Because life is a series of edits

Harry Potter for Presbyterians

In Books, Church, Seminary, Theologians on October 11, 2008 at 7:35 am

The Reformed folk of the world (among others) are gearing up for the release of the new ESV Study Bible on Wednesday. Around these parts (especially if you’re a seminary student), it’s going to be insane. I think of it as Harry Potter for Presbyterians.

This past Thursday, when I arrived at Covenant’s bookstore to work my afternoon shift, I saw 25 unopened orange, white, and black boxes in the back, just waiting to be “received” (the term we use for the process of entering new books into the system before putting them on the shelves). Thinking it might be a good idea to go ahead and process the new ESVs, I giddily asked my boss, Nick, if I could open a box, to which he responded that we’re not supposed to open them until Tuesday.

What!? Wait until Tuesday!? It’s not like we’re going to give away the story! Sigh.

Respecting Nick’s wishes, I received some other boxes of books, periodically glancing through the door to the back and trying to figure out how to get my grubby hands on one of the new Bibles without Nick knowing. I could open a box, take a look, and then re-tape it (unfortunately, our tape is clear and their tape was white); I could open a box and say it was already opened (presumably by Dave, my co-worker who worked the morning shift), but Nick would never believe me (and Dave would never do that).

Nothing like questionable employee integrity at a bookstore that espouses a Christian worldview (or the fact that I teach Ethics for a living at a Christian high school) for irony.

I resisted two hours of temptation on Thursday and survived, but I’ve got another two-hour shift on Monday that will surely test my mettle. Thankfully, I work Tuesday afternoon, so I’ll finally get one (free for employees!) without having to deal with the hundreds of PCAers the next morning who will have camped out that night dressed as their favorite Bible character to be first in line to get their own personal copy.

I’m guessing I’ll miss the bulk of those sitting on the floor frantically reading while they wait to check out, not to mention Nick dressed up like Moses, holding out a copy of the ESV in each hand. I’ll probably also miss all the squeals of surprise at the 200-plus full-color maps and the gasps of joy at the 20,000 notes written by “a team of 95 outstanding evangelical Bible scholars and teachers,” including several of my professors from Covenant.

Indeed, by my Thursday afternoon shift, the store will probably be completely ravaged from the events of the day before, and it will fall to me to deal with all the empty boxes and jostled books. I’ll work my shift knowing that folks will probably still be cuddled up with their new ESV Bibles, refusing to come out of their apartments and homes until they read the book cover to cover. As I’m shelving whatever few copies remain from our massive 25-box order, I’ll smile at the thought of dozens more readers accessing the ESV’s special online resources, reliving the Bible in a kind of digital glory.

It will be a magical day. J.K. Rowling would be proud. And, I think, God will be pleased.

Anybody getting an ESV on Wednesday?

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  1. Too, too funny! I love it, and I love my ESV. I would have been tempted too.

  2. waiting for my copy from the UPS man doesn’t have the same romanticism as waiting by candlelight outside the CTS bookstore. but, I suppose, the end result is the same.

  3. the picture of people dressed as bible characters waiting in line all nite to get their esv study bible was too funny. evoked laughter and giggles from me and smiles and compliments on your writing from my husband…not one to effusively compliment people. thanks for bringing some laughter to an ordinary day:) m

  4. ummm…I opened up a box and looked at one…

    I guess my costume should be Adam in a fig leaf instead of Moses, since I tasted the forbidden fruit.

  5. Ha! Good one.

    I’ll send Clay to campus on Thursday with his costume… probably looking more like Moses than Adam (ooh, scary).

  6. So I “received” all the ESVs yesterday at the bookstore. I didn’t take them out of their plastic shrink wrap or their sturdy (and oversized) individual boxes, but I did take a look at the hardcover display sample from cover to cover.

    Here’s my take: in terms of scholarship, study helps, and overall value, the ESV is worth every penny. It’s chock-full of great maps and illustrations, as well as some amazing theological notes and resources on each page and especially in back (there’s a complete mini-systematic – even a section on Biblical ethics – that rounds out this complete package).

    The only drawback I can see is that the ESV is almost too big and heavy for doing anything other than laying it on a desk and, well, studying it. This will be fine for those of us who get the cheaper hardcover, but those who get the Trutone or genuine leather versions probably have the expectation of taking it with them; unfortunately, the ESV doesn’t come with its own sherpa to carry it places for you.

    Still, at over 2,000 pages (and very thin pages at that, so much so that you can see through to the text on the other side, which is a little distracting), the ESV is an amazing theological resource. I haven’t seen the online stuff yet, but I’ll let you know if/when I do. I’m hoping/anticipating it’s top of the line for in-class projection purposes.

  7. Great. So how do you sign up to change your picture above. You have so many edits. I like it.

  8. Got mine today. Will look it over tomorrow. I’ve seen the prepub stuff and it looks to be great, though it is rather cumbersome in size.

  9. If you stick a blank piece of white paper behind the page you are reading, does it help the bleed problem from the reverse print? Also, how’s the readability of the font? I really wanted an Archaeological Bible but my tired eyes could not read the ultra-skinny typeface.

    Just curious. The ESV sounds like a great translation.

  10. The text is most distracting behind the maps (looks like grey lines running through them). As to the readability, the fonts used are Frutiger and Helvetica – both fairly readable, but the notes are small and thin. I’ve heard folks ask if there’s going to be a large-print version, but Crossway would almost have to do two volumes for that to be at all manageable.

    For those interested in the online stuff, it’s okay: basically, when you purchase the Bible, you get a code to use to set up your account (which is accessible anywhere you can get online, which is great). Once you have the account set up, you get the text and all the notes next to it, as well as the capability to add your own notes as part of your account stored on their server.

    The maps and charts are available, but for some reason they were done in Java/Flash, so you have to move the images around within the box to see them in their entirety (not really helpful for off the screen viewing). The good news is you can get to the maps and cut and paste them into another window or document (Keynote/PowerPoint); the bad news is it just takes some extra steps to do so.

    Still, with regard to the online stuff, the price is right (free), or should I say “included.”

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