Film / Book Reviews

Highly readable commentaries for Christians

Apr 2006    

Encountering Biblical Studies
Available at SKS Books,
315 Outram Road #10-05, Tan Boon Liat Building,
Outram Road and Bethesda Book Centres


HAVE you ever wanted a one-volume introduction to the Old Testament or the New Testament that is not shallow, divorced from everyday life or soporific (yawn)?

The people at Baker Books have just the books for you. An Encountering Biblical Studies (EBS) series was launched eight years ago and it is expanding its titles and its readership. This is just the thing for Christians in the 21st century.

These books are solid, scholarly commentaries surprisingly full of colour: maps, drawings, photographs, tables. They are serious reading aimed at an undergraduate audience but highly readable even for ordinary Christians.

You don’t have to be enrolled in a Bible college to want to get your hands on EBS books: they grip your attention and pull you along.

As the blurb of one book puts it, “…[it] is as engaging and user-friendly as it is informative. In addition to first-rate scholarship, this resource boasts full-colour photographs and numerous educational features, including an interactive CD-ROM study aid”.

To take one book, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey is written by Bill Arnold (Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Asbury Theological Seminary) and Bryan Beyer (Dean of the Columbia Bible College at Columbia International University). These two men are renowned scholars (see for yourself what an Internet search turns up) and they deal with weighty issues.

For example, looking at the book of First Kings, you have discussions on Retribution Theory, Regnal Formula, and Historical Perspective from the Exile.

But it is interesting reading! It explains the text, it gives background information, it brings the Bible alive.

You also have chapter summaries, lists of key terms, key people and key places, study questions and suggestions for further reading.

This particular book ranks 2,831 in sales at, which I think is most respectable for an Old Testament commentary.

In fact, the commentary on the New Testament is so popular that it is actually printed in Singapore. You can get it at half its usual cost, but without the CD-ROM. It is co-authored by Walter Elwell of Wheaton College, and he also edited the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology and the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

I have six titles in the Encountering Biblical Studies series on my bookshelf, and I am steadily working my way through them. In addition to the two introductory volumes on the Old Testament and New Testament (both of which come with CD-ROMs for full price), I have Encountering the Book of Genesis, Encountering John, Encountering the Book of Hebrews, and Readings from the First-Century World.

I stongly recommend this series for serious study. But act fast, as these are popular titles.

One caveat: this review is about the ENCOUNTERING Biblical Studies series. There is another ENGAGING Biblical Studies series for graduate-level treatment; those are “pedagogically oriented textbooks”. I suppose they will have to wait for another review.

The Rev Chiang Ming Shun is the Pastor-in-Charge of Aldersgate Methodist Church.

‘Concert for Bibles’ aims to raise $100,000

THE Voices of Praise is to present a “Concert for Bibles” to help The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) fund distribution of the Word of God to people everywhere who are too poor to afford a copy.

The 40-strong choir will render praises, spiritual songs, Gospel hymns and contemporary worship songs in English and Mandarin at Victoria Concert Hall on April 22, 2006 at 7.45 pm.

The highlight of the evening will be the Easter cantata entitled “Alive!”. In the cantata are some of the important scenes and events of Christ’s Passion, from the triumphal march into Jerusalem to the resurrection. Through songs and narration, one will witness the tender moments in the Upper Room, see Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, catch glimpses of the cross, and behold the empty tomb.

Admission is by donation tickets of $20 or $50 obtainable from the BSS or Mr Michael Lim at Tel: 6337-3222, or by outright donations. The BSS aims to raise $100,000 from the concert.


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