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Bible News Roundup – Week of April 30, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

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61 New Scripture Translations Completed Last Year
United Bible Societies
United Bible Societies: Full Report
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
CT

Gala Raises More Than $60,000 Toward Oral Bible Translation
Biola

Retired Police Captain Donating 247-Year-Old Bible to Elon University
The Times-News

Exhibition Dedicated to 350th Anniversary of First Printed Armenian Bible Launches in Halle, Germany
Panorama
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

James = Jacob in the Bible
Biblical Archaeology Review

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The Humanness of Jesus: An Interview with Trent Sheppard

Trent SheppardChristians believe Jesus is God. But this belief wasn’t the starting point for Jesus’ earliest followers. While Jesus’ humanity was a given for the disciples, his divinity was a truth they had to grow into believing—it was a journey of faith. As Christians today, we’re also called into a faith journey—this time, to rediscover Jesus’ humanity. Yes, we believe that Jesus is God, but do we believe in his humanness? And if so, how does that transform our own experience of being human?

Bible Gateway interviewed Trent Sheppard about his book, Jesus Journey: Shattering the Stained Glass Superhero and Discovering the Humanity of God (Zondervan, 2017).

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How did concluding that there’s no better way to see God than by looking at Jesus set you on your faith-shifting journey that resulted in this book?

Trent Sheppard: Our view of God is shaped by all sorts of things—family background, religious traditions, pop culture, etc.—and about ten years ago I realized that I was subconsciously filtering my reading of Jesus through my preconceived views of God.

The New Testament, however, invites us to do something radically different: to reshape, to reform, to reimagine our view of God through the person of Jesus.

Because Jesus, according to Hebrews 1:3, is the “precise expression” of God. Or, as Paul puts it in Colossians 1:15, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.” Or, better yet, here’s Jesus himself in John 14:9, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the father!”

Once that truth dawned on me—that there’s no better way to see God than by looking at Jesus—it set me on a journey deep into the heart of the Gospel accounts to encounter, to know, to be transformed by this vibrant, living, breathing, laughing, crying, dying, rising, flesh-and-blood first-century figure: Jesus.

How do you recommend Christians explain to their friends the concept that Jesus was fully God and fully human?

Trent Sheppard: Ha! I don’t. How could we possibly explain such a mystery?

I do, however, urge people to encourage their friends to actually read the stories of Jesus’ life in the Gospel records, and to let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

Also, we must always remember the disciples begin following Jesus long before they were convinced he was God, and in that sense we can trust the Holy Spirit to convince our friends too.

Why do you say the humanity of Jesus increases a person’s faith to follow him?

Trent Sheppard: Because I can’t even begin to identify with the Mind that made matter, with the Voice that spoke galaxies into existence, or with the Power that holds all things together…

    but I can identify with the compassion Jesus showed lepers,
    and I can identify with the frustration he felt with the religious leaders,
    and I can identify with the sorrow he experienced when people rejected him.

It’s this sort of stuff—raw, down-to-earth, “human stuff” (that is, compassion, frustration, rejection, etc.)—in which Jesus works out his humanity, and invites us to follow him.

And when we realize that Jesus really does understand what it means to be human (warts and all!), it increases our faith that he will help us know what to do with the bewildering, painful, joyful experiences of our own humanity.

What’s the significance of the “100 days” that you write about?

Trent Sheppard: Jesus lived for approximately 33 years. That’s about 12,000 days. Of those 12,000 days, if you add up each and every story the Gospel writers tell, those stories account for no more than 100 days of Jesus’ life—total.

One hundred days out of 33 years. That’s it. That’s what we know. That’s all the Bible tells us. Which just begs the question: What was Jesus doing for most of his life?

I guess you’ll have to read Jesus Journey to find out more (a shameless book plug!), but the vital point for you and me is this: All of life was important to Jesus because all of life is important to God.

Why do you think the Bible is relatively silent on the childhood years of Jesus, only telling that one extraordinary story from when he was 12?

Trent Sheppard: Well, the short answer—and the one that make most sense historically—is this: There probably weren’t any other “extraordinary” stories to tell. Young Jesus, in so many ways it seems, was like all the other kids.

The one extraordinary story we do have comes from Luke 2:41-52, and all the clues point towards Jesus’ mother, Mary, as the one who tells Luke this story. In fact, you almost get a sense that Luke may have actually asked Mary at some point, “So, what was he like as a child?”

