July 2, 2020

​A Commentary for Our Times

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.”

Details of the volume’s price are available at the Andrews University Press website, universitypress.andrews.edu, as well as its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/andrewsuniversitypress.

Mark A. Kellner is a freelance journalist.