I use the ESV website 15-50 times a day, and having the ESV Study Bible as part of it is regularly valuable.
Click here to get it for free as part of Crossway’s 75th anniversary celebration.
Manifesto signatories, our voice has been heard! I’m super excited for the May, 2014 release!
Crossway even used the title we suggested: “Reader’s Bible.” I’m going to try to figure out how this came about and whether our manifesto made any difference or was just another drop lost in the vast Internet bucket.
This promo copy certainly makes it sound like the manifesto struck a chord:
The ESV Reader’s Bible was created for those who want to read Scripture precisely as it was originally written – namely, as an unbroken narrative. Verse numbers, chapter and section headings, and translation footnotes are helpful navigational and interpretive tools, but are also relatively recent conventions. In the ESV Reader’s Bible they have been removed from the Bible text. The result is a new kind of Bible reading experience in a volume that presents Scripture as one extended storyline.
On the top of each page a verse range is included for orientation. Other features include a single-column text setting, readable type, and a book-like format. The Reader’s Bible is a simple but elegant edition, and is perfect for devotional reading, for extended Bible reading, or for focusing on the overarching narrative of the Bible.
- Black letter text, with no verse numbers or text notes
- Single-column, paragraph format
- Introduction to the Reader’s Bible
- Ribbon marker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m not qualified to offer an evaluation of the book, per se; I’ve never read a contrary viewpoint (unless you count Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy—but that’s a little bit apples to oranges). I can say that his thesis was clear and, as far as I can see (see previous disclaimer about how far that is), well-supported. Myers is saying that the North Korean people are complicit in their own slavery. He’s not blaming the victim, exactly; the leaders share the same slavery—to a racist ideology which comes as a bit of a shock to someone who didn’t know it existed. Myers goes to the sources to demonstrate that it does:
In this book … I aim to explain North Korea’s dominant ideology or worldview—I use the words interchangeably—and to show how far removed it is from communism, Confucianism and the show-window doctrine of Juche Thought. Far from complex, it can be summarized in a single sentence: The Korean people are too pure blooded, and therefore too [child-like and] virtuous, to survive in this evil world without a great parental leader. More must be added perhaps, if only to explain that “therefore” to an American reader, but not much more of importance. I need hardly point out that if such a race-based worldview is to be situated on our conventional left-right spectrum, it makes more sense to posit it on the extreme right than on the far left. Indeed, the similarity to the worldview of fascist Japan is striking. I do not, however, intend to label North Korea as fascist, a term too vague to be much use. It is enough for me to make clear that the country has always been, at the very least, ideologically closer to America’s adversaries in World War Il than to communist China and Eastern Europe. This truth alone, if properly grasped, will not only help the West to understand the loyalty shown to the DPRK by its chronically impoverished citizens, but also to understand why the West’s policy of pursuing late Cold War-type solutions to the nuclear problem is doomed to fail.
Myers drives his argument toward a few political recommendations, but they are not the focus of the book. What practical answers are there for a nationwide slavery?
Pyongyang therefore negotiates with Washington not to defuse tension but to manage it, to keep it from tipping into all-out war or an equally perilous all-out peace. Ignorant of this, because ignorant of the North’s ideology, Americans tend to blame problems in US-DPRK relations on whoever happens to be in the Oval Office, thinking him either too soft or too hard on Pyongyang. The right talks in moralistic terms of Kim Jong Il’s evil and perfidy in refusing to disarm, with no apparent understanding that he cannot disarm and hope to stay in power. The left, meanwhile, continues to call for bold American trust-building measures. In doing so, it overlooks the failure of the ROK’s Sunshine Policy (a decade of generous and unconditional aid) to generate even a modicum of good will from the North. To expect Washington to succeed with Pyongyang where the South Korean left failed is to take American exceptionalism to a new extreme. The unpleasant truth is that one can neither bully nor cajole a regime—least of all one with nuclear weapons—into committing political suicide.
What answers are there for such a situation, indeed? I’ll suggest one: the noetic effects of the fall of Adam are so substantial that they must be fixed by a second Adam. And if that sounds like only another ideology, I’d say it’s the only one that offers hope to North Koreans. They—we—must admit our equality not only in a positive sense, our equality as divine image-bearers; but in a negative sense, our equality as sinners in Adam who are complicit in many crimes he never dreamed of. Including racism, I would imagine.
