ESV Church History Study Bible Review

The ESV Church History Study Bible from Crossway provides commentary on the text from almost 400 prominent figures in church history. All the major writers and preachers from early church history are included along with a few articles about the Bible and church history. It’s available in several covers. I’m reviewing the black genuine leather, ISBN: 9781433579707, printed in China.

Crossway provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.


This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)




and many local Bible bookstores


Table of Contents

  1. Video Review
  2. Cover and Binding
  3. Paper
  4. Typography
  5. References
  6. Book Introductions
  7. Study Material
  8. Concordance
  9. Maps
  10. Comparisons
  11. Conclusion

Video Review

Table of Contents

Cover and Binding

The cover is black genuine leather. It has a slight grain and feels thin. You can see wrinkles where the liner is stiff. The cover folds over the edge and includes a debossed line around the perimeter. Nothing is printed on the front. The spine is heavily decorated with gold patterns between the raised hubs.

The liner is paste-down vinyl. It’s stiff and tries to close for the first few pages, but it does stay open before Genesis. The block is Smyth sewn.

It has one 1/4″ black ribbon. It’s just long enough to pull to the corner to open the Bible. The overall size is 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 1 3/4″ and it weighs 2 lbs, 14.6 oz.

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The paper is 30gsm Thin Opaque. It’s just rough enough to make it not too difficult to grab and turn. It’s white in color. The show-through is noticeable, but it isn’t bad and fits the price range for a study Bible. The page edges are gold gilted.

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The 2016 ESV text is presented in a double-column, paragraph layout. Footnotes are placed in a single column in a smaller text. Cross-references are placed in a single column under the footnotes in a slightly larger font, but still smaller than the Bible text. Commentary is placed at the bottom of the page in two columns. A line separates the cross-references and the commentary. The header shows the book name, chapter, and verse number in the outer margin, and the page number in the center. It doesn’t include maps, charts, articles, etc., keeping the pages clean and elegant.

The Lexicon typeface is used for the main text. It’s 9-point. The commentary uses Gotham and looks to be 8-point. The text is black-letter and has around 8-9 words per line. It’s about a medium in darkness and is highly consistent throughout. It doesn’t seem to be published with line-matching. The text does have a lot of space within the text, making it easy to read. It also has extra space between the column and the margins. Most of the poetic setting looks good. The poetic setting does have a lot of indenting and several lines with a single word.

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The Church History Study Bible includes 80,000 cross-references. They’re the same references that are used in the ESV Study Bible. They cover words and themes, making it an excellent Bible for personal study and sermon prep. Here are a few examples of references to help you compare:

  • Genesis 1:1 – Job 38:4-7; Ps 33:6; 136:5; Isa 42:5; 45:18; Jn 1:1-3; Ac 14:15; 17:24; Col 1:16, 17; Heb 1:10; 11:3; Rev 4:11
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 – Cited Mk 12:29; Isa 42:8; Zech 14:9; Jn 17:3; 1 Cor 8:4, 6
  • Isaiah 9:6 – Lk 2:11; Jn 3:16; ch 7:14; Mt 28:18; 1 Cor 15:25; ch 22:22; ch 28:29; ch 10:21; Deut 10:17; Neh 9:32; Jer 32:18; Ps 72:17; ch 63:16; Jn 14:18; Ps 72:7; Eph 2:14; see ch 1:6-9
  • Matthew 28:19 – Mk 16:15, 16; ch 13:52; Lk 24:47; ch 24:14; Mk 11:17; Rom 1:5; Ac 8:16; 2 Cor 13:14
  • Mark 12:29 – Lk 10:27; cited from Dt 6:4, 5; Rom 3:30; 1 Cor 8:4, 6; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim 1:17; 2:5; Jm 2:19; 4:12; Jude 25; Mt 19:17; 23:9
  • John 1:1 – Gn 1:1; Col 1:17; 1 Jn 1:1; Rev 1:4, 8, 17; 3:14; 21:6; Rev 19:13; Heb 4:12; 1 Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 1:2; ch 17:5; Phil 2:6
  • John 3:16 – Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4; 2 Thes 2:16; 1 Jn 3:1; 4:9, 10; see ch 1:29; Rom 8:32; ch 10:28
  • Acts 2:38 – ch 3:19; 20:21; 26:18, 20; Lk 24:47; ch 22:16; ch 8:12; see Mk 16:16; ch 10:48; see ch 8:16; see Mk 1:4; ch 10:45; ch 8:15, 20; 11:17; see Jn 7:39
  • Romans 10:9 – Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:11; see Ac 16:31; 1 Pet 1:21; see Ac 2:24
  • 1 John 1:1 – see Jn 1:1; ch 2:13, 14; Ac 4:20; Jn 19:35; ch 4:14; Jn 1:14; 2 Pet 1:1; Lk 24:39; Jn 20:27

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Book Introductions

Book introductions include a few paragraphs and include facts, and simple outline, and thoughts by historical writers. Most include direct quotes from commentaries. These include references to specific books with dates. They’re well-written and I find them fascinating and a good way to see writings throughout history. They are centered and placed on their own page so they stand apart. This helps create an elegant design.

