Review: ESV Bible with Creeds and Confessions

Crossway has been publishing different editions of their well-received ESV Bible for a while now. This year they have released the ‘ESV Bible with Creeds and Confessions’ to add to their collection. Since receiving my copy I have used it as my go-to Bible in my office, and put it through its paces!

Looks

Box

The presentation box next to the Bible

The first thing you see, as you open the shipping box, is the presentation box. This has been very well designed, with red and gold colours. It really stands out.

Cover

Once again Crossway has outdone themselves in making a very nice-looking Bible. The edition I have is brown TruTone stretched over board. This gives the Bible a historic and serious look to it. It has 5 ridges down the front, which makes it fit in nicely with other older books I have in my bookcase.

The ESV Creeds and Confessions Bible on top of my ESV Study Bible to compare size

The Bible itself is slightly larger than my other Bibles. It is more in line with the size of the ESV Study Bible (but not as thick).

The Bible also has two ribbon bookmarks built into it. All of my other ESV’s only include one, so this is a nice addition.

Text

The text inside the Bible is at least 10pt (if not 10.5) which makes it large enough to see from a distance. It is laid out in a two-column format, with cross-references at the bottom of each page.

One thing I have noticed with this edition is that the font colour is darker than before. This makes the text really stand out on the page. The page thickness is also enough to not feel heavy, but also not allow as much of the other pages to come through.

It is great to see that Crossway is still working on their Bible printing, even this far into the game. Using better font colours and paper is something to be applauded.

Content

As with all ESV Bible editions, the Bible text is the same. One thing I wondered is whether there is something that can be done pagination wise. I know the latest NIV’s all use the same page numbers which are great for churches. It does not appear that Crossway has done that yet (but I may be mistaken!) The text edition is 2016, which was the ‘Permanent Text Edition’. Even though that decision was abandoned, Crossway has said that this will be the last major update to the text (other than ‘minimal and infrequent’ updates going forward).

That means that the big thing to look at in this review is the additions of the creeds and confessions. This appendix adds around 160 pages to the back.

Each of the creeds and confessions has an introduction that explains the history and original purpose of each. These are written by Chad Van Dixhoorn, Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary. It is interesting and helpful to read the introductions to these documents. Van Dixhoorn does a good job at laying out the historical reason for the creed or confession, and what the strengths are.

The documents included are: 

  1. The Apostle’s Creed (ca. 200-400AD)
  2. Nicene Creed (325AD)
  3. Athanasian Creed (381AD)
  4. Chalcedonian definition (451AD)
  5. Augsburg confession (1530AD)
  6. Belgic confession (1561AD)
  7. Articles of religion (1563AD)
  8. Canons of Dort (1618-19AD)
  9. Westminster confession (1646AD)
  10. The Second London Baptist Confession (1689AD)
  11. Heidelberg Catechism (1563AD)
  12. Westminster Larger Catechism (1647AD)
  13. Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647AD)

From the Belgic confession onward, the ‘scriptural proofs’ are also supplied as footnotes.

These creeds and confessions are the most famous historically, so obviously there are some documents missing. I would have liked to see the 1st London Baptist Confession included, but that is quite niche and I am sure others would want theirs included too!

One observation that I noted using this edition is that the Bible text and the additions are all in the same formatting. This felt a bit strange since other additions are in a smaller font or a sans-serif font. This means the creeds and confessions are presented similar to the Bible text. This may be an issue for some readers who do not grasp the place of these historical documents. Of course, this is a minor issue, and if someone were to read the introductions they would be quickly corrected!

Conclusion

Overall, I really like the design of this Bible, and it works well as my desk Bible. The font size and colour work really well for me to see on the other side of my desk.

I am not sure that the creeds and confessions on their own would cause me to buy this edition normally. They are nice for reference, but I do not see the necessity of having them in my Bible day-to-day.

I plan to continue using this as my go-to ESV at work.

Thanks to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of this Bible to review.

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