To which Mary may have thoughtfully responded (and please keep in mind, of course, that this is complete speculation): “Well, in most ways he was like all the other kids, but there was this one time, in the Temple, when he was 12…”

There’s not enough space to elaborate here, but a couple of reasons why we think there may have not been any other extraordinary stories to tell from Jesus’ childhood are: (1) his hometown is “astonished” when he begins his ministry at age 30 (Luke 4:16-22), and (2) his family thinks he’s gone mad (Mark 3:20-21).

Basically, if Jesus’ childhood was marked by all sorts of extraordinary things (that is, miracles and the like), then surely his family and hometown would have responded differently to his public ministry when it began.

What’s the danger of people over-emphasizing Jesus’ deity and de-emphasizing his humanity?

Trent Sheppard: That’s an immense question—the sort of question that the early church councils were wrestling with (it was at one of those councils that Saint Nicholas punched a guy named Arius!)—but one danger is that we will move further and further away from the flesh-and-blood, in-your-face, dying-and-rising, historical Jesus who’s revealed in the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Again, the point is not to filter Jesus through your lens of God. Rather, the point is to (re)see God through the person of Jesus.

Why do you say Jesus retains his humanness even today in his resurrected body?

Trent Sheppard: Because, as I understand it, that’s how the Bible describes Jesus in his resurrected body. He walks (Luke 24:15), he talks (Luke 24:27), he eats (Luke 24:41-43)—like you and me.

But please don’t misunderstand me: the resurrected body of Jesus is most definitely different as well. I explore this in some detail in chapter 36 of Jesus Journey: “Biology 2.0.”

The vital point to keep in mind, however, is that according to the Bible there’s no indication whatsoever that the Incarnation came to an end after the resurrection of Jesus. And yes, that’s an overwhelming thought indeed.

Because it means that we’ll one day meet Jesus in the flesh—heart-beating and breathing, walking and talking, ruling and reigning—King Jesus.

What’s your intention in the way you want people to read your book?

Trent Sheppard: Life is incredibly full, and there are so many things (both good and bad) competing for our attention. Most people, myself included, simply don’t have enough time to read and take-in all that they want to.

With that in mind, I wrote Jesus Journey in 40 brief chapters, with the idea that each reading would be “bite-size;” the sort of thing you can digest one day at a time: with a morning coffee, on the commuter train, before you bolt to class, etc.

The other critical aspect of the 40-day encounter idea is that we desperately need to do something with what we read. I’m reminded here of a wise reversal of an old and well-known-saying: “While that may work in practice, it will never work in theory.”

Following Jesus is a lot like that. It doesn’t work in theory. It works only in practice.

Because of that, each of the brief, day-by-day chapters wraps up with a “Ponder, Pray, Practice” section that enables an immediate response to what you’ve just read. The goal, always, is to put these things into practice and not just think about them.

So, with the brief chapters and the “Ponder, Pray, Practice” response, the goal is for someone to be able to immerse themselves in the life of Jesus over a 40-day stretch.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App??

Trent Sheppard: It’s my “go-to” online Bible—every time! And I especially appreciate how easy it is to compare various translations. And since I use N. T. Wright’s New Testament for Everyone (NTE) as the primary translation in Jesus Journey, I’m thrilled that Wright’s translation is now available at Bible Gateway as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Trent Sheppard: As part of Eastertide, a number of friends and I are making our way through Jesus Journey one day at a time right now. Each day a new person is blogging their reflections on each chapter, and it really is amazing to hear so many different voices: Sarah in South Africa, Luke in Nicaragua, Vanessa in the United States, Philip in the UK, etc.

We’d love for you to join us in the journey here: trentsheppard.com/blog.


Bio: Trent Sheppard helps to pastor an urban house church called Ekklesia, and oversees Alpha’s work with college students in New England. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife, Bronwyn, and their three children. Before moving to Massachusetts, Trent lived in the UK for eight years, working with Youth With A Mission. He’s the author of Jesus Journey and God on Campus: Sacred Causes & Global Effects. His teaching and travels have taken him to 50 nations. You can find Trent online at TrentSheppard.com.

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Easter Inspirational Video from the Gospel of Matthew

The season of Easter began Easter Day and lasts 50 days until the Day of Pentecost. Listen to and watch this inspirational video of the Easter account from the Gospel of Matthew:

You can read the story of Easter in Matthew 28:1-8 (KJV) (as well as in the other three Gospels). Here’s Matthew’s account:

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. — Matthew 28:1-8 (KJV)

Hallelujah—Christ is risen!

Also see the follow video reading of the Easter account from

Browse the Easter section in the Bible Gateway Store.