What do you get when you put together a gifted, kind of techie young communicator from the culturally conservative end of the neo-Reformed spectrum with a contemporary topic like our culture’s crazy busyness? This book had the feel of one that wrote itself—to take nothing away from that young communicator, Kevin DeYoung. He said all the things he was expected to say and yet managed to hold my interest the entire time. He also managed to write a Young, Restless, Reformed self-help book. And it actually worked.
In Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung admits to needing the book himself as much as he expects any of his readers to need it. He keeps his advice “mercifully short,” which seemed to mean that every paragraph was written right to me. No extraneous chapters. Got the book done in time for the next item on my to-do list.
DeYoung also kept his advice gospel-centered without letting the jargon that has developed around that theological meme do the work for him. Without advertising his gospel-centeredness, he applied the same balanced approach to sanctification found in The Hole in Our Holiness to a particular problem, busyness, and he genuinely edified this reader.
I’ll offer only a small sampling of the thoughts that helped me:
Readers of DeYoung’s blog will pick up on several sections of the book that were either lifted from his blog or posted there, apparently, during his work on the book. But they won’t feel cheated. I was glad to be reminded of his words about parenting, for example.
If you are Crazy Busy, give this book a read/listen.
Note: I received review copies from Crossway, NetGalley, and Christian Audio. I wasn’t required to say anything nice; I genuinely liked the book. (Oh yeah, and Adam Verner did a fine job on the audio narration.)
Those who accept theology are not necessarily being guided by taste rather than reason. The picture so often painted of Christians huddling together on an ever narrower strip of beach while the incoming tide of “Science” mounts higher and higher corresponds to nothing in my own experience. That grand myth [of evolutionary progress] which I asked you to admire a few minutes ago is not for me a hostile novelty breaking in on my traditional beliefs. On the contrary, that cosmology is what I started from. Deepening distrust and final abandonment of it long preceded my conversion to Christianity. Long before I believed Theology to be true I had already decided that the popular scientific picture at any rate was false. One absolutely central inconsistency ruins it…. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears. Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula … obeys the thought laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory—in other words, unless Reason is absolute—all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based. The difficulty is to me a fatal one; and the fact that when you put it to many scientists, far from having an answer, they seem not even to understand what the difficulty is, assures me that I have not found a mare’s nest but detected a radical disease in their whole mode of thought from the very beginning. The man who has once understood the situation is compelled henceforth to regard the scientific cosmology as being, in principle, a myth; though no doubt a great many true particulars have been worked into it.
From “Is Theology Poetry,” in The Weight of Glory, 134–136.
One of the reasons Harvard prof Michael Sandel’s book Justice was the most memorable book I read last year—and the biggest reason I highly recommend it—is that it makes one excessively important point: you can’t not have a vision of the good. You read that right. It’s impossible to live without some vision of the good, and that vision of the good will and must drive your decisions.
The example Sandel gave that most stuck with me is affirmative action. I myself have puzzled over that issue. I don’t want to overreact to the conservatives (who often annoy me with their glib dismissal of affirmative action) or the liberals (who don’t seem to realize that their relief efforts can actually make economics problems worse by creating dependence). I want to do right. I think I have an open mind on this issue.
Sandel helped cut through the layers of shout that have collected on affirmative action. He asked a fairly simple question: what vision of the good drives each side in this debate?
On the conservative side, the answer would be this: “We value a meritocratic society in which hard work is rewarded and sloth is allowed to bring able-bodied people low, therefore motivating them to contribute valuable work again.” That sounds reasonable to me.
On the liberal side, the answer would be this: “We value a society that rights past wrongs and includes members of all ethnic groups and subcultures at all levels, not just the lowest rungs.” That sounds reasonable to me, too. It’s not just India that has Dalits; I don’t want my nation to be stratified into classes that fall along ethnic lines—if there’s something I, as part of the dominant group (redheads, of course), can do to stop it.
Sandel also picks up on a major theme in Alasdair MacIntyre’s effort to recover Aristotelian ethics for the modern age (see After Virtue). Whether he has MacIntyre in mind or not, he clearly falls along the same lines when he asks what the nature of the “practice” we call “college” really is:
The just way of allocating access to a good may have something to do with the nature of that good, with its purpose. The affirmative action debate reflects competing notions of what colleges are for: To what extent should they pursue scholarly excellence, to what extent civic goods, and how should these purposes be balanced? [No page numbers; I read a Kindle version.]
