June 13, 2014
When Concordia sent a copy of The Lutheran Study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) for me to review, I noticed the heft, of course, but, more importantly, the sturdiness and quality of this hardback edition, which I later discovered was printed, Smyth-sewn, and manufactured in the United States. Yea!
I greatly appreciated, too, how Concordia wasted no time or space getting to basic beliefs by printing “The Lord’s Prayer” on the inside hardcover followed by a “Brief Service of the Word” (order of worship) and prayers such as this “Prayer to See God’s Ways:”
“Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears. Please show me
now Your ways, that I may gain Christ and be found in
Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes
from the Law, but that which comes through faith
in Christ. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light
to my path. Give me life, O Lord, according to Your
Word, and I will declare Your greatness. Amen.”
In the high quality opening pages, you’ll also find clearly labeled maps of the Holy Lands and a moving painting portraying Jesus, while the back matter include blank pages for writing notes. In between, the paper seems a bit thin, presumably to lessen the overall thickness and weight of the book, but, even with a little bleed-through, the text is easily readable.
As mentioned, the text chosen by Concordia is the ESV, known for accuracy and poetic grace when read aloud. With that translation literally in hand, hundreds of workers from Lutheran churches around the world were asked to read portions of the Bible and present questions, which a team of Bible scholars then addressed in the footnotes. Those questions numbered under 1,500 but resulted in over 26,500 study notes from a Lutheran perspective.
Other unique features to this impressive edition reportedly include “Insights from early church, medieval and Reformation era church fathers,” over 200 informative articles, and “over 2,000 application notes and prayers for every part of the Bible.”
Since I’ve been studying biblical wisdom, I turned to the Book of Job where I found interesting information on the “Legal Language in Job,” which helps to place that poetic debate into context. For ex., “In the ancient Near East, the elders of a community would typically hold court in a city gate (Jb 29:7). In the ancient city of Gezer, archaeologists have found stone benches in the gate chambers where the elders sat…. Parties in dispute would approach them at the gate, explain their case, and count on a wise ruling…. Job served as such an elder, and his friends likely did as well… The Book of Job never mentions that its setting is the city gate, but its dialogues are filled with the legal language of such proceedings (e.g., 10:2, 23:1-7; 29:7-17, 21-25; 31:11, 13, 21, 35-37).”
In Job’s case, however, his “friends” ruled against him. Although Job “was famous for defending the defenseless (29:15-17), he did not have the skill to argue his case before the ultimate judge: the Lord.” When he eventually realized he needed an arbitrator or mediator, he cried, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (19:25).” As a note in chapter 28 attests, “People cannot find wisdom by their own reason or strength. God alone can give it through His declaration – His Word. St. Paul calls Christ Jesus ‘our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.’ (1 Co 1:30).”
To better grasp such terminology common to the Christian faith, a concordance in the back offers scriptural references while, in the front pages, “Luther’s Small Catechism” addresses issues of his day and ours.
For instance, in asking “What does this mean?” of sanctification, the catechism explains: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith./ In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith./ In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers./ On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ./ This is most certainly true.”
The many prayers, quotes from church fathers, and contemporary articles in this highly recommended edition consider the challenges we all have as Christians while letting us know that members of the clergy, laity, academia, and community of faith around the world join us in our struggles and our common faith.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible and traditionally published author of 26 books in all genres, including two poetry books, the Bible-basedOutside Eden and environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem.
The Lutheran Study Bible, hardcover
The Lutheran Study Bible, black bonded leather, thumb-indexed