Showing posts with label Africa Study Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa Study Bible. Show all posts

November 2, 2017

God’s Word Through African Eyes

A little over a year ago, I had the joy of reviewing one of the books in the forthcoming Africa Study Bible, which numerous companies and organizations such as Oasis International partnered to produce. I’m happy to say the publisher, Tyndale House, has now kindly sent me a review copy of the full text of the NLT (New Living Translation) with footnotes and articles presenting “God’s Word Through African Eyes.”

This amazing study edition received the input of 350 contributors from 50 countries, who provided Touch Points that “reveal uniquely African perspectives” and Proverbs and Stories that “relate Scripture with wisdom from Africa.” Articles applying biblical counsel to our lives and copious notes on Christian values have been included, too, along with a timeline that “highlights God’s work in Africa.”

Does that matter to anyone other than African-American Christians? Most definitely! The places, perspectives, and cultures highlighted in this highly recommended study Bible help our understanding of scriptures that might otherwise perplex readers who only have a typical Eureopean-American view.

Equally important is our recognition and embrace of the heritage we share in such early Christian leaders and theologians as St. Augustine, Athanasius, Cyril, and Origen – each of whom came from Africa.

But, did you know that Joseph, Moses, and Solomon married African women, and the famed Queen of Sheba probably came from the region now known as Ethiopia? Jesus spent His early childhood in Africa, which, at the time, was under Roman rule.

As Jesus stumbled on the way to crucifixion, Simon of Cyrene, an area now known as Libya, lifted the heavy load of the cross. After Jesus’ resurrection from death and ascension into heaven, Acts 2:9 tells us that the Holy Spirit poured onto the crowds of people gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, including disciples from Egypt and areas of Libya. Later, the Apostle Philip led to Christ an official of the royal court in what’s most likely the Sudan. According to Acts 11, believers from Libya preached the gospel to Gentiles, then leaders from the area commissioned Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries. By the second century A.D., at least 3 Bishops of Rome (Popes) came from North Africa, and shortly thereafter (before the invention of English!) the Bible was translated into an African language.

The list goes on and on, as does Christianity in Africa, but I want to get back to the unique and highly relevant perspective of the articles and footnotes in this edition. For example, the article “Land, Labour, and Inheritance” points out that, in Israel, “Land was not to be sold permanently to ensure that the rich would not use it to take advantage of the poor.”

The article also reports that “Today there is tension over land between local people and foreigners. Non-African multinational companies are buying huge pieces of land to meet their business needs.”

Unfortunately, land “becomes practically useless if people do not work the land to provide for themselves, their families, and the poor in the community.” Also, “In Africa, land is the basic asset for human flourishing. Ideally, it should be owned by families and passed on from generation to generation, much like land ownership in biblical Israel.”

Bible people passed along important histories and stories too, and, even today, “Storytelling is common in Africa. Elders use stories to pass on lessons and values to their community…. Many Christians tell their stories in testimonies that show how gracious God has been to them. Such testimonies help others to learn about God…. We must be careful, however, not to dwell on stories of wrongs done to us. Such stories have been used to fuel conflict among ethnic groups. By telling stories of God’s care for us, we preserve our cultural heritage and also spread the news about the goodness of God. Telling the stories of God’s work and blessings in our lives is certainly a part of what Jesus meant when he said, ‘And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere’ (Acts 1:8).”

God’s Word brings salvation to all people everywhere. In the Name of Jesus, we become one family in Christ through communion – our common union. This vital part of our spiritual health and spiritual empowerment brings us together as one in the Body of Christ.

“Most African cultures and ethnic groups also emphasize the importance of community: A Zulu proverb says, ‘Umuntu ngumubntu mgamuntu,’ which means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’ This expresses the concept of Ubuntu, a principle of caring for each other’s well-being.”


May God uses this excellent study Bible to draw us into a close, caring relationship with one another and God’s Word in the family of Christ.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, poet-writer reviewer

Africa Study Bible, hardcover




July 14, 2016

Africa Study Bible

Reportedly, over 80% of the peoples in the U.S. say they’re Christians, whereas in Africa, one in four has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Almost 500 million Christians live in Africa, yet few have Bibles with footnotes or study aids relevant to their lives and cultures.

What’s ironic is that many key events in the Bible took place on that beautifully diverse continent. Also, its past and present peoples, places, and cultures can help us to understand more about our biblical roots and our ancestry as God’s people.

Such thoughts urged me to request a copy of the Africa Study Bible (ASB) from Oasis International, who kindly sent me their attractively published Book of Genesis to review. Its well-chosen text from the New Living Translation (NLT) was completed a few years ago, of course, by the Tyndale House Foundation, but Oasis International has not yet finalized the ASB study notes being prepared by over 300 individuals from 50 nations.

The first book, however, clearly shows how the ASB aims to bring us “God’s Word through African Eyes.” For example, “Proverbs and Stories,” applications of the text, and sidebars of “African Touch Points” give us fresh insight into Genesis, such as the note regarding “The Fall” in chapter 3:

Most parents would punish their disobedient children. The Bangolan people in Cameroon say a parent should punish a rebellious child with a rebuking left hand and draw him or her closer with a loving right hand. That is exactly what God did to humans in and after the Fall.

Below the text for the Cain and Abel story in chapter 4, “Proverbs and Stories” urge us to “Build Up, Not Tear Down” with this word:

A Sierra Leonean proverb says, ‘If a person is tallker than you, do not chop off his legs so that you will be equal. Rather, grow up’.”

Next to the biblical text for Genesis 10, an “African Touch Point” discusses the infamous “Sons of Ham” with this important clarification:

Because Ham was the father of the African people, some Christians, Jews, and Muslims have misued this passage to justify enslaving Africans. But the passage only says that Canaan is cursed. Even though the rest of Ham’s sons settled in Africa, Canaan did not. Much later, God told Israel (descendants of Noah’s son Shem) to conquer the land of Canaan, and Canaan’s descendants became servants, just as Noah had said.”

That sidebar goes on to explain:

As Africans, we are not descendants of Canaan, but of Ham’s other sons – Cush (Egypt and Sudan), Mizraim (Egypt) and Put (Libya or Somalia).”

In an “Application” for Genesis 44-50, footnotes briefly discuss Joseph's enslavement because of the harsh treatment of his jealous brothers, and yet he remained faithful to God, eventually rising to power at a crucial moment in the life of his people. By the time he saw his brothers again, he had come to recognize God's hand on his life. As the footnotes say:

Many people have assumed positions of power over those who have wronged them greatly. Some people desire to take revenge and continue the cycle of violence. Others, like Joseph forgive and say, ‘It was God who sent me here, not you’.

Forgiveness brings peace. Let us be like Joseph with people who have rejected us and caused us harm. We must not continue the cycle of violence by seeking revenge. We must see our lives as controlled by God. Only then can we be at peace.”

Yes! And may all of God's people say, "Amen."

Bible review by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016


Africa Study Bible, Book of John