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Latest Bible-Related Research

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Here is a continually updated collection of the latest research regarding the Bible:

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[Browse the Bible section in the Bible Gateway Store]

61 New Scripture Translations Completed Last Year (April 2017)
United Bible Societies
United Bible Societies: Full Report
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

53 People in the Bible Confirmed Archaeologically (April 2017)
Biblical Archaeology Review
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Interview: Bible Scholar Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible
See the Biblical Archaeology section in the Bible Gateway Store

The Attitudes of Skeptics and Antagonists Toward the Bible (April 2017)
CT

Americans Are Fond of the Bible; Don’t Actually Read It (April 2017)
LifeWay Research
CBN News: How Americans Treat Bible Reading Like Exercise

Jews Least Likely US Religious Group To Read Bible Weekly—And 2/3 Never Do (April 2017)
The Forward

Sermons that Teach About Scripture Are the No. 1 Reason Americans Go to Church (April 2017)
Gallup

Video: American Bible Society’s Jason Malec on Changing Perceptions of the Bible (April 2017)
Barna
Barna: State of the Bible 2017—Top Findings
American Bible Society: News Release
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, History of the American Bible Society: An Interview with John Fea

5 Facts on How Americans View the Bible and Other Religious Texts (April 2017)
Fact Tank

Educated Evangelicals Are More Religious (April 2017)
CT

Adultery in 2017: Christians Rank What Counts as Cheating (April 2017)
CT
Read Matthew 5:27-28 on Bible Gateway

BBC Survey: Resurrection Did Not Happen, Say Quarter of Self-Identified Christians (April 2017)
BBC News

Only 30% of Born Again Adults Have a Biblical Worldview; But 79% Think They Do (March 2017)
American Culture & Faith Institute

Only 25% of Christians Think It’s Their Job to Share Their Faith (March 2017)
American Culture & Faith Institute
One News Now: George Barna Finds Faith Still Hiding Under a Bushel
See Evangelism resources in the Bible Gateway Store
See Apologetics resources in the Bible Gateway Store

State of the Bible 2017: Top Findings (March 2017)
Barna
American Bible Society: News Release

Those Who “Love Jesus but Not the Church” Read the Bible Half as Much as the Average Practicing Christian (26% to 56%) (March 2017)
Barna

7 Out of 10 Americans Call Themselves Christians; Few Are Able to Answer Questions About the Bible and Christian Beliefs (February 2017)
American Culture & Faith Institute

Bible Reading in 2017: 61% Desire to Read the Bible More Than They Currently Do (January 2017)
Barna Group

Poll: The Bible is the Greatest Influence on Contemporary Conservative Christians (January 2017)
American Culture and Faith Institute

Bible References Make Very Weak Passwords (January 2017)
CT

Bible Gateway 2016 Year in Review (December 2016)
Bible Gateway Blog post

The Three Kinds of Popular Keyword Searches on Bible Gateway (December 2016)
Bible Gateway Blog post

Bible Readers Were Looking for Love in 2016 (December 2016)
Facts & Trends

Despite Worries, Hotel Bible Remains Almost as Popular as Wi-Fi (December 2016)
Facts & Trends
Download the free Bible Gateway App and always access the Bible with the hotel’s WiFi

The No. 1 Bible Verse and Top 25 Topics of the USA Election (November 2016)
CT

Study: US Protestants Keep Their Children in the Faith at a Higher Rate Than Catholics or the Unaffiliated (October 2016)
CT

The Bible? Not on My Desert Island, Say Majority of Britons (October 2016)
The Guardian

Most Americans Believe in Supernatural Healing (October 2016)
Barna Group

Americans Love God and the Bible, Are Fuzzy on the Details (September 2016)
LifeWay Research
CT: Study Examines What Americans Believe About 47 Theological Statements
Ligonier: The State of Theology
See the Theology section in the Bible Gateway Store

73% of Americans Self-Identify as Christian; 31% Are Considered Practicing Christians; 23% Are Bible-Minded (September 2016)
Barna Group

39% of Young Adults, One-Quarter Of All Americans Claim No Religious Affiliation
PRRI
Report: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back

New Barna Report: What Are America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities? (January 2016)
Bible Gateway Blog post
American Bible Society: 2016 Bible-Minded Cities

The Top Ten Bible Verses of 2015 And More: Bible Gateway’s Year in Review Is Here (December 2015)
Bible Gateway Blog post

Bible on Demand: What 160 Million People Searched Scripture For in 2015 (December 2015)
CT

God Rivals the Gym Among New Year’s Resolutions (December 2015)
CT

Study: Most Practicing Protestant Youth Own a Bible—And They’re Reading It (December 2015)
CT

Are You An Evangelical? Are You Sure? (December 2015)
NPR

For Many, Bible No Longer Good Book (November 2015)
Baptist News Global
LifeWay Research: Sacred Texts and Society

