A slight disappointment with the ESV Study Bible

Before I jolt too many of you out of the excitement (yea even euphoria) that surrounds the ESVSB, let me first begin by saying that I am very impressed overall with it. Especially helpful are the articles on Old and New Testament theology, the canon of Scripture, and the introduction to the gospels and Acts by Darrell Bock. I also found Piper’s and Hughes’s articles concerning one’s reading of the Bible to be very instructive and convicting. My disappointment came in my reading of the introduction to Genesis. Specifically, the section entitled, “Genesis and Science.” The author of the introduction does give a good survey of the various ways interpreters have taken the days of creation. He ultimately argues that no violence to the historicity of Genesis is done if one does not hold to a solar day. In the notes of Genesis, the author opts for the “work day” interpretation which also is a metaphorical view of the days of creation. There are a couple of concerns. 1) I know the Hebrew use of “day” can be used in several different senses, but the Scriptures do seem to go out of the way to mention that there was evening and morning. This would seem to limit the use of “day” substantially. 2) On a theological note, I have a concern with giving credence to the “day age” theory or other theories that seek to allow for long periods of time in an effort to square with fossil records and other “scientific” theories. Rom. 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” If one is trying to account for fossil records and the like by expanding the days of creation into long spans of time, then logically there must have been death before Adam was created. Therefore, how could God have looked on his creation and said it was very good if it were already full of death. This also impacts our understanding of the gospel. If sin was not brought into the world through the first Adam and death by sin, how can the second Adam (Christ) be analogous for the taking away of sin? I don’t think this is a reason to throw out the ESVSB or else we would have to create an equally large bonfire for all those Scofield Bibles. I would expect more, however, from those who hold the gospel to be the centerpiece of interpretation. I also think that much more research has been done in recent years in the area of creation science that it is not neccessary to account for humanistic theories of origins as did so many orthodox men in the 19th and 20th centuries to whom the “scientific” evidence seemed overwhelming. Ultimately, allowing for such theories does taint the historicity of Scripture, namely Rom. 5:12.

This should probably be a second post, but I was also disappointed in the assumption that Noah’s flood was localized. I don’t plan to refute the notes in this posting, but I do have to question the nature of the Noahic covenant if the flood were localized. God promised Noah in Gen. 9:11, “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” If I hold a localized flood, what is the nature of this promise? Did God promise never to send a localized flood again that would kill flesh and destroy a particular part of the earth? If this is the promise of God, then the promise has been violated numerous times.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like this resource, but I do have ask whether I would want to put this in my children’s hands to study it without any qualifications. We usually do issue disclaimers with any work, but I just haven’t seen anyone give any disclaimer yet on this information. I think the notes do not account for a lot of recent creation research which would actually give a fuller appreciation for the interplay of science and the Bible. Rather than science being considered in light of biblical statments, I think the notes on Genesis try to explain the Bible in light of naturalistic origins. I know this is an attempt to be even handed in terms of explaining theory, but provides too much credence to views that may not support biblical authority strongly. Ultimately, the approach in these notes does give ground on the ultimate authority of Scripture as seen in Romans 5 and the Noahic covenant.

Now that this is off my chest, I will continue to enjoy my ESVSB, especially the notes on the N.T. that I find to be remarkably conservative and not given to the assumptions of higher criticism.


One thought on “A slight disappointment with the ESV Study Bible

  1. I agree with these concerns. A friend of mine e-mailed me about another suspicious note, this time from Matt 2:11

    It is doubtful that these quasi-pagan religious men understood Jesus’ divine nature, but their actions were unknowingly appropriate and wonderfully foreshadowed the worship of Jesus by all the Gentile nations.

    It seems unduly skeptical, to me. Sort of throws a wet-blanket on this familiar Christmas story.

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