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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

The Editors' Preface

The Oxford Study Bible continues a project which at an earlier stage was called The New English Bible: Oxford Study Edition. The idea of such a project was conceived by the late Samuel Sandmel and encouraged by Wilbur Ruggles (then Vice President for Religious Publishing at Oxford University Press). Sandmel was especially taken with the translation—its accuracy, of course, but especially its “clarity and readability.” Here was a committee translation which provided readers with a plain, unstilted rendering of the text. It was Sandmel's conviction that a volume which combined such a superior translation with basic study aids would meet the needs of interested students and other lay readers. A further consideration, which was noted in the preface to the Study Edition, made the project especially important to Sandmel: “In our times the scholarly study of the Bible cuts across sectarian lines; hence both the editors and the contributors represent a diversity of religious persuasions and traditions.” This volume embraces the aim of providing useful, non-sectarian encouragement to intelligent reading of the Bible.

Committees responsible for modern versions provide, as needed, up-dated translations. The appearance of the Revised English Bible in 1989 signaled the need for a revision of the Study Edition as well. The annotations, composed as they were for the New English Bible, required accommodation to the new translation and occasional adjustments of other kinds. The need for revision also provided the opportunity to conform the language of the study helps to inclusive standards. Further, in the interim since the Study Edition, the technology of paper and book production has advanced so as to permit an expanded section of essays. The happy consequence is that a group of four “Special Articles” in the previous edition has become a section of nineteen articles in the new book.

Readers should be advised of a number of editorial decisions with respect to the included material. For example, biblical citations in the essays are from the Revised English Bible, except in rare instances where a linguistic point has required an author to supply a special translation. Calendar references are made by using B.C.E. (before the common era) and C.E.—temporal equivalents to B.C. and A.D. American, rather than British, spellings are used in the annotations and essays (“labor” instead of “labour,” for example). The format of a volume like this is important and is explained in the article on “Reading This Bible.”

The annotations constitute a large part of the aids to study. The editors wish to express their appreciation to the annotators, whose work for the 1976 edition proved remarkably durable.

Paul J. Achtemeier Lloyd R. Bailey
Acts of the Apostles, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Albert Baumgarten John C. Hurd
Wisdom of Solomon Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians
William A. Beardslee Neil J. McEleney, C.S.P.
Ecclesiasticus 1 and 2 Maccabees
Sheldon H. Blank David M. Stanley, S.J.
Jeremiah The Gospel of John, 1, 2, and 3 John
Myles M. Bourke Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P.
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philemon Letter of Jeremiah, Baruch
James L. Crenshaw M. Jack Suggs
Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes Matthew, Mark, Luke
Edward J. Crowley Arnold J. Tkacik
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Esther Ezekiel
Demetrius Dumm, O.S.B. Gene M. Tucker
Tobit, Judith, Rest of Esther Isaiah
David B. Weisberg
Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Esdras
Loren R. Fisher Jay A. Wilcoxen
The Psalms 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles
Victor P. Furnish Clyde M. Woods
Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude 2 Esdras, The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three, Daniel and Susanna, Daniel, Bel, and the Snake, The Prayer of Manasseh
Edwin M. Good
The Twelve Prophets
Paul Hammer
Richard A. Henshaw
Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel

For the most part, the revising of the annotations required by the new translation was done by Katharine Doob Sakenfeld (Old Testament editor), James R. Mueller (Apocrypha editor), and M. Jack Suggs (New Testament editor). In a small number of instances involving a substantial volume of material, the editorial work was done by others: William A. Beardslee, Ecclesiasticus; James L. Crenshaw, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes; Neil J. McEleney, 1 and 2 Maccabees; Patrick D. Miller, Jr., The Psalms; and Gene M. Tucker, Isaiah. Also, James C. VanderKam reviewed the annotations for two books of the Apocrypha. Prof. Sakenfeld's graduate assistants, Nancy Bowen and Carolyn Pressler, did valuable, basic work, especially with the Pentateuch, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Prof. Mueller was aided in certain aspects of technical editing by his graduate assistant, Patricia Woods.

As the preceding paragraph suggests, there was a division of editorial labor with respect to annotations. However, the remaining editorial work—from the design of the essay section to the final approval of essays—was not divided. Though Suggs served as Senior Editor, the editors developed a way of working together which insured that even small tasks were shared and decisions were based largely on consensus.

The collection of essays provides basic information about issues and approaches which are important for informed study of the Bible. The writers of the essays are distinguished scholars who are authorities in the fields about which they have written.

Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. Wayne A. Meeks
“The Perspective of Wisdom” “The Social World of the New Testament”
Elizabeth A. Clark Carol Meyers
“Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church” “The Contributions of Archaeology”
Richard Elliott Friedman Carol A. Newsom
“Torah and Covenant” “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Jewish Literature”
Robert Goldenberg David L. Petersen
“Hebrew Scriptures in Early Post-Biblical Judaism, with Special Reference to the Rabbinic Tradition” “The Social World of the Old Testament”
John H. Hayes James A. Sanders
“Deity in the Biblical Communities and among Their Neighbors” “Communities and Canon”
Martha Himmelfarb Choon-Leong Seow
“The Apocalyptic Vision” “Literature of the Ancient Near East”
W. Lee Humphreys Byron E. Shafer
“Historical Contexts of the Biblical Communities” “Relationship to God: Public and Private Worship”
Leander E. Keck (with Gene M. Tucker) M. Jack Suggs
“Literary Forms of the Bible” (Revised by Keck) “Reading the Bible”
Dennis R. MacDonald Mary Ann Tolbert
“Early Christian Literature” “Reading the Bible”
James L. Mays Gene M. Tucker (with Leander E. Keck)
“The Phenomenon of Prophecy” “Literary Forms of the Bible”

Three additional essays on special topics appear in the pages of the biblical text, each introduced at the beginning of the Old Testament, Apocrypha or New Testament. For these, the editors are responsible: Sakenfeld for the article on “The Pentateuch,” Mueller for “The Place and Significance of the Apocrypha” and Suggs for “The Gospels.”

Finally, a “Select Index to People, Places, and Themes in the Bible,” originally prepared by Richard V. Bergren, Jr., and D. Peter Burrows, has been revised for this edition.

A project such as this is possible only because of people who share the vision of opening the Bible to lay readers. The editors are mindful of such colleagues. We are grateful for scholars willing to translate technical jargon into the language of common discourse to assist readers who are not specialists. Donald Kraus has been “Oxford University Press” for us, shielding us from the details of book production and encouraging us in myriad ways; we know that he, his colleague Herbert J. Addison, and their associates (artists, compositors, copy readers, marketing representatives) have undertaken work that has permitted us to do the “fun things.” The editors also wish to thank the following people, whose contributions made this volume possible: Elizabeth M. Edman, Henry Engel, Doug Gunden, June Gunden, Piera F. Paine, Leslie Phillips, and Shelley Ruh. Special thanks are due to Mr. Gordon Clem, Headmaster, and the St. Thomas Choir School, New York City, for hosting several editorial planning meetings. The editors and all these collaborators in the task will feel rewarded if the book accomplishes for its readers what we intended—letting the Bible be intelligible and the reading of it a joy.


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