Preparing the Way for Christ: The History of Salvation in the ESV Study Bible
I bought my wife an ESV Study Bible for her birthday a couple months ago, and I have to say its very nearly as good as all the hype makes it out to be. The notes are generally of high quality, and aren’t the sort of notes that either tell you what you could’ve easily gotten from just reading the text in the first place, or tell you something that has really very little to do with the text at all. Very helpful. Just as good is the ‘mini-seminary curriculum’ (not their own description!) that you get in addition to the text and notes between the covers of this very thick Bible. The quality of the biblical and theological material is consistently high, and while it doesn’t go as deeply as one might like, one would definitely not like to carry it around if it did.
I know this sounds like an advertisement, but since I’m not being paid, I can also say that there are certainly elements in the ESV Study Bible that I don’t agree with, or that you won’t agree with, because the little notes set in Frutiger are not the Word of God like the main text set in Lexicon (great typeface choices, by the way!).
One of the most potentially useful of it’s features is its History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ. It goes through every book of the OT, offering an initial summary of the way each paves the way for God’s redemption of a people for himself in Christ.
The summary for Genesis looks like this:
After God creates a world of fruitfulness and blessing, Adam’s fall disrupts the harmony. God purposes to renew fruitfulness and blessing through the offspring of the woman (3:15). Christ is the ultimate offspring (Gal. 3:16) who brings climactic victory (Heb. 2:14–15). Genesis traces the beginning of a line of godly offspring, through Seth, Enoch, Noah, and then God’s choice of Abraham and his offspring (Gen. 12:2–3, 7; 13:14–17; 15:4–5; 17:1–14; 18:18; 22:16–18; 26:2–5; 28:13–15).
The article then goes through Genesis, highlighting particularly clear passages and verses where the storyline of the Bible is revealed, furthered, or clarified. So for Gen 3:24, to give one example, which says
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
The ‘History of Salvation’ notes,
Not only is this a pithy summary suggesting how to teach and preach Gen 3:24 in light of the gospel, the passages it appeals to are rich and forceful NT instances of just that kind of promise-driven, Christ-centered interpretation:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev 22:1-5)
I think that’s a very helpful (because very biblical) resource for reading and understanding the Bible.