Preaching is the proclamation of God’s Word. Thus, it seems to go without saying that those who preach must root themselves in scripture. We must study it so that we can effectively proclaim its truths.
Yet one challenge we face today is the enormous treasure of Bible versions, editions, and study resources that are available, both in print and on line. It was bad enough to pace the floor on Monday morning wondering what to preach next Sunday; now it’s possible to pace the floor on Monday afternoon wondering which book to open first!
Each year, Preaching seeks to help preachers by providing a brief overview of some of the new Bibles and Bible products that have become available during the past year. It is by no means a comprehensive treatment, but it does provide a quick survey of recent offerings.
Every year I think there can’t possibly be another translation of the Bib- le released — and it seems that each year I’m proven wrong!
The newest translation is currently on the press, with release likely by the time you read these words. The English Standard Version (ESV) seeks to provide a word-for-word translation (as opposed to a “dynamic equivalence” approach) with an emphasis on accuracy and precision. The goal, according to publisher Crossway Bibles, is “a Bible translation that reflects the original texts as closely as modern English will allow.”
The translation team was led by general editor J.I. Packer, and includes more than 50 conservative evangelical scholars, including Wayne Grudem, Kent Hughes, Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Leon Morris, and Moises Silva. The Advisory Council includes a variety of evangelical pastors and church leaders, including Eric Alexander, Bryan Chapell, Carl F.H. Henry, Max Lucado, Erwin Lutzer, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul.
Contemporary translators must come down on one side or the other on a variety of issues, such as the use of gender-neutral language. The ESV opts for a literal rendering of the text, and retains the generic use of “he” in rendering the text. The ESV also retains a variety of classic theological terms — such as justification, redemption, sanctification, propitiation — rather than trying to translate them into more contemporary English idiom.
More common than new translations are new editions of existing translations; of these there seems to be no end.
One promising option is the Pastor’s Bible from Zondervan Press. (This was actually released last fall, but was received too late to be included in the 2000 survey.) This is essentially an NIV with a 64-page section of pastoral helps included, such as a list of appropriate passages for specific pastoral situations; worship helps; funeral and wedding resources, etc.
While this Bible will be well received, it might be hoped that future editions would pay more attention to the preaching as well as pastoral needs of the average minister. Additional resources in this area would make this a “must-buy” investment for pastors.
Another translation which saw new editions released this year is the New Living Translation (NLT), produced by Tyndale House Publishers. The NLT is now available in The One Year Bible format, a popular series also available in other translations. This volume breaks down the biblical text into readings for each day, each reading including some portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. It is an excellent tool for devotional study, and the NLT One-Year Bible is also available on CD-ROM, which will help those who might like to do their devotional reading at a desk or on their laptop. (See
The NLT is also the translation used in The Promise Bible, which features notes alongside the biblical text (printed in blue) containing promises. The Bible also contains a front section listing biblical promises by topic. If you’re planning to preach a sermon series on the promises of God, here’s the Bible for you! (This would also make a nice gift for graduates, newly marrieds, etc.)
There is another new translation I’ve just learned about, and it will be of great interest to those who use technology in their ministry. The NET Bible (New English Translation) is a completely new translation of the Bible, being completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who are working directly from the original language texts. As the preface points out, “The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD-Rom. Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others.” (I found it at
One of the most outstanding features of the NET Bible is its extensive notes with the translation, which appear as a frame on your screen when you are reading on-line. These notes operate on a technical level for pastors, teachers, and students of Greek and Hebrew who are interested in the grammatical, syntactical, and text-critical details of the translation, and at a more popular level (comparable to current study Bibles) for lay readers. As their web site observes, “In electronic format the length of these notes, a considerable problem with conventional printed Bibles, is no longer a major limitation.”
The notes offer translators an opportunity to explain and defend the translation given for a particular verse or passage, to show major interpretive options and/or textual options for difficult or disputed passages, and to give a translation that is formally equivalent, while placing a somewhat more dynamically equivalent translation in the text itself to promote better readability and understandability. And the use of electronic media gives the translators and editors the opportunity to continually update and improve the translation and notes.
New Testament scholar Robert Gundry points out, “The footnotes of the NET Bible New Testament provide an invaluable resource for people who want to know the main questions of text, translation, and interpretation that scholars discuss. Given the richness of detail on these questions, nobody will agree with all the answers given here; but the answers stay on the map of well-respected positions, and other answers get an eminently fair shake…There’s nothing on the market quite like it.”
The NET Bible is available on-line, can be downloaded in HTML format, in Logos Library system, or for your Palm or Windows CE handheld. I applaud the methodology used here, and suspect it will influence future translators of other versions as well.
A number of outstanding commentaries were released by publishers during the past year.
Among the Old Testament commentaries published in the past year are two additions to “The Old Testament Library,” a scholarly series produced by Westminster John Knox Press. Well-known scholar Brevard S. Childs (Yale University) has written a significant commentary on Isaiah, while John Barton (Oxford University) has written on Joel and Obadiah.
A commentary series by the same publisher which is aimed at a more popular audience is “Interpretation.” These volumes are often quite useful for preachers and teachers who seek serious scholarship that does not assume proficiency with the biblical languages. First and Second Chronicles by Steven S. Tuell (Randolph-Macon College) and Proverbs by Leo G. Perdue (Brite Divinity School) are recent additions to this excellent series.
