This is a remarkable Study Bible, a ‘must’ for every African or anyone who loves Africa.
The goal of the African Leaders who produced this study Bible was to ‘help us grow strong in Jesus Christ and to give us insight about God’s word to the continent and to the world as God’s word through African eyes’.
As a study Bible this one is full of illustrations and teachings to apply the scripture culturally to everyday life in Africa. It includes excellent articles and ‘learn notes’ interwoven with the biblical text to help the reader apply what he or she has been reading to their own cultural situation. There are 130 of these.
Articles include topics such as ‘Caring for God’s Creation’ (following Genesis), ‘African Traditional Beliefs and the Bible’ (after the book of Joshua), Youth and African Society’ (after 1 Kings), ‘Missions’ (after Romans) and so on. They are written by Africans for an African audience. For instance, the article on Discipleship opens with a story about a Nigerian student who, post conversion, applied for a job and was expected to produce a bribe. What was he to do? His new found faith and discipleship led him to refuse and he ended getting another offer.
As well as the usual footnotes on every page there are also many application notes to show how the scripture applies in day-to-day life. Further, ‘learn notes’ follow relevant chapters. Examples, which directly apply the topic to an African context, include ‘Ancestors’ (after 1 Chronicles 10), ‘Proverbs in the Bible and in Africa’ (after Proverbs 6), ‘Angels and Demons’ (after Isaiah 6) and ‘Curses and Blessings (after Colossians 3).
The text is based on the New Living Translation carried out by an international team of theologians and first published in 1996. It is claimed to be ‘both exegetically accurate and idiomatically powerful….the result of precise scholarship (by 90 Bible scholars) conveyed in living language’.
The version used here includes revisions ‘to increase the level of precision and…. easy to understand quality’ and dates from 2015. As such it is very accessible even for those for whom English is not their first language.
The text is appropriately illustrated with maps, diagrams, line drawings, charts and timelines to help the reader contextualise the portion he is reading. These are not only informative but also help to lighten the presentation which in places is quite dense.
The following video helpfully summarises the features and benefits of this Study Bible.
To review a book of over 2000 pages in 500 words is an impossible task! But I do strongly commend it to all believers who live in, are rooted in or have an interest in Africa. You will not only gain insights into the truth of God’s word but also into aspects of African culture. Personally, I have started to use this Study Bible alongside my ‘Bible in a Year’ daily reading scheme (McCheyne) and am finding it not only gives very helpful commentary on the passage but also, through the notes, it is giving me more insight into African culture – a double blessing!
The Bible may be bought from many of the usual outlets but I encourage you to buy it from Oasis International who have taken a lead role in its production and have outlets in several African nations. Click here.
Finally, if you are reading this in a more affluent economy why not give a copy to a friend in Africa?