on September 4, 2010
This study bible is a combination of the ESV translation and John MacArthur's study bible notes - which makes for an awesome package. The ESV translation is known by many scholars to be a top-notch translation that is quite literal to the original languages without being cumbersome to read. Added to that is the notes by John MacArthur. Though the notes present a Calvinistic, dispensational, and baptistic slant it should not discourage evangelical users in other theological traditions. MacArthur is a first-rate bible scholar and preacher. He has written many books and has preached for many years. His introductory articles and commentaries are very sound and scholarly. Many will profit from this study bible and is a very nice edition to their library. Just be warned that MacArthur does not side-step issues or sugar-coat difficult passages. He tells it like it is. You will see in his notes that he takes the issue of Christ's lordship very seriously (which all Christians should) and has no time for heretical, modernist, or watered-down theological perspectives (which all Christians should imitate). I may even dare to say that overall the MacArthur Study Bible (ESV) is slightly better than the ESV Study Bible (also published by Crossway). This study bible is also not as cumbersome and large as the ESV Study Bible and still has the high quality leather, binding, and paper quality of the latter. I would highly recommend this study bible for anyone looking for the ESV translation combined with theologically sound articles and notes.
on September 1, 2010
The two things that matter most in this Bible are the ESV translation and the study notes from Pastor John MacArthur being together for the first time. This review is not regarding the ESV translation or the notes. If you are unfamiliar with John MacArthur, please go to gty dot org and learn more of his ministry and listen to his sermons. He is one of the best Bible teachers alive today, and his notes in this Bible will enrich and aide you in your study of God's word. Having MacArthur's notes in this ESV translation give this Bible a 5-star rating.
A few minor points I would like to discuss in this review are the distinctives of the ESV MacArthur Study Bible. Compared to the NASB or NKJV MacArthur Study Bibles, the biggest addition to this ESV Bible is the use of a 2nd color (Blue) throughout the text. The chapter numbers, the lines separating the text from the notes on every page and all of the charts are blue. My opinion is that the light blue color does not give the best contrast against the white page, and the color is just ok. It might take me a little while to get used to it. Also, I found the layout to be fairly minimalist. Not many flourishes around page numbers, etc. as compared to the NASB version.
The maps in the back of the Bible are the best of any version of the MacArthur Study Bible. If you are familiar with the other versions, the maps were very basic. Not so in the ESV version. They did a great job with the maps. One real disappointment though is the concordance. Why did they shrink the size of it? When comparing "Prophet," the NASB has 21 references, while the ESV has only 7 entries. It appears to me that the concordance was decreased by about 10%-20% in size. There is much I don't know about publishing. One thing I do know though, if I am buying a Bible with over 2,000 pages, I wouldn't mind having another 50-100 pages in the concordance.
These are all VERY minor complaints though. Overall I highly recommend this Bible for anyone. Thank you John MacArthur and Crossway for partnering on a Bible that will be a best seller for decades to come.
on September 4, 2010
My ESV Macarthur Study Bible arrived yesterday and I've been pouring over it since receiving it. I compared it closely to my old Macarthur NKJV and Macarthur Nasb.
As with all the Macarthur Study Bibles, I continue to be impressed with the array of helps including book introductions, 25,000 study notes, articles, overview of theology, maps etc. The "Character of Genuine Saving Faith" chart in the back of this Bible is an eye opener! The ESV edition is Smyth Sewn even in the hardcover edition! This is something Nelson Publishers could learn a lesson or two from Crossway Publishers. Crossway has produced a quality product with the ESV Macarthur. The ESV Macarthur is thorough yet more portable for carrying to church and Bible studies than the excellent ESV Study Bible.