The State of Books and Reading in a Digital World (October 2015)
Barna Group

Most UK Adults Do Not Believe the Bible is God’s Word (August 2015)
Barna Group

Americans Rank Bible Most Influential Book in History (July 2015)
Christian Newswire

Half of UK Christian Teenagers Don’t Read Bible More Than Once a Month (July 2015)
Premier

95% of Jewish Israelis Have a Bible at Home; 6% of Those Are Not Sure Where It Is (July 2015)
The Jerusalem Post

Poll: 30% of Secular Israelis Have Never Read Tanach (July 2015)
JP Updates

Big Drop in Share of Americans Calling Themselves Christian (May 2015)
The New York Times

Pew: Evangelicals Stay Strong as Christianity Crumbles in America (May 2015)
CT

Canadians Have Personal Faith as Organized Religion Declines: Poll (April 2015)
National Post

The Most Churched, Unchurched Cities in the USA Are… (April 2015)
OneNewsNow.com

State of the Bible 2015: Teens (February 2015)
American Bible Society

How We Read the Bible: Bible Gateway’s 2014 Year in Review (December 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

Three-Quarters of Americans Identify as Christian (December 2014)
Gallup

Ten Obstacles That Get in the Way of Bible Fluency (August 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

75% in USA Believe the Bible is in Some Way Connected to God (June 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

A Summary of Recent Bible Reading Surveys (May 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

What’s the Place of the Bible in American Christianity? Surprising Results from a New Survey (March 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

What Does it Mean to be “Bible-Minded”? (February 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in the UK and Australia (February 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Canada (January 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

What Are Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” USA Cities? (January 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

What Are America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities? (January 2014)
Bible Gateway Blog post

2013 Year in Review on Bible Gateway (December 2013)
Bible Gateway Blog post

See Bible News Roundup weekly posts

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What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray: An Interview with Adam Weber

Adam WeberPrayer seems like it should be so simple. Yet, when it comes to actually praying, often it feels awkward and complicated. What do you say when you don’t know how to pray?

In time for America’s National Day of Prayer May 4, Bible Gateway interviewed Adam Weber (@adamweber) about his book, Talking with God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (WaterBrook, 2017).

[Browse resources about Prayer in the Bible Gateway Store]

You say your book is intended for people who aren’t sure how to pray. How large a group do you envision that to be?

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Adam Weber: I would only hope that the book would encourage and apply to anyone. The person who’s still on the fence about God but is curious to know more about prayer. The person who’s been following Jesus for years and yet is maybe stuck in a rut when it comes to their prayer life. The person who feels like they fall short in relationship with God, and also the person who thinks they have prayer all figured out.

What did Jesus have to say on the subject of prayer?

Adam Weber: Jesus speaks about prayer often. He explains, when you pray don’t do it to be seen by others (Matt 6:5). There’s no need to ramble on and try to pray extravagant prayers (Matt 6:7). God knows what we need before we even ask (Matt 6:8). Instead, when you pray, let your words be simple and speak with God (Matt 6:9). All of this is from a few short verses.

What general principles about prayer should we learn from The Lord’s Prayer?

Adam Weber: There are so many principles we can learn from the Lord’s Prayer. In Matthew 6:9 alone, we learn that God and even his name are holy. This is God we are speaking with in prayer. The same God that angels covered their eyes when in his presence (Isaiah 6:2). And yet, it’s “Our Father.” Not “Our King,” not “Almighty God,” but “Our Father.” God is holy, yet we can speak with him intimately like we do with a loving parent. We don’t have to edit our words or clean our lives up before we speak with him; instead we can approach him. Knowing that he loves when we’re in his presence.

Why do you think even Jesus’ disciples, those who followed him closely, didn’t have prayer figured out?

Adam Weber: Jesus wouldn’t have talked about prayer with his followers if they did have prayer figured out. And it doesn’t surprise me that they didn’t have prayer figured out. I’ve been following Jesus for 17 years now and I’m still growing and learning in my own prayer life. We’re all a work in progress. A dear friend of mine was a pastor for decades and yet recently I asked if he was still growing in his prayer life. His response: “I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.” Through daily prayer, we come to know and understand an infinite, unending God. How wonderful!

What should people pray about? Is anything off-limits?

Adam Weber: Anything that comes to the surface within our heart. Words of adoration towards God. Requests we have of our Father. Feelings of joy and also of pain. Obviously, as followers of Jesus, we should be respectful of God. But learning from David, nothing is off-limits. God can handle our questions, concerns, and frustrations.

What’s a person to say (or shouldn’t say) when praying? (Can the word “just” be used too many times?)

