Saving the Bible from Ourselves

Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read & Live the Bible Well

InterVarsity, 2016

Modern Bibles come with all sorts of tools that are intended to help us engage the text better: verse and chapter divisions, cross references, study notes, and so on. But do they actually help us read the Bible? Glenn Paauw is vice president of global Bible engagement at Biblica, and his answer is a definitive “no.” This book is his manifesto on how the design of our Bibles has encouraged us to distort what the Bible is—breaking it into tiny pieces that can be shuffled around—and how to return the Bible to what it ought to be by adopting what he calls “big readings” of the text.

Specifically, Paauw thinks we need to make seven changes in how we view the Bible. We need to move from a complicated Bible to an elegant Bible; from a snacking Bible to a feasting Bible; from a de-historicized Bible to a historical Bible; from a de-dramatized Bible to a “storiented” Bible; from an otherworldly Bible to an earthly Bible; from a private Bible to a synagogue Bible; and from an ugly Bible to an iconic Bible. In sum, he thinks our Bible should be “presented as literature, eaten in natural forms, grounded in history, inviting in its narrative, restorative in its theme, engaged in community and honored in its aesthetic presentation” (213).

As someone who has participated in creating a Bible translation and a study Bible, I found Paauw’s arguments thought-provoking and convicting. Whatever your thoughts on Paauw’s specific prescriptions for change, this is a great book for anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about our engagement with the Bible and how it could be improved.


The Book of Zechariah (NICOT)

The Book of Zechariah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)

Eerdmans, 2016

For almost 50 years, evangelical scholars and pastors have benefitted from the magisterial New International Commentary on the Old Testament. In this series, high-quality scholarship combine with a strong commitment to the reliability and authority of the biblical text. Mark J. Boda continues this noble tradition with his volume on Zechariah.

Boda’s work shines brightly in three areas: structure, historical context, and intertextuality. First, Boda carefully observes the internal clues and literary devices of Zechariah, grounding readers solidly within the book’s structure. Second, Boda situates each passage, and the whole book, within its historical setting, showing the post-exilic Jewish community struggling to maintain its identity as the people of Yahweh within the Persian Empire. Throughout, Boda shows the influence of the Torah and prophetic texts; Zechariah’s words receive detailed attention in light of their history of usage in other Hebrew Scriptures.

Boda aims his comments chiefly at academics who may have particular questions regarding historical and linguistic details. The commentary offers such extensive detail in its research—and less attention to the big picture (especially the New Testament)—that it is not well suited for readers seeking to simply understand or teach the main message of Zechariah.


Theology of Work Bible Commentary

Theology of Work Bible Commentary (5 Volumes)

Hendrickson, 2014-2016

Much of a church’s ministry takes place when its members are not gathered together. Preachers want to know how to, as Ephesians says, “equip the saints for the work of ministry”—namely, connecting weekend worship to Monday morning work.

The distinctive contribution of the Theology of Work Bible Commentary, edited by William Messenger of the Theology of Work Project, is that it seeks to explore “what the entire Bible says about work” (series foreword).

Each biblical book has a short introduction, including a summary of what that book says about work. There are long stretches of Scripture not discussed at all, but the commentary explains passages it sees as directly relating to the theology and practice of a Christian’s work.

Ephesians 4:1, for example, says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” The commentary notes, “Every Christian shares in this calling. Thus our truest and deepest vocation (from the Latin word for ‘calling’) is to do our part to advance the multifaceted mission of God in the world” (5:101). Though its brevity may not always permit depth, the commentary provides unique and helpful theological and practical connections between the Bible and Christians’ working world.