Book Review: The Reformation Study Bible – Part 1

RSB WhiteI was recently blessed to receive a review copy of the the much anticipated revised Reformation Study Bible published by Reformation Trust. This is such a massive resource, that I’ve decided to dedicate several posts to reviewing it. Each post will be dedicated to reviewing a particular aspect of the tome (Book introductions, maps/charts, articles, study notes, etc). This review series will be slightly different than my other reviews. Obviously I haven’t been able to read the whole Bible, several articles, all the book introductions, and hundreds of pages of study notes in the course of a month. I have read what I believe to be a sufficient sample and will base my review on that.The first aspect of the book I wish to review is simply the aesthetics and composition of the book. This may seem strange, but to be frank… books that are put together well are easier to read. Easier to read books are more likely to be read.

RSB CrimsonThis Bible comes in several cover variants and types. I was given the choice between the White (Pictured above) and Crimson (Pictured right) covers. Both are quite handsome. I prefer the crimson because it is more subtle. The promotional pictures (which I have used in this post) include a title on the cover which is not actually present on the Bible itself.

The previous editions of the RSB have used various translations as their Biblical texts. This edition makes, I think, a wise choice by selecting the ESV. The ESV is widely regarded (in Reformed and non-Reformed circles alike) as a readable and accurate translation. It bridges the gap between a dynamic translation and a formal equivalence. The text is clear and readable, and appears in a single column. Poetry is off set for clarity, and a small column for cross references is present on the binding side of the page. In addition, foot notes to the text are presented in small font below the scriptural text and are indicated with numbers for notes and letters for quotations. The letters for quotations use the same letter pool as the cross references (eg if the cross references are a-j, the first quotation is k) I also own a Legacy edition of the ESV which ensured that the lines on each side of page were synchronized, causing the text from one side not to be visible through the page. That is the only change to the actual printing of the biblical text that I would have preferred.

Throughout the work there are several inline articles (Called “Theological Notes” in this edition) which tend to focus on a particular doctrine which is touched on by the surrounding text. I will review the content of these inline articles in a later post, but they appear in a shaded box, and a different font is used. This makes it extremely clear what is biblical text and what is not. In addition, all study notes are below a horizontal line, and the inline articles share this space.

The study notes themselves follow a similar format to other study Bibles I have used. They also are utilize a differing font, and are slightly smaller than both the inline article text and the biblical text (which appear to be the same size). There are also various maps and diagrams throughout the work that helps to explain a particular text in that section. These maps and diagrams share a space with the study notes.

Each book, as well as major book sections (Pentateuch, Historical Books, etc), have an introduction with various components. I will review the content of these sections in a later post. These introductions are printed in the same (or very similar) font as the biblical text, but appear slightly larger, and printed in a lighter shade of gray. They are also printed in two columns, which helps to make a clear distinction between what is biblical text and what is not.

In addition to the inline articles, there are full length (4-5 pages) articles which are all contained near the end of the work. These share a similar format to the book introductions. Past these articles, the major confessions, creeds, and catechisms of Church History are also contained. These are identical in format to the articles, in the case of catechisms questions are bold.

There is a traditional concordance near the end which is unremarkable, as well as a traditional Bible Reading Plan (One Year).

Finally, there are several color maps which show various aspects of the Ancient Near Eastern world, the Holy Land, and the Mediterranean Region during Paul’s various missionary trips.

In general, the Reformation Study Bible is a beautiful book, that is very well organized. It is clear to read and the aesthetics of the work are excellent.

Please note: Reformation Trust / Ligonier Ministries has provided me with a review copy of the crimson hard cover edition of the Reformation Study Bible. They do not require positive reviews, nor have they edited or modified this review in any way.