There are very few negatives about the ESV Macarthur. The print is clear but a little small. Probably the most disappointing factor (as with all ESV Bibles) is that the ESV is a great, word for word translation and yet Crossway continues to combine a condensed poor concordance with it! The concordance included in the back of my Nasb Ryrie and Niv Study Bible are both superior. Why is this important? No Study Bible can include an exhaustive concordance but they should, at least, include a thorough concordance of 150 pages, or so, that covers key Bible words, People and Places. A word for word translation is meant to be studied! So, Crossway, add a proper concordance to your Study Bibles and keep producing quality sewn bindings! Otherwise, The ESV Macarthur is hard to beat and I believe it is the best of the ESV Study Editions with the ESV Study Bible coming in a close, but "bulky" second.
I highly recommend the ESV Macarthur and I will use it as my primary Study Bible with my Nasb Ryrie being used for comparison because it is also translated word for word and includes a good concordance. I have reviewed the upcoming HCSB Beta version of the HCSB Study Bible and it will only contain a brief "topical concordance" and no regular concordance at all! So the ESV Macarthur Study Bible is the clear winner of these two new editions. Finally, after reading/studying from the English Standard Version for over a year now, it is hard to beat such an accurate, readable and literary translation that clearly flows from the KJV tradition. For "study" purposes, I don't believe we need "new, fresh" translations but rather excellent translations with a heritage such as the ESV and "new, fresh" hearts committed to studying the "word of God" that people, such as William Tyndale, gave their lives to pass down to us!
So, take up and read!
When we hear of the "ESV" (English Standard Version), Crossway's translation of the bible (2001), we naturally tend to think of its adoption by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), a theologically conservative denomination, as opposed to its liberal counterpart, the ELCA, which uses the New Revised Standard Version. As it happens, in 2009 both LCMS and ELCA released their own Study Bibles, and despite their common charge to reflect a Lutheran point of view, the two denominations turned out quite different Study Bibles. But this very recent (August 2010) MacArthur Study Bible in the ESV translation is a whole 'nother animal and in most respects, of equal or higher quality.
John MacArthur has had a long and successful career as a conservative theologian and scholar, with other well-regarded and frequently-used Study Bibles to his credit, and they tend to stay in print. We who read this bible are getting the best of this experience, and then some. MacArthur was under no particular compulsion to make this a specifically Lutheran-oriented bible. (Nor does he try to make it a "Life Application" bible, although some observers have accused the LCMS Study Bible of having elements of such.) He had not worked extensively with the ESV before, but his hard work with this newish translation paid off. We readers can delight in the comprehensive and useful notes that flow verse-for-verse at the bottom of each page, in spite of (or because of) MacArthur's Evangelical doctrine and inerrant view of Scripture. This Study Bible has more biblical knowledge in it than any other Study Bible I've seen out of the USA, mostly because MacArthur's bottom-of-page, verse-for-verse comment is much fuller than other bibles.
In fact, some observers have commented on or complained about MacArthur's dispensationalist bent, but I have not found MacArthur obviously intruding his views in irrelevant areas. When Last Things are at hand, though, the extent of his concerns, as well as his millenarianism, are apparent. For example, in the Book of Revelations, consider Chapter 20, verse 2, "[An angel] seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years." MacArthur's take on this verse is primarily to comment at some length on the three viewpoints of Premillennarianism, Postmillenarianism, and Amillenarianism. Many modern-and-liberal study bibles would not bother making such distinctions, or would mention them only in passing.
Fore-and-aft reference content is top-notch. A generous selection of seven well-detailed (though under-colored) maps are in the back, where maps go, but are interrupted by a drawing of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.; possibly the book's style of manufacture did not permit that to be within text. A 32-page section called "Doctrine" can be used as a thematic concordance; it is certainly generous in the section called Last Things (Second Coming, Apocalypse, etc.) This bible has a real "index" type Concordance, 77 pages long and happily not the sketchy, more thematic kind we've been seeing in some other, recent Study Bibles such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Study Bible and ELCA's release.
