is still quite comfortable. The study note size is 6.3 which is a bit more difficult but it is a fair trade off for the size of the book and the amount of content one receives. The amount of notes and study tools in such a small size is astounding.

I'd highly recommend this study Bible and especially the personal size as a great resource for studying the sacred Scriptures. The notes and other study helps (while imperfect) are quite helpful in the study of the Word. The study notes and helps should never become a replacement for one's own diligent and prayerful examination of the text but they should instead support this task. This study Bible is a good choice as a companion as one seeks to fulfill that task.

Thank you to Crossway for providing me with a review copy!
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on June 5, 2009
I would just like to say I love the layout and design of this bible. The articles and notes are well written. Even as thick as this bible is, it still amazes me how much information the publishers were able to fit into it. It is like having a complete commentary in addition to a bible. The full color illustrations are wonderful and very insightful and really allow you to understand what you are reading about. The bible has a calvanistic tone to it, which I find most agreeable.

Now for the bad news. CHECK THIS BIBLE AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT!!! Thumb through all the pages. My original bible had a section of about 80 pages where the printing was blurred very bad. Some pages were so bad you could hardly read the text. I would not have discovered it, but thanfully my pastor had us turn to a passage in that section and I noticed the defect. Otherwise, I probably would have missed the return window to send the bible back. I have since received two replacement copies, and both are flawed in the same way, but in different sections. The last replacement I received has the blurred pages in Psalms, but it is limited to about 12-15 pages. It almost looks like the pages moved during printing. Also, there is some wrinkling of the pages near the binding, almost as if the binding was pulled too tight during that process, causing the pages to wrinkle somewhat. That is a minor flaw I could live with, but the blurred pages are extremely difficult to read.

Amazon has currently pulled this item as they are going to check their stock. When they make it available again, I intend to order another replacement, as the bible itself is great! Amazon has been very understanding and has really bent over backwards to work on getting the issue resolved.

If not for the quality control, I would rate this bible 6 stars!! I forsee it remaining as my main bible for a long time to come.
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on April 13, 2009
I was very pleasantly surprised by the Kindle edition of the ESV Study Bible. The folks at Crossway went out of their way to transfer the content over a new format. There are links to study notes on verses and sections, charts, maps, background and more. A special introduction to the Kindle edition helps you use the five-way button. Also, as some charts do not fit the Kindle screen, Crossway provides internet links for you to see them on your computer.
Overall, this is a bargain at $9.99 and probably the largest file book you will download. It is loaded with great resources!
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on October 15, 2008
Since I believe that the ESV is the most reliable translation available today, I have eagerly anticipated the release of the ESV Study Bible(abbr, ESV/SB) with its copious notes and helps. The ESV Study Bible has its own website at [...] which offers many details about its features as well as videos and recommendations. This review is in two parts. Part 1 is my general and personal observations; Part 2 is the theological observations.

PART 1- GENERAL AND PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS(for a general reader)

1. The general look and layout of the notes is most similar to the NIV Study Bible--- This pertains to the size and color of the type and the bolding of keys words from the text. The ESV/SB has some color backgrounds in the notes that the NIV/SB does not have.
The detail of comment is much more extensive than the NIV/SB. The notes of the NIV/SB are quite abbreviated in short phrase style while the ESV/SB speaks on fuller sentences and offers the potential for considerable more understanding. The language represents a balance between scholarship and readability for the lay person.

2. The notes of the ESV/SB represent the Majority of Evangelical Views--When there is consensus of opinion, the notes present what most all Evangelicals affirm. Where there is more than one opinion the general approach is: "some say...". "others say...." "All views have this in common..." Therefore the reader can learn about diversity of views within the church as well as the essentials of the Christian faith that all affirm . It is important to state that the ESV/SB NOTES AND ARTICLES DO NOT CRITICIZE OR HARSHLY CRITIQUE A CERTAIN VIEW WITHIN EVANGELICALISM. The various views are stated accurately and with a charitable attitude towards various views. I have seen up to 4 views presented in certain passages which is basically unprecedented.

3. A unique addition is the Online Version. Of course it can be updated in the future, but for now I find it useful in quick cross-referencing. When you place your mouse on a scripture in the notes, the first 3-lines of text appear in a pop-up box. If you click the mouse, the whole passage appears. The maps zoom in and out with a click of the mouse.

4. The ESV/SB is physically thicker and weightier than previous study bibles . With nearly 2700 pages, it may be too heavy to carry to a church worship service or to a college classroom. Since it is considerably more comprehensive than previous study bibles, it excels in the personal study. But it can also have great value in a small group study. Since a diversity of views is clearly explained, church members from various backgrounds can see other views that may be represented in their group.
The extensive articles in the ESV/SB equate to a concise systematic theology and a concise theological dictionary built into the back section. The articles on ethics are not commonly found in study bibles yet they speak with contemporary relevance.

