The SBL Study Bible (using the NRSVue translation) has been available on the market for a little over a month now. Unfortunately, product reviews from early customers mention extremely thin pages and a lot of ghosting. I am unlikely to purchase a hard copy. Here are links to Amazon and Christianbook for anyone interested in purchasing it. At this point, the Kindle edition is the only one I am personally considering, due to the ghosting reported in the printed editions.

11 thoughts on “SBL Study Bible with Apocrypha Available for Purchase”

  1. I watched DiscipleDojo’s 40-minute review on it last month and, yeah, the paper is terrible, most of the content seems to range between questionable to outright unhelpful, and it seems the content that’s decent can be viewed for free on If you’ve got the previous Harper Study Bible, or the NOAB 5th ed., it seems like you should stick with those. Surprisingly, one bright spot I saw from DiscipleDojo’s review is that, at least from the perspective of SBL, scholars seem to be getting less dogmatic about entrenched hypotheticals like the Q source in Synoptic studies and even Markan priority, at least in the sense that they’re tossing in a few sentences that remind people that “No evidence for Q exists outside of Matthew and Luke” and “In the end, we cannot know the precise literary relationship between the Synoptic Gospels with certainty.”

  2. It would be more accurate to say “There is no evidence that Q exists” and leave it at that.

    James McGrath summarizes the situation beautifully

    “Q is one of those points in New Testament scholarship where scepticism is really hip right now. [McGrath at this point murmurs agreement], and a lot of people rush to ask me “What if there’s no Q? Your book is [then] useless.” But honestly, I’m not sure of a single area of NT research that isn’t based on hypotheses that we have to work with. The dates of the text, the authorship of Pauline/post Pauline, the synagogue expulsion theory around John, Marcan priority, the demographics of audience: was this book written for primarily Jewish or primarily non-Jewish audiences? In a way, it’s all guesswork and it’s normal for NT scholars to settle with the hypotheses with which they’re comfortable. And to me at this point, Q is a text — when the Hermeneia series publishes a critical edition, when every [student?] goes to college, they’ve got to learn about the Q hypothesis. That’s enough for me.”

    The last sentence is important, NT scholars are increasingly thinking that the Q hypothesis is a load of crap, but they think, well, all of modern NT scholarship is a complete load of crap if you think about it, we’re all just making up complete nonsense and patting ourselves on the back for our brilliance, and if we got rid of every fabricated nonsensical hypothesis, there wouldn’t be an “NT scholarship” industry, and we’d all be out of jobs, so let’s teach undergraduates all these fake theories because there is nothing better to do. I mean, that isn’t what the quote says literally, but if you read between the lines that is basically what he is saying. It’s all incredibly cynical. NT scholars know their theories are garbage, but they promote them anyway.

    1. All true, but for the SBL’s Bible to say “No evidence for Q exists” even in a qualified sense is more than most would probably expect from them. The future of Markan priority seems to lie in Mark Goodacre and co.’s approach to the Farrer hypothesis as Q becomes less and less defensible and the next generation becomes much less accommodating to evidenceless conjecture documents of past scholars; and Matthean priority via the Griesbach hypothesis seems to be quietly gaining some popularity as a begrudgingly accepted minority viewpoint, particularly with those who defend traditional authorship. All told, I think the up-and-coming generation of NT scholars who are committed believers growing up with their introduction to “NT scholarship” being from theologically conservative Catholic and Evangelical apologists dunking on Ehrman and co., and are being driven to pursue a career in “NT studies” inspired by that mindset, are going to take glee over the coming decades in undermining many of these old theories, if not completely ripping them out from the roots, and reintroducing more traditional understandings. I think even the up-and-coming generation of skeptics will be fine dumping Q eventually, or at least dedicating much less space to it in future books and Bible introductions. I could be wrong, but SBL’s “No evidence for Q exists outside of Matthew and Luke” feels like just the start of the gradual phasing out of Q as the “accepted” viewpoint. It seems like a house of cards.

