I am a "Bible geek" who is always checking out new translations, editions, and study Bibles. Clay follows the scene even more closely than I, and I have been grateful for his tenacity and his willingness to share information; he was able to get me an advance copy of the HCSB Psalter a few years ago, which I have come to believe is the most beautifully effective translation of the Psalms since Thomas Cranmer put together the Book of Common Prayer.
Many Bible translations have a bias. The NRSV is left-leaning, mainline; the NIV is right-leaning, Calvinist premillenialist. I like both translations, mind you, and don't mean to denigrate either of them. My old chum Joe Miller has some strong feelings about Eugene Peterson's The Message, which Joe believes to be a commentary, rather than a paraphrase (as it has been advertized). The primary translation I am using now is the ESV, a 2001 revision of the RSV that is a mite more "literal" than the NRSV. Picking up on the biases of the translators can really help the way we exegete (of course, for serious exegesis, turn to Greek and Hebrew editions...there's a good reason they pounded these languages into our heads during seminary!).
Study Bibles can be useful tools. I don't recommend that pastors or laity exclusively use any particular study Bible, but as concise references, they can be excellent. Some are certainly better than others.
In 1989, Thomas Nelson published the Wesley Bible (NKJV), a study Bible put together from a Holiness perspective. It was very good, and I still refer to it. But, it didn't last long and is now difficult to find.
A few years later, Zondervan published the Reflecting God Study Bible (NIV), again featuring a Holiness perspective. This Bible was a revision of the very popular NIV Study Bible, released to counter many of the notes, which contain a Calvinist bent (as does the NIV). Despite its high quality, generally good notes and articles, and similarities to a top selling edition, this study Bible failed to catch on with readers of Wesleyan persuasion. Like the Wesley Bible, it can now be difficult to find.
I am very excited about the February 2009 publication of the Wesley Study Bible. Cokesbury describes it thusly:
"With a warmed heart and active hands...So, for the first time, we have a mainline Wesleyan study Bible. And the scholarship looks excellent. The General Editors are Joel Green and Bishop William Willimon. Prominent contributors include Thomas Bandy, Ted Campbell, Bishop Kenneth Carder, Paul Chilcote, Kenneth Collins, Maxie Dunnam, Western PA alumnus Jeff Greenway, Adam Hamilton, Western PA alumnus Richard Heitzenrater, Zan Holmes, Bishop Rueben Job, Gregory Jones, Bishop Scott Jones, F. Belton Joyner, J. Ellsworth Kallas, Michael Lodahl, Russell Richey, Theodore Runyon, Bishop Robert Schnase, Michael Slaughter, David Lowes Watson, Bishop Timothy Whitaker, Ben Witherington, Charles Yrigoyen, and many others. That's a heck of a list!
"The Wesley Study Bible helps persons experience God in fresh ways and grow as more faithful disciples. The Wesley Study Bible gives inspiration and practical examples to live your faith with a warmed heart and active hands.
"Written for everyone in: African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Church of the Nazarene, Church of God (Anderson), Free Methodist Church of North America, The Salvation Army, Wesleyan Church, United Church of Canada, and The United Methodist Church."
I'm sure there will be more news about it as its release draws near. My fear is that it is too "mainline compromised" to be very useful; my hope is that these excellent scholars, leaders and theologians have crafted a truly useful Wesleyan resource. The Cokesbury page is here. You can view some excerpts as PDF files here, including the Letter of St. James.