Adam Weber: Whatever is inside of us. Whether we’re excited, scared, or overwhelmed, say what’s inside of you and direct it towards God. There’s no “right” or “wrong” words to pray. Speak with God the way you talk with anyone else. Don’t speak in a different voice. Don’t speak using strange words that you wouldn’t elsewhere. Talk with God.

Are there different ways of praying?

Adam Weber: There are many different ways to pray. My youth pastor once explained that sometimes we need to sing to God because what we’re feeling inside is so wonderful. We’re thankful and in awe of God’s goodness and we need to sing. Other times we need to get on our knees. We’ve made a mistake, we’re broken, or we’re bringing a request to God so it just seems right to be on our knees. Other times we can speak with God just like we do with a friend. Jesus says “I don’t call you servants, instead I call you friends” (John 15:15).

Why should we pray? What difference does it make?

Adam Weber: We should pray to express our love for God. We should pray to hand our concerns over to God. We should pray because all throughout the Bible we’re told that God hears our voice and considers what we have to say.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Adam Weber: I use Bible Gateway weekly, sometimes daily. What a gift to any follower of Jesus to have such easy access to God’s Word and the different translations. Whether you’re a new Christian or a pastor, what a wonderful gift.


Bio: Adam Weber lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He likes typewriters, drives a Rambler, cheers for the Cincinnati Bengals, has 4 chickens, and a dog named Daisy. He’s the founder and lead pastor of Embrace, a 10-year-old church that has grown to 6 campuses in two states. He and his beautiful wife, Becky, have four kids: Hudson, Wilson, Grayson and Anderson. Fun fact: He once made worldwide news when a turkey vulture fell out of the sky and onto his back porch during an ice storm. Google it.

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Take the Quiz: How Curious Are You About the Bible?

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Faithlife Study Bible Encourages Readers to Stay Curious about God’s Word]

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No matter where you are on your faith journey, there’s always more to explore in God’s Word. Dive in and feed your curiosity with the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (Zondervan, 2017) (@NIVBible).

Filled with innovative graphics and rich commentary, this visually stunning study Bible delivers helpful insights designed to inform your faith. Robust study notes are built on the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek biblical languages.

The balance of striking graphics, comprehensive study features, and intriguing insights from multiple points of view will keep you curious as you explore the treasures of God’s Word.

[Read the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway]

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Bible News Roundup – Week of April 23, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
Bible Gateway Weekly Brief
Newsletter signup

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

The Attitudes of Skeptics and Antagonists Toward the Bible
CT
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Latest Bible-Related Research

Americans Are Fond of the Bible, Don’t Actually Read it
LifeWay Research
CBN News: How Americans Treat Bible Reading Like Exercise

Jews Least Likely US Religious Group To Read Bible Weekly—And 2/3 Never Do
The Forward

Video: American Bible Society’s Jason Malec on Changing Perceptions of the Bible
Barna
Barna: State of the Bible 2017—Top Findings
American Bible Society: News Release
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, History of the American Bible Society: An Interview with John Fea

53 People in the Bible Confirmed Archaeologically
Biblical Archaeology Review
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Interview: Bible Scholar Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible
See the Biblical Archaeology section in the Bible Gateway Store

A Popular Public School Bible Class in West Virginia Faces Legal Challenge
The Washington Post

He’s Memorized 42 Books of the Bible and You Can, Too
The Center for Biblical Spirituality
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Praying the Bible: An Interview with Donald Whitney
See Bible Engagement: Scripture Memorization on Bible Gateway

Pastor Opens Bible Museum in Downtown Houston, MO
Houston Herald
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Bible Truck, Traveling Exhibit Detailing History of the Bible, to Arrive in Sedalia, MO
Sedalia Democrat

Reading John’s Gospel in the Former Madrid Inquisition Square
Evangelical Focus
Read the Gospel of John on Bible Gateway

Participants Know the ‘Drill’ in State Bible Drill Tournament Competition
The Baptist Message

Sign Language Bible Translation Standards Established
DOOR International

Gideons International Visits Fujian, China Presenting Copies of Bible
China Christian Daily

Princeton University Library Acquires a Vellum Fragment of the Gutenberg Bible Preserved as a Book Cover
Princeton University Library

Ministry that Taught Australian Catholics to Read the Bible to Close
The Catholic Leader
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible
Browse Catholic Bibles in the Bible Gateway Store

1839 Bible Reunited with Descendant of Original Family
WZZM-TV

Biblica on Art and the Bible
Part 1
Part 2
See the Scripture Engagement section on Bible Gateway

Nearly 10,000 Bibles Later, ‘The Bible People’ Are Still Going Strong in Tennessee
Independent Herald
Read the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible on Bible Gateway