      That said, it goes beyond “NT scholarship,” of course. Most modern “OT scholarship,” outside of some rather interesting stuff from the Waltons and Heisers (RIP) of the world, seems to be rather dull. Seeing the Documentary hypothesis gradually take on more fire shows even those “sacred cows” of scholars aren’t safe. I also think some people rediscovering that the Documentary hypothesis and much of popular OT “higher criticism” was born in 19th-to-early-20th-century German antisemitism hasn’t helped its image.

      In the end, I’m firmly of the belief that these “scholarly” Bibles age a lot worse than if one just gets any other Bible and couples it with a commentary. In fact, a Catholic today would probably get more out of reading the 1953 Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, still very scholarly in its own right, alongside any translation of their choice, than the SBL of the 2020s. Much less garbage to wade through.

      1. No, you are probably right, but the problem with getting rid of Q is that eradicates the concept of Markan priority, and Markan priority is the basis for everything, an entire industry of pseudo-scholarship is based on it. Markan priority is an assumption that undergirds everything, skeptical Bible scholars like Bart Ehrman like Markan priority because it makes it possible to construct a pseudo-timeline of the development of Christianity. Supposedly, Mark is the most primitive gospel, then came Matthew, then came Luke then John, and you have a timeline from a primitive gospel where Jesus doesn’t even have a resurrection account, and the gradual accrual of miracles, with Jesus making more and more dramatic assertions of his deity,and the story gets more and more elaborate, and you can see “what really happened”, just a normal man was gradually deified as Christianity became more and more superstitious and paganized and completely stripped of its Jewish origins. Markan priority is the ultimate disproof of Christianity. And the only way to sustain that narrative is to maintain Q. Once that house of cards tumbles, an entire school of secular, anti-Christian scholarship crumbles along with it.

        Of course, the problem with this Bart Ehrman-esque narrative is that it doesn’t matter which gospel was first, because everyone agrees the epistles of Paul are the oldest documents in the NT, and they assert Christ’s divinity in a way just as emphatic way as the gospel of John. So the narrative of the gradual accumulation of superstition is impossible to maintain because Paul’s Christology is just as high as John’s Christology, how can they possibly explain this?

        1. They can’t. They try to act like they can balance the two, but they can’t.

          And even though a lot of the Catholic Answers crew, and essentially all of the current Catholic YouTube celebrities, presuppose Markan priority as a matter of unimpeachable fact, my experience shows the same younger generation I mentioned before seems to be increasingly fortifying the Griesbach hypothesis, that is Matthew-Luke-Mark, in order to reintroduce Matthean priority as a serious option, backed by them *not* assuming the earliest Fathers unanimously got Matthean priority wrong. After all, “NT scholarship” seems to be the one field in ancient textual criticism where, for some reason, completely discounting all external evidence in favor of resting everything on a purely hypothetical reading of the internal evidence is “serious scholarship.” If I can sum up the things I’ve anecdotally seen bubbling up from young, future would-be NT scholars, it boils down to these: pro-traditional Gospel authorship, pro-early Gospel dating with at least 3/4 of them pre-70, anti-Q, skeptical of Markan priority, and very receptive to Matthean priority. Also, throw in early dating for the Didache and 1 Clement too as bonuses.

          Whether all of that will amount to anything, who knows? But I can definitely see the coming generation of believing Christians aiming to enter “NT scholarship” aren’t going to be the kind to as easily compromise on these issues as those of yore were.

          1. I am more comfortable with a “proto-Matthew priority” written by St. Matthew himself that includes material such as Christ’s dealings with the Sadducees. Later, St Matthew or one of his disciples incorporates St. Mark’s Gospel to get the gospel we know today. In my mind, I can’t have Mark’s gospel depend on Matthew and still have St. Mark’s Gospel be a work based on St. Peter’s testimony, which the Church Father’s also state.

            As for “Q”, I have no major opinion one way or another. If another disciple wrote testimony that was trustworthy, I am sure both St. Matthew and St. Luke would be willing to incorporate it into their Gospels. A major issue is of course this is no record of said document, though if it was an early document that was fully incorporated into the canonical Gospels, there were probably few copies to begin and there would be no need to make more, making it easy to be erased by time.

            Luke just incorporating St. Matthew makes sense just as well as Q. Though you have to address why St. Luke did incorporate more of Matthew material and phrasing into his Gospel, though this is also explainable.

