Sunday, January 17, 2010

Online ESV Study Bible

The online ESV Study Bible is free for buyers of the print edition ($49.99, list; $31.49, Amazon) or may be purchased separately for $19.99. It provides online access to the printed text and notes (sample here for Matthew) and allows users to make personal notes, highlight text, view hyperlinks, search the text, and listen to the displayed chapter. Notes and highlighting are stored with user accounts and are always accessible. The personal notes work well; some formatting and the ability to add hyperlinks are available. The notes column is narrow; however, if the length of the window is exceeded, a scroll bar is added. The illustrations and maps are wonderful, but many look washed-out and are difficult to read without zooming. (Samples here.) The most problematic feature is the search, which is too broad. I searched on God’s love, one of their examples. There were nine hits; of these, only two were actual occurrences in the ESV. Some were in section headings, study notes, or footnotes. Some “hits” were words which were too far apart or parts of other words; for example, one was in 1 John 3:2: Beloved, we are God's children now. (Searching for "God's love" using quotations does work as hoped.) In an error message, I found a link to an advanced search, but it was broken. Since the online help begins by providing the email address for problems or suggestions, this is clearly a work in progress. This is a good tool, but I would not purchase it separately. It would be worth spending a little more and getting both the print and online versions.

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