Study Bible

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A study Bible.

A study Bible is an edition of the Bible prepared for the use of a serious student of the Bible. It provides scholarly information designed to help the reader gain a better understanding of the text.


Perhaps the first edition of the Bible in English that qualified as a "study Bible" was the Geneva Bible; it contained extensive cross references, synopses and doctrinal points. The text of the Geneva Bible was usually not printed without the commentary. A Cambridge edition was printed without commentary.

The Church of England disputed some of the statements made in the Geneva Bible annotations; this led to the creation of the King James Bible, which was typically printed with a much less extensive apparatus or none at all. Several commentators have supplied annotated King James Bibles containing their own points of view, but unlike the Geneva Bible, these commentaries are not as thoroughly integrated into the text.

Another historically significant study Bible was the Scofield Reference Bible, first printed by Cyrus Scofield in 1909. This study Bible became widely popular in the United States, where it spread the interpretation system known as dispensationalism among fundamentalist Christians. A new version, the Recovery Version, was published in 1985. It holds a similar interpretation, and this study Bible has a very large number of cross-references, explanatory and interpretative footnotes.

The Jerusalem Bible is a widely respected study Bible originally made by French monks in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Catholic Church. The original French edition of 1961 became the basis of versions of this study Bible in several other languages, including English, revised as the New Jerusalem Bible; some versions have more extensive notes than others. Nearly all Catholic Bibles have explanatory and interpretative footnotes.

The Logos International Study Bible was published in 1972 by Logos International. Based on the 1901 American Standard Bible, it is essentially an updated version of The Cross-Reference Bible, published prior to 1929 and edited by Harold E. Monser. It includes an unusually large number of cross-references, in-text articles and treatment of variant readings.

Zondervan claims that its NIV Study Bible has six million in distribution and that it is the world's best selling Study Bible.[1]

The ESV Study Bible is a recent addition, which sold well in its pre-release phase.[2] In recent times, study Bibles focusing on specific aspects of the Biblical message, like the Green Bible, have appeared.


A study Bible usually contains an extensive helps and a critical apparatus, which may contain such features as:

  • Annotations explaining difficult passages or points of theology and doctrine
  • References to indicate where one passage of the text relates to others
  • Word definitions to explain difficult or complex words and ideas
  • A concordance, a word index that indicates where various keywords are used in the Bible
  • Variant readings or interpretations of certain debatable passages, or possible conjectural emendations (i.e. alterations based on an philological expert's "educated guess" of the likely form of the original Hebrew or Greek when the translators feel this is not sufficiently clear, possible translations from other ancient versions such as the Septuagint, Targumim, Peshitta and Vulgate, readings from other manuscript families, such as marking those passages missing which are present in the Byzantine text-type in a modern textual eclectic translation, or marking those passages present which are missing in the Alexandrian text-type and the modern critical text in a translation from the Textus Receptus or Byzantine text-type, etc.)
  • Introductions and historical notes for each book of the Bible
  • Short biographies of Biblical people and places
  • Maps that illustrate the Holy Land during Biblical times
  • Harmonies of the Gospels, pointing out parallel incidents in the life of Jesus
  • Timelines of Bible history that relate it to world history

Study Bible software[edit]

Main article: Bible software

Study Bible software is also available which can aid readers in the study of the Bible. This software normally includes several Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, maps and other content. They also include search engines to enable users to find Bible passages by keyword and by theme.

See also[edit] For a Catholic study Bible. (Currently only 1 Samuel and Galatians are complete.)


External links[edit]