This completes the practical portion of the review. For some, this review is ready for evaluation.
In Part 2 below, I will make some theological observations. This is designed for those who have further questions and those who are familiar with the theological terms.

Part 2 THEOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS
Calvinism vs. Arminianism--After doing an electronic word search in the article on Doctrine, I did not find the words Calvinism, Arminianism, Reformed or Wesleyan. The article on the atonement did not include the extent of the atonement whether definite or universal. Therefore an analysis needs to be made from the notes.

The notes affirm Total Depravity and Effectual Call in John 6:44. Unconditional election of individuals is affirmed in Romans 9:11, while corporate election is not affirmed. John 6:40 affirms Eternal Security and Phil 2:12-13 affirms God's enabling power in the believer's perseverance. In Heb 6:4-8, a controversial passage concerning falling away from the faith, four views are presented but eternal security is favored.
Conclusion: since JI Packer is the General Theological Editor, it is not surprising that the notes favor Calvinism.

2. Dispensational vs. Non-Dispensational. The notes generally favor continuity over discontinuity. Rather than making distinctions between Israel and the church, the ESV/SB uses terms such as "God's people" in both Old and New Testament. Yet throughout the notes, the Dispensational view is presented and named as such. In the interpretation of Revelation, the recapitulation approach works well for amillennial eschatology. Yet, the Dispensational view is mentioned several times in the notes which allows the reader to compare the newer view of recapitulation with the more popular Dispensational view. In the "70 weeks" of Daniel 9, the ESV/SB amazingly explains 3 Non-Dispensational views along with Dispensationalism. There is some mention of discontinuity though. The notes on Rom 11 allow for the possibility of identifying Jews ethnically or biologically near or at the return of Christ. The usage of the word "temple" in Ezek 40-48, 2 Thess 2, and Rev 11 all include the Dispensational interpretation of a future, physical temple as a possible view.

3. Minority Views--I mentioned in Part 1 that majority views within Evangelicalism are included. A minority view that is becoming more popular is Orthodox Preterism. The Preterist or AD70 version of the Olivet Discourse is not offered in the ESV/SB even though the ESV translation allows for it. For instance in Matt 24:30 the NIV imposes a bias against the AD70 view by stating that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the SKY. The ESV states that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in HEAVEN(where Christ is presently ruling). The ESV also states that the TRIBES of the earth will mourn which allows for AD70 interpretation as well. The Preterist view is not offered in Revelation but a brief summary appears in the introduction.

I predict that the ESV/SB will enjoy wide acceptance among Evangelicals. My recommendation is to buy it and then email the website link shown above to all your family and friends!
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on August 10, 2009
Since the quality and scholarly nature of both the English Standard Version itself and the Study Bible in particular have been addressed at great length and more thoroughly than I myself could, this review will address primarily the physical product received. I really think this product deserves 4.5 stars, but Amazon doesn't offer that option. As a caveat to this review, you should know that this is the first imitation leather-bound Bible I have owned (though I have briefly experienced others from time to time), that I am 23 years old and my vision is corrected to 20/20 with contact lenses.

MY ONE COMMENT ON THE TEXT: Depending on one's view of the subject of origins, on might find issue with laxity and freedom with which the accounts of the events of Genesis 1-11 are treated in the notes. In the Introduction to Genesis and the notes it is directly stated several times and implied more often that those who hold to such views as the day-age theory, the analogical days theory, the literary framework theory and the gap theory are as faithful to the text as those who hold to literal interpretation of the creation account (those who believe in a literal, six-day, young-earth creation). Similarly, they suggest that one cannot rightly conclude from the Genesis account that flood of Noah's day covered the whole earth or that it can explain the geological formations ("the strata, the fossils, the deformation, and so on.") observed today. These remarks seem to contradict an assertion earlier in the article that the framework/literary style of the book clear shows that it was intended to describe and report actual, historical events.

THE BOOK:

Cover - (5/5). The cover is soft and pliable, is fairly smooth and feels very heavy-duty (durable). The connection to the binding has sturdy feel to it, but is flexible enough to make the Bible very easy to keep open both in the lap and on a table or other hard surface.

Binding - (5/5). When I first opened it, the binding felt a bit stiff (as in, difficult to open or keep open). However, upon leaving open for about an hour, and several times opening and closing, it is now quite comfortable. It does tend to "pull closed" somewhat in the first few or the last few pages, but a very light touch is sufficient to keep this in check. As another reviewer mentioned the pages do seem to have some awkward, transverse wrinkles in the "gutter" right next to the binding (that is, the "ripple" pattern of the wrinkles goes from the bottom of the page to the top, but it's sideways span out of the center of the spread is very small). However, as this did not affect my use of the Bible, I didn't take anything off its rating.

