The Bible is the Bible; it never changes. But of new books about the Bible there seems to be no end, and this fall brings emerging trends and reflects a changing scene. The offerings lend a new and broader approach for biblical exploration, an integration of diverse disciplines, an elevated regard for the informed curiosity and knowledge of the average reader, and some bold explorations.
The Reformation in Focus
An example of this broader approach is seen in forthcoming books related to the Reformation and Calvin. InterVarsity Press's 28-volume Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, edited by Timothy George, reflects and integrates the diverse faith issues and theology of the Reformation, exploring a variety of Protestant traditions.
According IVP editorial director Andy LePeau, the series heralds what is being called the "Reformation decade," commemorating the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting the 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517, which ignited the Protestant Reformation. The series reflects a spectrum of scholarship and biblical commentary from a wide swath of theologians and traditions of the period from 1500 to 1650. "It is a massive undertaking to show the range of Reformation thought," notes LePeau. The series' 28 editors range geographically and theologically (including French, Dutch, German, and Swiss, among others) and represent the various theological offshoots that grew from the Reformation, including baptistic and Anglican traditions.
The series mandate, says LePeau, is to examine verse by verse the books of the Bible written by the theological forbears of that time and extract a consensus of interpretation. It introduces the work of other Reformers, such as Ulrich Zwingli and John Knox. A companion to IVP's Ancient Christian Commentary series, the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, a 10-year project, is to be rolled out at the rate of three volumes a year, beginning with Galatians, Ephesians by Gerald L. Bray (Sept.).
As a community of faith, says LePeau, Christians "often get myopic about what's going on today." Including a range of theological thought from the period of the Reformation will benefit the church, he says, by "reminding the community of its history, which is too easily forgotten. It is a means to call the church back to its roots."
Zondervan also revisits the Reformation in its upcoming set of books that provoke dialogue about Calvinism. Michael Horton's For Calvinism (Oct.) explores the historical roots and distinctive features of this approach. It dovetails with Against Calvinism (Oct.) by Roger Olson, which provides a critique that addresses "the New Calvinism." Paul Engle, senior v-p at Zondervan, says, "It is a perennial topic, [yet] we felt this was a fitting time to release fresh new volumes in light of the growing interest in the Reformed faith, especially among younger generations. Perhaps it is a longing for certainty amid postmodern subjectivism and for historic anchoring amid the short shelf-life of contemporary ideas." Another major new reference work recently released by Zondervan is the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, edited by Glenn Scorgie (July) with more than 700 entries by dozens of international contributors.
Respecting the General Reader
Westminster John Knox's upcoming Revelation for Everyone by N.T. Wright (Oct.) reflects the trend in biblical scholarship toward recognizing the heightened scriptural proficiency of the lay reader as well as the interested scholar. Wright culls from the reservoir of his years of study and expertise to distill seminal issues while keeping the book accessible to the home Bible study crowd. Revelation for Everyone is the final volume in the For Everyone series on the New Testament, edited by David Dobson, which has been published over the past eight years. It exemplifies the efforts of scholars to make sophisticated and complex biblical analysis accessible to the general reader. The series has been so successful that WJK has launched a companion series for the Old Testament with the August release of 1 and 2 Kings for Everyone by John Goldingay.
The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible, edited by Gordon Fee and Robert Hubbard (Sept.), is another effort in that direction. According to senior editor Allen Myers, this extensive commentary (which replaces the wildly popular Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible) stands out as a distinctive and extensive guide (834 pages), including introductory texts, 88 accompanying articles, maps, and extensive commentary. What is notable in this new volume is Eerdmans's attempt to reach beyond an evangelical readership by including articles and commentary from mainline scholars. It also respects nonscholars' elevated knowledge of once obscure topics and trends in biblical studies. Says Myers, "Readers are more informed generally. This guide will serve the general reader, the Sunday School teacher, and Bible study leaders."components/article_pagination.html not found (No such file or directory)