Resources for Bible Study

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.

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The books are all available from Quartz Hill Publishing House in print format; or in PDF format from yours truly for a paltry $199 by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary. It’s a good commentary. But don’t take my word for it:

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This commentary set is written and designed exactly for the average person. The person who hasn’t spent years in book learning and writing papers. Rather, it’s for a person who feels a yearning to know a bit more so they can grow spiritually and intellectually in the faith. The average person might not know where to start on the journey. This set does it beautifully. – Doug Iverson

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“Seriously, … It is a really great commentary, and I’m enjoying and learning quite a bit from it.” – Ken Leonard.

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I am a Christian and a Bible Study Teacher at my church. I have been in church all of my life, but I found it difficult to take on the teaching responsibilities of a Senior Adult Ladies Class. Although I have read the Bible, there are many things that I do not understand. I also was worried because the ladies in my class are “Studiers” of the Bible and the thought crossed my mind “What can I teach these ladies that they do not already know?” As you can see from my comments, I was wondering how “I was going to do it” instead of wondering how “God would do it”!

But when you teach it, you have to go deeper than just reading. I believe that God wants us to continue to go deeper each time we open the Bible. One of the references I use for my studies are the books written by Jim West “For The Person in The Pew”. Jim can take a complicated set of scriptures and bring the meaning into clear view. Every time that I start a new Bible study, I order one of his books. We just finished the book of Revelation and his book was helpful in taking the complicated and making it simple.

Jim has a way of wording his explanations of the scripture in such a way that it makes you want to read deeper and then just watch and see what God can do! Jim is a gifted person and I am glad that God has blessed his life so that he could in turn bless mine.

Sherry Liles
Knoxville, TN

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Saint Paul knew more than I can ever imagine about Christians living in tension with the Gospel and with each other, and his several letters to the Church in Corinth are pivotal to the entire New Testament. Which is why I am so pleased to mention here some recent commentaries by a friend of mine, Jim West, on I and II Corinthians.

Subtitled ‘for the Person in the Pew’, and published by Quartz Hill Publishing House of Quartz Hill School of Theology, California, these two commentaries are in fact part of a much larger project by West to write similar commentaries on every book of the Bible, and to make them available in print and electronically for everyone to read. That project is now nearly completed and the results are tremendous.

I think there are three main reasons why these commentaries are so successful. First, West is a first-class Biblical scholar, one who makes the intelligent critical study of the text central to his theological interpretation. That commitment is rarer than one might imagine and to have it realized across the entire Bible is an astonishing feat that gives us now a unique resource.

Second, and delightfully, Jim West is a great writer: his pages fizz with sharp words and phrases and he appears incapable of saying anything boring about these texts. This ability keeps us reading along with him and, more importantly, reading along with Saint Paul. I have rarely come across any Christian writing project, aimed at ‘the person in the pew’, that has succeeded so brilliantly in bringing alive its subject matter.

Third, West couldn’t dodge an issue if his life depended on it, which can be an uncomfortable position for a Christian theologian. Corinth, as with most churches in most places, had some strange people believing and practising some odd things. The knack, as West points out, is to engage them endlessly with love and grace rather than self-righteous anger, but to engage them: ‘Paul lived with a purpose. And he urges the Corinthians to do the same. As we all who name the name of Christ must’ (West on I Cor. 9:27, p.60).

I am going to be talking to Jim about making these commentaries available through Ming Hua’s website, but inspect them for yourselves if you have the time: you will find them a superb companion to your own reading of the Bible and, as importantly, a great reminder of just how much the early Church struggled with some of the same problems we face now.

Gareth Jones, Principle
Ming Hua Theological College
Honk Kong

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Dr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.

In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.

The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.

Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre

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For several years now Jim West has been posting from time to time about progress with his huge project as he knocks off book after book of his For the Person in the Pew Bible commentary series. This began in 2006 with the ambitious Jeremiah: for the person in the pew, the Pastoral Epistles, Matthew and Micah were finished that same year and the flow continues. In recent months Jim has been (uncharacteristically?) indulging in self-promotion as authors without commercial publishers must, and also asking others to help him in this task by posting a notice of his work.

I am happy to do this, and agreed to prepare a notice (less than a formal review but more than a mere puff) of his “Ruth” from the volume Ruth and Lamentations: For the Person in the Pew (Quartz Hill Publishing House, 2007). This task was less easy than I expected. Here is what I wrote:

Tim Bulkeley

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[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works.

Blessings, David Booth

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