Brand new: NRSV Discipleship Study Bible by WJK Press

If you frequent the New Epistles blog, you know that I feel the NRSV is one of the best formal equivalent translations today, along with the ESV. In 2008, Westminster John Knox Press (WJKP) has now come out with the NRSV Discipleship Study Bible with Apocrypha. It is supposed to be the first NRSV study bible published in five years. This study bible tries to tie together an understanding of the biblical texts and life application. This is unique for an NRSV bible, and mainline Christians who are attracted to the NRSV translation may find this a novelty.

WJK Press is not known as a bible publisher, and to my knowledge, this is the only bible currently being published by WJK Press so kudos to WJKP. According to WJK’s description:

The annotations in this study Bible give particular emphasis to discerning scriptural guidance for living together in community. Such living encompasses but is not limited to personal piety. The biblical text has an inescapable social dimension and this study Bible demonstrates attentiveness to the public and communal meanings and implications of the biblical text, including the social justice and social witness dimensions of Scripture.

The Discipleship Study Bible will provide:

• a focus on discipleship that is based on the scholarship and inclusive language of the NRSV.
• a concentration on social justice – acts of Christian care and concern for all God’s people and God’s entire world.
• a concentration on personal piety – Christian acts of personal response to Scripture.

The Discipleship Study Bible will include:

• the complete text of the NRSV, including the Aprocrypha
• extensive introduction and annotations for each biblical book, including the Apocrypha, from a group of distinguished biblical scholars.
• essential historical, sociocultural, literary, and theological issues valuable in understanding each biblical book.
• annotations for each biblical book that address the whole range of the Christian life — spiritual and social, personal and communal.
• a concise chronology of events and literature in and surrounding Ancient Israel and Early Christianity.
• a concise concordance.
• color maps.

Most NRSV study bibles out there try to concentrate on the biblical text from a critical perspective. This one is different because it comments on Christian living and personal piety. It will definitely not be anywhere close to being similar to a combination of a Life Application Study Bible and an NRSV HarperCollins SB or NOAB. However, it does bring to the reader’s attention some of the social justice issues familiar to liberal mainline churches, e.g., socio-political, economic and environmental. With the study notes, its page count comes in at 2198 pages, which is quite considerable.

Most conservative readers may likely not go for this type of study bible but if you are a mainline or evangelical who is concerned about some of these social issues, it would certainly be a bible worth looking at. For personal piety and Christian living, not many bibles out there can beat the Life Application Study Bible; however, the NRSV Discipleship Study Bible may have the corner on social justice issues.

A theologian #2: Rev. Francis Schaeffer

Duriez, Colin. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008. Pp. 240.

Francis Schaeffer is one of the great evangelical theologians of our modern day. I was already familiar with some of his books and his published video series: How Should We Then Live? Having just read this biography of this great man of faith, authored by Colin Duriez, I now have even greater respect for Francis Schaeffer than before. This book takes the reader chronologically through his Schaeffer’s early beginnings from a bright young student at Westminster Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) into his last days in this world as an established and reknown theologian who was hugely influential within evangelical circles.

The author dived into some interesting details of Schaeffer’s early life during the days of the separatist movement away from Princeton Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian Church, USA. He makes mention of the theological disruption at Princeton Seminary, and the defrocking of J. Gresham Machen and the story of the founding of a new denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America.

Schaeffer’s early days of ministry as a separatist and the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America reminds me about the similar situation that is happening in many of our other mainline churches today that are currently undergoing theological disruption and separation, e.g., Episcopalian, Anglican, Methodist and Lutheran. The past of work of Francis Schaeffer has set the tone and ethos for the future of evangelical Reformed churches in the United States. His ministry to young people, and in particular, to children was a phenomenal success. Many of our churches would benefit from learning how this was done through his evangelistic and faith-building ministry called Children for Christ.

Schaeffer’s ministry in Champery, Switzerland was certainly very impressive. His example of hard work, dedication and calling is what is required today in most fledgling ministries. His work in establishing L’Abri, a ground-breaking ministry beginning in Switzerland, was foundational to his written works that were published later. Schaeffer’s personal life and his family’s involvement in this ministry was eye-opening for me. I deeply value learning about the wonderful family support that Schaeffer received during his entire ministry. It makes me yearn for the same type of family support that he had because I know that without it, effective ministry would be impossible. His ministry is an example of what is required of our modern day missionaries and pioneers of new ministries. If I was a missionary, I do not think I could do even half of what the Schaeffers have done without the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit.

Finally, what also impressed me was the sharp mind of Francis Schaeffer. His apologetic defence of the reality of God and the gospel of Christ has stirred within me a renewed passion to continue to pursue the training of the intellect. Who says the evangelical faith and the intellect were not compatible?! Christians with a pious evangelical faith will be deeply encouraged by Schaeffer’s deep intellectual discussion of the faith. His work in bringing many to faith through intellectual discussion was what attracted so many young intellectual people to his work of L’Abri. His work in Europe was what made Francis Schaeffer so well known in America later in his life. This biography of Francis Schaeffer, theologian and pastor, has sparked an interest in me to re-read some of his early works: Escape from Reason (1968), The God Who is There (1968), and He Is There and He Is Not Silent (1972). If you are an apologist, a Christian who is concerned the direction our society is moving toward, Francis Schaeffer is a man you ought to get to know better. Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, is a fabulous biography on one of the greatest theologians of the late 20th century.

