ESV Archaeology Study Bible | a Review

ESV Archaeology Study Bible Review

The recently released ESV Archaeology Study Bible claims that it roots the biblical text in its historical and cultural context, offering readers a framework for better understanding the people, places, and events recorded in Scripture. This is another beautifully done Bible by Crossway in a faithful text that can be trusted. Overall, I find it to be a useful resource that is stuffed full of historical contextual nuggets that help you to see how Bible history fits within the greater timeline of world history. 

The Bible is a grand narrative about the person, work, and restoration of Jesus Christ. That is its main focus. Within that grand narrative, we are taught of real humans that lived throughout history and left us examples of what it means to either follow or reject the Eternal God of the Bible. Scripture teaches us how the incarnate Christ, God made flesh, entered human history at a specific time and in a specific place (ESV Archaeology Study Bible info flap). The Bible is not a book of fairy tales, fables, or myths. It is a narrative work and historical record of real people, real events, that took place on the greater timeline of real world history. The ESV Archaeology Study Bible gives teeth to this argument by the immense collection of archaeological records that have been discovered throughout the history of the world.

Bible Quality Considerations

There are several points I consider when deciding whether a Bible is of good quality or not. They are translation, paper, binding, font, notes, and visual appeal. Here are my detailed thoughts on these points for the ESV Archaeology Study Bible.


The Archaeology Study Bible is in the very popular, accurate, and faithful English Standard Version translation. The ESV is a formal equivalence translation, meaning it is a word-for-word approach (in contrast with a thought-for-thought approach, or dynamic equivalence). Using a word-for-word translation, or formal equivalence, makes for the most accurate exegetical or inductive study, especially when conducting word studies in the original languages. 


Paper quality and style is a big factor in choosing a Bible. And much of this decision is subjective and preferential. I very much enjoy the paper in this Bible. It is just the right amount of crinkly-ness while still being thick enough for note-taking. There is a fair amount of ghosting (where you can see the text on the opposite page through the paper), but not distractingly so. The paper is white, not ivory, but also not bright-white, reducing glare and it has a matte finish as opposed to a glossy one, again, reducing glare.


My review copy of this Bible is a hardback and I find it to be very well-bound. It is Smyth-sewn to allow for it to lay flat when open. It is sewn nice and tightly, not leaving any gaps in any sections that I have found, which means that your pages will stay bound and properly in their binding for years to come. I can only guess that the leather editions are even more well-bound, as leather is a more premium level of processing.


The font size in the ESV Archaeology Study Bible is a 9-point type for the Bible text and 8-point type for the study notes. These are very generous font sizes for a study Bible and the font itself has excellent readability. The Bible text is in a double column, with cross-references in the footnotes section and the verse numbers are done in paragraph structure rather than one-line-per-verse. This is typical for a study Bible.


The notes section of this Bible is extensive. If you are a history or archaeology buff, you will be in heaven. Indiana Jones would be proud (nerdy friends, you know what I mean!). Because the notes section is so extensive, I personally find them to be slightly distracting. On many pages, there are so many notes, there is very little room left for Bible text. But, much like paper preferences, this is a personal taste matter. Those of you who really enjoy study notes and study Bibles, in general, will probably find the notes to be more functional than distracting.

The quality of the notes themselves, their content and usefulness, is stellar. I will enjoy having this Bible in my home as an invaluable resource tool and reference material. I anticipate pulling it from the shelf quite often when I’m deep in the throes of intense study. It will help greatly to place me in historical and cultural context at the onset of each fresh study.

Visually Appealing

This last consideration is purely aesthetic and, therefore, subjectively based on my opinion. This Bible is not one that would attract me visually compared to others on a shelf. I would have to open it and look through it to see its functional appeal. However, I can see my 16-year-old son being very drawn to it. The design is a bit more on the masculine side and it has a contemporary vibe. Quite beautiful in its own category, but just not my personal taste. 


Overall, this is another great study Bible option from Crossway and the English Standard Version. If it’s something you’ve had your eye on, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy. In addition, with Father’s Day this weekend, it would make a wonderful gift for Fathers. What better gift to the spiritual leaders of our homes than a new Bible to help them grow in their understanding of Scripture so they can become even better leaders?

I received a complimentary copy of this Study Bible from Crossway Books
in exchange for my honest review.