Joel B. Green and William H. Willimon, general editors, "The Wesley Study Bible:" ((Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009). 1568 pages. ISBN 978-0-687-64503-9
Dr. Vic Reasoner
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 2. Fall 2009. Volume 27.
In the Fall 1994 Arminian Magazine, I offered my evaluation of The Wesley Bible (1990). In the Fall 2001 Arminian Magazine, I also reviewed The Reflecting God Study Bible (2000). Both of these study Bibles are out of print and we now have the third Wesleyan study Bible.
This study Bible incorporates Wesley's Explanatory Notes and sermons. In general, it seems to avoid theological controversy and emphasize ethical holiness. It also deals with Wesleyan Core Terms and Life Application Topics. The comments on Romans 7 are good. It avoids presenting American holiness theology as Wesleyan, which was the weakness of the first study Bible. As I pointed out in my review of the second Wesleyan study Bible, the editors worked under restrictions imposed by the publisher. Thus, the brief notes it contains were inadequate.
And so, is the third time the charm? Unfortunately, this new study Bible is unnecessarily liberal. There is no reason to use "Before the Common Era" (BCE) and "Common Era" (CE), instead of "Before Christ" (BC) and "In the Year of our Lord" (AD). The greatest historical event in human history was the advent of Jesus Christ and even the secular history of civilization textbook I teach from uses BC and AD in acknowledgment of that fact.
We are told at Genesis 1:1-2:3 that this is not a scientific explanation for the universe and that the text makes no claim to answer the "how" of creation. Actually, this section does tell us that God created everything in six days and Hebrews 11:3 tells us that God created from nothing pre-existent (ex nihilo). The problem is that it is just not theologically correct to believe the Bible in the fact of accepted evolutionary theory.
It is unacceptable to claim, as this study Bible does, that the physical love depicted in the Song of Solomon does not describe a married relationship. Nor is there any reason to divide Isaiah into three parts since it was all written by Isaiah and not piecemeal over several generations in the tradition of Isaiah. And the New Revised Standard Version still does not translate Isaiah 7:14 right. According to Matthew 1:23, Mary was a virgin, not merely a young woman.
Why would the notes on Daniel 2 and 7 claim the four kingdoms envisioned by Daniel were Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greek and that "Rome does not appear in Daniel"? But Daniel 8:20 tells us that the ram represented the kings of Media and Persia. This kingdom was followed by Greece and then the Kingdom of Christ invaded this world in the days of the fourth kingdom, which was Rome. To make Greece the fourth kingdom is a bridge to nowhere in terms of fulfilled prophecy. If Wesley taught the fourth kingdom was Rome, why cannot the study Bible which bears his name reflect his more conservative interpretation?
Why cannot this study Bible acknowledge that Peter wrote 2 Peter, when the first verse of the epistle says he did. Why even acknowledge that some scholars do not think Jude wrote the book of Jude which also declares that he did? Why did the editors mar a good project by needlessly capitulating to higher criticism which undermines biblical authority?