The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries in modern history written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk . Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text. So I wrote one.
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The commentary on the Bible by Jim West, a theologian who is lecturer in Biblical and Reformation Studies at Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong and is also Pastor of a Baptist Church in Petros, Tennessee, explains every chapter from Genesis to Revelation to “the person in the pew”: the ordinary member of a church, who, when reading the Bible, encounters a desperately foreign culture and therefore needs some guidance to understand it.
West’s approach is straightforward: he offers the Bible in a translation (American Standard Version) and interrupts the narrative every now and then to explain a couple of verses. His comments are aimed “at English speaking and reading members of the community of faith”: in other words, he makes the ancient texts accessible for believers.
As a pastor, West has an additional task: he needs to present the text in such a way that the faithful can use the Bible as a guideline. As I said, West’s approach is straightforward. The fact that he succeeds is encouraging for everyone who thinks that the study of ancient texts is meaningful.
I am no theologian and cannot judge the theological merits, but I can say that it is a pleasant read. I am currently reading a text I know quite well, Daniel, and West has pointed out many aspects I had not recognized before. The PDFs of West’s Commentary for the Person in the Pew are on my tablet, allowing me to go through the entire Bible when my train is delayed or has been cancelled. Given the quality of Dutch public transport I expect to have renewed my encounter with the Bible within a few months. – Jona Lendering