Matthew Elliot, project director for the Africa Study Bible, speaks with PneumaReview.com about this soon-to-arrive resource that millions of Africans have been praying for.
PneumaReview.com: Where did the idea for the Africa Study Bible originate?
Matthew Elliot: After ten years working in Africa and observing the needs first hand, by 2005 the leadership of Oasis was convinced that there was a great need for Bibles that fit the African context–bringing the power of Scripture to the continent in a new and culturally relevant way. With nearly every full evangelical study Bible having been written from a western perspective, Africans lack a resource that connects with their culture and experience. In our experience this really hinders discipleship. After exploring a number of options with major Bible publishers over the next five years, our board eventually decided in 2010 to embark on a landmark study Bible project that would eventually be named the Africa Study Bible.
PneumaReview.com: How has the church in Africa responded to this project?
Matthew Elliot: In many ways, it has been overwhelming. Many great leaders have volunteered their time, saying “we really need this, how can I help.” Whole denominations and movements of millions of people are waiting for their pastors and leaders to have access to the ASB. It is not uncommon for us to hear, “when is this going to be ready.” I basically never hear from a leader, “great, send me an email when this is ready.” Instead a typical response of a denominational leader is more like, “We need this as soon as possible. Please, will you come to our pastor conference next November to share the news of this amazing resource. And, here are the names of a couple of our professors who can write for you.”
We have also printed copies the Gospel of John and Genesis which have been received with open arms and and enthusiasm. Including the free app of John, about 10,000 people have seen John and the response has been strong. A recent Google Store review from an African reads, “This is the best Bible I ever read. I love it please do the whole Bible like that it is awesome.” Pre-launch, thousands of African followers are gathering at our Facebook pages and are reviewing the ASB content on our online review website, anxiously awaiting its release.
PneumaReview.com: What organizations or denominations have supported it?
Matthew Elliot: Tyndale House Publishers has been a cornerstone development partner, English will launch with the NLT. I don’t want to overstep in declaring all these names are official partners, but they have all helped in at least some way, many by helping with our writer network. These include Wycliffe, Moody, Trans World Radio, The Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa, SIM, Association of Evangelicals in Africa, Willow Creek Church, CRU, UMI, Center for Early African Christianity, ACTS, IFES–to name a few. There are over 50 denominations represented through the contributors of the ASB including Baptist, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Redeemed Christian Church of God.
PneumaReview.com: When will the African Study Bible be complete?
Matthew Elliot: We anticipate the English completion and launch in African countries by the end of 2016 and a US launch in February 2017 for Black History Month. Our goal is for it to be in French by 2019 and Portuguese by 2020.