Monday, March 23, 2009

The New Lutheran Study Bible

We got our copies of the new Augsburg Lutheran Study Bible this week.

I'm not discarding my New Interpreter's Bible anytime soon; but I think this study Bible is a great resource for laypeople who are afraid of the Bible or who need to be nudged out of a first-grade-Sunday-School-picture-book understanding of the Bible with helpful, easy-to-understand footnotes (which have been moved to a sidebar format, with icons indicating the type of information they're providing; kewl, especially for the Internet generations). The sidebars also provide regular questions for reflection/discussion.

I have to admit I've learned something already: that the venomous creatures starring in yesterday's Old Testament "snake on a stick" lesson are called by the same Hebrew name as the seraphim mentioned by, say, Isaiah. Which has updated my previous mental picture of vipers clinging to the extremities of writhing Israelites, to something approaching a Mini-Me version of the Aerofalos in Link's Crossbow Training.

Some of the reflection questions gave me pause. While flipping through the Pentateuch I saw a question relating to the Levitical prohibition against tattoos...something along the lines of, "What do you think this means for us today?" Maybe this is a result of suffering through many utterly appalling lay-led Bible studies, and I'm sure my spiritual father Dr. Luther would have his foot up my fanny for saying this, but...I don't have a lot of confidence in the discernment skills of the untutored, even with a good study Bible; think the "Follow the shoe!" scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian , or a congregation of cottonmouth-waving snake-handlers, for my honest opinion of what happens when you hand a loaded Bible to people with no context in which to understand the contents. I'm sure some will walk away from that particular question with the new conviction that tattoos are Of The Devil, because The Bible Tells Me So, and Why doesn't Pastor ever talk about things like this that we need to know? But that's just me.

But overall I find the Lutheran Study Bible very user-friendly, with a genuine potential for wooing the tentative into personal reading and group studies; worth the purchase price.

4 comments:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

DH was at a lay conference this weekend where these Bibles were offered for sale. He didn't buy one, thinking that he can always get one later. Well, yeah, for almost twice the price! Both soft and hard cover editions were in the $20's at the conference. I told them I had heard the prices quoted at closer to $40. He regretted not buying one, esp since our daughter absconded with our NRSV because her name was inscribed in the front.

Tom in Ontario said...

We got ours for those who signed up and ordered them. I like the colour. I like the articles. I like the introductions to the books and sections of the scripture. The sidebar notes are fine. I just don't think there are enough of them. The NRSV that I bought in seminary is the HarperCollins Study Bible and it has oodles of notes at the bottom of each page. I find it's a lot more helpful as far as a "Study" Bible goes. I'd have to admit that I was rather disappointed. I was expecting the oodles of notes but written by Lutheran scholars.

LutheranChik said...

I like the HarperCollins Study Bible as well. I honestly don't think you or I are the particular market segments that Augsburg was aiming this at; I think they want to bring adults with a miserable exposure to/understanding of the Bible/fear of reading the Bible for that reason up to a basic knowledge/comfort level. Compared the to Witnesses to the Word booklet they put out years back, which I thought was pretty simpleminded, it's an improvement. I think back to my LMTP classes, and frankly there were people in there who wouldn't have been able to handle the complexity of the material in the HC or New Interpreter's Study Bibles; I hate to sound patronizing, but it's true. And perhaps if they had a kind of very basic study Bible, it would get them up to enough speed to one day think, "Hmmm...I'd like to learn more about this..." and go on to a more rigorous reference.

Paul McCain said...

Pastor, thank you for your posts, which I’ve found interesting. I’m wondering if you would not mind reading a couple things I’ve prepared on the AF Lutheran Study Bible, and giving me your opinion. I offer these to you respectfully. A blessed Holy Week and Easter to you.

http://cyberbrethren.com/2009/04/01/a-tale-of-two-bibles-a-necessary-clarification-and-caution/

http://cyberbrethren.com/2009/04/03/a-tale-of-two-bibles-a-comparison-of-how-the-subject-of-homosexuality-is-treated-in-the-lutheran-study-bible-and-the-elca-bible/

God bless

Pastor McCain