Still another series from Westminster John Knox is the “Westminster Bible Companion,” which is aimed at a lay audience but will be of interest to many pastors because of its emphasis on contemporary application of the biblical text. This year saw the release of Psalms by James Limburg (Luther Seminary).
One of the most outstanding series now in production is the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture by InterVarsity Press, for which Thomas C. Oden (Drew University) serves as general editor. These volumes draw on the insights and observations of the early church fathers (from the first to the eighth centuries) about the biblical text. As we prepare to preach God’s Word, it is a unique gift to be able to turn quickly to the observations of some of the church’s great minds. The most recent Old Testament additions to this series are Volume I, Genesis 1-11, edited by Andrew Louth (University of Durham), and Volume III, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, edited by Joseph T. Lienhard (Fordham University).
One of my favorite series — particularly because of its value to preachers — is “The NIV Application Commentary” by Zondervan Publishing House. These volumes are consistently helpful in driving preachers to the relevance and application of the text, which is a vital element of effective preaching. Two new additions to the series this year are Ecdesiastes/ Song of Songs by Iain Provan (Regent College) and Hosea/Amos/Micah by Gary V. Smith (Midwestern Baptist Seminary).
Bruce Waltke (Reformed Seminary) is one of the leading Old Testament scholars among evangelicals today. His newest publication is Genesis: A Commentary, published by Zondervan. Waltke combines solid scholarship with a teacher’s touch that will make this a valuable addition to any preacher’s library. In addition to his valuable exegetical insights, Waltke reflects on how the Bible’s first book speaks to many of our pressing contemporary issues, from the environment to homosexuality.
One of the outstanding New Testament commentary series now in production is “The New International Greek Testament Commentary” from William B. Eerdmans Publishing. The series is well represented by The First Epistle to the Corinthians by Anthony Thiselton (University of Nottingham), one of the most gifted theologians in the world today. This exegetical and theological commentary is the most detailed and comprehensive commentary on the Greek text of First Corinthians available in English.
The “New Testament Commentary” series by Baker Books takes a more expositional approach, making it a useful tool for pastors and teachers. A recent release in this series is Revelation by Simon J. Kistemaker (Reformed Seminary), who helps his readers work through what can seem a maze of symbolic and figurative language in the last book of the Bible.
The publisher of the “Interpretation” commentary series also produces an “Interpretation Bible Studies” series through its Geneva Press imprint. The most recent release in this series is Philippians and Galatians by Stanley P. Saunders (Columbia Seminary). These small volumes are designed for small group or personal Bible studies, but often contain resources that can be of value to preachers.
One of the great losses to the church in the past year was the death of James Montgomery Boice, the gifted preacher and pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church. For many years I have enjoyed the contribution made by this outstanding Bible teacher on the radio and through his many books. Representative of his outstanding work is this two volume series on The Gospel of Matthew, published by Baker. Boice’s work is an expositional commentary which grew out of his own preaching ministry. Any pastor preparing to preach in the gospel of Matthew will benefit from the insights of this talented expositor.
Another contemporary expositor who is serving the church through both pulpit and pen is R. Kent Hughes, pastor of the College Church in Wheaton, IL. His “Preaching the Word” series, published by Crossway Books, is one of the finest tools available for preachers. The newest release in that series is The Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom. Filled with valuable insights from the text, useful illustrations and practical contemporary application, this book (and this series) are a “must-have” investment or any preacher.
Biblical Reference/Resources
Late last year saw the release of a major new reference work for Bible study. The Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, edited by David Noel Freedman (University of California, San Diego), contains nearly 5,000 articles concerning the books, persons, places, and major terms found in scripture. This substantial volume (1459 pages) includes the work of nearly 600 scholars, representing a broad range of theological approaches. The book contains some photos and other illustrations, though not as many as might have been expected in such a volume. It is a major contribution and is likely to find a place as a standard reference works for students of the Bible.
At the opposite end of the size spectrum is the Kregel Bible Handbook, a brief little volume (160 pages in a small format) which contains far less content than the preceding volume but makes up for it with a large number of beautiful color illustrations. First published in 1982 as Ken’s Handbook to the Bible, the volume is written by William F. Kerr (Pac-Rim Graduate School of Theology), and is essentially a brief introduction to each book of the Bible. While most preachers won’t turn to this volume for serious study, they will benefit from its charts, maps, and illustrations. This would also be a nice gift for Bible study classes.
Two more significant new volumes from Zondervan must be mentioned. The NIV English-Greek New Testament, edited by William D. Mounce (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), is identified as a “reverse interlinear.” Assuming that the reader’s primary language is English, it provides the English text first, and alters the Greek word order to match the English. This facilitates doing Bible study directly from this text, rather than from an English Bible and then “checking it” against the interlinear from time to time. A supplementary volume (Greek for the Rest of Us) is due out this fall. Mounce has provided a wonderful tool for pastors who wish to more effectively benefit from the insights of the original languages as they study scripture.
A companion volume to Mounce’s book is The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words, edited by Verlyn D. Verbrugge (a senior editor at Zondervan). This book condenses the four-volume New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology into one convenient reference, providing an essential grasp of the meanings and usage of Greek words in the New Testament. Drawing on the work of more than 140 scholars, the volume includes an index of English words keyed to appropriate Greek entries, an index of Scripture verses that guides you to specific word studies, and requires no knowledge of Greek. Preachers who have limited use of Greek but still want to do word studies will find this work to be a valuable resource. And Zondervan is to be thanked for providing these two substantial works which will be an aid to serious students of scripture.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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