For Sandel, MacIntyre, and Aristotle before them, one of the key ways to define virtue is to figure out what something’s purpose is.
Sorting out the telos of a university seems essential to determining the proper criteria of admission. This brings out the teleological aspect of justice in university admissions. Closely connected to the debate about a university’s purpose is a question about honor: What virtues or excellences do universities properly honor and reward? Those who believe that universities exist to celebrate and reward scholarly excellence alone are likely to reject affirmative action, whereas those who believe universities also exist to promote certain civic ideals may well embrace it. That arguments about universities—and cheerleaders and flutes—naturally proceed in this way bears out Aristotle’s point: Arguments about justice and rights are often arguments about the purpose, or telos, of a social institution, which in turn reflect competing notions of the virtues the institution should honor and reward.
I find that extremely helpful. And it all drives toward a conclusion that every Christian should cheer:
Justice is inescapably judgmental. Whether we’re arguing about financial bailouts or Purple Hearts, surrogate motherhood or same-sex marriage, affirmative action or military service, CEO pay or the right [of a disabled golfer] to use a golf cart, questions of justice are bound up with competing notions of honor and virtue, pride and recognition. Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things.
It’s not an accident, then, that “the right way to value things” stands at the very heart of the Christian religion. What am I supposed to value—what am I supposed to love—most? God, then God’s image-bearers, Jesus said (Matt 22:34–40). What, in fact, is the very foundation of all true knowledge, let alone wisdom? A proper valuing of the Lord we call “fear” (Prov. 1:7). Without God standing at the appropriate place on my value scale, I won’t get other major questions right. Justice is inescapably judgmental.
I heard Reza Aslan in an interview on NPR a few weeks ago describing to a fawning* interviewer his book Zealot, a brand new title which purports to describe “The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” I got the definite impression that Aslan (what a sadly ironic name!) was parroting a liberal Protestant/secularist line on Jesus that is anything but newsworthy.
So I was a bit surprised to see Christian criticism of Aslan focus on his Islamic faith and his academic credentials. I won’t call either criticism fallaciously ad hominem, because I don’t think his faith is entirely beside the point, and a few comments he made to a Fox News interviewer about his scholarship did perhaps stretch the truth a bit. But only a bit—and on the other issue, in all the materials I’ve seen on Aslan’s book, I haven’t yet read an argument of his that sounded particularly Islamic (the top-rated Amazon reviewer says the same). It all just sounds like the Jesus Seminar.
For example, this kind of statement (from Aslan) is not exactly cutting edge:
[The Scriptures] are valuable in the sense that they reveal certain truths to us, but that the facts that they reveal are not as valuable as the truths are.
Here’s another liberal Protestant/secularist line:
[Jesus was a] marginal, illiterate, uneducated Jew from the low hills of Galilee.
I’m a little late on this, but Alan Jacobs—an amazingly well-read man, and a great writer himself—weighs in with some helpful points along the same lines as the one I’m making in this post.
Bonus: This would be a good time for you to re-read a great quote I posed a while back from Ian Provan. Here’s an excerpt:
The biblical stories about Israel, on the one hand, are approached with the maximum degree of suspicion in regard to the extent in which they truly reflect what happened. There is, on the other hand, a touching degree of (sometimes quite uncritical) faith displayed when it comes to modern narratives about this same entity.
*The interviewer asked Aslan, for example, “I wonder if there is another detail that you could share with us from your research—something about Jesus, his life, his growing up—that might run counter to popular conceptions of him.”
I’m reading through Scott Oliphint’s new Covenantal Apologetics. He’s one of the few people with the stature to propose that the name “presuppositionalism” be dropped—and he may very well be successful. But his approach is clearly in the same tradition. “Covenantal” is only a way of saying that all humanity owes a debt of obedience to God by virtue of His covenantal relationship with them as their Creator and Lord. So far I’m not seeing any good reason for dispensationalists to object to the substance of that claim, but they’re probably not going to like the moniker for other (understandable) reasons.
Here are Oliphint’s ten tenets for a covenantal apologetic:
Oliphint in the first chapter several times makes a somewhat surprising admission, that presuppositionalists have been too busy for too long talking too much about apologetics rather than doing it. I snuck ahead in his book to see how extensive the “practice” sections of his book are, and it appears he’s trying to remedy this problem.