The first answer is, “They sell!”
Publishers keep pouring resources into new study Bibles and bringing out revisions of the older ones. Someone is buying them.
Probably the main reason they sell is they are convenient. Within in one volume you have everything you need for basic Biblical study. The base is a complete English translation of the Bible, in one of its versions. (The first big choice among study Bibles is which translation you want to use.) Along with the translation are introductions to the parts and books of the Bible, as well as running annotations, usually on each page. The introductions and annotations are addressed to the special audience or topics featured in each study Bible.
There are also general articles on such things as How to Read the Bible as well as
literary, historical, and religious backgrounds, and, maybe, theological discussions about the Bible as the Word of God and about your salvation. Particularly important, if one is seeking to place one study Bible on the spectrum of such books, is the Preface, Forward, or To the Reader articles at the front of the Book. Those tell us whose Bible this one is!
We live in an age of study Bibles, judging from the book store shelves and on-line
offerings. Without stretching, one can easily find thirty different study Bibles currently available. (That “study Bible” is a valuable marketing hook is indicated when the revered, 100-year old Scofield Reference Bible shows up in a 2005 edition as The Scofield Study Bible [NASB ed., Oxford University Press].)
This new feature in the Common Good News will offer a series of reviews of many of these study Bibles. The plan is to review one study Bible approximately every month throughout 2011. As pertinent, the study Bible for the month will also be used for notes and comments on the Biblical Words lectionary readings in The Common Good News for that month.
The series will begin by reviewing some study Bibles with the strongest academic bases (the Oxford Annotated, the HarperCollins Study Bible, etc.), but to some extent will alternate from month to month between the more academic and the more Evangelical- oriented Bibles. The series will then move to more special-interest items such as environment (The Green Bible), Christian social concern (Faith in Action Study Bible), and recovery (The Life Recovery Bible). Overall, the major publishers of study Bibles should be represented.
Already up: The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th ed.
Next up: The New Jerusalem Bible.