Educated Evangelicals Are More Religious
CT

Study: Evangelicals, Charismatics are Most Prepared for Persecution
Christian Today
Report: In Response to Persecution
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, I Am N: An Interview with Cole Richards and Jason Peters
See resources about Christian Persecution in the Bible Gateway Store

Pope Francis Gives TED Talk
RNS
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Tweetable Pope
Browse Catholic resources in the Bible Gateway Store

Who Pastors the Pastor? Even Ministers Suffer from Suicidal Thoughts
The Washington Post
See resources about suicide in the Bible Gateway Store

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The Biography of Christianity: An Interview with Ian Shaw

Ian J. ShawHow well do you know the story of Christianity from its birth and infancy among a handful of followers of Jesus Christ, through its years of development into a global religious movement, spanning continents and cultures and transcending educational and social backgrounds?

Bible Gateway interviewed Ian J. Shaw about his book, Christianity, The Biography: 2000 Years of Global History (Zondervan, 2017).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Unexpected Christian Century: An Interview with Scott Sunquist]

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Why is the title of your book “The Biography” and not “The History”?

Ian J. Shaw: The title is designed to show the dynamic of the development and growth of Christianity, from the Early Church period to the present day. The word ‘Biography’ emphasizes the life and change, challenge and progress in Christianity over 20 centuries.

Why is it important for Christians to remember church history?

Ian J. Shaw: The command to ‘remember’ is a biblical one. In Joshua 4 the Israelites were told to build a monument from stones that had been in the middle of the River Jordan to provoke the question from passers-by, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then the history of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan would be re-told.

The words ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ are spoken every occasion Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper together.

Remembrance is designed to feed faith—‘We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds you did in their days, in days of old’ (Psalm 44:1).

Those suffering from loss of memory are terribly debilitated. They cannot remember where they are, where they’ve come from, or even who they are. Their sense of ‘lost-ness’ is frightening. It’s very important that Christians do not lose the faculty of memory, but understand the story of which they are a part; the historical journey in which they participate. For the Christian, the biography of Christianity is the history of their family, and an exploration of their heritage. It should be an exciting adventure of self-discovery.

Understanding—and planning for—the future of the church requires opening up its past. This book affirms the old axiom that ‘those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them.’

What time period do you identify as the beginning of Christianity and why?

Ian J. Shaw: This is discussed in the first chapter of Christianity, The Biography. Every biography begins with a birth, but the exact date when Christianity was ‘born’ has been much debated. For some it’s the birth of its founder, Jesus Christ. Another point could be the time when the first disciples were called and became followers of Jesus Christ. A case could be made for Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, transforming the disciples of Jesus from a fearful, uncertain group, into an empowered body of witnessing messengers to the good news of Jesus Christ, prepared to turn the world upside down. A key moment was when the followers of Jesus were first referred to as ‘Christians’ in Acts 11:26.

Most historians of Christianity consider the end of the Roman War in Palestine in AD 70, toward the close of the lives of most of the apostles, as a vital moment.

I know this is asking a lot, but who do you see as the six most important people in Christian history and why?

Ian J. Shaw: This is an almost impossible task! But let’s start after the time of the Apostles—and Jesus had 12 choices! My six are chosen for importance in the overall progression of Christianity, not necessarily because I agree with all they said and did:

  • Constantine: the Roman Emperor who embraced Christianity and transformed it from a persecuted minority into a favored religion, no longer fighting for its survival. He did some good things and some not so good things.
  • Athanasius: he held the church strong in the face of the teaching of Arius that Christ was not truly God.
  • Augustine of Hippo: theologian and pastor, shaped much of the theological tradition of the Western church.
  • Martin Luther: reformer, preacher, Bible translator. He stood firmly on the basis of Scripture and his conscience for the right to challenge false and unhelpful teaching and church structures.
  • John Calvin: the great summarizer of key Reformation doctrine
  • Samuel Ajayi Crowther: the first African Anglican bishop; a morning-star heralding the huge growth in Christianity in the Global South.

How did the Bible materialize in Christian history?

Ian J. Shaw: Although Jesus Christ could write, from what we know he did not choose to write his teachings down. Instead his disciples carefully learned and treasured his words and actions, and recorded them in writing. Some collections of the sayings of Jesus may have been written down in his lifetime. The Old Testament was already accepted and used as Scripture by Christ and his apostles.

Within several decades of the death of Jesus the written documents which make up the New Testament had been produced. This helped to guard the church against error and false teaching. These documents were then copied with a high degree of accuracy by scribes. The canon (meaning ‘straight rule’ or ‘standard’) of Scripture was established in the early church, setting out what writings were regarded as authoritative.

