By Don Fleming
The origins of this commentary go back to my missionary years in Thailand, when I began writing a few books in the Thai language to help local people understand the Scriptures. The result, after many years, was a series of fifteen mini-commentaries on the Thai Bible.
Although the success of the books in Thai was due largely to the lack of available alternatives, news of the books spread, and it was suggested that I prepare an English equivalent for use in other countries. Over some years the fifteen-volume series was produced in English, but by this time I had written several other books and their production was scattered over a variety of countries.
When Bridgeway Publications in Australia undertook a project to republish all these books in a new format, the fifteen volumes were revised and reissued in eight volumes under the series title, Bridge Bible Handbooks. Those eight books are now combined into the one-volume Bridgeway Bible Commentary, which is a companion in size, style and format to the Bridgeway Bible Dictionary, an A to Z of biblical information.
The eight Handbooks were dedicated to people who, in different ways, had a significant influence in my life and ministry. Since the present volume is not a new work but a reformatted (and in parts revised) version of the eight Handbooks, no new dedication attaches to it. Instead I am pleased to acknowledge again my indebtedness to those to whom the earlier editions were dedicated.
Book 1 Philip and Pat Juler
Book 2 Chun Kertyoo
Book 3 Reg and Marjorie Vines
Book 4 David Clines
Book 5 John and Grace Robertson
Book 6 Bob and Vic McCallum
Book 7 Chue Petnamngern
Book 8 Vic and Jean Fleming
In the present book, as in my other books, my aim is to provide biblical reference material that bridges two gaps at the same time. First, I want to bridge the gap in time and culture between the world of the Bible and the world of today. Second, I want to bridge the gap between the technical reference works and the non-technical reader. Above all, my desire is to produce books that will encourage people to read the Bible.
Though labelled a commentary, this volume is not a word-by-word or verse-by-verse technical reference book. But neither is it a survey that flies over the top of the various biblical books without touching the text. Perhaps ‘running commentary’ would be a more appropriate description.
My suggestion is that instead of trying to ‘dig deep’ or ‘squeeze lessons’ from the Bible, we relax a little, try to understand what each book is saying, and then let the Bible do whatever it wants to do. ‘Let the Bible speak for itself’ – which is the title of a practical handbook I have written on how we might teach the Bible in plain language. The aim of such teaching, like the aim of this commentary, is not to exhaust the meaning of the text, nor to force the text to fit our schemes of interpretation, but to provide enough background and comment to enable people to read with understanding.
The Bible has its own power as God’s Word, and is an authoritative standard for teaching truth, correcting error, and instructing in right living. It is living and active, and has its own way of making its message relevant to us as readers, but it can do so only if first we understand it. This commentary is designed to help us understand what the biblical writers might have meant, and to do so in such a way that we might readily see the relevance of the ancient Word to present-day living. And once we have the understanding, we have an obligation to act upon it.
|Date:||September 26, 2015|