Book Review: The Reformation Study Bible – Part 4

I was recently blessed to receive a review copy of 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 from 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.

I began this review series a year ago, and have since been provided with a copy of the New King James Version edition of the Reformation Study Bible. As far as I can tell, there are no differences in the supplementary material, so I will continue my reviews where I left off.

This week, I wanted to review the full length articles in a section called Topical Articles. The articles range in topic, but generally speaking (as one would expect) reflect Reformed perspectives on subjects of particular interest to Reformed thinkers.

The authors chosen for each subject are excellent and reflect the strengths and weaknesses of each writer. For example, Michael Kruger wrote the article on New Testament Text Criticism, while Stephen Nichols wrote the articles concerned with more historical topics. With a few possible exceptions, the articles are written by teaching fellows at Ligonier Ministries. I say possible exceptions, because I’m not sure if some of the authors are teaching fellows who are not listed on the website (Michael Horton, Michael Kruger, etc).

The articles are well put together aesthetically, and well written from a technical perspective. I did not see any glaring issues in the theology presented.

There are a few things I would have liked to see done differently however.

First, I would have liked to see a broader range of Reformed writers. While the writers selected were fine choices, it would have been nice to see less from the Ligonier teaching fellows, and more from writers with different affiliations. One of the strengths of the RSB (which I will cover next week) is that it does not stake a claim to a restrictive Reformed definition. It makes no formal distinction between Presbyterians (including the Continental Reformed) and Baptists… although it seems to ignore the fact that the Congregationalists exist (which again, I will cover next week). This is most clear in the choice to include the London Baptist Confession of Faith in the confessional documents at the end. However, the authors selected have a clear leaning toward the Presbyterian end of our tradition. Broadening the pool would have provided valuable perspectives.

Additionally, there are central topics that were of major importance in the Reformation that seem absent. There is no article on the five solas, Christology, or the sacraments. Furthermore, within the articles that are there, there is sometimes a lack of scope represented. For example, the article on Covenant Theology by Derek Thomas makes no reference to the fact that some major Reformed figures (John Murray, Meredith Kline, and others) have had objections to various aspects of covenant theology. (the existence of a pretemporal covenant, the idea that the Adamic Administration was actually a covenant, etc) The articles portray Reformed theology as much less diverse than it actually is, which is something I would have liked to see more represented.

Ultimately, the articles are great resources for those new to Reformation theology. (even if Lutheranism is completely absent)

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.