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LifeWay releases HCSB Study Bible

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources has announced the release of the HCSB Study Bible, building upon the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation released in 2004.

“The Bible that people want is the Bible we built,” said Jeremy Howard of B&H, who noted that the project began with a nationwide focus group.

The input helped shape key design decisions for the HCSB Study Bible, such as its two-column format, horizontal timelines, font size and even the number of pages, said Howard, who led the creation of the study Bible as B&H managing acquisitions editor of Bibles, reference books and commentaries.

“Everything we included in this study Bible has meaning,” Howard said. “We included 24 poignant essays, three feature-length articles and intuitive study notes.”

The study notes set the historical and canonical context to help create the big picture view of God’s narrative, Howard said.

“We wanted to set the historical scene to let the reader know what was going on in Israel and the surrounding region,” he said. “We also established a canonical context informing readers, for instance, how the Book of Leviticus fits into God’s overarching plotline.”

The study Bible’s timelines, word studies, photos, maps and charts are designed for a visual age — and for a range of readers, from new believers to seasoned scholars, Howard said.

“Ultimately, we want readers to get into the Word of God,” said Howard, who also contributed essays on the canonization of the Old Testament and New Testament books. “We want readers to deepen their walk with the Lord and realize this resource offers God’s Word for life.”

The study notes are the work of more than 100 scholars and English literary stylists from 17 denominations, Howard said, noting,”The HCSB Study Bible offers diversity of scholarship without compromising the Baptist Faith and Message.”

The essays, meanwhile, focus on such topics as church discipline, the incarnation of Christ and the historical reliability of the New Testament and Old Testament.

Ross McLaren, content editor at LifeWay Christian Resources who wrote the introduction, outline and notes to the Gospel of Mark, said, “I began with the question, ‘What do I find helpful in a study Bible?’

“I wanted the notes to be life-centered and application-centered,” he said. “I also wanted to provide informative comments to enhance the readers’ understanding of the text. Many times people think they understand the passage, but oftentimes there’s more to the text than they realize. Good study notes explain that there is more going on and bring out the ‘a-ha’ moments.”

McLaren said he believes the resource will encourage more in-depth Bible study, adding, “For those of us who believe the Bible is inspired, inerrant, our practice should follow our belief.”

George Guthrie, a Bible professor at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. and contributor to the HCSB Study Bible, penned an introductory article on “How to Read and Study the Bible.”

“The Word molds us in our thinking and living,” he said. “Yet, we cannot hear it properly without entering into its world of words, and that takes thoughtful, careful study.”

One way to combat biblical illiteracy among believers, Guthrie said, is to help Christians read the Bible more effectively.

“This involves understanding how to read parts of Scripture well and how the Bible fits together to make one, grand story,” he said.

“As I have taught people how to read the Bible better, a good study Bible is one of two most basic tools I recommend people have, the other being a good Bible dictionary,” Guthrie said. “A study Bible places background information, issues of literary context, word studies and issues of interpretation right at your fingertips.”

Guthrie described the HCSB Study Bible as balanced and faithful to the original text. “A study Bible built around [the HCSB translation] will be a great tool for believers, even for those who use another version as their primary translation,” he said.

Kendell Easley, professor and Stephen Olford Center program chair at Union University who authored the introduction, outline and study notes for the Book of 2 Corinthians, said he approached the assignment the same way he prepares for preaching or teaching God’s Word.

“I asked God to help me focus on Him,” Easley said. “I asked for His wisdom to guide me in the task of interpreting His Word for others, and I prayed that the Holy Spirit [would] fill me with His presence and power for this ministry task.”

As with all of the contributors, Easley upheld the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture and brought to light how age-old texts still relate to modern Christians.

“Of all of Paul’s letters, 2 Corinthians is both the most personal and the most defensive,” he said. “Paul mounted a strong defense — an apology in the good sense — of his authority and his ministry. He also included important doctrinal material found nowhere else in his letters. This letter shows us as 21st century believers the importance of personal integrity in the presence of false attacks against the Gospel.”

In studying this letter, Easley added, readers will discover timeless principles of truth.

“We find that God and the Gospel haven’t changed,” he said. “Human nature hasn’t changed in that the need to speak up clearly for the truth in one’s own culture is as urgent now as it was then.”

Bible study is one way believers can prepare for speaking truth, Easley said. “Reading [the Bible] is an essential first step,” he said, “yet God’s people throughout the ages have testified to the depth of insight they have gained by careful study and meditation on God’s Word.

“We see this in the ringing affirmation of this conviction in the Old Testament, as in Psalm 119, and in Paul’s challenge to Timothy about being diligent to present himself approved to God as a teacher of the word of truth and down through the centuries of Christianity,” Easley added.

“Men and women of God have rejoiced to find that the more they dig into the Word, the more treasures there are to be discovered.”
Kelly Shrout writes for LifeWay Christian Resources. The HCSB Study Bible is available at LifeWay Christian Stores and LifeWayStores.com. Visit MyBibleStudy.com to learn more.

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  • Kelly Shrout