Introducing the ESV Study Bible.
2,752 pages, 2 million words, 20,000 notes, 80,000 cross-references, 200+ full-color maps, 40 all-new illustrations, over 50 articles, more than 200 charts.
And no women.
For the last few months Crossway have been pumping out the PR about the upcoming ESV Study Bible which is published later this month. And it does look impressive. The maps, which have been overseen by the brilliant Leen Ritmeyer look particularly good.
But looking down the list of the 95 contributors, one thought struck me: they’re all blokes.
That’s right, this is a man’s Bible, developed by men, for men. Women may be allowed to read this Bible, but they cannot contribute to it. And, presumably, they are not allowed to read it aloud in church. Unless they’re wearing a headcovering.
Here’s more about how the people were chosen:
“They were chosen, first, because of their deep commitment to the truth, authority, and sufficiency of God’s Word; and, second, because of their expertise in teaching and understanding the Bible.”
And ‘third’ because they all had testicles.
OK, I think we get a sense of where this Bible is coming from. This is the Anti-NRSV, right? Put this Bible next to the HarperCollins NRSV Study Bible and they would probably repel each other, like magnets. Or perhaps it would result in some Biblical black hole with matter and anti-matter colliding.
I get the constituency here. We’re talking conservative. But even so.. no women? Not even someone drawing the maps? Worse still, there’s a kind of silence about it on the Crossway site. I tried to see if anyone had left any comments about the issue and this is what I got:
It’s a sign! So I think we can see where this thing is heading.
The conservative slant is backed up by the samples. The intro to Jonah, for example, raises the possibility that the book might be a story or an allegory, before summarily booting them into touch, plumping for historicity and making the rather bold statement that “Jesus, moreover, treated the story as historical when he used elements of the story as analogies for other historical events (see Matt. 12:40–41).” One might argue that just because Jesus used the book to make an analogy, doesn’t necessarily mean that he viewed it as history. He was, after all, quite good at using stories to make points.
There’s also something of a problem with the sheer hyperbole about the thing. Here’s an endorsement from C. J. Mahaney, President, Sovereign Grace Ministries:
“I can’t imagine a greater gift to the body of Christ than the ESV Study Bible.”
You can’t imagine a greater gift? What, nothing? What about, oh I don’t know, an end to persecution of Christians around the world. That would be quite a good gift for the ‘body of Christ’ wouldn’t it? Or the second coming, maybe. But no, neither of them are quite as good as the ESV Study Bible. Especially the Calf Bound edition.
Look, I think it’s going to be a really good version. It’s had an incredible amount of thought and careful design, the samples look great and the maps and diagrams are brilliant. So I’m bound to end up getting one.
But its conservative bias is probably going to irritate me as much as the liberal bias of the HarperCollins does.
So, if you’re listening Hodder, bring on the NIV Study Bible update. And get some women involved!