I am not deducting a star because his theology is not mine; I like to use this bible very much. A minor gripe is that the pages, while relatively sturdy, are the dickens to separate while turning them, and not flippable (at least, not yet). I guess that's the price we pay for portability. A more serious objection: there aren't enough "charts and graphs" of the type that are worked into commentary, below text, as supplements, summary, and additional information. The graphics in ESV Study Bible are all in a rather light blue and almost always right-angled. While individual supplements within those constraints can be terrific (see, for example, "Isaiah's Prophecy of Israel's Future Kingdom" on page 1030, also the excellent horizontal timelines), the lack of state-of-the-art CAD or graphic-design elements is glaring compared to the new HCSB Study Bible (released October 1, 2010) with its frequent drawings, shadings, bullet lists and sophisticated use of multiple type fonts.
On a happier note, the ESV translation itself should prove readable and even familiar to readers acquainted with NASB, NRSV, or HCSB. Forgive this strained analogy: to me, the ESV comes across as a more nuanced NIV - individual words are often at a higher level than NIV but that "harder," more nuanced vocabulary is necessary for a fuller understanding of Scripture -- and interestingly, the word count of individual passages is generally on the low and efficient size, not unlike NIV. Nor does it sell out entirely to one-size-fits-all translation philosophies of gender neutrality.
Kudos on this Study Bible's physical quality and the USA manufacture. It is smyth-sewn and will lay flat when open on a desk or table. Solid stitching and good boarding (and even a hunky dust jacket), along with the (typically thin but) durable pages, makes this a keeper. My version is not a large-print bible; I'd estimate about 9 point for text and 7-8 for the notes; being over 50 I use reading glasses and that's fine. I feel uneasy about highlighting text and intend to use the special blunt color pencils instead.
I would recommend the MacArthur Study Bible - ESV to individual student/scholars and some but not all study groups. More liberal students and scholars or clerics with prior Study Bible experience, despite operating under different doctrine, might well benefit personally from this bible because of its sheer intellectual impressiveness. On the other hand, if it were my duty to study the bible with teens or other catechumen-age budding Christians in a Mainline denomination, I wouldn't -- its Evangelical tenor would inevitably, at some point, be revealed. Nonetheless I admire this MacArthur Study Bible - EVS terrifically, and would consider it a great shame if this signal achievement struggled in the marketplace because of the bad economy and an overcrowded market. Happily, this vendor offers such a hefty discount that curious Christians could well take a chance on this very well-contented, well manufactured, Study Bible.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ©2001, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The Holy Bible (ESV) - Study Bible © 2010, Crossway. Bible verse used with permission.
on September 30, 2010
This review is not about the version of the Bible. ESV (English Standard Version)is a fine translation (revision of RSV) and I enjoy reading it. This review is about the physical quality and the content of the Bible.
1. The content of MacArthur Study Bible is excellent. Event though I do not agree with MacArthur in every point, generally his notes are worth reading. Especially his notes on the New Testament and particularly the Pastoral Letters (1&2 Timothy and Titus) because they are extensive and very insightful.
2. If you are not familiar with MacArthur's theology, this will sum up well and represent the thought of his Study Bible: He is Reformed in Soteriology (doctrines concerning salvation), He is Dispensational in his Eschatology (doctrines concerning the last days. He is Pre-mill and Pre-trib Rapturist). He is also cessationist (he believes that gifts such as, tongues, healing, and prophecy have ceased).
3. The Bible is Smyth-sewn (stitched) binding and not glued to the spine. This is remarkable. Other editions of MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV & NASB) are glued to the spine. But Crossway publisher has given us a quality binding just like ESV Study Bible.
4. This hardcover is covered with canvas type of cloth - which reinforces the strength of the cover and it is attractive. Dust Jacket (DJ) is smooth and also classy looking.
5. It has cleaner and attractive layout than the other MacArthur Study Bibles. Two color maps are imported from ESV Study Bible (though ESVSB is in color).
6. The font of the notes is smaller here than NASB MacArthur Study Bible. The font size is same as ESV Study Bible notes. But it is clear and sharp. But if you have difficult time reading ESV Study Bible notes, then you might want to get larger print edition.
