One of the first Bible study tools that many believers acquire is a Bible with added footnotes, cross-references, and explanatory articles—a study Bible. But choosing a study Bible can be difficult. There are dozens to choose from, and many factors affect the helpfulness of a study Bible—including its publication date, size, the makeup of its editorial staff, and of course, the note content.
Here’s your guide to choosing a study Bible.
The size dilemma
Generally the more help included in a study Bible, the more useful it becomes. But as content is added, the book itself grows and the print shrinks. Some modern study Bibles, like the ESV Study Bible, tip the scales at more than five pounds with tiny font throughout. A book that big—no matter how helpful its content—is cumbersome to transport and difficult to read.
When a study Bible becomes digital, however, the size dilemma evaporates. On my phone, even the most massive study Bible becomes pocket sized. That’s the biggest reason our own Faithlife Study Bible can boast about being the largest study Bible in the world. If printed, this book of nearly three million words wouldn’t fit neatly into anything. But the FSB app, which you can download for free from your app store of choice, weighs nothing.
Behind physical size, publication date is the second most important factor to consider when choosing a study Bible. While the truths of Scripture never change, our use of English does evolve over time. From the moment a study Bible is released, it begins to slowly fade from relevance. Bible translations and study notes start to feel stuffy as the vocabulary and syntax ages.
For example, The Scofield Reference Bible, published in 1909, was wildly popular through the mid twentieth century. While still a helpful study resource, it’s largely been replaced by more modern alternatives like the Believer’s Study Bible.
While the Faithlife Study Bible was released in 2012, it’s still growing and improving. We just added 58 new articles over the summer, and we plan to release even more. The Faithlife Study Bible will never fade from relevance because it’s constantly being updated with new content.
Editor & staff
Sometimes a study Bible assumes the name of the scholar or Christian leader who most heavily influenced its publication—The MacArthur Study Bible, for example. In other cases, a publishing house will assemble a team of scholars from various traditions to publish a balanced study Bible, like the Nelson Study Bible, or a study Bible with a more focused purpose, like the Apologetics Study Bible. When buying a study Bible, it’s wise to research the editorial team so you can read your study Bible with confidence.
To publish the Faithlife Study Bible, we assembled a team from the most trusted Bible scholars and Christian leaders. Timothy Keller, Randy Alcorn, Ed Stetzer, Lee Strobel, N. T. Wright, and Charles Stanley worked with our scholars in residence to construct the largest and most powerful study Bible ever conceived. You can review the entire editorial team at Faithlife Study Bible at FaithlifeBible.com/Contributors.
While study Bibles can cost up to $75.00 in print, you’ll find them all for much less on Logos.com. And the Faithlife Study Bible, despite its massive size and groundbreaking format, is available for free!
Download the Faithlife Study Bible from your favorite app store today. And if you love it as much as we expect you will, leave us a review and rating so others can enjoy it too.