Pages - (4/5). The pages are somewhat sticky on the edges, making it at times difficult to turn the page. This, however, I suspect will diminish with use. The Bible lost a point in the pages rating because of text blurring. As mentioned by another reviewer, there is a section in the Bible (pages 129-192 in my Bible, or about Gen. 46-Ex. 29) where the text appears to have a shadow offset from it causing a blurred appearance. I chose not to attempt to exchange because the text is still quite readable to me, and it is a fairly small section of the Bible. However, it may cause more trouble for others (like my mom, who said it was irritating and distracted her from what she was reading).

SUMMERY: I heartily recommend this product. It has a sturdier, more elegant feel than the hardback, and will probably last longer. So if you can deal with some laxity of interpretation in the notes and are willing to deal with some blurred text or are willing/able to do exchanges until you get one without it, I think you will be pleased and satisfied with the result. If you have specific questions, I will try to reply to them here (I am a student, so my time is limited). I will also attempt to upload pictures of the blurred text and wrinkles as customer images on Amazon.
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on August 31, 2010
For a Kindle version of the Bible, I am VERY pleased so far. It took me about 30 minutes to download various Bibles to sample them, and this one turned out to be the best for me.

Searching may not be as fast as searching through a hard copy, but it's not nearly as bad as people have reported. I can get to any verse in the Bible in ~10 seconds, which I think is pretty good.

Here is how I search:
1. In the Kindle home page, or even in the Bible, I start typing to activate search, i.e., 'Ezekiel'
2. Then I click on the symbol button and type in the chapter number I want, i.e., 17
3. I click enter to search
4. In my search result page, I can easily find where Ezekiel 17 is, so I click on it (or I need to click on the book that contains the search criteria first - depending on whether or not I'm searching from the home page or the Bible)
5. Each chapter of the Bible for me takes about 2 pages for me to navigate (this might be because I use the smallest font because I like high resolution)

Also, I love reading the introduction before I read a book. So for example, if I'm about to read Isaiah, then I love to read the introductory background first. In order to do this, I simply follow the steps above, but instead of putting in the chapter number for step #2, I type 'introduction'.

*Update*
I just finished 2 Thessalonians, I wanted to click the next page button so that I could start on the introduction of 1 Timothy. Unfortunately, I had to page through all of the study notes of 2 Thessalonians before I could even get to 1 Timothy! I didn't know that they put the study notes after the book (in the hard copy, the study notes are underneath). This is very annoying. Sure, there are workarounds, but little things add up. I still leave give this 3 stars, but if I find anything else, then I'll be sure to update this review and downgrade the overall rating.

*Update2*
Never mind, you can just click on the right arrow to skip through all of the study notes.
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on November 18, 2010
I have not read this bible from cover to cover and I'm not going to go into detail about every single thing, KJV versus ESV that sort of thing. I believe you read what ever it will take to help understand and receive the Word of God.

The bible is big and substantial, the cover is soft and rustic looking, the pages are beautiful with easy to read print. It is packed with information that will bring God and the life of Christ alive. I have the KJV study bible, the NKJV study bible, the Open Bible, and I have to say that this bible takes all that is good about each and everyone of the them and wraps it in a truly quality study bible.

I would definately suggest this bible for the seasoned who wants to go deeper into the Word, the student who wants to learn more, or the beginner that needs comprehension and readability.
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on October 15, 2008
I just recieved my pre-order copies yesterday and am already devouring it. The detail and richness of notes is exceptional. Unlike other Study Bibles its depth is incredible, including whole articles regarding ethics, theology, and on and on.

What I enjoy most of all is the non-dogmatic nature of the notes. This is the most non-denominational study bible I've ever seen. It presents the reader with multiple points of view and allows you to decide for yourself based on the Word, rather than simply stating matter-of-factly "this is what it means". The end result is that you spend more time in engaged thinking and less time in confused questioning. A good example is Revelations, if you have a Scofield Study Bible you get the dispensational point of view... I grew up not knowing there were other points of view.

The ESV is a wonderful translation and the Study Bible combines a whole research library into a single (massive) volume.

I have both the hardbound and leatherbound edition, both are beautiful with high grade paper. I expected the hardbound edition to have inferior paper quality, but was surprised that it does not.

This is an excellent tool, and given the quantity and quality of the content, its an exceptional value. The best buy might be to buy the hardbound copy with a bible cover that has handles... this thing is heavy!
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on May 29, 2015
I just received the indexed study bible, and the indexed pages are completely off except for Genesis and the Concordance. It is missing the tab for Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. So when you go to Numbers where you should see this tab, you see the tab for Judges, Ruth, and Samuel instead. I've attached a photo showing this. That means all subsequent tabs are incorrect until you get to the Concordance. I am shocked by the lack of QC and am returning this right away.
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