I bought this S/B more out of curiosity thinking that if it didn't meet my needs, I would give it away to a family member. I normally use the Reformation S/B and ESV S/B. The ESV S/B sits on my desk because it is too big/heavy to lug around but it is my all around go to Bible. If you want a good companion Bible to lug around--this one works great. I prefer the Reformation Bible though as it includes theological essays. For example, in Matt. 28, this S/B ties in Gospel with discipleship--very well done. The Reformation S/B has typical notes but also includes an essay on Sacraments.
Construction wise-I bought the genuine leather and it is well constructed. The letters don't bleed through the text too much. The font works extremely well and my favorite out of all my Bibles. Wish there were thumb indexes but at this stage, really don't need them anymore.
Final thoughts: I recommend it as a solid addition to a more technical S/B. The S/B reminds you why you are reading it, and how it applies to Jesus. It is sometimes easy to forget that the Bible is one unified book, but this S/B connects the dots.
Best part of this Bible (other than the inspired Words of God of course) is the calfskin. It's the softest, most flexible-yet-durable cover I've ever felt on a Bible. If this was a review just for the cover, it would be 5 stars.
I was disappointed with some things other than that. The main disappointment was that many (hundreds) of the pages were poorly-printed, and even the gold print on the spine is poorly-printed. None of it is illegible, but some parts are very faded and frustrating to read. I emailed Crossway about it, and they sent me a new one, but it had the exact same problem! For the price of this Bible, I expected a much better printing job.
One more issue I had with it was the study notes. They never seem to answer any questions I run into when studying the Bible. Now don't get me wrong. I LOVE the gospel. I wouldn't have bought this Bible if I didn't. But oftentimes the notes seem to go beyond displaying the gospel from a passage to writing the gospel into a passage where it isn't. I won't quote anything specific, but for an example, in some teachings of Jesus when He is teaching on the law (not preaching the gospel in that moment), the notes sometimes try to overlay a post-resurrection understanding of the gospel over what Jesus is saying. Not just point to it, but they try to make it look like that's what Jesus is saying. I'm sure many people will be mad at me for saying that, but that's how I feel about the notes. I bought an ESV Study Bible, and am much happier with it.
The ESV Gospel Transformation Bible is an incredible bible that seeks to empower readers to understand the gospel throughout storyline of the entire Bible and help readers draw life changing, heart altering application. I've really enjoyed reading my copy and was amazed at the depth and simplicity of each section. The integrity of the scripture is preserved at the top of the page while notes appear in a distinct font at the bottom of the page (much like footnotes or explanatory notes). Each book (Such as Ezra) or section (such as Psalms 1-50) is covered by an author (and there is a long list of well studied and well known pastors, authors and speakers from varying backgrounds such as JD Greer, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Kevin DeYoung, Scotty Smith, Jared C. Wilson, Burk Parsons, R. Kent Hughes, and Bruce Ware_ Just to name a few). The entire project then falls under the editorship of Bryan Chapell (General Editor) and Dane Ortlund (Managing Editor).
It's a fantastic work full of great insight that provokes the heart to worship. For those who are unfamiliar with the discipline of a Biblical Theology (what this ends up being) there is an article at the front from the general editor that explains the intent and conclusions drawn in the notes.
Overall I think it's a compelling study Bible and well worth your time and investment. It's a handy tool for pastors, bible study leaders and teachers who are always looking for how to make sure every lesson contains a gospel element. It can be especially helpful for a new believer or someone trying to read through the bible for the first time. Ultimately what you have in the Gospel Transformation Bible is a celebration of the gospel in every text.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this Bible free from Crossway as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review.
The Gospel Transformation Bible from Crossway is unique in study Bibles in that its notes are purely focused on personal application and transformation. Its goal is to help reader's understand the Bible in its unified message and apply the gospel to their everyday lives.
Cover and Binding
The edition I'm reviewing is the premium calfskin. This is the softest cover I have even seen on a Bible. It is leather lined and parameter stitched. The liner looks like the same calfskin as the cover. It is edge-lined. There are four raised hubs on the spine. The binding is sewn. It has no trouble lying flat.
Paper and Print
The paper is 36 gsm. It's not the most opaque, but it's good enough. The show through is minimal. It's more obvious in the book introductions where there is more blank area. The print is very nice. It's a digital font that is very readable. It's a 9-point font. There is a lot of leading (space between the lines). The text is spacious and sharp. This is a black-letter edition. The notes are an 8-point font. The text is keyed to the references and notes with the standard letters and numbers. Most pages seem to have line-matching but there are a few pages that do not. The print is consistently dark throughout.
The layout is unique for a study Bible. The text is presented in two columns on the top half of the page and everything else is presented on the bottom half of the page. Most study Bibles keep the references on the top half with the text, but this one has the references with the notes. For pages that don't have very many references this leaves the space for writing your own notes. Translation notes appear between the text and the notes. There are section headings within the text. These are presented in a bold font.
Book introductions are one to two pages and include the author and date, the gospel in that book, and an outline. Some include audience. Multiple books (1 and 2 Kings, etc.) have one introduction that covers both books.
The notes cover passages rather than individual verses, so a note might cover a whole chapter or just a few verses. They focus on practical application more than doctrine (although there is some doctrine). The major theme throughout the notes is how the gospel will transform our lives and how to receive it into our hearts to apply it and obtain that transformation. Like all study notes I urge readers to perform their own study with a prayerful and open heart.
The topical index covers the major themes that the notes touch on. It's 212 pages and includes many topics. I like this feature because I do a lot of topical study. This lets you compare Scripture with Scripture, which is my favorite type of topical study.
The concordance is 82 pages and has quite a lot of entries. It's presented in 3 columns per page. It also includes a page to show the book abbreviations that are used in the concordance.
Daily reading Plan
The daily reading plan takes you through the Bible in order from Genesis to Revelation in one year. It covers about three chapters a day on average.
There are 8 pages of maps. They are colorful earth-tones, which I like a lot. The names of places are large and easy to find. I would like to have seen an index to maps.
There are two ribbons. They are the standard size ribbons but they're long enough to be useful.
Online Gospel Transformation Bible
This Bible comes with free access to the online edition. This is a very helpful tool to use in daily Bible study.
The Gospel Transformation Bible is a different take on the traditional study Bible. It's focus in on application. Its unique layout is fresh and makes it easy to just read without distractions or use the study notes. The notes are geared toward applying the passage to our lives rather than just giving facts and doctrinal points, making this a good Bible for devotions and a good tool in developing sermons.
For pictures see this review on Bible Buying Guide.
Crossway proved this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review.