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ESV Study Bible Review

Crossway ESV Study Bible 025

Crossway’s ESV Study Bible came out in 2008 and has been one of the most popular study Bibles on the market. With its vast amount of quality features, it’s not hard to understand why. With 20,000 notes and 50 articles, the scope of this Bible is so large that it seems to contain a full library of Bible study materials. It’s no wonder the list of contributors takes six pages. This Bible also included an extra surprise that I didn’t expect.


  • Large library of study tools
  • Extensive notes, charts, graphs, and in-text maps
  • Lots of articles


  • Extra Large
  • Heavy


  • 2011 ESV text
  • Presentation and family history pages
  • Sewn binding
  • TruTone Brown Cordovan cover
  • Single column
  • Paragraph format
  • 80,000 cross-references
  • 50 articles
  • 200 charts
  • 40 illustrations
  • 200 color in-text maps
  • 15 full-color maps in the back
  • Greek and Hebrew notes
  • 2752 pages
  • Many covers available
  • Elegant ribbon
  • Gilted edges
  • 9.75 x 7 x 2
  • Printed and bound by R. R. Donnelley and Sons
  • ISBN: 9781433503795
  • $47

Where to Buy

Crossway: ESV Study Bible (TruTone, Brown/Cordovan, Portfolio Design)

Amazon: ESV Study Bible (TruTone, Brown/Cordovan, Portfolio Design)

Cover and Binding

This edition is TruTone Brown Cordovan with Portfolio Design. It’s one of the nicest imitation leathers that I’ve seen. I love browns and tans for Bible covers and I especially love the look and feel of this one. It doesn’t feel cheap at all. It has an elegant look and a nice grain. The outer perimeter is stitched. The liner is a thick vinyl/paper that is also brown to match the cover.

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The binding is Smyth sewn. It has no problem laying flat.

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Paper and Print

The paper is 30 GSM. That sounds like it should be very thick paper, but it feels thinner than that to me with about average paper and opacity. There is some show-through, but it’s not bad at all.

The main font is Lexicon 9/10. The print is just the right amount of darkness and is very consistent. Headings are maybe an 8-point and are italic. The notes are much smaller. I’m just guessing, but maybe a 6-point.

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The text is in single-column paragraph format. References are located on the inner margin and are keyed to the text with letters. They also include the verse numbers in bold, making them easy to find quickly.  Translation notes are placed under the text and are keyed to the text with numbers. Commentary notes are in double-column format and appear under the translation notes. They show the verse number in bold. The notes also include the portion of text they key to in bold. Some notes have titles that are highlighted and in italics. These notes apply to large passages, spanning many verses.

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At the top of the left page is the book name, chapter, and verse that starts on that page and on the right page is the book name, chapter, and verse of the last verse on the page. The color for highlights is an earth-tone tan/green. This color appears throughout the Bible in tables, charts, chapter numbers, etc. I like the earth-tone look and feel.

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Book Introductions

The book introductions are very detailed and average around 5-6 pages (depending on the size of the book). Information covers author and title, date and location, theme, purpose, occasion, and background, key themes, history of salvation summary, timeline, and a detailed outline. Some books have maps showing the setting of the book and a section that covers a key event in that book.

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There is a vast amount of notes in this Bible. The box says 2 million words with 20,000 notes. I didn’t count. I’m just taking their word for it. Like any study Bible with commentary, the notes are going to be theologically biased, and like every study Bible I review, I caution readers to do their own study and not just rely on the notes in the Bible. All notes are written by fallible man and should always be cross-examined. I use notes only as a guide or for a second opinion. With that said, most of the notes in the ESV Study Bible offer more than one point of view. As an example, the note for Genesis 1:26 for ‘us’ discusses the view of God speaking with angels and the view of God speaking to Himself. This note does draw a conclusion, but at least another view is discussed. Many notes give references to similar passages or passages that explain and substantiate the note. There are also lots of Hebrew and Greek definitions and explanations. The notes are very extensive and probably average about half the page.

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This Bible is filled with articles (50). Most span many pages, and some, like the one on Biblical Ethics, cover many subtopics. Some of the articles are doctrinally based and are heavily biased theologically. There are also many articles about studying the Bible, manuscripts, the original languages, reading the Bible, interpretation, the canon of Scripture, Biblical archaeology, and much more. These are by far my favorite articles because I’m very interested in the canon and Hebrew and Greek. I’m grateful that Crossway included them.

