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7.18.2005    |    Reformation Study Bible
Just received my Reformation Study Bible, edited by R.C. Sproul and using the English Standard Version. It is a one-stop source for, pardon the expression, Zondervan fans, "The Spirit of the Reformation." The many notes on Reformation theology are crisp and to the point, with more than sufficient Scriptural backing for each issue.

Now, a confession: I'm a Zondervan fan, have both their NIV and KJV Study Bibles, and use them constantly. But since I discovered the ESV, I've been looking for a good study Bible that is both faithful to the Reformation (as Zondervan's study notes are) yet based on the better ESV translation (more on what "better" means to me below).

The ESV sets the new standard for clarity to the modern reader without sacrificing accuracy of translation. Although the NIV may be a smoother read to the modern eye, it must always be a little suspect as to the unintended personal biases that are bound to have crept in as a result of the points of view of the translators. After all, a "thought-for-thought" translation, which the NIV is, has to be colored by the thoughts of the translator. Nothing sinister here; just human nature.

As for the KJV, it remains my favorite for its poetry, and for conveying the mighty and brave faith shown by the original translators in the early 17th century. That said, its English language usage is, of course, dated to the point of being archaic. As a result, clarity of meaning sometimes suffers. With the ESV, I have the same confidence in the overall accuracy as I do with the KJV -- but with much greater ease of understanding.

The ESV Reformation Study Bible has rock-solid exegesis of the basic elements of the Reformed faith, starting at Genesis with the fall of man (our totally depraved natures); ending with fiery judgment at the Throne in Revelation promised by Jesus. I would commend it for any who would call themselves "Protestant." This is not to say that other versions are not worthy -- just that the ESV is the best modern update of the gold standard for God's Word in English -- the King James Version.

I've given it 5 stars (in a review at Amazon.com), although I do have a couple of points that could improve any future editions. First would be to improve the quality of the book as a book. The leather, the binding, and the paper in this Ligonier Ministries Bible are not quite up to what I've come to expect. I would also prefer the words of Christ in red (they are not in this version). These amount to quibbles, and are insignificant in comparison with the Reformation Study Bible's Word in readable and accurate English, combined with an impeccable Reformation understanding of God's message of salvation.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.