Whatever history may record about the church of this era, it certainly will not record that we had a shortage of Bibles or excellent resources to help us better understand the Bible. To the contrary, there is a host of faithful Bible translations in the English language and there are far more excellent resources than any individual could possibly read. We are richly blessed.
A new blessing is Crossway’s ESV Church History Study Bible which is meant to offer wisdom for the present by way of voices from the past. In other words, it offers commentary on the full text of the Bible that has been drawn from classic writers, theologians, pastors, and even poets. General editor Stephen Nichols explains in the Introduction. “Unlike in other study Bibles, the notes in the ESV Church History Study Bible have not been written by the editors. Instead, the notes have been compiled by a team of biblical scholars and church historians. The actual contributors of the notes are a varied group, stretching back from the first and second centuries and reaching forward to the twentieth century. These are theologians, pastors, poets, and laity, all offering their perspective on God’s Word. In the ESV Church History Study Bible we escape the tyranny of the present to see wisdom from the past.”
And while the notes from these historical figures is the main distinguishing feature, there are also brief introductions to each of the books, sidebars on certain passages that played a role in a key moment of church history, and then a series of articles that provide an overview of church history and an explanation of some of its dominant themes.
The ESV Church History Study Bible is intended to serve pastors and students, placing a wealth of teaching, insight, and encouragement from church history alongside the biblical text and within the covers of a single volume. The ESV Church History Study Bible is also intended to serve laity by introducing them to the vast riches of church history that can encourage and edify. The ESV Church History Study Bible stands as a reminder to all of us that we are part of one body, proclaiming one gospel, reading and studying one Bible, in obedience and service to one Lord and Savior.
Edited by Stephen J. Nichols, Gerald Bray, and Keith A. Mathison, with notes compiled by nearly twenty theologians and church historians, and containing the words of hundreds of Christian figures from the past, the ESV Church History Study Bible accomplishes its purpose well. It may not replace your favorite go-to study Bible, but I’m certain you’ll find that it complements it well. This is a resource I have been anticipating with eagerness and one I expect to turn to often.