All in all, I am very impressed with the quality of the Bible. Even though you may not agree with MacArthur in every point, this Study Bible is very very helpful in understanding the passage. Highly recommended!
on January 1, 2012
Know this... you must be ONLINE to access the study notes part of this book. This is disappointing to those of us who don't have wireless or online access in church... This should be mentioned in the product description.
on April 17, 2011
I did not see many reviews for the Kindle edition of this Bible and wanted to share my thoughts after a month of use with it. Let me say I downloaded and purchased several Bibles for my Kindle, and this is my Bible of choice. I wanted a Kindle edition ESV Bible that had the Direct Jump Verse as well. This Bible fit all my needs. It is the easiest to navigate of the Bibles I have. The hardest thing about using the Direct Jump to a verse is remembering the abbreviations (which is not a problem!). To do this you click menu, index, and then type in the verse, such as jn 3 16 to go to John 3:16. Navigating within the Bible is easy. I will not go into everything, but I must say that after using it for one month I wanted to leave a positive review on it as I know many others are looking for a good kindle edition Bible to use. If you like the ESV, then this is a good possibility for you.
on September 30, 2010
The content is so rich and detailed I don't even know where to start. Thorough theological, historical, and archaeological notes; tons of charts and maps. A kind of a topical index of key doctrines, introductions to each book and more. The layout of the pages is great, i.e., attractive and readable. An ugly, hard-to-read Bible is probably not going to get looked at much, let alone studied. Hey, it makes a difference.
I absolutely love this SB. I have a lot of different SBs in various translations, and I do mean a lot. I didn't just start Studying yesterday, if you know what I mean. This is in my opinion the best SB on the market. First, I'll start with the translation; the ESV is scholarly and accurate, and it is very clear. It is 8th grade reading level, yet it is fit for a serious Bible student. It reminds me of the KJV only without the archaic language; in other words, it is masterfully poetic and takes literary excellence to a new level. Good for young, old, new christian, mature christian...instead of having different Bibles for the different needs we now have one Bible that meets all of the needs...finally! Most of the other translations and SBs are "good" in their own right, but they are not excellent like this one.
Second, the author is someone you can trust. He has been consistent over the years, he is theologically sound (which is an understatement as he may very well be one of the greatest theologians of our time), and he doesn't pull any punches, so to speak. One thing I have noticed about John MacArthur is that he just says it like it is without worrying about political correctness. He firmly yet tactfully defends the Bible as the Word of God better than I have ever seen. Listen to him on gty.org. Look at the Scriptures as he teaches and pray about it and you will see what I mean. The Bible says that in the last days people will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and that they will turn their ears away from the Truth (paraphrased). Not me, I found one good teacher that is truly helping me to grow as a Christian, a husband, a father, and a friend, in that order.
A lot of SBs are neutral on what some would consider "negotiable doctrine." They drive it home with some doctrines and topics, but they back away slowly from things like premillenialism and Calvinism (like we even needed Calvin to affirm what the Bible says for itself over, and over, and over again). That is a marketing tactic, and I'm not judging; Study Bibles sell better when they cater to a larger more diverse group of people (no sarcasm at all, I promise). However, I want the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth. I am not trying to elevate JM to an unrealistic status or put him on a pedistal, but the Bible says (another paraphrase) that you should honor the men who labor in the Word, and labor in the defense of God's Word. If you can show me someone that does those things better than John MacArthur, I'll take my hat off. Don't waste your time...just buy this SB...you'll probably save some money (comparatively speaking) which is always a plus.
on February 26, 2011
The ESV Mac Study Bible is written on ver thin paper with light ink for scriptures and even lighter and smaller print for the Study notes and references. I would not recommend it for people who do not have perfect vision. They do not currently have a large print ESV MacArthur Study Bible. But when and if they do publish one, I sincerely hope they will at least print the notes darker if not larger.
