June 16, 2010

Being Part of Something Great

2010 1517 page6 capN EARLY JANUARY OF 2008 A SURPRISING E-MAIL ARRIVED IN MY in-box inviting me to participate in a unique and exciting publication project. For quite some time Andrews University Press had been thinking about a unique study Bible. Now they were ready—and invited me to join a group of select Adventist biblical scholars who would write the notes and introductions.

At that time I served as dean and professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the Theological Seminary of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines. After getting the green light from my administration, I spent a long day in March flying to Michigan and participated in the first editorial meeting that gathered in the historic Sutherland House (seat of the Andrews University Press offices) on the campus of Andrews University.

We had an ambitious timetable, as all introductions and notes needed to be submitted by the end of 2008. I did not know at that time that during this year I would receive another momentous invitation—to join the Adventist Review/Adventist World editorial team in Silver Spring, Maryland—causing additional levels of stress. While I had not really used study Bibles before (most professors of biblical studies that I know prefer reading the original languages or just a good translation), I had noticed that my students brought ever-changing study Bibles to class. As I began my writing I looked at five or six different examples and was amazed at the possibilities and their broad reach. I found a Life Application Study Bible, an Archaeological Study Bible, a Study Bible for Men, and a Study Bible for Women. The variety seemed to be never-ending, and I realized that this was clearly a major project in Adventist biblical research and publication.

2010 1517 page6The next months were an exciting adventure. Participating in this project involved a lot of prayer (“will I make the deadlines?”), and required me to think biblically and focus exclusively upon the text of Scripture. I particularly enjoyed opening windows on the world of the biblical authors to readers who had never had the chance (or the time) to study ancient languages or the material culture of the ancient Near East. It provided a great opportunity to dig deeper and develop further the great themes of Scripture, so dear to Seventh-day Adventists. I hope that readers of the Andrews Study Bible will experience a similar sense of joy, adventure, and discovery.

However, this exciting project also taught me another important lesson—something that is applicable to every member of this faith community that is about to congregate in Atlanta. I was part of something big, something exhilarating. Yes, it required maximum effort and I spent numerous Sundays and evenings behind my computer. But it was worth it.

Not every member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church will be as visible as the president of the General Conference or the editor of the Adventist Review. However, we are all part of this exciting, exhilarating, thrilling, momentous, and, yes, historic movement that began to stir less than 2,000 years ago on a mountain somewhere in Galilee: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19, NKJV),* said the risen Lord. Do something great—even if you cannot see the outcome clearly. Change the world—even though you feel small and insignificant. “I am with you—always” (see Matt. 28:20).

*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Gerald A. Klingbeil is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published June 17, 2010.