The Evangelism Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich. Kregel, 2014. 1564 pp. Hb; $39.99. Link to Kregel.
This Study Bible is a project developed by EvanTell, a Dallas-based evangelistic ministry founded by evangelist Larry Moyer. The Evangelism Study Bible uses the New King James translation, dual column with cross-references in the center, a concordance and map-set. The study notes are sparse with only a few key comments per page. In fact, there are sections of the Old Testament without any study notes at all. The promotional material states there are 2644 notes, so not quite two per page. These notes all focus on how a particular text might be used for evangelism so it is not unexpected that sections of Old Testament do not have notes. The book introductions are thematic. There is nothing that is typically found in a Study Bible (date, authorship, destination, etc.) In the Pauline letters there is sometimes a reference to the Book of Acts for context, but not always (1 Thess mentions Acts 17, 1 Corinthians does not). Given the fact that all the book introductions are less that ten lines of text, this is not an unexpected omission.
The 264 “Evangelism Tips” are scattered throughout the Bible, there does not appear to be an index or master list for these short tips. These are not really “tips for doing evangelism” as much as short comments encouraging the reader. Daniel 12:2 reminds the reader everyone is going to live forever and that God wants us to make a difference. Not all are specifically on evangelism. For example, at Eph 4:32 the tip concerns forgiveness (although this could be tangentially related to evangelism).
The main feature of The Evangelism Study Bible is a series of 85 “How-To” articles 125, “In Depth Articles” and 45 “Inspirational Devotions.” These are indexed in the introduction to the Bible by book but there does not seem to be any visual way to tell which note is a “how to,” an “in depth” or a “devotional,” since they all have the same look and feel. These articles are rarely a full page long. I think a topical index would have enhanced the usefulness of the book. By grouping all of the articles offering advice on evangelism into a single index, a reader could more easily read through them rather than scanning through the pages. This could also be added to the EvanTell website.
Some of the articles are designed to be short instructions for evangelists. Commenting on Ezra 4, the short article suggests six steps for “How to Deal with Roadblocks in Evangelism.” Haggai 1 is made to serve the topic dealing with distractions which keep you from doing evangelism. The note following 2 John concerns “sharing Christ with a cult member who knocks on your door.” Occasionally a note will deal with a theological issue, such as Rev 20:15, “Why would a loving God send anyone to hell?” This is a common question for evangelists and could have been expanded to a few pages! The same is true for the short note on Rom 15:20 concerning those who do not hear the Gospel (why is this not at Rom 1:20?). The notes could be improved by offering the reader a “for further reading” section for topics needing more in-depth study.
Sometimes the articles seem only vaguely related to the biblical text. After Song of Solomon 2:16 there is a full page note on how to have a healthy marriage. On the one hand, the nine points the article makes are quite good, but there is nothing in the article actually drawn from Song of Solomon, nor is the topic of marriage related back to the purpose of the book, evangelism.
The articles appearing in the New Testament were better related to the topic of evangelism. For example, the “Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism” (John 16:7-11) is quite good, and the article at Acts 20:24 attempts to define New Testament Evangelism. I fully expected this Bible to have more articles in Romans than any other book, but that is not the case. There is not a single article or tip for Romans 6-8!
The Evangelism Study Bible includes a short glossary of “Evangelism Terms,” although many of the terms are general Christian/Biblical words which may come up while sharing one’s faith (evangelism, witness, follow-up, testimony). Some theological terms appear (reconciliation, redemption, justification) and are defined in very traditional conservative evangelical ways. There is a short two-page plan of salvation included at the back of the Bible. No authors are indicated for these articles, although several are adapted from books by Larry Moyer.
Conclusion. This Study Bible should probably be considered a Devotional Bible since it lacks almost all of the study helps normally associated with the study of the Bible. It is not an apologetics Study Bible and does not claim to answer common questions one might encounter while sharing their faith.
NB: Thanks to Kregel for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.