I’m not sure that study bibles are something the world really needs more of right now, there are literally thousands of different type of them out there. Remember the “Duck Commander Study Bible” from a few years ago? However, good, solid, timely, bible study resources are always going to be beneficial to the Body of Christ, and I think the CSM Study Bible fits the bill.
What I like
The Translation – it’s not my #1 translation, that would still be the ESV. To me, there is still nothing out there that has a better combination of readability and accuracy than the ESV, however, the CSB (formerly the HCSB) is a close second.
Depth of Information – The CSB is probably tied for #2 with the Reformation Study Bible in this category in my opinion (the ESV Study Bible is #1 of course). There is a lot of information packed into this little box. If you don’t have a study bible or if you have an older one or a smaller economy study bible, this book could probably replace a bible, a small bible atlas, a one-volume commentary, and an introductory level Old Testament and New Testament Introduction all in one. That’s not a bad five for one deal.
Quality of the pictures, charts, and maps – this is where the age of the ESV begins to show (I know it was revised in 2014, but not extensively). In 2007, the ESV was very close to the top of the pile in this area, but the CSB Study Bible has raised the bar in a big way. The illustrations are bright and clear, and there are A LOT of them. Maps, charts, reconstructions, they stand out and they make this bible truly one of the elite bible study resources out there. I haven’t seen the updated reformation study bible yet, but unless it was a giant step forward from the original, the CSB is in a league of its own here.
Construction – This is the one weakness for the ESV (unless you drop $70 on the leather-bound edition). It’s a BIIIIIG book and the construction isn’t bad, it’s just not quite good enough to hold up under the weight of 2700+ pages. The Hardcover version of the CSB looks good, much nicer than my ESV ever looked and it is built like a tank and I’m pretty sure that in five or six years it will still look much nicer than my ESV.
Diversity – There is another version of this study bible called the “She Reads Truth” bible. It is geared specifically toward women. It has alot of the same information as the CSB study bible, but many of the insights and applications are aimed specfically at the challenges of a woman’s life.
What I don’t Like
Not Much – I only spent about 45 minutes with this book yesterday, but from what I can tell it is a very strong resource. The only complaint I would have is that in a lot of areas, it’s just short of the ESV Study Bible. The translation is close. The depth of the notes, close; the amount of material covered, that one falls significantly short; the quality of the commentary, very close, but still not quite. Even after ten years, the ESV is unequaled in many of these areas (granted I have not seen the new reformation study bible yet, and it has been significantly updated and expanded). That being said, this resource is not without its benefits. Obviously, the quality of the illustrations and maps is second to none, but also for those who are a bit newer in their faith, this could potentially be a very helpful resource. The ESV Study Bible contains a lot of information, and it may be a little difficult to wade through the mountains of scholarship to get to the stuff they need. The CSB offers a nice balance, solid scholarship, serious bible teaching, but not so much of it that it’ll make your head spin. To the person who is used to a life-application type Study bible and is looking to dig a little deeper into some serious bible study, without making your head spin. The CSB Study bible might just provide that bridge from simple application to serious study that you’re looking for.
For me, I’ll probably get one soon, but it won’t be to replace my ESV, it’s just not quite there, but it will be my number one supplement to it, and that’s a pretty high compliment coming from me.