on November 4, 2013
FIrst, I want to start off by saying I have a passion for quality Bibles. I was looking for a new quality study Bible to replace my antiquated KJV study Bible I bought in the 90's. I have broken my review down in chunks to make it a bit easier to read:
Cover: I opted to go with the Premium Calfskin Leather for the binding over the bonded leather or hardback cover. Having owned Bibles in the premium calfskin I know the qualty, and I must say, the cover on this Bible is phenominal. The leather is so buttery smooth it almost feels "fuzzy". The cover peels back so gently and teh flow in the leather is wonderful. The entire BIble bends and moves in your hand as you are handling it. The inner lining is still leather, but it appears to be the much inferior genuine leather (which is typically pig leather). The grain on the calfskin is very pleasing to look at and the Bible smells of rich, high quality leather. As far as premium leathers go, I would rate this somewhere below the premium highland goatskin that R.L. Allan uses for its Bibles, but well above any bonded or genuine leather used in most mid-line Bibles.
I also really like the look of the Bible. The black is so elegant and simple. I also particularly like the leather on the binding and the way it is stamped with the gold text. The four raised ridges give it a unique look and it also helps grip the Bible when holding it open and reading standing up. My favorite physical attribute of this Bible is by far the cover. The only thing that could have made it better was if Crossway included a gilt line on the inside cover to accent the cover when the Bible is open. All in all that is a minor luxury and does not detract from the look of the Bible much.
Binding: All quality Bibles have what is called "Smyth sewn binding" which is a technique where multipe pages in a book are first sewn to each other in small pamphlet sizes, then the pamphlets are sewn together. This not only greatly increases longevity and durability but also greatly increases the Bible's value compared to glued bindings. This Bible has the Smyth sewn binding and it shows. When you open this Bibile it lays flat right away. There is very limited resistance from the binding. The good news is the more you use it, the more the binding breaks in and the flatter the Bible lays.
The only disappointing thing about the binding is that the Bible does crinkle a bit when opening it. I have read on Crossway's blog that this will disapate over time the more you use the Bible. The crinkling is in no way as bad as on a glued binding Bible, but it is there if you listen for it. We will have to wait and see it it gets any better over time.
The ribbons were a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. It is nice that Crossway gave us 2 ribbons, however 3 ribbons would have made this Bible look/feel a bit more "regal". I was also disappointed in the fact that the ribbons used were not premium, thick cut ribbons. They are not poor ribbons by any stretch of the imagination, but Crossway went so far with the beautiful calfskin leather of the exterior I felt they could have really upped the overall quality of this Bible by spending a bit more for premium ribbons.
Paper Quality: I could not find anywhere online that specified exactly how thick the paper is on the ESV MacArthur Study Bible. So I reached out to Crossway and asked them myself. According to Crossway, they use 19.5 lb India Paper. While the quality is nothing superb, it is not bad paper. You do get the expected "ghosting" (when you can slightly see through to the page behind the one you are reading due to the thinness of the paper) but it is not to the point where it is overly distracting. If you are hyper sensitive to "ghosting" then you may want to pass on this Bible and look into a Cambridge or Schyler study bible as they use much thicker paper (at much a much higher cost). Overall I am satisfied with the quality of the paper and the minimal ghosting in this Bible.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this Bible is the gilting. "Gilting" is the decorative sheen on the side of the Bible paper that make the Bible paper look "gold" when the Bible is closed. There are 2 types of gilting. Regular Bible gilt, and Art Gilting. The former is found on the ESV MacArthur and it is where the a thin layer of colored aluminum is melted onto the side of the Bible paper before the Bible is bound. Art Gilting is typically found on premium Bibles and it is where the sides of the pages are dipped in colored dye first followed by the melted alumium gilt foil. While the gold gilting used on this Bible is very asthetically pleasing, it is of fairly poor quality. Upon receiving my first MacArthur Study Bible, I noticed that a gilt chunk the size of the end of a straw was missing from the side of the Bible, and a large thumbprint was embedded into the gilt on the top of the Bible. This appears to have happened during the manufacturing process, but it was still an inconvenience as you would not expet this to be a problem on a high quality $150 Bible. Thankfully Amazon customer service was fantastic as always and quickly sent me a replacement. I also very lightly ran my fingernail along the gilt line and you can see that the gold gilting scratches very easily. I would recommend keeping this Bible in a case to protect the giliting when not using the Bible, but the cover is so beautiful it would be a shame to cover it up. My best advise is to keep the Bible in the original box it came in when not using it to protect the giliting that way you get the best of both worlds.
