The New Edition of the Reformation Study Bible

At GA this year, I met Lisa Stolz, senior account manager of church outreach at Ligonier Ministries. We had a great conversation, at the end of which she offered to send me a copy of the new edition of the Reformation Study Bible for review on the blog. I said I would be delighted. Here are my thoughts on the new edition.

What’s new: how does this edition differ from the first edition? In several important ways. 1. It is now based on the ESV, not the NKJV. 2. It has maps and illustrations peppered throughout the text, and not just at the back (no doubt Ligonier saw how effectively the ESV Study Bible had made use of this concept). 3. They have definitely improved the binding of the Bible. Even the leather-look edition that I received looks extremely sturdy (quite thick material), and is Smyth-sewn. 4. They have included not just theological articles throughout the text, but also some longer articles at the end, and most importantly (to my mind, anyway), 4. They have included the ecumenical creeds, the Three Forms and Unity, and the Westminster Standards (I understand the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible includes these as well).

How does this study Bible compare to the ESV Study Bible (which, along with Joel Beeke’s Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible, are the only competitors, to my mind, for the best study Bible for Reformed Christians)? Well, the ESV Study Bible is addressed to a broader audience. The ESV Study Bible has a few more maps and illustrations than the Reformation Study Bible does. However, the ESV Study Bible does not include the creeds and confessions. They are both bound well. Size-wise, the Reformation Study Bible is slightly smaller, though both are significant tomes. I like the printing of the ESV Study Bible slightly better. The notes are slightly more fulsome in the ESV Study Bible, though the new edition of the Reformation Study Bible has significantly increased its comments. You will see more breadth in the ESV Study Bible, more depth in the Reformation Study Bible. They would actually complement each other rather well. I would recommend either to any new Christian, and I would recommend both to any who can afford to have both. I do not have a copy of the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible, and so I can make no comparison to that study Bible, although I am sure that it is excellent work.


  1. August 7, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Nice review, Lane. I have the original New Geneva Study Bible in NKJV (still my favorite), the 1st edition Reformation Study Bible in ESV, and the new 2nd edition. I also have an ESV Study Bible. I think that they are all good. I liked the theological notes/articles in the NGSB and 1st Ed. RSB which were primarily written by J.I. Packer. Those notes were packed with Scripture references. The new theological notes/articles are good theologically, but almost devoid of Scripture references. That’s my only real complaint. The 2nd edition has a better format for the text being single-column and using bold font better. I use the new one when I’m elder of the day. Other than that, I use them all in my Android in the Olive Tree Bible Study app.

  2. Trey Jasso said,

    August 8, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Overall I like the RSB but it’s very big. Not the Bible to take with you to church.

  3. August 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I would recommend picking up a RHB Study Bible for your library. To me one of the best features of the RHB is the helps for family worship that are contained in the study notes of every chapter. I have found them immensely helpful for our family devotions. Also a nice feature of the RHB is the church history section in the back and the appendix walking you through aspects of the Christian life.

  4. Ron said,

    August 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for posting this, Lane.

    Ben et al., just watched a short video on the RHB. Also, this is helpful to get a feel for the family / personal devotion notes. Good stuff.

  5. Richard Cronin said,

    August 11, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Mr Baggins
    I clicked on some links in your blogroll and many are dead, long since updated or the address is wrong. Just thought i’d let you know.

    Also any word on your book on Roman Catholicism? God bless.

  6. KBennett said,

    August 18, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Richard Pratt’s Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, 2003 (which no one ever discusses) was excellent – far, far better than the New Geneva or Reformation Study Bibles. It contained the confessions and catechisms ages ago in an excellent translation, combined with high-quality in-detail theological notes and confessional cross-references.

    As far as I can tell… the New Reformation Study Bible doesn’t even have the confessional proof texts.

    (I cannot comment on the ESV Study Bible, of which I’ve only heard raves, but of course, it cannot specifically be categorized as a “reformed study Bible.”)

    This particular Study Bible is unfortunate to be out of print. The rationale of hostility to the NIV is not entirely justified. It was a treasure, and it saddens me that the Reformed marketplace (cringe) never really supported it.

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