The 10 Best Study Bibles

video play icon
Thomas Nelson NKJV Study Bible
Zondervan Life Application Stud...
The Action Bible Study Bible

This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. If you're a theological student or simply looking to improve your personal knowledge, you'll find these study Bibles to be both enlightening and educational. Our selection includes options with a host of additional resources, such as glossaries, concordances, essays, and more. Regardless of whether this is your first read-through or just the most recent, you're certain to learn something new. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best study bible on Amazon.

10. The Catholic Study Bible

9. CSB Apologetics Study Bible

8. Thomas Nelson NKJV Study Bible

7. Crossway ESV Study Bible

6. Zondervan Life Application Study Bible

5. The Action Bible Study Bible

4. Tyndale Life Application Study Bible

3. Quest Study Bible

2. Jeremiah Study Bible

1. MacArthur Study Bible

Special Honors

Walk Thru The Bible Old Testament Made for both adults and children, the Walk Thru The Bible Old Testament Flashcard app is an innovative and entertaining way to learn the big ideas of the Bible. It offers engaging graphics with hidden keys to help unlock big-picture concepts and major themes. Users can work through 39 flashcards that have vibrant illustrations for each book of the Old Testament and explanations of its key facts on the back. There is also a version available for the New Testament. walkthru.org

Editor's Notes

July 20, 2020:

For this latest update, we took what was already a strong list and added a few more selections to expand its diversity to appeal to readers of all stripes. We said goodbye to the Study Bible for Women, which is still a lovely resource, yet not too different from other standard options of its ilk. It features biblical womanhood articles that can offer some insight, however, some readers take issue with their approach. It also occasionally takes a patriarchal and judgemental tone.

We felt the non-gendered Quest Study Bible would make a better choice for many. This one is meant to get you thinking, with thousands of questions that range from the specific, like “Why did God send angels to Jacob?" to those that hit on deeper themes, like "Why does God test us?”. The publishers carried out numerous focus groups and asked over 1,000 readers what queries came to them when reading Scripture, so pains were taken to ensure it's a relevant text for many.

We removed the Life Application Study Bible, as it is extremely similar to the Zondervan Life Application Study Bible. The biggest difference between the two is the translations used. The Zondervan is the New International Version while the former is in New American Standard. Both contain many of the same pedagogical features, so really it boils down to your preference. To fill the void, we added the CSB Apologetics Study Bible, which tackles a lot of the deep questions non-believers, newbies, and science-minded believers have. It seeks to reconcile certain ideas and concepts, like physics and Darwinism, with the Christian faith.

Having a study Bible on hand can really help those who struggle with the historical context and sometimes perplexing language of the Good Book. For even more assistance with comprehension, consider picking up a Bible dictionary or amplified Bible, which offer clarification using different methods.

April 02, 2019:

The fact that The Action Bible Study Bible was created by a former Marvel artist helped propel it up a few spots in the rankings, as the current focus on superhero movies can make it easier than ever to attract kids to the Gospel. It's a smart choice for youth groups, homeschoolers, and any parents hoping to instill a love for the Lord in their children.

The Catholic Study Bible is an excellent selection that members of that faith will cherish, but its relatively narrow scope knocked it into the second half of the list. The same is true for the Study Bible for Women. Both will be extremely valuable for their intended audience, but you may want to pair them with another, more comprehensive Bible.

Our top choice, the MacArthur Study Bible, earned that spot due to its incredibly in-depth focus on the context, history, and motivations behind each word. Written by an acclaimed scholar, it's like having your own personalized seminary education.

Studying The World As We Know It

Some even have specific exercises that will help you actualize your study in the real world.

Religion can be a contentious issue. From the conflicts between and among the world's largest organized faiths to the squabbling over minute aspects of translation through years of reading and worship, it becomes increasingly difficult to find two human beings who agree completely on matters of divinity.

Isn't that the point, though? At least in the last half a century or so, an individual's personal relationship with his or her almighty has come to outweigh the more inflexible institutional doctrine that once punished diversion from a strict interpretation of the word.