          2. Biblical scholarship is never more implausible than when they construct elaborate “histories” of the text of the documents based purely on speculation. I’ve heard some crazy stuff, Burton Mack claimed to be able to construct a full history of Q, proving that it was printed in multiple editions, and to reconstruct its development. All this for a purely hypothetical document for which there is no external evidence.

            Another bizarre claim I have seen is that the first two chapters of Luke, containing the Nativity narrative, were added in a second edition decades later by a different author, despite a complete lack of manuscript evidence, for example, there is not even a single manuscript of Luke that doesn’t have the first two chapters.

            Also implausible are the various arguments against Pauline authorship of half his epistles, using such flimsy reasoning as alleged “inconsistencies” in his thought (as if Paul was a systematic thinker like Calvin, and as if it isn’t completely normal for pretty much everyone to say one thing on Monday and the exact opposite on Wednesday and not even notice the contradiction), but the most absurd arguments the ones that claim that counts “unique words”, as if the writing sample of Paul is big enough to do a reliable statistical analysis of word use (it isn’t even close) and completely ignoring the fact that the letters make it clear that Paul’s letters were written by a scribe under his direction, scribes who are named in the letters, and the letters which are in a different have the names of different scribes.

            It would probably be really easy to use these kinds of arguments to prove, for example, that Martin Luther didn’t write half the works ascribed to him (54 volumes in the most recent edition of his complete works), or similar conclusions about pretty much any author (could Mark Twain write both Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi, the writing style and vocabulary of these two books are radically different) or even that Bart Ehrman didn’t write half the books with his name of them.

            It is frankly amazing to me how little evidence seems to be required to come up with some extremely radical conclusions in the world of Bible scholarship.

          3. I largely agree. I’m deeply skeptical of redaction criticism and almost evidence-free speculation about the history of various texts. Every time I read commentaries or notes that engage in elaborate speculation about the precise history of a text, I find myself wondering whether there is any scientific basis for these theories. A method that purports to uncover the history and patchwork quotations that were woven together to create a text should be testable. If only we could create a controlled experiment where redaction critics would be given a text for which the provenance and history is well-known, but which the critics in the experiment have no knowledge of. I am not optimistic that their hypotheses would uncover the true history of the text.

  3. Interesting discussion in the previous posts. When reading and studying the Bible I don’t think that if you agree with the “Q” theory or not agree with the theory that you would read the New Testament in a different way. As a theory its hypothesis seems to hold up well in the explanation of the “Synoptic Problem.” However, it is only a theory. What to me, is bothersome is when a Study Bible presents the Q-Source as factual. If you were to read the Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew in the NABRE (My regular read) you would see the theory is presented as fact. If you want to read an alternative theory, I would strongly suggest reading the Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels in the Study Edition of the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB). I would favor the view in the NJB Bible as the view presented is a somewhat messy human interactive and iterative process. In my opinion, the Q-Theory is too orderly to be part of a human process. The most important and essential thing that we must remember, is that the product we read today was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and whatever the process was; the process got it right! I agree with others that the source issues are merely academic exercises. Although, I do find the discussion and arguments interesting.

  4. It all comes down by what you mean by “Q.”

    So many detractors seem to understand Q as a hypothetical lost document.
    Even while I was in seminary in the 90s, that was never the nuanced understanding.

    I always understood “Q” as simply convenient shorthand for the corpus of material that was common to Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. Whether it was ever contained in a single source document or not never struck me as relevant, important, significant, or even interesting.

    So, can we deny the existence of a now-lost “Q” document? Sure. Knock yourselves out.
    But can we really “deny” that there’s material in Matthew and Luke that’s not also in Mark?

    1. I’m certainly not denying the shared material in Matthew and Luke—that material’s from Matthew, and thus “Q” is just the Gospel of Matthew. Luke then wrote his Gospel, likely in possession of Matthew’s Gospel, and combined it with Pauline preaching and other sources, such as interviews with witnesses, as his own text suggests. Finally Mark, with both Matthew and Luke’s Gospels at hand, abridged the material, at times jumping between the two, and combined the result with some original Petrine material.

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