Faith in Action Study Bible: Living God’s Word in a Changing World

A Devotional Bible from World Vision

Zondervan Publishing House has used its exclusive rights to the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible to create a whole battery of special niche study Bibles. The Faith in Action Study Bible, published in 2005, was one of those prominent on its list, though recently this Bible has become less available (at least in print).

Contents of the Review

The Editor and the Seminary
World Vision
Contents of the Study Bible
Features along the Way
Study Helps
Evaluative Comments

It is not immediately evident, however, who is really responsible for this study Bible. Nothing on the title page tells us, and on the copyright page, in tiny print, there is only this: “In partnership with World Vision.” No general editor is listed, even in the “Introduction,” the “About This Bible,” or the “Acknowledgements” sections. Judging from the Front Matter, the study materials of this Bible are anonymous!

The Editor and the Seminary

This Bible is, in fact, the result of a great deal of work, drawing together extensive materials from the research files of World Vision and the Biblical writings of two large multi-volume commentary series. The organization providing the massive global data and their interpretations is World Vision; the master-mind who has put it all together is Terry C. Muck, professor of World Religions at Asbury Theological Seminary. (His name finally appears in the printed version of the Study Bible on what would be page 1316, listed as “General Editor” with no title, position, or institution given.)

Considering the care with which Terry Muck’s identity is down-played in the publication, one is reticent to proclaim it up front. However, it becomes clear that he has fundamentally conceived and overseen this work, with the assistance of a handful of project and production managers (also listed on would-be page 1316). So here let it be said plainly:

The General Editor of the Faith in Action Study Bible is Terry C. Muck, (Currently) Dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism, Professor of Missions and World Religions, at Asbury Theological Seminary, in Wilmore, Kentucky. Terry Muck received his education at Bethel College (B.A. in 1969), Bethel Theological Seminary (M.Div. in 1972), and at Northwestern University (Ph.D. in 1977). He also took an M.S. from the National College of Education in 1984. He joined the Asbury faculty in 2000, coming there from Austen Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Noteworthy publications over the years include, When to Take a Risk: A Guide to Pastoral Decision Making, 1987; The Mysterious Beyond: A Basic Guide to Studying Religion, Baker, 1993; “After Selfhood: Constructing the Religious Self in a Post-Self Age,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 41:1 (March, 1998); Christianity Encounters the World Religions, Baker, 2009; and an earlier work that is now coming out as an ebook, Those Other Religions in Your Neighborhood, Zondervan 1992, Smashwords ebook, Feb 20, 2011.

(It may be proper to note that in later listings and blurbs on the Faith in Action Study Bible, Terry Muck’s name gradually becomes more prominent, and he is occasionally even listed as its “author”!)

In his editorial work for the study Bible, Professor Muck often draws on his collaegues at Asbury Seminary, which also deserves attention.

Asbury Theological Seminary is a school in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition founded in 1923 by a Methodist evangelist, Henry Clay Morrison, then President of Asbury College. Its statements of faith and ethos are ringingly Evangelical, and its announced mission is “to evangelize and to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world through the love of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father.” In a modest but firm way, the Biblical studies and devotions of the Faith in Action Study Bible are faithful to these declarations and this mission.

World Vision

The Big Player in this Study Bible, however, is World Vision.

[See the World Vision Website, The above is a composite of their logo and a photo from one of their promotions.]

This is how World Vision explains itself (at see “About Us.”):

Who we are: World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

Who we serve: We serve close to 100 million people in nearly 100 countries around the world. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

Why we serve: Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.

World Vision was begun in the 1950s to work with orphans from the Korean War. In later decades it expanded into relief and disaster assistance on a global scale, but always keeping children as its priority. This led in time to major programs for creating sustainable communities—supporting the “villages” which it takes to raise a child. If you visit its website, you will be invited to adopt a child in distress somewhere in the world—one whose picture and story is directly in front of you.

Their financial statements (see “About Us”, “Financial Accountability”) show that in recent years they have been a more than one-billion-dollar operation, with only 15% of total expenses going to management and fundraising—an enviable ratio.

Availability of this Bible. I am reviewing a standard trade edition of this Bible purchased some years ago from the shelves of the late Borders Book and Cafe chain. When I first decided to review this Bible, World Vision had an offer of a free copy if you made a donation of $100 to the organization (“Faith in Action Study Bible. Get one free ($32 value) with a donation of $100 or more to World Vision.”). That offer has apparently expired—out of stock, presumably.

