Dr. John Jusu, Ph.D, supervising editor; scores of contributors from 50 countries
Oasis International Limited & Tyndale House Publishers, 2016. 2,095pp.
The Africa Study Bible is an ambitious, important, and wonderful project. Tagged “God’s Word Through African Eyes,” the ASB contains the New Living Translation text in English with more than 130 Articles and Learn Notes by African theologians, pastors, and leaders. Dr. Michel Kenmongne, Executive Director of SIL International calls it “a precious resource that reflects the reality of the shift in Christianity’s center of gravity to the Southern hemisphere and to Africa in particular.”
Unique to the Africa Study Bible are illustrations and references that might seem quaint or interesting to Western readers, but will be right at home for Africans. A note on page 805 contains a Lari proverb from the Republic of the Congo, a West African proverb (“He who wants honey must have the courage to face the bees”) is on page 1080, a Krio (Gambia) proverb on page 1285, and references to traditional African marriage (page 1,781) demonstrate the depth of illumination provided from the so-called “Dark Continent.”
A discussion “Dealing with Persecution” from 2 Timothy 3:12 includes notes on real, current persecution taking place in Africa. In some countries where Christians are minorities jobs have been denied and churches destroyed. In northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed thousands of Christians. These notes must have more impact to modern African readers than study notes about 1st Century persecution in Western-oriented study Bibles do.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
The Africa Study Bible reminded this reviewer that the Bible is not bound to or by any of the world’s historically dominant cultures. Application (and often interpretation) can be distorted or myopic based on how culture influences the reader. Study notes birthed in other cultures remind us that God’s word is relevant to any culture.
It also reminds that we in the West—American Christians, British Christian, Canadian Christians, etc—do not have a monopoly on authoritative biblical interpretation. We can—and we must—learn from believers in other parts of the world lest we become blinded and lose the insights their study affords.
A co-worker, herself a missionary’s kid raised in South Africa, wrote about the Africa Study Bible:
It’s a true gift to be able to reflect on God’s word with the guide of relevant, contextually-appropriate prompts, and I was delighted to see how intentionally the Africa Study Bible writers have thought about Africa’s diverse cultures and traditions. This product is a substantial and beautiful addition to the resources Africans—and anyone interested in Africa—have to learn more about the Lord!
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By