About the new Andrews Bible Commentary on the Old Testament, evangelist and church leader Mark Finley says it “reveals hidden gems of inspiration as well as deep theological insights” that will enrich both his preaching and writing. And Derek Morris, Hope Channel president and host of Hope Sabbath School, states that it will be “extremely useful for every pastor and lay leader who desires to preach and teach sound doctrine from the Old Testament Scriptures.” Adventist Review Ministries is delighted to introduce this helpful Bible study tool, which includes contributions by two of its editors. Here’s a more detailed review of the new Bible commentary.—Editors. 

Highlighting the Bible’s message of hope, along with detailed exposition of the Old Testament, the first of two volumes of the Andrews Bible Commentary will soon be in bookstores and available through online booksellers, according to Ronald Knott, director of Andrews University Press. The second volume, covering the books of the New Testament, is expected to arrive sometime next year.

Eight years in the making, the project is led by general editor Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, former director of the world church’s Biblical Research Institute. The project was funded by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and Andrews University.

With a total of just under 1,200 pages, the first Andrews Bible Commentary volume provides a comprehensive survey of the first 39 books of Scripture. This first volume also features overview articles about the Bible’s message of hope, faith, and science, as well as introductions to major sections of the Old Testament and introductions to each book. Numerous “sidebar” articles are found in many of the individual commentary sections as well, touching on major doctrinal themes and biblical issues.

A Growing Body of Scholarly Work

Planning for a Bible commentary accessible to a wide range of readers began not long after the 2010 release of the Andrews Study Bible, the first such study Bible prepared with the support of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Knott said the new commentary project has enabled him to focus even more on the Bible’s message. “With the beginning of the Andrews Study Bible project in 2007 . . . then moving into this project, so much of my professional life has been specifically focused on the Bible,” he said. “It brings to my mind William Miller’s own experience when he spent two years going through the Bible verse by verse and saying, as a result of that process, that ‘the scriptures became my delight and in Jesus, I found a friend.’”

Andrea Luxton, president of Andrews University, said the new volume is an extension of the school’s history of bringing Bible knowledge to the global Adventist community.

“The important thing is that this would be an easy, concise way for people to quickly understand a passage from an Adventist perspective,” Luxton said. “We see ourselves as [being] there to support the church with theology, so it’s a natural fit for us.”

According to L. S. Baker, Jr., an archaeologist and associate director of Andrews University Press, the new volume contains much that will interest readers: “Reading through every single word and wrestling with concepts, [I discovered that] there were some fantastic nuggets in this commentary that are going to be extremely helpful.”

Wholistic View of Scripture

Unlike the decades-old Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (SDABC), the new volumes take a more wholistic view of Scripture, said Rodríguez.

“There have been new discoveries in archaeology, in linguistics, and in Old Testament, New Testament backgrounds” since the original SDABC was published, Rodríguez said. “So the backgrounds for the study of the Bible have changed quite a bit. We have now, in many cases, gained a better understanding of some of the important Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic terminology,” he said.

Rodríguez emphasized that the new volumes offer a cohesive survey of Scripture, as opposed to the SDABC, which in many cases highlighted specific phrases. He also noted that the new volumes will reference the message of hope found throughout the Bible’s contents.

“When we were shaping the concept of the commentary, we concluded that it would be very, very good to take a particular theological topic as the guiding principle,” Rodríguez said. “And, of course, what came to mind was hope. Because if there is something that defines Adventists, it is hope. If there is something that runs throughout the Bible from beginning to end, it is the concept of hope.”

He added, “We’re not saying that this is the central theological topic of the Bible. We’re saying that for our purpose, we’ve decided to exercise this, keeping in mind that in the Bible, God is the God of hope. In the New Testament, Jesus is our living hope.”

Though planned long before the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, the commentary’s concentration on hope seems particularly timely, said Deborah L. Everhart, Andrews University Press editor.

“It really is a key distinctive feature that this commentary has its emphasis on a biblical topic of hope. Even though it was planned long ago, before we knew the book’s time of release, it now seems to be perfect timing for that theme,” Everhart said. “Hope is desired by so many right now.”