Text: The Bible text in this Bible is outstanding. I find it clear and easy to read. The scripture portion uses a 8.5 font text, with a 7.5 size for the study notes at the bottom. By far the best feature of this Bible is MacArthur's study notes. After spending over 30 years studying the Word of God, it is evident in the study notes in this Bible why MacArthur is an undeniable authority in teaching scripture. His notes are clear, detailed, and easy to understand. There are considerably more notes in the New Testament than in the Old Testament (but knowing John MacArthur, he specializes in New Testament doctrine so I am not surprised). There are over 25,000 study notes to read as you progress through the books of the Bible so you will have plenty to read during your daily study time.
I really enjoy the way the text is laid out on the page. At the begnining of a new book, the name of the book is in big bold text at the top of the page, and centered in a pleasant blue box. This adds a splash of color to the page, but keeps the dignified, professional look of the Bible. Also, each new chapter is introduced by a large font blue number which makes finding new chapters on the page easy and effortless. There are 140 2 color maps throughout the Bible, not to mention the multi-color large maps at the end. The 80,000 + cross references are conveniently placed in the middle of the double column format and very easy to use.
Overall Quality: I gave this Bible 4 stars which I felt was a fair assessment. Having some high quality premium Bibles such as R.L. Allans and Oxford Bibles I know what to look for in a quality Bible and this ESV version from Crossway is definately a quality Bible. While this is not the upper crust of quality Bibles, you are not spending $250 or more on this Bible.
Pros: Premium Calfskin is top notch and worth every penny, the MacArthur notes are the highlight of this Bible and should be part of every Bible student's quiver, the text is easy to read and the page layout is wonderful, the Smyth sewn binding is worth the extra cash and I'm really glad Crossway used this binding.
Cons: The 19.5 lb paper does allow for a certain level of ghosting. This can be expected in almost any Bible unless you are shelling out the big bucks for a premium Bible with 45 lb (or opaque) Bible Paper. The ribbons were a bit disappointing in their thin diameter and in the fact that there are only 2 (and not 3 or 4 as is common in more expensive Bibles). The gilting is sub-par and damages easily.
All in all I would definately recommend this Bible. I know i probably went in waaay more depth than the average person wants to know about but I have an affinity for high quality Bibles. Remember, the most important thing about a Bible is not what it is made out of, but the true Living words that are found inside. Take this review as a review of the quality of the Bible construct and not as a critique of the Holy Word of God.
As mentioned above, I was sent a Bible with damage to the gilting. Amazon worked quickly and shipped me a replacement Bible that surprisingly arrived in 1 day. I shipped the first Bible back and thought my troubles were over. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The second Bible also came with ugly marks on the gilting, but this one was also horribly bound. The Bible crinkled very loudly when opened to any page, even after substantial use for days on end.
I could have perhaps gotten over those two issues and just dealt with it, but there was one final deal breaker that caused me to send this second Bible back. MacArthur.
While his New Testament notes are substantial, his Old Testament notes were severely lacking. I know he worked hard on these notes (2 grueling years), but there are certain portions of his study notes where you can see he was on a deadline. Many of his Old Testament notes aren't really notes, but rather a second set of references. Also, the pros that the notes are all belong to one pastor are also the cons. Many of the notes lean heavily to MacArthur's personal belief's or interpretations.
I would still recommend this Bible, particularly to someone who is new to the Scriptures and would like to learn from a very intelligent teacher. But be aware, the notes are biased, and the Old Testament notes make you hungry for more.
I have since purchased the ESV Study Bible bound by RL Allan. The ESV Study Bible is composed by over 90 respected pastors and theologians and is, in my opinion, much more theologically sound.