A 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.