From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Abingdon Press completes 'New Interpreter's Bible'

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Tue, 25 Jun 2002 15:15:44 -0500

June 25, 2002 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615) 742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.   10-71BP{269}

NOTE: A photograph is available with this story.

By Kathy Gilbert*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - A 12-year project will draw to an end for Abingdon
Press when it releases the 12th and final volume of The New Interpreter's
Bible in July. 

Some 97 authors from 21 Christian communions have been involved in preparing
this collection of commentaries on all the books of the Bible and the

"The New Interpreter's Bible is probably not best thought about as being
like a study Bible," said Harriett Olson, executive with the United
Methodist Publishing House. "It is a whole shelf full of the best scholarly
resource we could gather about the biblical text (the commentary sections),
combined with discussions dealing with ways that the text can be viewed or
applied in our contemporary settings (the reflection sections)."

Each of the biblical books is introduced by an article dealing with that
book and its setting, as well as general articles on the different schools
of biblical interpretation and the varied types of writings included in the
biblical cannon. The entire Bible is reprinted in the New Revised Standard
Version and the New International Version. Commentary and reflections on the
Scriptures appear in each section.
"It contains a tremendous amount of material in a very accessible format,"
Olson said.

"The New Interpreter's Bible represents our strong and abiding commitment to
find the intersection where deep faithfulness, superior scholarship, and
practical service in support of the witness of the church all meet," said
Neil M. Alexander, president and publisher at the Publishing House. The book
will enliven the church's engagement with Scripture while fostering "vital
teaching and preaching in congregations," he said.

Leander E. Keck, Winkley Professor of Biblical Theology Emeritus at Yale
Divinity School, served as convener of the editorial board and senior New
Testament editor. The project was launched in 1990, and the first volume was
released in 1994.

"From the start, the aim of the NIB has been to make the best insights of
current biblical scholarship accessible to a wide circle of readers without
talking down to them," Keck said. Contributors have included scholars,
pastors and lay people representing diverse traditions - Protestantism,
Catholicism and Judaism - and roles in church life. The roster of writers
includes 21 women, and is racially and ethnically diverse: six African
Americans, five Hispanic Americans, a Native American and three Asian

Introductions to each biblical book address historical, sociocultural, and
literary and theological issues.

"The NIB presents the user with the diversity of approaches and theological
perspectives that characterizes biblical study today," Keck said. "If some
consider this diversity to be a weakness, others will find it a strength
because it invites the users to participate in the conversation about the
meaning of Scripture in our time."

"The greatest virtue of the New Interpreter's Bible is that, unlike most
commentaries, it witnesses to the indissoluble link between biblical study
and preaching," said Richard Lischer, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland
Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School. "The New Testament was the
church's first sustained sermon, and it was meant to be preached in
succeeding generations. The Scripture was never intended to be segregated
from its practical and liturgical use among communities of faith. That is
what makes it the lively word. The New Interpreter's Bible confirms that the
most searching biblical scholarship can be done with reverence. Such
scholarship does not inhibit proclamation but energizes it."

Though the new Bible has been well received by scholars and is being used in
seminaries and other settings, it is intended primarily for the church
pastor or teacher, Olson said. 

"The commitment to participating ecumenically in biblical scholarship and
making the best of that work available to the church is deep in our United
Methodist DNA," she said. "United Methodists have a deep hunger to know more
about the Bible and a desire to interpret it well - our work at the United
Methodist Publishing House and Abingdon Press is to under gird that work."

"In the past dozen years, the United Methodist Publishing House has
committed major resources to enhance the study of Scripture in the churches
- the NIB and the Disciple Bible Study Program. This commitment should not
be taken for granted; it is a major achievement that will bear fruit for
years to come," Keck said.

Marking that achievement, Cokesbury is offering the entire set for $500
through July 31 (regular price is $780). It is also available on CD-ROM.
Purchasers of previous electronic volumes can get credit toward the set by
calling (800) 409-5346. The offer is available at Cokesbury stores, at (800)
672-1789 or online.
# # #
*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville,

United Methodist News Service
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