I have a love-hate relationship with study Bibles. I hate having to buy a whole Bible just for the notes – it would be far better if they were a separate volume or, better, electronic.
Plus, there is a danger that people will mix up the Bible text and the study notes in their memories – meaning they will start to think the notes are part of the inspired text and anyone who disagrees with the note is a heretic. It can happen. (R.C. Sproul raised this issue some years back … before editing a study Bible.)
And, of course, there is the danger that people reading the notes will put more confidence in them than in a regular commentary because they’re “in the Bible.”
Finally, I hate having to spread all these study Bibles out on my desk (or, more likely, dining room table) to examine all the notes on a particular passage.
That said, there are some interesting study Bibles out there. A recent, useful addition to the genre is the new Apologetics Study Bible from Holman.
It combines apologetic marginal notes with short articles on a variety of topics (e.g., evolution, biblical genealogies, Mormonism, medicine, pluralism, and annihilationism), biographical blurbs (e.g., Anselm, Joseph Butler, and Pascal), “twisted scriptures,” and a number of useful charts. The contributors were a few dozen Christian thinkers including Ronald Nash, Walter Kaiser, Paul Copan, and J.P. Moreland.
The articles are generally very interesting, if brief, statements on some issue of import and debate in our society.
The notes aren’t always golden, but there is some great material – some apologetic and some simply explanatory – as well as some truly interesting nuggets of historical trivia. One example: Leviticus 12:1-5 – “Ancient Near Eastern polytheism, related to the cycles of nature, placed great emphasis on fertility; the Israelite regulations governing a new mother may represent a reaction to this emphasis.”
The Bible text is the Holman Christian Standard, which I had not previously read, but the translation philosophy seems to be similar to the NIV. The translation is occasionally surprising, but usually it reads pretty much like most modern translations.
I have not, obviously, read every word on every page of this study Bible yet, but what I’ve seen thus far, and the caliber of the contributors, makes me confident that this would be a worthwhile addition to your library.