I now learn that Zondervan is no longer publishing the regular hardcover edition; it currently offers only the more expensive leather-bound editions (presumably remaining in inventory), AND an ebook version .

The global data of such a study Bible get out of date pretty rapidly. (Most data from World Vision is as of about 2001.) The now seven-billion mark for world population is an example. Updating the materials of the Faith in Action Study Bible would be a large task. Whether it will be undertaken may depend on how well the ebook version of the Study Bible does.

If one wants a regular trade edition of the Faith in Action Study Bible, there are many available at very modest prices on the used book market. (Search at

Contents of the Study Bible

The Faith in Action Study Bible contains the English Bible in the NIV translation, an easy reading modern version that has topped Bible sales in the U.S. during the past generation. (On this translation, see the review of the NIV Study Bible earlier in this review series.) The Biblical text is presented in single-column regular-book format, with running commentaries below in two-column format. The commentaries typically take up a fifth to a third of the text on the page.

The “Introduction” (page viii), a sort of letter from Rich Stearns, President of World Vision United States, ticks off the things the Study Bible offers beyond the NIV text.

[The Faith in Action Study Bible] amplifies with commentary the great passages of discipleship and lays out study tracks on issues like poverty, justice, stewardship, and evangelism. It is filled with essays by leading Christian thinkers who wrestle with the great questions of what it means to be a Christian in our 21st Century world, and it offers up real-life stories of men, women, and children who have put their faith into action in dynamic ways.

We can divide these special features of the Study Bible into those that appear all along the way as one reads the Bible, and those that appear at the back of the book in the Study Helps section.

Features Along the Way

Study Notes

The running commentaries at the foot of the page are brief but comprehensive; they cover all the Biblical texts, not just selected passages. However, they are not verse-by-verse comments; each note treats some passage that is a unit of thought, as large as a chapter. (This is easy to do in narrative books and letters; harder in such books as Proverbs.) Also, each passage has two notes. One note is about the past, one about the present. They are called “There and Then,” marked by an icon that pictures an ancient scroll, and “Here and Now,” marked by an icon showing a laptop computer.

Unlike the more academically-oriented study Bibles, here no group of scholars was commissioned to write the notes to this Bible. Instead, two multi-volume commentary series that were recently produced by Evangelical Biblical scholars were drawn upon to provide digests for each Biblical passage. The series of first choice was the NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), published by Zondervan beginning in 1996, still in progress when the Faith in Action SB went to press.

Terry Muck is himself the General Editor of this very large-scale commentary series, and it was designed from the beginning to combine a treatment of historical contexts with contemporary application for all Biblical texts. The Application Commentary systematically treats each Biblical passage according to its “Original Meaning,” its “Bridging Contexts,” and its “Contemporary Significance.” And it does this on a large scale: the Matthew volume, for example, (by Michael J. Wilkins, 2004) is one thousand pages long.

When a volume of the NIV Application Commentary is not yet available, the notes draw on an older series of commentaries on the NIV, the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, General Editor Frank E. Gaebelein, also published by Zondervan from the 1970s to the 1990s. A Revised Edition of this 12-volume work is currently coming out.

Here is an example of how the Study Note comments work, the Nicodemus passage in John 3 (admittedly not a passage aimed at specific social action, but with an interesting treatment):

[“There and Then”] When Jesus challenged Nicodemus that he must be “born again” (or “born from above”), he was making a fundamental statement about human nature: Humanity is broken. God’s work in the world isn’t a question of fixing a part, but of recreating the whole. Jesus described the needed process as nothing short of a new birth. True religion—and true spirituality—unite humanity with God’s powerful Spirit, who overwhelms, transforms, and converts his people.

[“Here and Now”] The longer we are in the church, the more we need stories of transformation. The gospel isn’t just about forgiveness for a bad life but about the gift of new life. God not only accepts us in Christ. He changes us. Fresh accounts of such radical life changes remind us of the nature of the world (from which we are increasingly isolated) and the power of God (about which we can become increasingly blasé). Churches benefit greatly from hearing people tell their own stories regularly. When did you last hear—or tell—an account of transformation in Christ?

Introductions to Biblical Books

The Introductions to the Biblical books follow a uniform format. The topics addressed are, in sequence, Author, Date Written, Original Readers, Timeline, Themes (with appropriate subheadings), Faith in Action (always with subheadings Role Models and Challenges), and Outline.

