A friend sent me this a few years ago. Even when I was sympathetic to Orthodoxy, I had mixed reactions.
- The articles are fairly useful and well-written, except for one that warned against reading Old Testament promises and rules as having anything to do with us today (this isn’t a slam against Orthodoxy; this is an Orthodox guy who is writing from a thoroughly bourgeousie American perspective).
- The prayers at the back of the book, making exceptions here and there, are well-organized. Even more interesting is the rotating psalms for each day. After a few months, the reader is quite familiar with about seventeen psalms that usually don’t get referenced.
- Some cross-referencing of passages. Better than nothing, I suppose.
- It’s hard to criticize a study bible fairly simply because it didn’t have a lot of commentary on your favorite passage. That’s true of all study bibles. However, since this is an Orthodox Study Bible, and Orthodoxy brags about how they are a continuation of the Fathers and such, I thought that they would have a lot of the Fathers’ commentary on various passages. It didn’t. Some, like Hilary on the Eucharist, which was interesting, but remarkably little. This raises a deeper church history issue: saying that x interprets Scripture in light of the Fathers is misleading. The OSB couldn’t have performed this because the Fathers really didn’t interpret most Scriptures. Their battles were usually over Christological passages. Outside of that spectrum there is remarkably little interpretation. This rules moot the argument that only an infallible interpreter (the church)* can infallibly interpret the Bible. The church has given us no such list of infallibly interpreted verses.
- Similar to (1) the non-patristic commentary on the verses (which is most of it) offers little beyond common-sense observations.
Should you get this? Not for the price it is being offered. It’s not bad as a study bible goes, and it is infinitely superior to the liberal versions. But it is certainly not the best in terms of format and commentary (theology aside, that goes to the Nelson Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible).
*Of course, our reception of an infallible church’s commentary only pushes back the problem: how do I know I am interpreting it correctly? When two fathers disagree, or when the American Church refuses to abide by ancient canons (like one bishop per city), who then gets to adjudicate?