Of course, in order to have that kind of personal relationship with the history and stories contained in a religion–within or without its organized houses–one must be versed in its verses. That's where these study Bibles come in, with their unique and effective qualities toward enlightenment and elucidation.

When you pick up a copy of the Bible and simply read it, the chances that you'll comprehend the entirety of the language used are about as good as those that you could pick up Shakespeare and perform it properly without any help. The language is just too dense, too packed with the complexities of successive translations, epic and simple metaphor, and cryptic religious imagery.

As you work your way through a good study Bible, you'll encounter re-translations of more complicated passages into modern, understandable language that will help you apply the morals and messages therein to your daily life. Some even have specific exercises that will help you actualize your study in the real world.

The best among these Bibles also offers you essays and explanations regarding difficult theological issues, the ways in which certain passages would have been interpreted at the time they were written compared to today, and etymological breakdowns of specific and important points in the language.

Find The Right Word

You could, if you so chose, divide the Bible up by the Old and New Testaments and into two categories of study, studies in fear and love respectively. You might even say that, as is the case with many people, having a kid softened God up a bit. The difference in body count between the Old and New alone is enough to illustrate the extremity of the change in perspective.

Some of these Bibles have specific exercises in them designed to breathe the love of God into the quotidian interactions with your fellow man.

What about all that fear in the first book, though? Well, that becomes a set up, really, for the message of the New Testament. It's as though the Old Testament sets you up with a riddle: How do you survive in the face of fear from all directions–fear of your oppressors, fear of your God, fear of your fellow man, fear of your own sin? Then, the New Testament comes along with the simplest of answers: love.

Understanding such a shift comes down to a lot more than just the hormonal and psychological effects of becoming a parent. And a look at how a given study Bible regards the differences between the two testaments, at how they suggest each informs your daily life, will either sell you on its quality or have you packing it back up for a refund or exchange.

Perhaps, your daily life is in need of a little positivity, a little perseverance in the face of our busy, over-productive society's pressures. Perhaps, you need a little love in your life. Some of these Bibles have specific exercises in them designed to breathe the love of God into the quotidian interactions with your fellow man. You'll find interpretations of the word that will inspire you to greater empathy and regard for the plight of others, and help give you the strength to meet adversity with love.

For readers more interested in scholarly pursuits than personal development, there are Bibles that feature maps, translation notes, and tautological, theological essays above all else. In theory, personal development is inevitable, so even the eggheads among Bible students will have love to gain and faith to find in the pages of their headier study tomes.

A History Of Reinterpretation

There's scarcely enough room on our servers to do justice to the complex and controversial history of the Bible. The New Testament's four gospel canon (Mark, Luke, Matthew, John) that makes up the cornerstone of modern Christianity, for example, was suggested as an exclusive canon as early as 180 CE, which began the exclusion and suppression of all other gospels discussing the life and works of Jesus.

If you reach far enough back, you'll find over 5,000 hand-written Greek copies of the New Testament still intact.

Bishops and popes over the next few centuries continued to suppress non-canonical gospels for reasons that are difficult to surmise, though conspiracies abound with varying degrees of madness and plausibility. The Old Testament is only slightly different, in that its history is one of studious copy and scrutiny by religious authorities and zealots of its day and region.

Men with agendas have always fueled the local and global interpretation of the Bible. Even among the contemporary translations, the so-called New International version, the American Standard version, and the slightly older New King James version, there are differences in translation and application as determined by men with specific goals in mind.

If you reach far enough back, you'll find over 5,000 hand-written Greek copies of the New Testament still intact. It remains the most copied and distributed tome in the history of man. It's passed through plenty of filters, both linguistic and political, but a good study Bible can help you see through the haze of history, and to the true meaning of the words within.

Statistics and Editorial Log

0
Paid Placements
4
Editors
25
Rendering Hours
73,376
Users
24
Updates

Granular Revision Frequency


Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated on July 23, 2020 by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.


Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For more information on our rankings, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.