NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition: Meet the Editors—Jeannine Brown
The NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition includes thousands of new or updated study notes based on historical discoveries, cultural findings, and thematic insights; over 100 new commentary articles; and the NIV Comfort Print® typeface.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.
Dr. Jeannine Brown: I’m professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to New Testament courses, I also teach our Hermeneutics course (focusing on biblical interpretation) and the integrative seminar that our students take in their final year of seminary. I have specialties in the Gospels and Matthew and John particularly, along with Philippians and 1 Peter among the epistles. My most recent book, The Gospels as Stories, explores a narrative approach to reading the Gospels. I also specialize in hermeneutics (Scripture as Communication) and have collaborated in the area of interdisciplinary integration (Relational Integration between Psychology and Christian Theology).
How is the process of working on a study Bible unique from other scholarly collaborations?
Dr. Jeannine Brown: In much of my collaborative work, I’m able to focus quite narrowly on my specialty areas. For example, I’ve written a few commentaries on Matthew and feel thoroughly at home in that Gospel and in the scholarly writing around it. This project propelled us into the wide vista of the whole of Scripture. As we each were proposing new notes and revision of current notes on particular books, I was assigned the Old Testament books of Numbers, Chronicles, Psalms, and the Minor Prophets (in addition to New Testament books I’ve researched closely). I had an opportunity to study these books in greater depth than I usually do as a New Testament scholar, and it was a great privilege and pleasure to do this work.
A study Bible, generally speaking, needs to be accessible to readers that have little-to-no Bible knowledge, but also should press those who are quite familiar with the Bible to learn and grow. And writing clearly, succinctly, and accessibly takes a lot of work! I believe our teamwork helped us arrive at this kind of writing that’s so crucial for a study Bible. I also appreciated that our collaborative work happened face-to-face, in week-long meetings three times a year during a three-year period. The concerted time together helped our team to arrive at better notes than if we had sent our work back and forth to one another.[Read the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway]
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Since this is a revision to the 2011 NIV Study Bible, can you think of a specific study note or feature that you personally helped refine on account of better cultural or thematic understanding of a passage?
Dr. Jeannine Brown: Drawing on my own study of Matthew, I was able to clarify the meaning of the Greek term teleios as used in Matthew 5:48. Jesus calls his disciples to “be perfect” like their “heavenly Father is perfect.” Because teleios doesn’t map exactly onto the English word “perfect,” our note on this verse now provides the following clarification:
5:48 Be perfect. Or “complete” and “whole” (cf. 19:20-21). Jesus sets up the high ideal of perfect or complete love—including both attitude and action (see vv. 43–47). This is God’s high standard for his people, empowered by the presence of Jesus in their midst (1:23; 18:20; 28:20).
How has your involvement with the Committee on Bible Translation, the group that oversees the NIV text, helped you as you were working on the NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition?
Dr. Jeannine Brown: It was helpful in a number of ways. First, as part of the NIV translation team, I know how difficult the work of translation can be and how often there are legitimate alternates for translating a particular text. So I wasn’t prone to use the notes of the study Bible to dispute the NIV translation. While it’s legitimate sometimes to provide translation alternatives (as the footnotes of the NIV itself often does), I found myself being sure in the notes to communicate the viability of the various translation choices of the NIV at places where real disagreement about translation occurs.
Second, our work in translation helped our study Bible team to provide notes that reflect a deeper level of linguistic nuance. For example, we’ve avoided reference to the “literal” meaning of words, since most words (in Greek and Hebrew, as well as in English) have distinct senses in various contexts and not a single basic meaning.
Practically, it helped to know well the other members of the NIV Study Bible team from our long-standing relationships on the Committee on Bible Translation. Our collaboration was carried along and enhanced by our friendships.
What is your hope for this study Bible?
Dr. Jeannine Brown: I would love for this study Bible to help seasoned readers of Scripture to gain new insights into the text and its context. I would also hope that our work would meet the needs of new readers of the Bible, who really want to dive into the history, literary qualities, and theology of Scripture.
Read interviews with the other editors of the NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised Edition:
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