The attempts by some false teachers to reject or undermine some of the New Testament books led to official statements from church councils in the 4th century confirming which writings were to be viewed as Scripture and which were non-canonical. These councils affirmed what had been in use as Scripture for the previous centuries.

Reading, preaching, and teaching the Bible was central to the life of the early Christian community and the global transmission of its message. There was a determination to ensure when the church spoke, it did so based on what God had revealed in Scripture.

How widespread has persecution been in the annals of Christianity?

Ian J. Shaw: Some argue that persecution has been the ‘normal’ state for Christians throughout its 20 centuries of existence, and that freedom from persecution is more unusual.

Up to the early 4th century, persecution was regularly experienced by Christians. After then it ceased in the Roman Empire, but remained an issue for Christians further East.

Persecution has not been faced by Christians all the time. But there have been very intense periods such as in the late 3rd century, during the French Revolution, and under a number of totalitarian regimes and some other religious rulers, when attempts have been made to totally eradicate Christianity. None have succeeded.

What does the future of Christianity look like?

Ian J. Shaw: Revelation 7:9 and 20:12 present the culmination of the biography of Christianity, of people from every tribe and tongue gathered round the throne of God.

By the start of the 21st century the make-up of Christianity looked closer to those images than it had ever done before. Christianity had returned to what it originally was: a global faith. The axis of Christianity has shifted to the Global South, with over one billion Christians in the non-Western World, compared to 750 million in the West. The next stages of the Christian biography will be significantly determined by what happens in Africa, Latin America, parts of Asia and the Pacific. Yet, although during the 20th century Christianity grew from around 558 million to over 2 billion believers, because this took place when world population was also growing, the percentage of Christians actually fell slightly, from just over around 35% to 32%.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Ian J. Shaw: Great resources and books and some great price deals.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Ian J. Shaw: Keep on reading so you can keep on growing!


Bio:
Ian J. Shaw is Associate International Director of the Langham Scholars Program and Honorary Fellow, School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh. He’s the author of Churches, Revolutions and Empires: 1789-1914; High Calvinists in Action: Calvinism and the City; William Gadsby; and The Greatest Is Charity.

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The Forgotten Jesus: An Interview with Robby Gallaty

Robby GallatyHow can knowing about ancient Jewish idioms, traditions, and culture deepen Christians’ relationship with Jesus? How can readers of the Bible better understand Scripture passages by being sensitive to Hebrew heritage?

Bible Gateway interviewed Robby Gallaty (@Rgallaty) about his book, The Forgotten Jesus: Why Western Christians Should Follow an Eastern Rabbi (Zondervan, 2017).

[Learn about and read the following Bible translations on Bible Gateway: The Complete Jewish Bible, The Names of God Bible, The Orthodox Jewish Bible, and the Tree of Life Version]

Buy your copy of The Forgotten Jesus in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every dayYou say Christians in the West have “lost the Jewishness of Jesus.” What do you mean?

Robby Gallaty: Jesus was a Jewish man who was raised in a Jewish culture, reared by devout Jewish parents, and who lived according to the Jewish laws. Jesus regularly attended the synagogue on Sabbath, participated in every biblical feast, studied and memorized the Scriptures, learned a trade from his father, and started his rabbinic ministry at the age of 30—all of this according to the Jewish customs of the day.

I’m suggesting that these elements reveal something about Jesus that we, as Westerners, might overlook. In doing so, we run the risk of missing important implications from the context of Jesus’ life and ministry that help us see and know him better.

Why is it important to remember the Jewish context of Jesus’ life?

Robby Gallaty: Understanding the Jewish context of Jesus’ life will help us see familiar passages in a new light. It’s like being used to watching a film on a tiny, grainy, black-and-white countertop television and then seeing it in an IMAX theater. When we learn more about Jesus in his context, we better understand him. And when we better understand him, we grow in our love for him.

What does it mean to read the Bible through a Jewish lens and how does it enhance the experience?

Robby Gallaty: Reading the Bible through a Jewish lens enhances our understanding of the why behind the what of Jesus’ actions. For example, according to Jewish tradition, the people would know that the Messiah was at hand when three Messianic miracles were performed. Jesus performed these miracles: the first was healing the leper in Matthew 8. The second was casting out a demon from a deaf, dumb, and blind man in Mark 5. The third miracle is found in John 9 where Jesus heals a man born blind. Each of these miracles is a powerful testimony to who Jesus is, but focusing on them through a Jewish lens enhances our understanding even more by providing important contextual information.

Briefly explain the message of your chapter, “Uncovering Christ in the Old Testament.”