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Study Material

Commentary – The Church History Study Bible has 20,000 study notes. This includes writings from prominent figures in Church history such as Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, John Bunyan, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and more. A lot of verses are covered. Most verses have commentary from one writer. For those with multiple writers, each comment is placed in a different paragraph. Their names and resources are provided at the end of each note.

Ecumenical Creeds of the Church – These include the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and Chalcedonian Definition. Each is printed on a separate page.

Articles and Resources – It has 12 articles that cover the various periods of history. They include topics such as the history of biblical interpretation and exegesis, the history of Bible translations, the history of preaching, the historical eras, reading, etc. They are very focused and informative.

Callouts – It has over 60 callouts that talk about the passage in history. These are placed within the commentary and can be hard to find. They include a title and a paragraph of information. For example, on page 1888 is a title called Foxe’s Book of Martyrs that discusses the development of the book. It doesn’t provide an index for them.

Table of Weights and Measures – This is a one-page table with the biblical unit, approximate American and metric equivalents, and the biblical equivalent. These are also found in the footnotes.

Reading Plan – This is a daily reading plan with four readings per day. It provides the date with the reading from Psalms and wisdom literature, Pentateuch and history of Israel, Chronicles and prophets, and Gospels and epistles. There is enough room to mark your reading progress if you want. It takes you through Psalms and several other books twice. Some of the books are divided, so you’ll go on to something else before coming back to finish the book. Also, several are not read in biblical order.

Author Index – This is an index of all the authors whose works appear in the notes. It includes the author’s name, the dates they were born and died, and a short biography. The index doesn’t provide information on where their resources are used in the notes, but that would require a much larger index.

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This is a large concordance. It doesn’t tell the number of entries, but it has 60 pages and 3 columns per page. It includes proper names of the most prominent people and places. This is the same concordance used in many of Crossway’s study Bibles and is a good concordance for personal study and sermon prep.

Sample entries include:

  • Christ – 16
  • Christ’s – 4
  • Christian – 2
  • Faith – 28
  • Faithful – 10
  • Faithfulness – 6
  • Faithless – 1
  • God – 49
  • Godliness – 4
  • Godly – 3
  • Gods – 2
  • Praise – 19
  • Praised – 2
  • Praises – 2
  • Pray – 11
  • Prayer – 10
  • Prayers – 6
  • Praying – 3

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In the back are Crossway’s 15 maps printed on thick non-glossy paper. The maps are printed with earth-tone colors and include distance, topography, borders, routes, rivers, kingdoms, etc. It doesn’t have an index to maps, but they are labeled well. I find them easy to use.

Maps include:

  1. The Middle East Today
  2. The World of the Patriarchs
  3. The Exodus from Egypt
  4. The Tribal Allotments of Israel
  5. Israel Under Saul, David, and Solomon
  6. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
  7. The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires
  8. The Persian and Greek Empires
  9. Isreal Uner the Maccabees
  10. Jerusalem
  11. Palestine Under Roman Rule
  12. The Apostle’s Early Ministry
  13. Paul’s First and Second Missionary Journeys
  14. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey and His Voyage to Rome
  15. The Spread of Christianity in the First Two Centuries

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Here’s how the Church History Study Bible compares to a few similar study Bibles. Both include writings from the early church fathers.

CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible

The CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible has articles, creeds, and commentary similar to the ESV. It includes the same writers and adds rebuttals of certain doctrines. The paper has a yellow tone to look like old documents. It has a larger print and is slightly larger overall.

NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible

The NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible includes writings from ancient and modern writers. It’s the NKJV journaling Bible with notes added to the margins, so it’s a lot smaller. It also includes the creeds and several articles on the history of key doctrines. A section in the back includes ancient artwork.

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The Church History Study Bible is an interesting Bible. It’s well-made and designed for a specific purpose. Rather than trying to provide every study tool you might need, it focuses on the commentary of the most prominent and important ancient writers as well as many others from church history. Anyone with a passing interest in church history or the writings of the early church fathers will appreciate this Bible.

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This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)




and many local Bible bookstores



Crossway provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.


  1. John

    Hmm, “Church History” Study Bible or Reformation Study Bible? Is this primarily about the 500 years since the Reformation or does it cover the 1,500 years of pre-Reformation Church history as well?

    • Randy A Brown

      Good question! It ranges from 100-1900s and seems to have a balance between older and newer. It even includes writers such as John Stott.

  2. Brian Rollins

    Just wish it came with a different text translation. I’m very interested in the commentary. Not so much in the ESV. Would love to see this in KJV, or at least NKJV.


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