With all my Methodist thoughts this week (I will finish those next week), it seems fitting that I comment on The Wesley Study Bible. My mother-in-law brought it with her yesterday, having ordered it from Cokesbury (it is not available in the UK for a few weeks). With all the hype, the names associated with the project, and the fact that it is a study Bible written in the Wesleyan tradition, it was too hard to pass up. So here are some initial reactions:
I have only had it a few hours, but I must say that it is impressive. Thankfully, the green cover is a quieter hunter green than the jarring green on the photo on the website. The pages aren’t too thin and the bible isn’t too heavy.
The list of scholars are impressive. A lot of people I read in seminary show up from the three branches they target (biblical scholarship, Wesleyan scholarship, and pastoral). I don’t know all of them, but I appreciate their attempt to cover the wider Wesleyan family (than just United Methodism).
The introductions to the books of the bible are short, but actually quite informative. The notes on the verses are more indepth than I thought they would be (they seem to comment on passages rather than individual verses – as a general rule). At times they do try to show where modern biblical scholarship has moved beyond where Wesley was in the 18th c. (for instance, the introduction to Mark admits that it was the first gospel, where Wesley believed Matthew was).
The ‘Wesley Core Terms’ are a great idea. In short spaces they sum up Wesleyan theology through a sort of glossary that makes up the essential points. They are quite informative and give a great starting place for Wesley’s theology.
Other thoughts: I don’t know what to make of the ‘life application’ part. They are short snippets of attempting to put into practice what we read. A great idea, but I don’t know if it works in the small space provided. Maybe I will feel differently as I read and reflect more on them. Maybe I just don’t want to answer the questions!
OK, this is a very American Bible. Where is Jimmy (James D.G.) Dunn and other British Methodist scholars? Maybe they are there and I don’t recognise the names. Maybe Dunn was asked and couldn’t be a part (Richard B. Hays, for instance – an American – didn’t take part, either). Still, I think a Wesley outlook for a study bible would include the country Wesley was from.
I agree with John Meunier – this could have used a couple of short essays. Not just from Willimon, but especially a representative of the various traditions taking part.
Overall, a great study Bible that will take the place of my current study bible (Oxford Annotated Study Bible) and will be the bible I use in worship and bible study. I recommend it!