Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Reformation Study Bible”

ref-sbA few months ago I was sent a review copy of The Reformation Study BibleGiven the title, I kind of expected there to be study notes from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and the like. I mean, it’s the “Reformation” Study Bible, right? What it actually is is a Reformed Study Bible. I’ll be reviewing it from that perspective as well as I can, but I wanted to be sure readers wouldn’t be confused, as I was.

The Bible is extremely robust, with notes often taking up half or more of the actual pages of the text. Each book has a brief introduction that does a good job outlining key details and theological themes. There are extensive maps and additional notes found throughout the text. Notes range from theological exposition to apologetics-oriented. At times they focus on a pastoral perspective or draw out inter-canonical readings of the texts. There is little that passes without comment.

I received the edition pictured here. The cover is beautiful and also very solid. The binding clearly will hold up quiet well under lengthy use. There are, of course, other bindings available including leather. The pages are extremely thin, however, and it is easy to see the text through the page. The font is small, though readable. As with most other modern study bibles, there is very little space in the margins for writing notes (apart from sections of biblical poetry).

The extent to which readers will enjoy this Bible is going to be almost entirely based on how much they align with Refromed theology. In some places (such as interpretation of Genesis 1), there is leeway granted in the notes for a spectrum of views. In others (such as the discussion over men and women in the church), a specific perspective (complementarianism) is heavily endorsed. Discussions of sacraments, foreknowledge, predestination, election, and the like are all explicitly Reformed in their perspective. This is not a strike against the study Bible–it is, after all, effectively a Reformed Study Bible–but readers must realize that they will get exactly that.

In order to write this review, I went through several books in their entirety, along with reading the notes and the like. These included Ruth, Genesis, John, and 1 Corinthians. In addition, I read selections from every other book. The tone and notes are consistent throughout.  As already noted, the notes are also fairly extensive.

The bottom line is that you’re going to get out of The Reformation Study Bible exactly what you would expect from a conservative Reformed study Bible. It is excellent in that regard–and could even serve as a resource if you are interested in researching Reformed perspectives on various passages–but if that is not what you want, you should look elsewhere for a study Bible.

The Good

+Extensive notes with deep discussion of inter-related texts
+Good format
+Readable introductions with inter-canonical perspective noted

The Bad

-Confusing title
-Lots of notes will be largely disregarded if you have a different theological bent

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher. I was not obligated to write any specific kind of feedback whatsoever. 


About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Reformation Study Bible”

  1. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    Thanks for your review J.W.!!

    Posted by Vincent S Artale Jr | October 28, 2015, 7:23 AM
  2. I am glad to know this is not, as you point out, exactly what the title might lead one to expect. A “Reformation” Study Bible would be a fascinating tool, and perhaps something like it is out there; but I’m glad to have clarification that this is not it. (I think InterVarsity Press has published a multi-volume “Reformation Commentary on the Scriptures,” akin to its excellent “Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures” series – too bad there’s not a handy-dandy, single-volume edition of that.)

    Nice review, J.W. Thanks for it.

    Posted by Michael Poteet | October 28, 2015, 8:40 AM
    • Yes, it is possible that the sheer volume of commentary by Reformers (and the number of Reformers–who to include, who to exclude?) makes such a study Bible overly ambitious. It could be extremely awesome, however.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | October 28, 2015, 8:42 AM

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