Thursday, August 13, 2015

An Excellent Reformed Study Bible

A study Bible can be very useful, particularly for those who do not have easy access to commentaries. Today there are numerous study Bibles, but very few are soundly Biblical and solidly Reformed. I was therefore pleased with the recent publication of The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (Reformed Heritage Books, 2014, 2216 pages).

The general editor is Dr Joel Beeke, president of the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and a pastor of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids. The contributors are all firmly committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, and adhere to historic Reformed theology.

Indeed, this study Bible is unabashedly Reformed. There are numerous articles explaining Reformed theology. Its basic approach to Scripture is very covenantal. It includes the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort, as well as the Westminster Confession and Catechisms.

Each chapter of the Bible concludes with "Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship", which encourage meditation and discussion after daily Bible reading. A good tool for family worship.

Genesis 1-11
One major concern I have with many current Study Bibles is their rather wishy-washy treatment of the early chapters of Genesis. Consider, for example, The ESV Study Bible (Crossway, 2008, 2752 pages) and the Reformation Study Bible (Ligonier, 2015, 2560 pages). These have recently been compared by Rev. Wes. Bredenhof.

Both the ESVSB and the RSB leave open the possibility for non-literal creation days. The ESVSB seems to favour the "analogical" view (i.e., creation days are God's days, which are only analogous to human days). The RSB seems to favour the framework view.

Both postulate large gaps in the genealogies of Gen.5 and 11. The RSB suggests that some of the ages of the patriarchs might be merely symbolic.

Both fall short of clearly affirming a global Flood. ThESVSB contends that the biblical text “does not necessarily mean that the flood had to cover the whole earth”. According to the RSB, "A worldwide flood seems to be in view (7:19-23; 8:21; 9:11, 15; 2 Pet. 3:5-7). But comprehensive language can also be used for limited situations (Dan. 2:38; 4:22, 5:19)."

These compromising views are nor surprising, given that the general editors of the ESVSB (Dr Wayne Grudem) and the RSB (Dr R.C. Sproul) have both been unduly influenced by alleged scientific evidence for an old earth (see my posts Grudem's Old Earth Inconsistency, and RC Sproul Waffles on Creation).

The Reformation Heritage SB, on the other hand, boldly underscores what Scripture plainly says. It has an excellent introduction to Genesis, where it discusses the issues at stake. The creation days as taken as ordinary days. It takes the genealogies at face value, with no postulated gaps nor merely symbolic ages, noting that Adam was still alive when Lamech (8 generations further) was a mature man. It clearly asserts that the Flood was a world-wide event.

Some readers may be put off by the fact that Reformed Heritage Study Bible uses the KJV (King James Version). They may prefer an ESV-based study Bible such as the ESVSB or RSB. In my opinion, however, the Reformation Heritage Study Bible is the better choice regarding Biblical soundness and orthodox Reformed teaching. As such, this study Bible would be especially suitable for young adults, perhaps as a gift at high-school graduation or profession of faith.

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