The regular print edition of The Lutheran Study Bible is a beautifully bound book. It is a big book, about the same size as the Treasury of Daily Prayer; however, the print is much smaller and the paper is thinner than the Treasury. The print for the abundant notes below the Biblical text is especially small.
There are many beautiful illustrations. The picture below depicts the baptism of Jesus at the beginning of the Book of Matthew.
This picture also shows how easy it is to see right through the thin paper, even two pages ahead. The thinness of the paper, ink gloss, red lettering of Jesus’ words, and small print make the text difficult to read. Also, extra care is needed when turning pages so as to avoid ripping or wrinkling the paper.
Even though the paper is thin, the content appears thick. This book is billed as the first genuinely Lutheran study Bible in the English language, and that alone should earn it some praise.
However, the danger of any study bible is that the study notes and translation could cause the readers to read into the Biblical text what is in fact not there (eisegesis). For example, the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of 1 Corinthians 11:8-10 & 14-16 from The Lutheran Study Bible says:
8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels…
14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
Here are the study notes for verses 14 & 15:
11:14 nature. No Scripture passage teaches this, nor is Paul appealing to the created order. Instead, as in v 13, he calls them to consider how things are in their culture.
11:15 covering. Summarizes vv 9-12 and 14-15, pointing out that the practices of Roman culture regarding head coverings and gender distinction are in harmony with God’s will…
Paul discusses our creation and the created order, and appeals to “nature itself,” however, the notes conclude that Paul is actually writing only about Roman culture and not nature. Over the last 90 years, many prominent American women cut their long hair, not just as a new style, but as an expression of liberation. Is it possible that “nature itself” means nature and not just culture?
Has the Church always interpreted “nature itself” in verse 14 as culture? Or is this an innovation? Notice Jesus’ hair in the drawing above. (We do not know how long Jesus’ hair was). Samson had long hair, but he was a Nazirite from birth (see Numbers 6 and Judges 13). Was a Nazarite’s long hair also a sign of authority on their head (i.e. their vow)?
In an interesting WELS Q & A regarding the translation of the Greek word gune in 1 Corinthians 11, the WELS answer expresses concern, not only with the ESV’s arbitrary translation of gune as both “woman” and “wife” in the same passages, but also by inference the LCMS’ theology regarding the roles of men and women. (The NIV, KJV, and NKJV all use only the word “woman,” in 1 Corinthians 11, not “wife”). The Lutheran Study Bible is billed as the first genuinely Lutheran study Bible, but it is also distinctly Missouri Synod Lutheran, and the Missouri Synod has women serving in positions of authority over men in some of its congregations (for example, as authoritative voters and congregational presidents).
Compared to the other highly anticipated and recently released books from Concordia Publishing House, this is the first that I’ve found difficult to read and recommend. There is a larger print edition available. In summary, this is a good book at first look, and the pictures are beautiful, but its theology and translation may be a bit off in places, and reading the regular print edition is hard on the eyes.