Local Pastor, Historian Adds Depth to New Study Bible

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

kentdobson225For Pastor Kent Dobson, finding ways to engage readers with Scripture is part of his job. As a writer and former schoolteacher, he found an outlet for his love of the Bible, teaching and history thanks to his work on the new “NIV First-Century Study Bible.”

The “NIV First-Century Study Bible” released in September and is published by Zondervan. Mars Hill Bible Church will host a book launch party on Sunday, Oct. 5, following the 11 am church service, and Dobson will speak at the Kregel Parable Christian Stores/Cornerstone University 2014 Pastors Breakfast on Oct. 7. He will speak on “Millennials and Bible Engagement” followed by a Q&A.

“I looked at every chapter of every book of the Bible and tried to craft something for each one,” said Dobson, who has been teaching pastor at Mars Hill for two years. “There is lots of cultural background information that gives a little peek into the ancient world.”

Dobson provided articles about what was going on in the world at that time, wrote “A Day in the Life of . . .” pieces about shepherds, slaves, etc., and included notes from ancient voices such as Josephus, rabbis and early church fathers both Jewish and Christian.

“It’s like having a conversation with a lot of people at the table who go back to antiquity,” said Dobson. “I wanted to bring those voices back into biblical interpretation.”

For the first two years of his four years of work on the study Bible, Dobson was teaching at Grand Rapids Christian High School. His students became testing grounds for his research.

“For young people, the Scriptures are pretty static and don’t really call out to them,” he said. “But when you start talking about the Bible and turning it this way and that way and looking at it through difference lenses, their questions come right to the surface and they want to engage and ask questions.”

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That’s his goal for all who use the “NIV First-Century Study Bible.” “I want the Bible to open up new questions for people. I want people to engage,” said Dobson.

Lots of Bible commentaries close the door to discussion—the commentary says a Scripture passage means a certain thing and the discussion ends. “But Scripture does have ambiguity and it’s OK to wrestle with it. I want to encourage people to see themselves in a long line of people who have struggled to understand. I hope this study Bible opens the door to that.”

He sees the new study Bible as bringing several disciplines such as history and commentary, normally seen in separate volumes, into one place. “I want to let these disciplines talk to each other in an introductory way,” he said.

The NIV First-Century Study Bible offers readers the clear, accessible NIV translation; full-color photographs, maps and illustrations; Hebrew and Greek word studies; extensive introductions and outlines for each book of the Bible; and a Foreword from pastor and author Ed Dobson.

Kent Dobson found his own surprises as he worked on this project. “What surprised me is that, going back to the earliest days, Jewish and Christian groups saw the same ambiguities in Scripture that we see today and were talking about them. People have always asked questions about the Bible and argued about what it meant.”

  If You Go:

Event: Kregel Parable Christian Stores/Cornerstone University 2014 Pastors Breakfast

When: Tuesday, Oct. 7, from 7:45-9:30 am

Where: Cornerstone University, Gainey Conference Center

Cost: $10 per person

RSVP: By Tuesday, Sept. 30 at Kregel Parable Christian Stores. Grand Rapids: 616-363-9030; Grandville: 616-531-7707

Author Information
Ann Byle
About:
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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