The wonderful Immersion Bible Studies offer a vital resource for our increasingly “scripture-illiterate” world. They have been created for use with the new Common English Bible or as stand-alone resources (used with any translation or translations of Scripture.) Several have been available for over a year. 2012 brings the publication of three more: Deuteronomy, Job, and James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, and Jude. As with the other books in the series, each reflects the viewpoint and style of its author, while retaining features common to each. Each is designed for accessibility, based in the freshness of the new CEB translation. Each is both informational and formational, delving into the story of the text and then inviting readers/group participants to live into the text.
Each book in the series consists of 6-8 short chapters, making them ideal for discussion and study groups. The language is simple without being simplistic, making them accessible to all age groups from youth on up. People new to the faith or to the study of Scripture will be invited in to the Bible story. Those who have known it for some time will be invited into deeper insight and reflection, as each is invited to “Claim Your Story” and to “Live the Story.”
The series has been created through the collaboration of scholars and pastors. As a result, the learning is solid and the applications are authentic. As each volume includes a Leader’s Guide, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading, discussion groups can readily be led by pastors or laypeople. They can be done individually or linked together into series. Additionally, a study could easily be adapted into a sermon series. Once developed, accompanying children’s curriculum could make possible a vibrant congregation-wide “immersion” into the Word of God.
Several features of each volume add depth and interest. Segments entitled “Across the Testaments” provide valuable linkages between Old and New Testament understandings, an area often not covered in Bible studies to the detriment of the reader. Other “boxes” inserted into the chapters explore a variety of well-known but often misunderstood biblical phrases and expressions, such as “the poor will be with you always,” “an eye-for-an-eye,” and “satan.”
Wesleyan Christians will be nurtured and challenged by the ways in which both personal and social holiness are explored. “Personal issues” are placed alongside the biblical witness to our corporate and national life. This perspective especially comes through in Deuteronomy, where topics such as God’s covenant, living as relationship, and implications of “choosing life” are discussed. Again, this makes the Immersion series somewhat unique among scripture discussion resources for the local church.
Job tackles the ever-vexing enigmas of suffering, comfort, a just life, and the role of God and friends in the midst of it all. The third volume in this set gets at life in community and what a life of grateful obedience might offer.
There are so many among us and in our communities who long to know the Bible as a word of life and hope. They want to “get it.” They want to know how it is that these stories have sustained and inspired individuals and communities across many generations. They want to dig deep and they want to connect.
These Immersion Bible Studies offer fresh, inviting, and transformational resources for engaging the Word of the living God.
The series is edited by Jack A. Keller and Stan Purdum, with studies authored by Michael E. Williams, Lee A. Schott, Ellsworth Kalas, and others.