A Collaborative Effort

Assisting Rodríguez in editing the commentary are three noted Seventh-day Adventist biblical scholars: Daniel Kwame Bediako, vice chancellor and an associate professor of Old Testament at Valley View University in Oyibi, Ghana; Carl P. Cosaert, dean of the School of Theology and professor of biblical studies at Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington; and Gerald A. Klingbeil, associate editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, as well as research professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Along with the editors, Rodríguez emphasized the global group of contributors to the volumes: “For the Old Testament we have no less than 34 Adventist theologians writing for us. In the New Testament no less than 23 are from around the world, from every division” of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, he said.

Early readers of the commentary have responded with enthusiasm.

“The Andrews Bible Commentary is a monumental work produced by outstanding theologians and scholars in a readable, inspirational style that is understandable for the average person,” said Adventist evangelist Mark Finley. 

Ella Smith Simmons, a noted educator and a general vice president of the Adventist world church, added, “The Andrews Bible Commentary is a superb companion to the Andrews Study Bible. Its publication opens up new opportunities for expository Bible study for many who have not had the tools readily at hand for in-depth examinations of Scripture. Its overarching theme of hope and general articles guide perspective and process, and along with its rich introductory sections and expansive time line, establish valuable context for the study of each Bible book. Though one typically does not read through a commentary, this one will make a good read from cover to cover.”

The volume retails for $49.99 from Andrews University at universitypress.andrews.edu. But as part of a special introductory release, it’s now available for 30 percent off ($34.99) as part of, and in sync with, the Michigan Conference virtual camp meeting book sale on Friday, June 19, 4-6 p.m., hosted by the Berrien Springs Village Church at villagesda.org. More information about the Andrews Bible Commentary is also available at the Andrews University Press Facebook page, www.facebook.com/andrewsuniversitypress.

Mark A. Kellner is a freelance journalist.

Taking small steps to preserve the planet.

Let’s cut to the good news: This present planet is not going to last forever. The Bible says Christians should live holy and godly lives “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:12, 13).

Today’s earth, with its pollution, decay, and destruction at the hands of greedy people, will not remain. We’re going to have a new earth because God has promised it, with Paradise restored.

But nowhere does the Bible tell us when these glorious events are going to take place. For now this earth is all we have.

If you ever have the opportunity, go online and seek out videos produced by Britain’s SkyNews for their Sky Oceans campaign. The stories are striking and heart-stirring, though not always easy or pleasant to watch.

The Planet Needs Our Help

The major concern in the world’s oceans these days is the vast amounts of plastics—bags, bottles, cups, straws, even sandals—that are dumped into the water worldwide. The ones that don’t end up snaring small birds and marine life are often eaten by these creatures. Those that aren’t eaten can end up on distant beaches or clumped together in gigantic floating “islands” of debris.

Plastic doesn’t break down into elements that can be absorbed and used by the earth. That’s why these nearly indestructible items pile up, threatening our lives and the environment.

The challenge, of course, is that every person on this planet needs oceans to survive. Some consume fish from the seas, but we all partake of the water, either directly, through desalination plants, or as it evaporates and moves into the atmosphere to become rain.

Coastal dwellers and vacationers cherish time on a beachfront, unless the resulting pollution makes the beach unusable or the smell unpalatable. Plastic pollution threatens beaches throughout the world, most notably in many of the Pacific’s smaller islands, as well as nations such as the Philippines, India, Thailand, Indonesia, and others.

What can I do to help? One answer is to avoid plastic bottles and other disposable items whenever and wherever possible. Another is to limit use of drinking straws, and to make sure those plastics I do use are recycled.

The other is to become educated about the problem and urge others to learn about it. That’s what I’ve done this past year, and I hope to do more. Please pray about your involvement with plastics and see if you can do things to help, until that day a new earth arrives. Thank you!

Mark A. Kellner is a Seventh-day Adventist writer living in Salt Lake City, Utah.

