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The Discipleship Study Bible

With all the new study Bibles coming out this year and new editions of previous ones, a number of people have dubbed this the “Year of the Study Bible.” I have commented on these in my forthcoming annual survey of bibles and bible reference books for Preaching Magazine (you can see last year’s installment here). In this post, though, I want to give further comment on one of The Discipleship Study Bible, one of the new study Bibles this year.

This study Bible sets itself a good aim in the introduction stating that there is no need to choose between explaining the text in its original setting and applying to contemporary readers. I agree with this approach wholeheartedly. However, the execution is disturbing to me in various places. This is due primary to the critical stance taken toward the Scriptures.

One example will suffice. In Exodus the notes display little confidence on the historical accuracy of the account. Worse than this are the comments on 14:30 where mention is made of the Egyptians destroyed as they sought to follow the Israelites through the Red Sea. The notes state:

We need always to remember that there is more than one side to a story. For Egyptians this is a story of tragedy and defeat…. We need to hear the story of Egyptians and the slaves – Israelis and Palestinians. We must hear even the stories of our enemies. Perhaps as we consider not only our own inclinations to oppress but also the consequences, we’ll be inclined to heed the voices of those crying out to be let go.

What?! We hear in this text the divine interpretation of this event. Of course this was a tragedy for the Egyptians. They were being judged for their rebellion against God. We should take from this text, not “Oh my! There are two sides to the story!” but “It is a terrible thing to fall under God’s judgment!” Of course in our dealings with people we need to hear both sides of a story- Proverbs tells us that- but that is not the point of this text.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident in the notes for this Bible. Skepticism of the text and political correctness obscure the Bible, so it is not suited to be a help in one’s spiritual growth.

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