South Asia Project Underway

4 June 2008

For the next few years, many scholars and editors will be dedicated to producing the South Asia Bible Commentary, an indispensable, culturally relevant, single-volume reference for pastors in South Asia. The commentary, sponsored in part by the Langham Literature programme, is due to launch in 2012 with translations due in Hindi in 2013, and later in Nepali and Sinhalese.

The objective of the SABC, according to the editors and advisors, is to “equip Christian leaders at the grassroots level – pastors, students and lay leaders – who under the guidance of the Holy Spirit can be instrumental in the establishment and nurture of a vibrant church in this region.”

Project Editor Jessica Richards
SABC Project Editor Jessica Richards “The only commentaries that an untrained pastor, lay person or a theological student, without access to a good library would go to…are dated and not contextual,” said Jessica Richards, the SABC project editor. “They tend to concentrate more on the technicalities of the text and contentious academic questions on authorship and dating rather than on contextual application to realities and issues in the South Asian context.”

Jessica worked on several long-term projects such as the Dictionary of South Asian Christianity (DSAC) before joining the SABC team. Her experience with the editorial process, combined with her work on social issues in India, has primed her with the ability to take on the large project:

“My theological involvement and articulation are grounded in my multiple identities as an Indian/Asian Christian woman living in a gloriously pluralist fabric; a fabric which is also permeated by discrimination on the basis of caste, class, creed and gender,” she shares. “[I am] also constantly informed and influenced by the fact that I theologize from and in a context of globalization that has widened gaps – economically, socially and in religious terms.”

Jessica is working with several contributors and six general/theological editors, all from the South Asia region. “The opportunity that such a project affords to work with some of the best biblical scholars and theologians in this region is something that cannot be quantified. I know I will gain immensely in working with all of the contributors to the SABC,” Jessica says.

Langham Scholars as Theological Editors
Of the six theological editors, five are Langham scholars: Jacob Cherian, Finny Philip, J. Jesudason Jeyaraj, Havilah Dharamraj, and Paul Swarup. These scholars know firsthand the importance of getting an affordable Bible commentary distributed in this area of the world.

The general editors and developers of the South Asia Bible Commentary at the first editorial meeting in Bangalore, India

The general editors and developers

of the South Asia Bible Commentary

“The one-volume SABC is a critical tool much needed for the numerous grass roots level pastors and evangelists who have had little or no formal theological education,” says Paul Swarup. “It can be likened to giving a huge number of assembly-line workers in a car manufacturing plant, the appropriate tools to put the parts together to bring out a beautiful and powerful car!”

“I am excited to think about the significance and impact this commentary will have for the church in South Asia,” says Jacob Cherian. “With the Indian subcontinent as the birthplace of key religious faiths of our world (especially Hinduism and Buddhism), and with India having the second largest population of Muslims in the world, topics such as “Jesus among other gods” and the legal and social (not to mention theological and communal) implications of ‘religious conversion’ are bound to serve the Church in a major capacity.”

The SABC is projected to sell 30,000 copies in the first year, with the Hindi edition expected to have similar sales goals. It is the latest in a series of Bible commentaries co-sponsored by John Stott Ministries-Langham Partnership International, beginning with the award-winning Africa Bible Commentary which has sold more than 75,000 copies to date and is in the process of several translations.

Look for more details about this exciting project in JSM’s upcoming newsletter, In the Gap.

Help partner with LPI to sponsor the SABC and other much needed projects…Visit the Get Involved page for more information.