Discovering the power of in-depth Bible study [Main Story]
BY GERALD A. KLINGBEIL
esign is not just a matter of taste. Design and layout are key to grasping quickly what’s important. A carefully thought-out design lies also behind the Andrews Study Bible, involving months of discussions, hiring as a designer and typesetter John R. Kohlenberger III (the foremost authority on study Bibles), and fine-tuning the design at the University Press.
When you open your copy of the Andrews Study Bible, you will first notice its signature color, blue. I remember from my college days that blue is considered one of the best background colors, communicating calmness, truth, and spirituality—all elements that a study Bible aspires to. Chapter numbers and paragraph subheadings are printed in blue. The center column cross-reference section is easily read black text on a blue background, and the theme icons are also kept blue. These theme icons represent a unique element of the Andrews Study Bible and cover the great themes of Scripture as understood by Seventh-day Adventists, from assurance via remnant and Sabbath to the Trinity. Visually it is easy to locate a theme icon, and the word identifying that theme, as both are printed in blue within the text of the particular note. A theme icon marks also other key passages that deal with the same topic. For example, the note on Acts 7:60 comments on the expression “he fell asleep”—a phrase well-known from Old Testament texts and closely associated with death. The corresponding Andrews Study Bible note highlights the close conceptual link between death and sleep and lists a number of additional key texts, including Daniel 12:2 and John 11:11-14. At the end of the Andrews Study Bible an annotated theme index with a list of relevant texts is also included if one would like to study Scripture thematically.
Thinking about the broad reach that the Andrews Study Bible is aspiring to as a Bible that will serve members, pastors, and evangelists, the editorial board decided at the outset to choose a well-established English translation. They opted for the New King James Version (NKJV), as it strives for lexical accuracy but at the same time is readable and well accepted in Christian communities.
There is a clear division separating the biblical text and the notes that are printed in a two-column paragraph style—after all, the focus of this study Bible is Scripture. When the note comments on a specific term or phrase from the NKJV, this term or phrase is printed in bold and italic. This is a feature familiar to those who have already used study Bibles. Not every verse is commented upon but key chapters (for example, Genesis 1–3 or Daniel 7–9) include a significant number of notes.
Each biblical book is introduced by a two- to three-page introductory section, covering significant elements such as title, authorship, audience, date and place of writing, themes (or message), literary structure, as well as an outline. This is the place to look at the bigger picture of a biblical book. Sprinkled throughout the Andrews Study Bible one can also find in-text maps, diagrams, helpful illustrations, full-color end maps, and an extensive 152-page concordance that bring the biblical text to life and provide easy access to the information contained in the text.
Following the general introduction to the text of the NKJV, the editors included two important articles. The first is a brief, but helpful, summary of the central concept of biblical inspiration (pp. xxv, xxvi). The second focuses upon the message of the Bible, bringing together key elements of Scripture (such as the cosmic controversy motif, God’s incredible plan of salvation, and the glorious future that will begin with the second coming of Christ and the complete destruction of sin [pp. xxvii-xxx]).
This is augmented by an extensive article following the last book of Scripture, entitled “Following the Bible” (pp. 1691-1697). It includes very helpful suggestions as to how one should read Scripture, introduces pertinent Bible study tools, and highlights the importance of Bible study techniques (or steps), which take into consideration the meaning of a phrase, its immediate and larger context, its historical location and relevance, as well as comparable parallel texts. This section, however, would be incomplete if it would not contain a summary of the principles that help readers make Scripture a reality in their personal lives. After all, that is the secret of the Word—both the written as well as the incarnated one. It seeks to transform us. The Andrews Study Bible provides the right tools, God’s Spirit is able and willing to do so, now we must just open the Word and begin to savor its taste.
Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This story was published June 17, 2010.