Church Bible studies remain the heart of discipleship and religious education. The Sunday morning sermon may get all the attention and spotlight, but often it’s the small group Bible study where believers start to gain in-depth understanding of the Scriptures as related to their own faith. The Bible study offers opportunity for questions to be immediately answered and for those serendipitous moments of discovery.
However, putting together a good Bible study can be hard work when done right. I’m definitely not referring to the kind of Bible study with no preparation on anyone’s part where we sit in a circle and ask, “What did that verse mean to you?” No, real Bible study takes the kind of preparation that few have the time to invest on a regular occasion. There’s always curriculum and dozens of various Bible study series out there, but most of it is geared toward a very general or beginner audience.
This is where the Interpretation Bible Studies really shine. This series raises the bar on average Bible study literature by delivering content that while not requiring too much previous knowledge, doesn’t insult the intelligence of participants. This series provides depth and often asks hard questions which won’t be satisfied by the regular “Sunday School” answer. Interpretation Bible Studies don’t end with the parting of ways as they offer further places of study for the participant who wants to learn more.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of the Interpretation Bible Studies (NRSV text sold separately).
Covering 10 Old Testament books and 12 from the New Testament, the 19-volume Interpretation Bible Studies are fantastic tools for taking group Bible study to the next level, although they can be used individually as well.
As stated in the Series Preface,
IBS helps readers not only to learn about the history and theology of the Bible, understand the sometimes difficult language of biblical passages, and marvel at the biblical accounts of God’s activity in human life, but also to accept the challenge of the Bible’s call to discipleship. IBS offers sound guidance for deepening one’s knowledge of the Bible and for faithful Christian living in today’s world.
This series holds to three primary convictions:
The Bible is the church’s Scripture and stands in a unique place of authority in Christian understanding.
Good scholarship helps readers understand truths of the Bible and sharpens their perception of God speaking through the Bible.
Deep knowledge of the Bible bears fruit in one’s ethical and spiritual life.
Each volume of the Interpretation Bible Studies features 10 studies (or think in terms of 10 weekly meetings) that together give overview to the entire book being studied. Each study contains engaging commentary of the passage, often making connections to contemporary movies, literature and events. To offer a better understanding of the passage, the reader will also find maps, photos, and definitions of key terms. There are a handful of reflection questions with each study, including some questions that might not have any “easy” answers. These will make for excellent discussion during a group time. And for the really ambitious participants, each study contains a list of resources for further study.
For the leaders of Bible studies using this series, a handy leader’s guide is included at the end of each volume. Also, page numbers are included in the Accordance editions, which is helpful for a mixed group using both Accordance and print editions. Although this series can be used independently from the Interpretation Bible Commentary Series, the addition of the commentary allows the Bible study leader to be even more prepared.
Interpretation Bible Studies Bundle (19 volumes)
List Price $247
Regular Price $189
I love a good excursus. I suppose that would not be the best feature to highlight about oneself on a dating website (and I’m happily married anyway, thank you), but it’s very true. I’m speaking of excursus as defined by Merriam-Webster as a “digression that contains further exposition of some point or topic.” I have to admit that I often get lost on the rabbit trails, but lost in a good way. Taking a moment off-point to explore a related subject stirs my imagination. Sometimes, the rabbit trail—or excursus if we want to sound more academically focused—can be more interesting than the main subject at hand.
Many of the better Bible commentaries include excursuses (that’s the correct way to make the plural; Merriam-Webster says so) within their treatments of biblical passages. But often when I’m reading them, I want the writer to go a bit further. Or I wonder what an editor cut to save space. What was left out?
That’s one way to think of the series we’ve released this week, Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church (7 volumes). Each of these volumes takes an extended look at some subject related to the Bible. Three of the titles have to do with certain kinds of content in Scripture, two explore specific biblical themes, and two more look at theological implications emerging from our view of the Bible as “sacred.” Here are the “digressions containing further exposition of points or topics” springing from discussions in the Interpretation Commentaries.
Like the Interpretation Commentary, these books are not aimed at an academic audience; however, they are written by academics who just so happen to be deeply engaged in churches or other types of faith communities. The subjects are weighty, but they are also practical. These volumes are designed to provide “additional resources for the interpretation of Scripture, but now dealing with features, themes, and issues significant for the whole rather than with individual books [of the Bible]” (Series Preface).
Although we posted brief descriptions of the Interpretation: Resources series on Tuesday, they bear repeating here, too—
[Click/tap the image to the left to see a larger view of Richard Lischer's Reading the Parables in Accordance Mobile (NRSV text sold separately)]
Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry by Ellen F. Davis – A comprehensive interpretation of the prophetic role and word in the Christian scriptures. Davis carefully outlines five essential features of the prophetic role and then systematically examines seven representations of prophets and prophecies.
Canon and Creed by Robert W. Jenson – How does the church understand the relation between its Scripture and its creedal formulations? This book will enable contemporary interpreters and teachers, pastors, and laity to deal with the questions and tensions that are always present as the church seeks to hold canon and creed together.
Reading the Parables by Richard Lischer – Parables make up one-third of Jesus' speech in the New Testament. Lischer lays out four theories for reading parables: 1) parables obscure truth; 2) parables teach many truths; 3) parables teach one truth; and 4) parables undermine the truth. Ultimately, he concludes that biblical parables undermine dominant myths called "the truth" to shine light on the Truth that is Jesus, God's presence with us.
