This week I have enjoyed greatly the events of the US debut of the Africa Study Bible (ASB). The ASB is the first study Bible written by Africans for Africans. The study notes, artwork, articles, stories, African proverbs, and illustrations within the ASB offer a means of contextualizing the truth of Scripture in African ideas and for African concerns.
The ASB was a major undertaking, involving over 350 biblical and theological scholars from the more than 50 countries on the continent of Africa. The ASB includes a large section of notes given to a narrative timeline of God’s work in Africa.
The representative contributing scholars who came to Moody Bible Institute spoke of the joy of having the ASB as a tool for discipleship. While rejoicing with them, I also am grateful for the ASB’s ability to increase our sensitivity to the concerns of our sisters and brothers in African nations, and to raise our cultural awareness toward non-Western issues the biblical text addresses. For example, an “African Touch Point” on Ex. 22:18 teaches that “witches” should not be equated with “foreigners, widows, and orphans–the vulnerable in society.”
I encourage you to get your own copy of the African Study Bible and utilize its notes in your personal study. Pray for the ASB project to have great reach around the world. Also, an ASB 30-day devotional is available. Below is an example of the devotional reading from Day 1.
Africa, a Cradle of Christianity: a Devotion on Africa’s Legacy
13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (NLT)
From an Africa Study Bible Article titled “Christianity’s African Roots”:
Sankofa is an Akan word from Ghana meaning “returning to your roots, recapturing what you’ve lost, and moving forward.” What are some of the African roots of Christianity?
Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus became refugees in Africa when Herod ordered the slaughter of young boys in Bethlehem. Simon, an African Jew from Cyrene, was forced by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus on the way to Golgotha where the Lord was crucified. The earliest of the four Gospels was written by an African. John Mark was born in Cyrene in modern Libya to a Jewish family of the tribe of Levi.
The influence of the early African church was great and was concentrated in three areas. First, Alexandria, Egypt, was the intellectual capital of the Mediterranean world. John Mark, Alexandria’s first bishop, was martyred there in ad 68, but the church thrived and expanded its roots in Africa and beyond. Second, the largest Christian community in the Maghreb (an area from modern Libya to Morocco) was Carthage, in modern Tunisia. Three early popes were African from this region. Third, Coptic Christianity flourished in Egypt and Sudan. In the early fourth century, Christianity was declared the state religion of the Kingdom of Aksum, part of modern Ethiopia.
We are heirs to a rich history of ancient Christianity. But the question is: Do we know this history? Do we tell these stories to our children and grandchildren? May the knowledge and legacy of such African giants ignite our own devotion to the Lord!
Search for your country on the Dictionary of African Christian Biography (www.dacb.org), and tell your church and family about what you discover. Begin to learn early African Christian stories of faith, martyrdom, and intellectual life that you can tell to your children and your grandchildren.
This Africa Study Bible
Daily Devotional is provided as a free blessing from Oasis International. To find out more about the Africa Study Bible
and where you can find it in your country, visit africastudybible.com