The listings for author, date, and timeline are simple and conventional. Questions of date and authorship are given traditional answers, and there is little discussion of historical issues, even for the historical books. Evangelical study Bibles is not where one looks for religious and cultural history as secular historians treat them.

The book introductions get more interesting in the sections on “Themes.” These themes are usually kept to few in number, instead of running off in long lists of topics. Even Psalms, for example, has only three themes: (1) A portrait of God, (2) A model of a personal relationship with God, and (3) A contrast of the ways of the righteous with those of the wicked. Or Romans: (1) God’s faithfulness, (2) Righteousness, (3) Reconciliation. Forcing the themes into two or three tight foci strips a lot of verbiage from the complex texts. If the stated themes are over-simplified, lots of discussion and reflection may be needed in order to get them properly complicated! Such discussion and reflection is a prime objective of this Study Bible.

The section of the Introductions called “Faith in Action” always has two parts: Role Models and Challenges. Role models in a rich book like Matthew are easy to see: Joseph, John the Baptist, the Roman centurion who believed in Jesus’ healing powers, Matthew himself, and Mary of Bethany (page 1554). A little minor book like Jude, however, has only two role models, and one of them a little curious:

JUDE (v. 3) encouraged Christians to “contend for the faith” by adhering to the message taught by the apostles and living a life faithful to that message. Do you encourage other Christians to hold to the teachings of Scripture and live lives worthy of the gospel?

THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL (v. 9), a powerful angel of God, didn’t use his own authority but appealed to God’s lordship when he confronted the devil. Do you at times misuse your position in an attempt to usurp God’s authority, or do you readily and consistently acknowledge God’s authority over situations and people? [Echoes of Terry Muck’s guidance to making pastoral decisions?]

The second part of Faith in Action is “Challenges.” These are mostly challenges to the reader to live a good Christian life. “Study the family conflicts mentioned in Genesis… Determine to live at peace with your relatives, and be responsive to God if he calls you to initiate reconciliation” (page 2). And in the little Jude letter: “Exercise concerned care and caution with those who’ve fallen into unbelief and sin. Be wary of being influenced by them (v. 23)” (page 2071).

Charts and Graphs

Graphic presentations are a significant feature of the Faith in Action Study Bible. Presentations of both Biblical materials and Global information appear as insets and side boxes along the way. At the back there is an Index to Charts (pages 2141-43) which lists 177 such items. Some of these are simply systematic arrangements of information given in complex Biblical passages, such as the chart tabulating “Offerings,” given at Leviticus 1 (page 153), while others expand on some hook in the Biblical text to present obliquely related information or challenges from the contemporary world.

For example, the chart “Love Your Neighbor” is given at Leviticus 17, near the “Love your neighbor as yourself” passage (Leviticus 19:18). Here a comment is made about loving your neighbor who is different from you, perhaps an immigrant laborer, and a graph is given showing the percentage of immigrant laborers in eight modern nations, from Australia with 24.6% to Sweden with 5.1%.

Or the text in John 21, “Feed my sheep,” is accompanied by a complex chart showing classes of people who need “feeding”:

The hungry: “Each night 800 million people around the globe, most of them women and children, go to bed hungry.”

The economically insecure: “1.2 billion people worldwide live on less than $1 per day. The world’s richest 1 percent together generate as much income as its poorest 57 percent.”

The homeless: “32 million people are either refugees or internally displaced within their own countries.”

The oppressed: “2.2 billion people survive under a yoke of oppression.”

Sufferers from HIV/Aids: “Over 42 million people, the vast majority in Africa, live under a death threat from this dreaded disease. On this tragically hard-hit continent the most prevalent victims are women and young girls.”

Exploited/abused children: “Half of the 37 million people displaced by conflict and persecution are children. More than 250 million children are working instead of attending school. More than 1 million children (most of them girls) will be forced to join the sex trade.”

Those without the gospel: “As of the beginning of the 21st century, 1.6 billion people had never heard the gospel message. Only 0.03 percent (three cents from every $100) of the global income of all Christians is spent on mission efforts aimed at such people.”

Such statistics and comparisons are presented in impressive and graphic ways every few pages throughout this large Bible. (World Vision’s statistics in this Bible are mostly from around 2001, though some data are as recent as 2004.)


