Q&A: Tom Schreiner on the ESV Study Bible

Communications Staff — October 29, 2008

”ESVThe much-anticipated ESV Study Bible, a landmark study resource, was released recently by Crossway and several Southern Seminary faculty members participated in helping to write the ESVSB’s study notes, articles, timelines and other study helps. SBTS contributors included Tom Schreiner, Bruce Ware, John Polhill, Peter Gentry, Gregg Allison, Duane Garrett and Jim Hamilton. Mark Dever, chairman of Southern’s board of trustees, wrote the article, “God’s Plan for Salvation.”

Schreiner played a major role, serving as the New Testament editor of the study Bible. Schreiner serves as professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern. He is the author of numerous books, including the recently released New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. Following is an interview with Schreiner on the ESV Study Bible. The interview first appeared on The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s Gender Blog.

”TomSBTS: This is a massive volume. How much work goes into assimilating so many different writers and so many different parts that go into putting together a study Bible that is so ambitious in scope?

Tom Schreiner: It was a massive project and I think it took only three years. It was amazing; we met the deadline. A lot of the credit goes to Justin Taylor and Lane Dennis. Justin had to put this together and be responsible to contact everyone. The amount of work he did was incredible. Wayne Grudem as the general editor did an amazing amount of work as well. In a way my task was easier in that it was very defined. We all had a role. We met in a room in the beginning and selected the contributors…That was a very crucial decision. Then Justin edited it, I would edit it, Wayne would edit it and we would send it back to the author, so it was a long process. It was crucial that when I got those contributions that I look at it right away. We knew we had to turn things around quickly. The key was that we had excellent contributors. I felt from the beginning we had great people.

SBTS: What was the theologoical criteria for selecting contributors?

Schreiner: That they were broadly evangelical, that they were excellent scholars and of course everybody had to hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. We had a Pentecostals, Arminiams, Lutherans and we tried to have people internationally. We tried to have a wide representation of evangelicalism in terms of eschatology and baptism—we didn’t take sides on those issues—so we tried to represent both sides on issues like those.

SBTS: What is your opinion of the finished product?

Schreiner: I am very pleased with it. With the maps and charts and all the color, it is beautifully executed. I think it is very readable. It is very pleasant to the eye and most importantly, I think the content is excellent.

SBTS: What aspect of this study Bible do you think will do the most to help Christians to understand their Bibles more accurately?

Schreiner: I think the most helpful thing is the notes. The ordinary Bible reader often needs help understanding, so the notes as you go chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, the structure, the notes are brief but substantive. A lot of readers don’t have time to read long commentaries, but with this Bible you get pithy, accurate, theologically-faithful notes that can help a reader see, in a relatively short amount of time, ‘That’s what this is about,’ if they are unsure what they text is saying. It functions as a sort of mini-commentary.

SBTS: There seems to be a very intentional Christ-centeredness or Gospel-centeredness to the study notes and the other helps. Is it fair to assume that the contributors all held more or less to a historical-redemptive hermeneutic, particularly as it relates to the Old Testament?

Schreiner: I think that’s true. We selected Jack Collins to be the Old Testament editor and his hermeneutic is Christ-centered and sees Christ as the fulfillment of what we see in the Old Testament Scriptures The New Testament contributors as well would hold to the historic Gospel as articulated at the time of the Reformation and of course, that’s a Christ-centered Gospel. We emphasize the centrality of justification, even if we don’t always use that word.

SBTS: What do you see as the greatest strength of this study Bible?

Schreiner: Its comprehensiveness is its strength. It’s faithfulness to Scripture is an outstanding quality, but I just don’t know of any other study Bible that is as excellent in so many areas—the notes, the theological essays, the biblical theology, the maps, the layout, the charts are extremely helpful, so there are so many dimensions to this study Bible—the articles on cults and other religions. It’s incredible how much is in there. It covers a lot of areas. Amazingly enough, for its size, it is readable. That was one of my concerns, but I think Justin, Layne and Crossway did a great job of getting people on board who would execute this project well.

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