“God calls us to take increasingly knowledgeable glimpses into [the] many wonders [of] what he designed.” Those words, which appear in the opening of Jimmy Carter’s note on Genesis 1:1, exemplify the spirit with which the former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize winner guides readers through Scripture in the NRSV Simple Faith Bible, Zondervan’s new Bible in the New Revised Standard Version featuring more than 600 annotations by Carter. In his commentary, Carter advocates for an open heart and mind, a questing and questioning engagement with the world and with faith, and an embracing vision of life lived according to the Bible.

In this divided and divisive time, the Simple Faith Bible encourages readers to follow Jesus into a life of peace, compassion, and wholeness. Carter’s reflections, prayers, and introductions spring not only from his political and humanitarian work but also from his decades of teaching the Bible through his Sunday school ministry. The result is a unique study Bible that will appeal strongly to many mainline Christians.

Carter is a difficult figure to categorize. A Democratic president, he was a lifelong member of the conservative and heavily Republican Southern Baptist Convention until 2000, when theological differences led him to break with the Southern Baptist Convention. He maintains his commitment to his Baptist faith through membership in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Carter’s faith and politics are inseparable. “People may agree or disagree with Jimmy Carter’s politics,” says Melinda Bouma, vice president and publisher for Zondervan Bibles. “But what they cannot disagree with is that Jimmy Carter has a contagious desire for peace, compassion, and wholeness.” Those values are at the heart of the Simple Faith Bible.

The Simple Faith Bible’s annotations take several forms. Carter introduces each book with a short paragraph summarizing its central themes and his questions about them. Set at the bottom of some pages of Scripture are “Bible in Life” notes, which identify parallels between biblical episodes and everyday life. “Within a family,” Carter writes in his commentary on the story of Cain and Abel, “the sibling relationship is vital and sometimes volatile.”

Also included are mini-essays titled “Bible in Focus” that delve deeper into important themes and highlight connections between different parts of the Bible. They conclude with a set of questions to prompt readers’ personal reflection. “How have you grown impatient waiting for God’s promised blessings?” Carter asks at the end of his essay on the renaming of Jacob. “In what ways do you wrongly struggle to work things out for yourself?” Also punctuating the pages of Scripture are “Ponder” and “Pray” notes, which offer a short prayer related to meditation-worthy quotes

from the verses, for example, “O Father, these Biblical characters were courageous in defending your people. Help us to learn this lesson for ourselves, to be courageous in standing firm in our faith.”

Carter is a kind and patient teacher, firm in his conviction that God sets challenges for us that we are capable of overcoming and compassionate in his prescriptions for how those challenges might be met. “We live in the midst of the kingdom of heaven now, just as John did in the time of Christ,” Carter writes in an essay midway through the Book of Matthew. “The kingdom of heaven is a continuing history of human beings and our relationship and reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ.” Carter’s welcoming voice in these reflections, as well as his well-earned reputation as someone who has lived by the principles of his faith, make the NRSV Simple Faith Bible the ideal study Bible for many Christians.