Robby Gallaty: I believe that we’ll never be able to fully understand the ministry of Jesus without understanding the culture in which he arrived. Over three-quarters of the Bible is devoted to the Old Testament, yet many believers today spend most their time reading through the New Testament.

In reality, our faith is fortified when we understand that God’s plan for sending his Son to the world began before sending Moses, before the salvation of Joseph, before the calling of Abraham, and even before God’s punishments for Adam, Eve, and the serpent were uttered in the Garden.

Here’s an example of how understanding the Old Testament and the customs of its people helps us see Jesus better: the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths. The swaddling cloth is no ordinary piece of fabric. A better translation would perhaps be swaddling bands. These strips of linen were five inches wide by five or six yards long. According to the Mishnah, lambs that were destined to be Passover lambs were immediately wrapped in “swaddling cloths” after their births to keep them from injuring themselves. Interestingly, the lambs destined for the Temple sacrifices were raised in Bethlehem. So, when shepherds rushed to see the God of the universe born as human they would have recognized the cloth immediately. Reading the New Testament through a Jewish lens brings it into stark color.

[See Bible Reading Plans on Bible Gateway]

What Bible reading plan do you recommend and why?

Robby Gallaty: I’ve often said the best Bible reading plan is the one you’ll commit to and follow. Daily Bible intake is critical to the life of a growing, maturing disciple of Jesus. Over the years my wife and I developed a reading plan we call the F-260. These are 260 foundational passages of Scripture to be read five days a week. We’ve found that a five-day plan is easier to stick to over time. By focusing on a couple of chapters of reading a day with weekends off, the reading load is light and there’s built-in time to catch up if you miss a day. The point of this particular plan is to read less to digest more. By using the F-260, you’ll read through the entire metanarrative of Scripture in one year’s time, in easily digestible chunks.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog posts, The 50 Most Important Teachings of the Bible: An Interview with Jim George and The 100 Crucial Bible Passages to Know]

What do you want readers of your book to glean from it?

Robby Gallaty: My hope for The Forgotten Jesus is that people will grow in their understanding of Christ so that they may grow in their love for him. Loving Jesus more leads to obeying him more. I believe a life-long process of knowing, loving, and obeying Jesus will result in mature disciples who follow Christ’s command to make disciples who make disciplemakers.


Bio: Robby Gallaty (PhD, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He was radically saved out of a life of drug addiction on November 12, 2002. In 2008, he founded Replicate Ministries to educate, equip, and empower believers to make disciples who make disciples (replicate.org). He’s the author of Rediscovering Discipleship, Growing Up, Firmly Planted, and Bearing Fruit. Robby and his wife Kandi are the proud parents of two sons, Rig and Ryder.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of April 16, 2017

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Sermons that Teach About Scripture Are the No. 1 Reason Americans Go to Church
Gallup

5 Facts on How Americans View the Bible and Other Religious Texts
Fact Tank

Kentucky Governor Says Bible Is Welcome In Kentucky Public Schools
The Tennessee Star

Translating the Bible into Catalan and Spanish Sign Language
Wycliffe Global Alliance

Missionaries Complete 28-Year Project to Publish Bible in Kurdish Sorani Language
Anglican Communion News Service

Bible Translation: New Technologies Help Keep Translators Safe
Sight
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Wycliffe Associates—Helping to Translate the Bible Where Persecution of Christians Is Severe: An Interview with Bruce Smith
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Wycliffe Global Alliance Scripture & Language Statistics 2016

Secret UK Tomb Contains Remains of 5 Archbishops Including One Who Played a Major Role in Production of the King James Bible
The Telegraph
BBC News: Remains of Five ‘Lost’ Archbishops of Canterbury Found
UW Religion Today: The Coffin of Archbishop Bancroft and the King James Bible
Read the King James Version (KJV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway

Rare 16th Century Bibles Displayed During Reformation Conference
Black Mountain News
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Bible Exhibit on Display at York House in Pikeville, Kentucky
The Williamson Daily News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center Exhibit Features 1857 Pocket Bible
Daily Corinthian

Unique Bible Exhibition on at Margao, India’s Grace Church
Times of India

Michigan Woman Hopes to Reunite 1839 Bible with Living Descendants of Owner
WZZM-TV

Denver Seminary Launches Free Online Bible Course
Amarillo Globe-News
Zondervan Academic Online Courses

Number of Churchgoers in Scotland has Dropped by Over Half in the Last 30 Years
Premier

Adultery in 2017: Christians Rank What Counts as Cheating
CT
Read Matthew 5:27-28 on Bible Gateway

New Study Shows Number of American Atheists Underreported
RNS

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts