So What Makes the Reformation Study Bible Different?
Anyone who steps into a Christian bookstore or opens a Christian book catalog is immediately struck by the large number of Study Bibles available. There are specialty Study Bibles, such as The Literary Study Bible, the Apologetics Study Bible, and the Archaeological Study Bible. There are Study Bibles geared to application (Life Application Study Bible) and Study Bibles geared to word-study (The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible). There are also Study Bibles prepared by well-known pastors and teachers (The MacArthur Study Bible).
There are many Study Bibles produced for members of churches in different theological traditions. There are Study Bibles for Roman Catholics (The Catholic Study Bible), the Eastern Orthodox (The Orthodox Study Bible), Charismatics (New Spirit-Filled Life Bible), Dispensationalists (The Scofield Study Bible, The Ryrie Study Bible), and coming next year, there will be a Study Bible for Lutherans (The Lutheran Study Bible).
There are also Study Bibles geared toward a more broadly evangelical readership. Two of the most popular Study Bibles in this category are the NIV Study Bible and the recently published ESV Study Bible.
To the best of my knowledge, there are only two Study Bibles with notes written from a consistently Reformed perspective: The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible and our own Reformation Study Bible.
With so many options, it may be helpful to explain exactly what makes the Reformation Study Bible different. In short, what makes it different is that it is the only consistently Reformed Study Bible based on an essentially literal translation of Scripture - the English Standard Version.
What do I mean when I say: “consistently Reformed”? While many other Study Bibles contain notes written by scholars from a wide variety of Reformed and non-Reformed traditions, the Reformation Study Bible and the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible are the only two Study Bibles whose contributing scholars all write from a distinctively Reformed perspective. In other words, all of the contributing scholars would be able to agree with one or more of the major Reformed confessions such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Belgic Confession, or the London Baptist Confession. None of the contributing scholars are Arminian.
The Reformation Study Bible, however, is unique in that it is also based on an essentially literal translation of Scripture. The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible is based on the New International Version, which is a “dynamic equivalence” translation. Such translations focus on translating the “thought” of a passage and are not as concerned with literal word-for-word precision (See Leland Ryken’s The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation for more information on this important subject). The editors of the Reformation Study Bible believe that an essentially literal translation is more consistent with Scripture’s own testimony to its verbally inspired character.
What makes the Reformation Study Bible different, then, is that it combines the two features most necessary for understanding the Reformed interpretation of Scripture - an essentially literal Bible translation and consistently Reformed study notes.