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The concordance is 77 pages with three columns per page. There are actually more entries than I expected. There are 56 entries for ‘God’.

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Bible Reading Plan

I’ve come to expect a Bible to have a Bible reading plan. They’ve put a lot of thought into this reading plan. It has a one-year plan that gives you four readings every day. First is Psalms and Wisdom Literature, then Pentateuch and History of Israel, then Chronicles and Prophets, and finally Gospels and Epistles. This gives you four sections every day. Each of the sections is carefully planned out. The readings from Psalms and Wisdom Literature are designed to be appropriate for the beginning and end of the year. The Pentateuch and History of Israel take you through the five books of Moses, then chronologically through the Old Testament. The Chronicles and Prophets are also set up chronologically. The Gospels and Epistles are grouped by author. This is a great reading plan for people like me who like to skip around. This allows you to skip around and still read systematically.

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Aside from the more than 200 color maps in the text, there are 15 maps in the back. They’re full color and printed on very thick paper. They’re labeled well, making it easy to find what I’m looking for. I would like to have an index to maps, but if there isn’t an index I want the maps labeled like these are.

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I love the ribbon in this Bible. It is copper color and is much thicker than most ribbons. It greatly adds to the elegant feel of this Bible. If I were to make any changes I would have at least two ribbons.

Free ESV Online Study Bible

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better I read the card that came with the Bible and found that it gives me an access code that gives me free access to the ESV Online Study Bible. The online edition contains everything that is found in the print version plus new features. You can create your own notes, do searches, follow links, and listen to the ESV Bible in audio.

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The ESV Study Bible is an amazing Bible. The amount of study material makes this a large study library. Of course, to get all this material in one volume requires the Bible to be extra-large and heavy, but the quality of the notes and articles makes it worth it. It is a great study tool for teachers and preachers as well as students of God’s Word. I highly recommend the ESV Study Bible.

Where to Buy

Amazon: ESV Study Bible (TruTone, Brown/Cordovan, Portfolio Design)


Crossway provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.

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. Michele


  2. Paul Michalski

    Do you ever feel using a Study Bible may distract you from what the Holy Spirit is telling you in God’s word?

    • Randy A Brown

      It can, yes. It can also be what God uses to lead us. When I do use them, I like to use more than one for different points of view.

  3. Albert Whippy


    I wish to have a ESV Study Bible for Preachers and Pastors and I wonder how can I get one, if I have to buy online what is the link. Looking forward to hear from you.


    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Albert. My favorite places to get them are Amazon and Christianbook. Both have lots of options and good prices. (links are affiliate)

  4. Alexander thomson

    Randy, Now that Zondervan has updated the NIVSB, I am wondering whether Crossways is intending to update the ESVSB? The latest text/revision seems to be the 2008 one – is that correct? I have the large print ESVSB, ISBN 9781433544132, published 2014, 2008 text/comments – is there anything later? Many thanks!

  5. Jimmy T. Fuentes

    Hi Randy,

    I truly love your reviews. You always do a great job! I was wondering if you have access to this ESV study bible online. I have the Premium Calfskin Black leather from 2008 and I love it! I bought it second hand but it didn’t come with a code of course. Anyway I know it’s longshot to ask but I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. If you do have a code that you don’t plan to use will you please email me.

    Thanks and keep up the good work Randy! Jesus loves you and I know He is proud of you for spreading His Word!!!

    God bless you,


    • Randy A Brown

      Thanks Jimmy I appreciate it very much. I don’t have a code, but I’ll keep an eye out for one.

  6. Cindy Fenstermaker

    Why is it so hard to find an ESV Study Bible Red Letter Edition? It is for my husband for Father’s Day! I prefer a leather or Leather looking Cover. Can you help me find one please?

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Cindy. I’ll check with my contact at Crossway.

    • Randy A Brown

      I heard back from Crosway. They don’t have it in red letter.

  7. Kurt

    I purchased the ESV Study Bible TruTone®, Walnut, Celtic Imprint Design and am now looking for a bible case to fit. I was wondering if anyone knew of any that would fit this Bible and possibly where to purchase.



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