The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective by Ronald P. Byars – The church's development and use of sacraments has evolved in many ways from the days of the early church to the present. This sourcebook provides key theological texts that played a role in those movements. Tracing the history and theology of individual sacraments along with their liturgical context in the church's worship will be of great value to those studying the history of Christian worship and the development of the sacraments.
The Ten Commandments by Patrick D. Miller – In this volume, Patrick D. Miller studies the Ten Commandments as ancient document and as contemporary guide. With careful attention to each commandment in its original context, this book shows the reader the modern relevance of these basic principles, as well as how the ideas of each commandment influenced the New Testament. More than an intellectual exercise, The Ten Commandments applies the call of the commandments to modern-day issues.
Violence in Scripture by Jerome F. D. Creach – The Bible frequently depicts God as angry and violent, and sometimes depicts human violence as positive or even as commanded by God. This issue forms one of the most vexing problems in approaching Scripture and interpreting the Bible for preaching and teaching today. In this volume, Creach first examines the theological problems of violence and categorizes the types of violence that appear in scripture. He then wrestles with the most important biblical texts on violence to work through specific interpretational issues. This new volume in the Interpretation: Resources for Use of Scripture in the Church series will help preachers and pastors interpret those difficult texts, encouraging them to face violence in the Bible with honesty.
Money and Possessions by Walter Brueggemann – The Bible is rich with complex and diverse material on the topic of money and possessions. In this new work, highly regarded preacher and scholar Walter Brueggemann explores the recurring theme of money and possessions in the Old and New Testaments. He proposes six theses concerning money and possessions in the Bible, observing their contradictory nature to the conventional wisdom and practice of both the ancient world and today's society.
Click/tap the image to the right to see a larger view of Jerome F. D. Creach's Violence in Scripture in Accordance 12 on the Mac (NRSV text sold separately).
The Interpretation: Resources series are the perfect kinds of books to be read on a tablet or even on your phone if the screen is large enough. Take these titles with you wherever you go, and read them during the brief interludes of the day. Or better yet, steal yourself away for a few hours and escape down a rabbit trail of your own making!
Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church (7 volumes)
List Price $260
Regular Price $199
In addition to the 7-volume set, each Interpretation: Resources volume is available individually.
Yesterday, we released Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, an incredible 43-volume commentary series from Westminster John Knox Press. With names like Brueggemann, Blenkinsopp, and Purdue writing Old Testament volumes; and Craddock, Achtemeier, and Oden penning installments for the New Testament, it’s easy to see that the Interpretation Commentary Series is the product of a diverse group of top biblical scholars. However, what these diverse scholars have in common is their commitment to their communities of faith.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of the Interpretation Commentary Series on the iPad Pro (Revised Standard Version text not included)
Based on the Revised Standard Version text, The Interpretation Commentary Series is not a dry series of collected data and analysis about the books of the Bible. Rather, this series offers both interpretive and practical applications for the biblical text. As stated in the series preface:
This series of commentaries offers an interpretation of the books of the Bible. It is designed to meet the need of students, teachers, ministers, and priests for a contemporary expository commentary. These volumes will not replace the historical critical commentary or homiletical aids to preaching. The purpose of this series is rather to provide a third kind of resource, a commentary which presents the integrated result of historical and theological work with the biblical text.
Anyone who preaches, teaches, or studies the Bible in the context of a faith community will benefit from this commentary series. Rather than approaching the biblical text in a verse by verse manner as many commentary series do, comments in the Interpretation series “generally [take] the form of expository essays.”
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of the Interpretation Commentary Series in Accordance 12 for Windows (Revised Standard Version text not included)
For instance, in the more recent Judges volume by J. Clinton McCann, the three introductory chapters in the book are treated thematically under the headings “Fighting and Smiting: The Canaanites Remain” and “Serving God or Serving Baal?” Exploration of these two themes set the stage for everything that follows in Book of Judges. McCann bridges the historical divide between the context of Judges and our modern situation:
In a world like ours, a world whose future is increasingly threatened by human self-assertion and the propensity to put ourselves in the place of God, the book of Judges and its call to repent are especially timely. Given the pervasiveness of competition rather than cooperation, and given the seemingly inevitable tendency of the powerful and prosperous to conclude that they deserve the best, there is little room for optimism. But the book of Judges suggests that there is room for hope—hope in God who creates a future by forgiveness and who invites the faithful to go and do likewise.
Here is the stellar lineup of scholarship for the Interpretation Commentary Series:
What sets the Accordance version of the Interpretation Commentary Series apart from other versions? Our developers have analyzed every word in all 43 volumes and have tagged content according to the following fields: Reference, Titles, English Content, Scripture, Greek Content, Transliteration, Bibliography, Authors, Captions and Page Numbers. Such unparalleled attention to detail allows the Accordance user to find the exact information needed in the moment both quickly and efficiently.
The Interpretation Commentary Series may be purchased in either Old or New Testament sets or all 43 volumes together.
Interpretation Commentary: OT (26 volumes)
List Price $780
Interpretation Commentary: NT (17 volumes)
List Price $510
Interpretation Commentary: Complete Series Set -- Old & New Testament (43 volumes)
Save even more on the complete set!
List Price $1,290