A human-interest feature along the way in this Bible are the “Snapshots,” offsets of about a third of a page, telling the stories of special people in God’s global work. The Index of Snapshots (pages 2146-47) lists 71 such items.

In Matthew there is the story of Emmanuel, told where the announcement of Jesus’ name “Immanuel” is given (Matthew 1:23). This is the Snapshot Emmanuel’s story:

Three-year old Emmanuel lives near Monrovia, Liberia, a West African country that has endured 14 years of civil war. Emmanuel has spent most of his short life fleeing with his mother from one refugee camp to another. He has been malnourished for most of that time.

During the summer of 2003, as the war in his country was drawing to a close, Emmanuel was living in the hallway of a high school with his mother, his baby sister, and 14,000 others who had lost their homes. By then, Emmanuel was close to death. Fortunately, a Christian relief and development ministry built a feeding center for malnourished children at the high school—the only hope for Emmanuel’s survival.

Jesus tells us that when we serve the poor—and the children—we are serving him. In a real sense, little Emmanuel is indeed “God with us.” Who represents “the least of these” in your life? How can thinking of this person as Christ in a “distressing disguise” [Mother Teresa] change your response to them?

Full-page Articles

Perhaps the most impressive of the features spread throughout the Faith in Action Study Bible are the Articles. These are one-page essays, usually written by a noted or prominent person, on a topic, suggested by a Biblical passage, important to Christian action in the world. The Index to Articles (pages 2144-45) lists 80 such articles, 11 of which are about modern persons such as William Wilberforce, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorothy Day.

Most of the Articles (57 of 80) have the names and positions of the writers given at the end of the article (and in alphabetical order in the Acknowledgements, pages xiii-xiv). About a fourth of the signed articles are by persons related to World Vision. Several articles about prominent persons in history are unsigned, presumably written by the editor from common reference materials. Some of the signed articles are excerpted from the works of prominent writers, for example, Mother Teresa, John Stott, Tony Campolo, and Former President Jimmy Carter.

Seven of the articles were written by Terry Muck’s colleagues at Asbury Theological Seminary, including the Chancellor of the School. Also a colleague was the (former) Dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission, Darrell Whiteman, who gave us the delightful statement, “When we take the incarnation seriously, it frequently means downward mobility” [!] (page 1946).

An example. Materials in this Study Bible rarely address mega-issues of the kind that are of special concern to Progressive Christians, like over-population, health care insurance, or—not surprisingly—reproductive choice. But one article, at least, broaches such issues; that is “Be Fruitful and Increase” (page 6, related to Genesis 1).

This article was written by Susan Power Bratton, chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Professor Bratton has degrees in biology and environmental studies from Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Texas, as well as an M.A. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Among her publications are some writings on “Ecotheology.”

This article, written around 2004, begins with a sobering overview:

The world’s population will probably swell to 9 to 11 billion people by 2050….

The expansion of the human population has produced numerous blessings, including a readily available work force to staff growing industrial economies. But the sudden upsurge in human numbers in the last century has exacerbated social and environmental problems, such as land shortages for farming families; excessive gathering of fuel wood in tropical regions; overgrazing of semi-arid lands; and the expansion of mega cities, with their associated slums and squatters’ districts. Population growth is a major factor in the clearing of the world’s rain-forests, the degradation of the world’s lakes and rivers via human pollution, and the extinction of hundreds of animal and plant species.

What does a Christian response look like? …

And here things may become disappointing for many readers. The main answer is, when Genesis 1 calls on humans to be fruitful and increase in the earth, we are hearing a blessing rather than an imperative.

Christians have often treated Genesis 1:28 as an ethical imperative. Assuming that more is better, they have used the passage to justify large families. Genesis 1 suggests, though, that God’s original design for the cosmos had built-in boundaries….

God intended children to be one of the great joys and experiences of human life—a blessing to be shared with all the living. If we steal the blessing of reproduction from other creatures [people? animals? where?], eventually we will find it’s fled from us as well, as natural environments and resources deteriorate.

The serious global crisis is recognized here (an increasing population that increases its per capita consumption of resources), but there is not much that hints at action. One would have hoped for some observations here about achieving “replacement fertility” levels—to get the population explosion to level off—and perhaps some data on how per capita consumption-of-electricity tends to increase with the population—materials that would further expose the haves compared to the have-nots. We certainly need ways to get the human side of the global crisis, including overpopulation, into sharp focus—not just generalities about green-house effects, etc.

