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ESV Story of Redemption Bible Review

Crossway has released a new Bible that I want to tell you about and recommend to you. Have you ever struggled to trace the story of the Bible from beginning to end? Following the story of the Bible seems easy enough at first, but the further you get into the Bible, the harder it is to keep track of the story. The ESV Story of Redemption Bible seeks to offer a solution to that problem. This new Bible offers running notes interspersed throughout the biblical text that help readers see how that particular passage ties in with the rest of Scripture and how it fits into God’s plan of redemption. Let me give you some pros and cons of this Bible. We’ll start with the cons.

The biggest con of this Bible is the thin pages. As you’re trying to read a passage on one page, the words from another page bleed through. Further, if you’re the type of person who likes to mark-up your Bibles, you’ll have a hard time doing that with this Bible. Any pen markings or highlighting will bleed through easily and inhibit your ability to read following pages. Another, but less notable, con has to do with the running notes. Having interspersed running notes throughout the biblical text is a good idea, but they need to be more distinguishable from the text itself. The notes are technically separated by a thin line before and after the note, but that line is easy to miss. Also, the notes themselves need to be in a different font (or at least in bold or italics) so as to be more distinguished from the biblical passage; however, as it is, the notes are in the same font and basically the same font size as the passage, making the notes hard to distinguish. One final con worth mentioning is the scarcity of notes in the wisdom literature books. After reading this Bible up to the point of the wisdom literature books and encountering running notes on almost every pages, the lack of notes within the wisdom books is jarring. You come to expect notes on almost every page, so the scarcity of notes stands out. The scarcity of notes also gives the unintended impression that the wisdom books don’t tie in with the story of redemption, which of course is not true. Now, on to the pros.

The biggest pro of this Bible is that it accomplishes its intended purpose. The aim of this Bible is to give readers a greater understanding of the overarching storyline of Scripture, and it does just that. Pastor Greg Gilbert offers hundreds of running notes, written in a conversational style that’s easy for any person to understand. These notes, and this Bible in general, differ from the notes of a study Bible. Study Bibles offer in-depth commentary on every page. The commentaries are often technical and contain background information as well as linguistic information. The notes in this Bible, however, are not technical and have the specific purpose of connecting passages to the grand storyline of the Bible as well as God’s plan of redemption. Another pro related to the running notes is the helpful reading suggestions. For example, as readers read the historical books of the Bible, the notes often mention which prophet was prophesying at that given time and point readers to the specific prophetic books that relate to what’s going on in the historical book. For instance, as readers read 2 Kings 17 (the fall of Israel), the running notes inform that the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah were prophesying during this time and direct readers to the exact page in the Bible to begin reading those prophets and their message during the time of Israel’s fall.

Another pro are the interspersed maps and illustrations throughout the Bible. Most modern Bibles come with maps in the back, and almost all study Bibles have maps in the back as well as occasional maps or illustrations. However, this Bible has no maps in the back. Instead, the maps are interspersed throughout the Bible in key locations that help readers become familiar with the geography of a particular time period and of a particular passage. Maps aren’t all this Bible offers readers though. It also includes numerous helpful illustrations that help readers visualize various things described in the Bible. One particular example is in Exodus 26-the tabernacle tent. This Bible offers a helpful illustration of what the tabernacle tent actually would have looked like, depicting the arrangement of the tent according to the biblical descriptions. If you’re a visual learner, then these illustrations will definitely help you. Though there are no maps in the back, there is a helpful fold out timeline that uses illustrations that put key biblical moments on a timeline to help readers get a better sense of not only the storyline of Scripture but also a sense of the specific time in history that biblical events took place. Also included in the back are two Bible reading plans: one is a chronological reading plan and the other is a canonical reading plan. The chronological reading plan helps readers read through the Bible following the chronological plan of redemption. The canonical reading plan helps readers read through the Bible in canonical order.

Any believer will find this Bible helpful. However, if you are especially wanting to be able to understand the Bible better, connect the various books of the Bible better, follow the grand storyline of the Bible better, and understand God’s unfolding plan of redemption better, then this Bible is for you. I highly recommend this Bible.

Crossway has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through the Blog Review Program.