On a September evening, dozens of people gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah, to honor the life and work of Joseph Harry Anderson, an artist and Seventh-day Adventist whose depictions of Christ and Bible scenes have touched the lives of millions. Better known as Harry Anderson, the late artist’s work was used in hundreds, if not thousands, of Seventh-day Adventist books as well as Adventist Review magazine, previously known as the Review and Herald.

But the celebration — and a new exhibit of Anderson’s artwork and preliminary versions — was not held at an Adventist facility, nor was it organized by Adventists. Instead, the Church History Museum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group popularly known as the Mormons, hosted the event. For nearly 30 years prior to his passing, Anderson created many paintings and murals for the LDS Church, concentrating on images of Christ, the disciples and other biblical stories.

The exhibit of Anderson’s work will run through April 2017, officials said, making it likely that many of the thousands of LDS Church members who visit Salt Lake City for that group’s twice-yearly conferences will stop in to view it. The museum also said an online exhibit of the Anderson items will also be available.

Anderson, who along with his wife had converted to the Seventh-day Adventist faith as adults in the 1940s, never stopped working for the Adventist movement’s periodicals, his daughter, Kristin Geddes, told Adventist Review at the event. Anderson passed to his rest in 1996, and is remembered today with a permanent exhibit at the Seventh-day Adventist world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. His artwork is still featured in Adventist periodicals and other publications.

Geddes said her father was eager to tell the story of Jesus through art. Anderson’s depiction of Christ commissioning the disciples was viewed by millions who visited the Mormon pavilion at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow in the borough of Queens. That giant painting was Anderson’s first commission from the LDS movement.

According to a news release, “The paint studies in this exhibition were the precursors for the final paintings which, for nearly fifty years, have been used as illustrations in hundreds of Latter-day Saint publications. In addition, reproductions of Anderson’s paintings decorate many Latter-day Saint meetinghouses, visitors’ centers, and temples around the world.”

Heather House, an LDS church member from Salt Lake City, recalled having been “raised with these pictures. It’s neat to see his first thoughts” in the studies Anderson did “and how they differ from the final paintings.”

Now a piano teacher, House said seeing Anderson’s realistic portrayals as a young child “helped me understand the (Bible) stories better. They’d stick with me and help me understand the words better. I could imagine myself being there because the people looked so real.”

The differences in the early studies Anderson did and the final pieces also impressed Laura Allred Hurtado, the global acquisitions curator for art at the LDS Church History Museum.

“I was just blown away by these 22 preparatory paint studies,” Hurtado said. “It gives us the ability to see famous images with new eyes, and gives new life to Harry Anderson, his work and those stories that are so beloved to Christians all over the world.”

Gabrielle Griffin, a social studies and government teacher at Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, Virginia and one of Anderson’s grandchildren, recalled that when asked how he created his art, her grandfather replied, “I don’t know,” saying his talent “was a gift from God and couldn’t be explained.”

And Richard Oman, a retired LDS Church historian, said Mormons didn’t worry that Anderson wasn’t a part of their faith. “I don’t think they saw it as a barrier,” he said. “Harry Anderson’s work was a wonderful bridge” between faiths, he added.

At the age of 30, David Knott—known as DJ to friends and family—could be enjoying a happy life in commercial aviation, perhaps as the Alaskan bush pilot he’d dreamed of being at age 12. Knott’s wife, Jodi, 28, easily might be the schoolteacher for which an elementary education degree prepared her.

God, however, had other plans for these alumni of Adventist-owned Andrews University. They regularly travel into villages thousands of feet above sea level in western Bolivia, bringing medical assistance and a Christian message. Their current home city of La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, has an elevation more than twice that of Denver, Colorado, itself known as the “mile-high” city.

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Rugged Terrain

Pilot Knott had visited Bolivia as a student missionary during his college days. “I went here because I was sure that’s where God wanted me,” he explained. He was fascinated by the remoteness of some areas in the country. In 2011, two years after graduating from Andrews, he and his wife returned to Bolivia, then moved to Guyana for a year to serve with another mission aviation group. Two years in the U.S. followed as the Knotts laid the groundwork for a return to the mission field, and in January 2015, helming their own nonprofit, Gospel Mission Aviation, they relocated to Bolivia’s capital city. Supporters track their progress on Knott’s Bolivia Highland Ministries blog.