Professor Bratton certainly recognizes the reality of the planetary crisis, but either her public stance as an Evangelical Christian or the editorial policy of this Study Bible will not allow her to come out and insist that reproductive choice is the only chance the planet has to stay inhabitable. We need an exegesis that affirms that God blesses sex without requiring us to contribute to overpopulation.

(For further, very graphic presentations of the population issue, see two recent issues of National Geographic, January 2011, “Population 7 Billion,” pages 32-69, and March 2011, “A New Geologic Epoch: The Age of Man,” pages 60-85. In discussions at home and church, I have labeled this March issue, “The Doomsday Book.”)

Study Helps

What appeared in older study Bibles as “How to Read the Bible” essays is replaced in the Faith in Action Study Bible by a series of items. Gathered together at the back of the Bible is what amounts to a curriculum for a two-year Bible College degree.

This is accompanied by such standard items as a Table of Weights and Measures, a 65-page Concordance, and indexes to Charts, Articles, and Snapshots, but the main items are the Reading Tracks, the Study Guides, and the Subject Index, which are very interrelated and mutually supportive.

Reading Tracks (Biblical reading, not Bibliography)

This unique component is headed by a one-page introduction titled Living the Christian Life. This is a confessional statement presupposed by all the study materials that follow.

This Curriculum assumes the kind of Christian orientation typical of Wesleyan and charismatic traditions, in which experience—key word—of the Holy Spirit is the beginning of everything.

The Christian life begins with God’s Holy Spirit. It doesn’t begin with things we do—human faith, human wisdom, human deeds—but with God reaching out to us.

Given this experience of the Spirit, the human work does then begin.

The Christian life continues, though, with us. We respond to God’s Holy Spirit by [1] shaping our hearts to God’s desires, [2] building our minds to think his thoughts, and [3] acting in ways that will build his kingdom. (Page 2112.)

This three-fold structure of the human response to the Holy Spirit runs throughout this Curriculum for Christian Living: Heart Shaping, Mind Building, and Action Producing. Each of these facets of Christian Living consists of a series of topics which then make up the complete Biblical curriculum. The purpose of the Reading Tracks is to provide an extensive Bible reading program organized by these three major headings.

Heart Shaping involves feelings and commitment. “We respond to God’s Holy Spirit with faith, hope, and love… Thus we build hearts shaped by Christian virtue.”

The Heart Shaping Topics are: Humility, Wisdom, Courage, Encouragement, Compassion, and Generosity. Each of these six topics is given a series of sub-headings, and every sub-heading is given a set of Biblical passages for study and devotional reading. This is an extensive process.

The Topics are given in an appropriate progression; spiritual development is expected to move through humility toward wisdom, courage, etc. As an example, here is the breakdown of the Topic Compassion, which comes relatively late in the Heart Shaping portion of the Reading Tracks:

Compassion (care and concern usually displayed by acts of kindness to those in distress) Characteristics of Christian compassion Limited (Ex. 34:6-7; Matt. 12:46-49; Rom. 9:14-16) God-inspired (Ps. 146:6-9; Jer. 42:12; Dan. 1:9; John 14:12; Rom. 9:15…) Requires action (Isa 58:6-7; John 13:12-17; James 2:15-16; 1 Peter 3:8-9) Vital requirement of Christian character (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12) Objects of Christian compassion The bereaved (Gen 37:35; Ruth 2:11…Luke 7:11-15; John 11:9… The oppressed (Ex. 22:27… Luke 4:18) The lonely (Ruth 4:13-15… 2 Cor 7:6) Children (1 Kings 3:26… 1 Tim 5:10) Prisoners (2 Chron. 28:15… Heb. 13:3) The sick (Job 2:11-13… James 5:15) The poor (Job 29:12… Luke 4:18) Widows and orphans (Job 29:12-13… James 1:27) The needy (Job 29:16… 1 Jn. 3:17) The harassed and helpless (Ezek. 34:15-16… John 21:16) Sinners (Luke 6:37… James 5:16

This is only one of six topics in the Heart Shaping portion of the Curriculum. The other portions have more and longer such topics.

