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Justin-Taylor-721591A little over a year ago, Crossway released the ESV Study Bible. The release of the long-anticipated Bible made headlines as the initial printing sold out before it hit the shelves.

Today, I am interviewing my friend, Justin Taylor - editorial director and associate publisher at Crossway Books. Justin has co-authored several books and maintains a popular blog called “Between Two Worlds.” He lives with his wife and three children in Chicagoland.

Trevin Wax: Has word of mouth helped the sales of the Study Bible since its release?

Justin Taylor: I think that’s played a big part. It seems to me that many of those who have used it have found it to be a helpful tool in understanding the meaning, background, unity, and implications of the biblical text—and then have sought to tell others. We are deeply grateful.

TW: Are most readers of the Study Bible in the United States? What are some international readers saying about it?

JT: Yes, most readers are in the US, but the response from international readers has been very encouraging. We would love to see the Lord use the ESVSB in the Majority/Third World, where solid theological resources can be so limited.

People have sometimes poked fun at the fact that the ESVSB is so big, but one of the things we wanted to do was to create a sort of one-stop introduction to the world of the Bible, its meaning, and its application. So when an international pastor finds it a primary tool in his library, we are thrilled beyond words.

TW: What has been the most popular feature of the Study Bible for readers? What has been the most frequent suggestion from readers about the next update?

JT: Good question, but I’m not certain of the answer!

In some ways I think folks most appreciate the “bread and butter” of the ESVSB: the notes and introduction, focused mainly on trying to understand authorial intent and how this book or passage fits into the storyline of redemptive history.

We’ve also received a lot of encouraging feedback about the “visual elements”–the charts, diagrams, illustrations, maps, etc. Readers in the 21st century have an advantage over the original audience in that we know the whole story, including the end; but they had an advantage in being able to see with their own eyes the setting—the cities, the ships, the sea, the temple, etc. So hopefully these additions in the ESVSB aren’t merely eye candy or window dressing, but a tool to help us better understand the world of the Bible.

For those who have appreciated the maps and illustrations in the ESVSB, in June we’ll release the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas, which we’re very excited about. It was a huge project, but OT scholar and archaeologist John Currid (RTS-Charlotte) and cartographer David Barrett have done an outstanding job with it. There’s about 65,000 words explaining the geography and cultures of the biblical world, along with 175 full-color maps, including some in 3D, 70 photos, numerous recreations, a fully searchable CD, and a detailed 16.5 x 22-inch map of Palestine.

Finally, people have been very grateful for the free online access that comes with the ESVSB.

TW: Are there any features that it seems like people have neglected in the ESVSB? Any hidden treasures?

JT: Yes. I’m frequently surprised to find out how few people are aware of “specialty notes” that Vern Poythress wrote for the OT., called “History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ.” They are in the back of the ESVSB (pp. 2635-2661), and they show how each book—along with its key passages—point toward fulfillment in Christ and the new covenant.

Related to that, on pp. 2608-2611 there’s a chronological list of OT passages that are cited in the NT. I think both of these tools could be utilized well by Bible students and preachers.

TW: How does Crossway plan on expanding the readership of the Study Bible in the future?

JT: Under God, there are a number of things in the works, though I’m not really at liberty to say “what, when, and where” yet! I will say that we’re completing revamping the ESV site, and there are some amazing online development in the works. Look for it in Spring of 2010, God willing.

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15 thoughts on “ESV Study Bible Turns 1: An Interview with Justin Taylor”

  1. Mike Neglia says:

    The “History of Salvation in the OT” section is my favourite in the whole Study Bible! I’ve been teaching through the Pentateuch at our churches’ Wednesday night study for the past couple of years and ever since I got the ESVSB I’ve been checking back to that section nearly every week to see if there was any angle that I missed or if there was anything to add. I actually have a special bookmark just for that section!