Also see similar posts:
A theologian #3: Rev. Carlton Pearson
A theologian #1: Rev. John Shelby Spong

In dire need of clarity and interpretation: 1 Kings 10:4-5

Literal translations can sometimes leave the reader scratching their heads and wondering what in the world is the bible saying. Here is a case in 1 Kings 10:4-5 I found as I was reading from the NRSV tonight:

“When the queen of Sheba had observed all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his valets, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.” (NRSV)

…there was no more spirit in her. (NASB, NKJV)
… there was no more breath in her. (ESV)

When I first read this passage in the NRSV, it made absolutely no sense to me. Then I checked out the other formal translations and found them wanting of more interpretation. Obviously, we know that the Queen of Sheba was overwhelmed and made breathless when she observed the wisdom and grandeur displayed in Solomon’s house. This is a case where there is a great need for interpretation, otherwise, the reader is left utterly confused because it says the queen had “no more spirit in her.” What does that mean? The NASB and NKJV, the reads the same as the NRSV. The ESV is slightly better but not by much. Its rendering is a slight improvement over the RSV and NRSV.

Literal translations can sometimes:

1) fail to bring out the real meaning of the text;
2) is not the original writer’s intended meaning;
3) leave the reader with more confusion.

This gives the reader no choice but to desire a more accurate interpretation.

Where formal translations fail, dynamic translations can do a better job at bringing out a more accurate meaning:

… it took her breath away. (HCSB)
…she was overwhelmed. (TNIV)
…she was breathless. (NLTse)
… It left her breathless and amazed. (GNT)
… she was breathless. (GW)
… All these things amazed her. (NCV)

These dynamic translations, though interpretive, provide a more accurate meaning in the text. The ESV is still a little unclear. The T/NIV, GNT and NCV may border on being a little overly interpretive. With this particular verse, I feel the HCSB provided the best rendering. This verse is accurate, yet literal, and even manages to be idiomatic. It does not leave the reader wondering what is going on when they read this passage.

Some notable posts in the blogosphere

I have been taking a rest from blogging for a few weeks and have found it restful to just concentrate on my family. Once again, I’ll likely be away in the near future so ElShaddai’s quote sort of describes where I am these lazy summer days: “Seems in vogue these days to post about why we’re not posting much.” In looking back at the posts that I’ve missed, I would like to note some interesting posts by some of my favorite bloggers.

He is Sufficient has an interesting post on the ESV with Apocrypha. I think an evangelical translation with the apocrypha is a good thing—even if it is not as consistent about gender issues as the TNIV or NLT.

Though it was from July 12, New Leaven on how the REB and TNIV renders the Greek word sarx in Rom. 8:3 was quite interesting. I like this exegetical stuff.

And over at Better Bibles Blog, Suzanne McCarthy blogged about ESV’s handling of Romans 3:12. So she does agree with something the ESV did right. I guess there are a few redemptive points about the ESV, eh Suzanne? And Wayne Leman does not agree with NewEpistles’s characterization of the HCSB as a Baptist translation. I’ll need to explain why in more detail.

Thanks Gentle Wisdom for continuing his posts on Todd Bentley’s charismatic ministry. This is one of the Charismatic ministries I should keep up-to-date with. It is a significant ministry in the universal church.

And I extend my congratulations to NLT for establishing a blog for the New Living Translation at

NLT gaining ground for August 2008

CBA’s new stats for bible translation unit and dollar sales has been released for August 2008.

Unit Sales

  1. NIV
  2. NLT
  3. NKJV
  4. KJV
  5. ESV
  6. HCSB
  7. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
  8. The Message
  9. NASB
  10. Int’l Children’s Bible

Dollar Sales

  1. NIV
  2. KJV
  3. NLT
  4. NKJV
  5. HCSB
  6. NASB
  7. ESV
  8. The Message
  9. TNIV
  10. Int’l Children’s Bible

What has surprised me is that the NLT has gained the #2 spot in unit sales. Previously, the NKJV and KJV were holding #2 and #3 spots for the last little while but it looks like the NLT has pulled ahead to #2. Just by glancing at the bookshelves at Christian bookstores, I see that the NLT is taking up more shelf space these days. It is getting to be a very popular translation and I wouldn’t be surprised if it will one day catch up to the NIV. The sales person at the Canadian Bible Society told me that demand for the KJV has been decreasing because there are so many new translations out there today. The KJV readership will continually decrease as people learn that other translations are better.

It seems like the ESV and HCSB are holding quite steady at around the #5 and #6. The TNIV was knocked off the top 10 list for unit sales this month. I think readership of the ESV, HCSB and TNIV will continue to increase. They are excellent translations. The NASB is still holding its own ground.