Mind Building has the following seven topics: Imago Dei [why do they insist on keeping the Latin phrase? The meaning is “Image of God”], Fallen World, Reconciliation, Love of Neighbor, Spiritual Formation, Stewardship, and Service. After a basic definition of each topic, two or three sub-topics develop it. For example, Fallen World has the sub-topics Essentials of the fall and Results of the fall.

Action Producing expands further, with twelve topics. Many of these Action topics are the names of problem-areas: Disease, Hunger, Injustice, Pollution, and Poverty. Other topics here name the objects of action: Children, Education, Peace, Population, Water, and a couple of Action Topics name human activities, Mission and Religion. Each one of these topics is broken down and provided with extensive Biblical passages to study for every sub-topic.

There is a fourth set of Reading Tracks not mentioned in the introductory statement on Christian living: Building Tools. Four Topics are given here, all serving the Christian’s sense of vocation and mission: Bible Study (3 sub-topics), Prayer (4 sub-topics), Relationships (2 sub-topics), and Witness (with sub-topics What? Who? When? How? and With what attitude?).

As indicated, if pursued rigorously all this Biblical study would take a long time, and if done in groups, you have the making of a two-year degree program in a Bible College.

Study Guides

The Reading Tracks are the core of this Biblical Curriculum. The Study Guides follow the same format—Heart Shaping, Mind Building, Action Producing. The Guides, however, give more comment about each topic in the curriculum and list many passages in the Faith in Action Study Bible where there are materials relevant to a particular sub-topic. Thus the Study Guides refer not only to Biblical passages, but to introductions to particular Biblical books, to matters treated in “Snapshots,” Articles, and Charts. They are Guides to the whole contents of the Study Bible, organized around the big headings Heart, Mind, and Action.

Needless to say, the Subject Index, which immediately follows the Study Guides, is more of the same, only alphabetically arranged instead of by curriculum structure.

After all the other indexes, there is a Bibliography—two pages long. This is simply an alphabetical list of works without grouping; a Bible dictionary is immediately followed by a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It appears to be a selection of resources used by the editor, including John Calvin on the Christian life and the U.S. Census Bureau. All without explanations or headings. Not very helpful.

Evaluative Comments

The Faith in Action Study Bible is Evangelical. This Bible is aimed at people who have an explicit commitment to the Christian life, typically those who would acknowledge that in some sense they have been “born again” through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. That is almost entirely assumed, not discussed or argued for. It IS an ACTION Bible; therefore the emphasis is on action for Evangelical Christians. Progressive Christians, who know that many things written in the Bible are ancient ideas not applicable—even harmful—in modern times will not be comfortable with much of the Biblical discussion in this book.

However, even Progressive Christians can find much informative, provocative, and inspiring materials about both faith and global challenges in this Study Bible. The Charts and Graphs are quick-fixes of data for reflection, even when they are only vaguely related to the Biblical passage where they appear. The Snapshots and many of the Articles tell stories to inspire and stimulate all compassionate people. Progressives, too, need to be reminded of these things—and have such reminders associated with our faith traditions.

This is a Devotional Bible. The comments extending throughout the length of the Biblical text are particularly aimed at individual reflection and meditation. They often end with little ticklers like, What are you doing in your life about hunger? The Biblical materials drawn on for the running commentaries are for everyday Bible readers of good conscience. The comments are not for intellectual seekers, for students of Biblical history, or those concerned with theological intricacies. This is a devotional Bible.

The Action promoted is Charity. The admonitions running through every page of this Bible are to do good. That is often broken down into being neighborly, committing oneself to helping the needy and poor, and welcoming folks who are different, such as immigrants and non-Christians. Larger, systematic issues of poverty, inequality, and injustice do not receive so much attention. One exception is substantial attention given to HIV/Aids relief issues, but things that tend toward controversial action are avoided.

An example is the failure to address policies about overpopulation. The Study Guide on the Topic “Population,” (page 2129) continues to treat reproduction as a blessing, acknowledges that we are in a desperate squeeze for global resources, but says nothing about major policies that might actually affect things on a global scale.

Also, as another example on a policy level, we do not hear in this Bible about such counter-peace matters as American military training of Latin American forces who practice assassinations, torture, and ethnic oppression, much less about such things as demonstrating against what used to be called the School of the Americas.

We do not hear about the fiscal practices of international finance, especially in developing countries. There is no entry, for example, in the Subject Index for “Finance (Global),” much less for either the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

This Bible is aimed at how to do good, not at the more impersonal structures of global distress.

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