ESV Archaeology Bible Review

ESV Archaeology Bible Review


Order from Christian Book Distributors


Crossway has finally answered Zondervan with an Archaeology Study Bible of their own. While I did enjoy Zondervan’s NIV Archaeological Study Bible I am thankful that Crossway’s is not the monstrous tome that its colleague is, though they serve a similar purpose. I am reviewing the hardcover, which was sent free of charge by Crossway in exchange for an honest review.


Other Bibles and Works in this Class

This particular class of study Bibles is, in my estimation, one of, if not the most, important class of study resources because of its focus on the historical and cultural context of the Bible. ESV Archaeology Bible joins 3 works from Zondervan/Harper Collins and at least one commentary set from Inter-Varsity Press. They are:

  • IVP Bible Background Commentary
  • NIV 1st Century Study Bible
  • NIV Archaeology Study Bible
  • Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Currently NIV and NKJV with NRSV coming soon)


An essential part of understand the Bible is to know the historical and cultural context as we look for Authorial Intent. We want to see what God said to the original audience and then look for how it applies today.

Product Description (From Crossway)

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible is a cutting-edge academic resource for those looking to dig deeper into the historical context of the Bible. It features study notes written by field-trained Biblical archaeologists and scholars, color maps, photographs, and drawings- all designed to bring life to the ancient text of Scripture. With editorial oversight from Dr. John Currid (PhD, University of Chicago) and Dr. David Chapman (PhD, University of Cambridge), the ESV Archaeology Study Bible assembles a range of modern scholarship, helping readers situate themselves in the Bible’s historical context by recognizing the truth that the eternal God became flesh entered human history at a specific time and in a specific place.


Features Include:

  • Presentation page
  • 2,000+ study notes
  • 700+ full-color maps and photos
  • 4 Timelines
  • 15 articles like “The Bible and History,” “Archaeology and Preaching,” Major Biblical Finds,” and “Daily Life in the New Testament Era”
  • Book introductions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Double-column
  • Cross references
  • Footnotes
  • Lifetime guarantee (on leather and TruTone)
  • 9 point type (Bible text)
  • 8 point type (Study notes)
  • Black letter text


Maps and Photos

This is my absolute favorite amongst the helps. Often when I am preparing a lesson, I want to visualize a place or see a location on a map and these maps and photos make the world of the Bible more accessible to me. With nearly 70% of the population being “visual learners,” you could not find a more helpful tool for internalizing the Scriptures. At the risk of being trite, the maps and photos will help you put yourself in the narrative of Scripture, visualizing the land where Jesus walked and the people He talked to.

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions were a pleasant surprise; I had expected several pages of background material on each book of the Bible. What I got was much more pleasing to the eye and to the mind. The Introductions provide just enough material to give you an understanding of how the book fits the culture of its audience and also how it impacts redemptive history. The Contributions from Archaeologysection of each introduction is a delightful little bonus that brings the whole picture together.


Notes, Outlines, References

This is a study Bible but do not expect the massive amount of notes that you find in other study Bibles. To my surprise, the Oxford Annotated Bible has more notes in total, but perhaps not of the same quality. The 2,000 or so study notes, here, stay focused on the primary task for this Bible, helping you to understand the cultural background of the Bible and to see how God superintends archaeological finds to prove the Bible’s truth.

The Outlines and References are much more succinct in the Archaeology Bible than in other Crossway Study resources and this keeps with the theme of being focused on a single area of study. The outlines and references are more than sufficient to give you a framework of study but you will want to add other tools for a complete exegesis of the Scripture.



There are 15 somewhat in-depth articles. They can be found at the beginning, between the testaments, and at the end. The articles are:

  • What is Archaeology?
  • Ten Most Significant Discoveries in the Field of Biblical Archaeology
  • Daily Life in Israel in the Old Testament Times
  • Judea-Palestine in the Time Between the Testaments
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Roman Empire and the Greco-Roman World
  • Daily Life in Judea-Palestine in the New Testament Times
  • Doing Archaeology
  • Archaeology as an Academic Discipline
  • Expository Preaching and Archaeology
  • Archaeological Dating
  • Biblical Geography and Archaeology
  • Inscriptions, Coins, and Papyri
  • A Short History of Archaeology in the Near East

Overall, these articles are extremely well written, which you would expect from a group of professors. There is one area that I would have really liked to see treated more; like my colleague at the Bible Buying Guide, I would have really appreciated some treatment of the original language documents beyond just the Dead Sea Scrolls. In our time, there have been some significant papyri discovered and it would be nice to see a dedicated article regarding original manuscripts.


Final Thoughts

This is one of the two most valuable study Bibles that Crossway has produced with the ESV Literary Study Bible being the other. I am embarking on a chronological journey through the 4 Gospels and I have already cleared a space on my desk for this Bible as it will provide extremely helpful background information for our study.


I do not, often, upgrade the Bibles that are sent to me for review but there is a strong possibility that I will upgrade this edition to a leather one for much longer use. I give the ESV Archaeology Bible the strongest recommendation possible.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.