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“When we first got here, we were first-class wimps,” DJ said via telephone from La Paz. “We’re living in a city at a 12,000-foot elevation, and with the pollution, that means extra trouble for the lungs.”

He said the Andes Mountains “split the country in two,” between the low-lying plains on the east and the mountains in the west, with many remote villages that even today require perseverance and skill to reach.

“You have to cross a pass of 15,000 feet to even get into the mountains,” he explained. “The remote villages we ended up finding around here are around the 10,000- to 12,000-foot range. . . . You’d probably have to go to the Himalayas to find anything similar.”

Interestingly, Seventh-day Adventist missionaries—including South American pioneer Fernando Stahl—had trekked into the highlands as recently as the mid-twentieth century, teaching and baptizing believers, and establishing congregations and schools. Education was, and still is, prized in Bolivia as a way for people to improve their lives and escape poverty.

Embracing the Challenge

But more recent years have seen a decline in Adventist activity. Lack of funding has caused the closure of church-run schools in the highlands. Many who had been baptized as youths—from their educational experience—had fallen away, Knott said.

Among non-Adventists, Knott said, “It’s a tough area. The people are very guarded, because they’ve been taken advantage of by mining and other industries.”

How to break through? The young couple found a key on page 143 of Ellen G. White’s classic book The Ministry of Healing, where the author encourages the imitation of “Christ’s method” in reaching the unsaved: “The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’ ”

For Jodi and DJ Knott, this means treks into the mountains with medical volunteers, bringing as much care as they can, making friends with the help of Bolivian Adventist medical volunteers.

“Once you get in there, they are more open,” DJ said of the people they encounter. “Some are backslidden Adventists, from the work of early missionaries. We’ve happened to stumble into a few of these and learned about the Adventist heritage there. . . . We’re finding that a part of our ministry is bringing back those people to the church.”

Mission With Purpose

But it’s not just lapsed church member the Knotts encounter. The “large majority of the people are unchurched and have animistic and spiritualistic beliefs,” DJ explained. “They are into the dark spiritualistic stuff: for example, eating fox meat to ‘help’ with postpartum problems,” or other ills.

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The work requires patience and perseverance, qualities Jodi Knott acquired as the daughter of Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in Indonesia, which today is the world’s largest Muslim nation.

Asked what made her go to Bolivia, she said, “I just want to see Jesus come. I want to see this world and the troubles we are in finished. I want to see the world reached and Jesus to win the battle. . . . When you get to know Jesus for who He is, you really want to share Him.”

The privations of the mission field—including multiday treks through the Andean highlands—aren’t lost on Jodi, but neither are they oppressive, she said.

“Whenever we surrender ourselves to God, He shows us what he has for us. He brings us through whatever He has for us. Whatever we need, He provides for,” she said.

For now, the Knotts are continuing their patient, persistent work, going into fields that might be choked with weeds, but under which is good soil ready for cultivation.

“We’re raising money for a Medivac airplane that would reach places without a runway,” DJ said. “A plane that could land in very small spaces. We are hoping to take what we’ve got going now, and the airplane could expand that.”

Such a craft could reach three remote villages in a single day, instead of the 10 days it now takes using a 42-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser and hiking on foot. The Knotts hope to relocate to Cochabamba, one of Bolivia’s largest major cities and the home of an Adventist university. There they would host local and overseas medical volunteers for future journeys into remote areas.

DJ adds, “From there, that opens doors for the gospel, and we want to follow up by bringing Bible workers. Our pastors typically have about 35 churches [to supervise] and no transportation of their own. Our dream is to help them and plant and sustain Bible workers to help in their districts.”

It’s not the life of an Alaskan bush pilot, nor that of an elementary schoolteacher, but DJ and Jodi Knott are aiming for a spiritual—and literal—higher ground.

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DJ and Jodi Knott, through their ministry, Gospel Mission Aviation, recently joined the Southern Union chapter of ASI. DJ is the nephew of Adventist Review executive editor Bill Knott.

Mark A. Kellner is online content editor for Adventist Review.