  2. Glenn Piper says:

    I live in the UK and have a ESVSB Burgundy Gen. leather and use it all the time.
    A few weeks ago the Church I am a member of gave all their members the opportunity to get a ESVSB HB for ‘Whatever they could afford’ and 60 of the 350 members took advantage of the offer and they were all blessed.
    The Pastors of my church all have it on their shelves.
    I can’t wait to invest in the Atlas and the John MacArthur ESV Study Bible in the Fall

  3. Dan Lunsford says:

    Would love to see a ESV Study Bible thumbed index version offered in leather and hardback version. Red letter text would also be nice. I have the Scofield Study Bible in the ESV version and it comes with thumbed index and red text. If Oxford can do it why not Crossway?

  4. Theresa says:

    I bought but don’t use the ESV Study Bible because the type face is too small for my middle-aged eyes. I don’t like the flimsy paper, either.

    If they made the type bigger and easier to read, then I would give the ESV Study Bible a second look.

  5. Justin Taylor says:

    Theresa, good news: the ESVSB is coming in large print. Sorry you couldn’t read the font in the current one!

  6. Trevin Wax says:

    Large print? I’ll need a wheelbarrow to carry it! :)

  7. Scott Sovereign says:

    I would like to see all of the ESVSB specific content released as a separate stand-alone commentary, much like John MacArthur has done with The MacArthur Bible Commentary vs. The MacArthur Study Bible. While I own an ESVSB, I like to have all of my major reference books in separate volumes. That way, I can make all of my notes in my Bible that I take with me everywhere (Pitt Minion ESV). The ESVSB is just too large for me to use for anything other than while sitting at my desk. A separate stand-alone reference would also allow for a larger font size.

  8. Cristian says:

    I’m glad to be among the international readers of the ESV Study Bible (I’m from Chile). One of the reasons I bought it was precisely because there’s so much information in it! Love the way it depicts each book’s background and all the biblical theology resources.

  9. I fought long and hard when my fiance wanted to get a study bible for her to get the ESVSB. At first, she was hesitant, but in the end, I convinced her that I knew best, and I prevailed. She has thanked me ever since. She loves it. Often, when we are doing our Bible studies together over the phone, I will elaborate on a text and she will say, “That’s exactly what it says in the study notes!”


  10. Brian Moyer says:

    I am very pleased that the ESV will be released in a large print version. Hopefully, it will be the size of the NIV Large Print Study Bible. Thomas Nelson has now adopted that size for the revised NKJV Large Print Study Bible. The longer and wider size format that Thomas Nelson had used for its MacArthur Large Print Study Bibles proved to be adverse to the integrity of the binding. The ESVSB will be Smythe sewn, which should bolster the binding’s longevity. I do hope a quality leather binding will be offered as well as the scheduled hardcover.

  11. chuck larkin says:

    Just purchased the online ESVSB, and am very pleased with it. In the future I’d like to see many more reference works like the upcoming ESV Bible Atlas(!!) included on this website.

  12. Charlie Jones says:

    I am a pastor and I am hoping that Crossway would publish the ESV like the Thomas Nelson Ultraslim, Large Print Bible in a quality leather Bible. The sixe on thier Ultraslim is 6 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ x 1″ with 10 pt. text. It is a great size for preaching and teaching

  13. Will the MacArthur ESV study Bible be of the same quality as the ESV study Bible? Will it be bound using: premium Calfskin leather, have sewn pages, and be printed on french Bible paper? I sure hope so! Does anyone know? When will we know the details of this edition?

  14. David McKay says:

    When I was given a copy of the ESV Study Bible for Christmas, I found that there was now a use for my glasses which magnify small print. The study notes are printed in a small font, but the fine print glasses do the trick for me.

    Couldn’t imagine handling a large print version: does it come in a 3 volume set?

  15. TimandCindy Boyer says:

    We just bought the ESV Bible last Sunday and have enjoyed all of the reference material contained within. When you update it and when you make a large print edition, feel free to make it as big as you want. Thanks!

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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