THE FIRST question to be asked about this new study Bible is why the publishers of the widely used New Oxford Annotated Bible believe there is a need for another full-scale Bible based on the New RSV.
The answer given on their Web site (www.accessbible.com) is that the NOAB is aimed primarily at those who are already familiar with the Bible and with contemporary biblical scholarship. In contrast, the goal of The Access Bible is to make the Bible more accessible to a more general readership, especially mainline Protestants.
It accomplishes this goal rather well. My initial impression was coloured negatively by the fact that on the first page the name of one of the general editors was misspelled (David Petersen, not Peterson). But this slip-up will not be noticed by those to whom the addition is directed, who will benefit from a varied array of useful features.
The volume begins with several readable essays – on ways of studying the Bible, the biblical books and their literary genres, and the nature of the canon – each conveying contemporary scholarly insights at a very accessible level. The reader is supplied with a set of detailed maps, a glossary of terms, a chart of weights and measures, and a compact concordance.
Each book of the Bible is prefaced by a concise, up-to-date introduction and, in most instances, a reading guide. Each section of the biblical text has a set of explanatory notes located within the columns of the text.
Selected topics are discussed in more extended sidebar treatment (e.g., clean and unclean animals, women in Matthew’s genealogy.) The Access Bible should find a wide and appreciative readership.
Dr. Terence L. Donaldson is Lord and Lady Coggan Professor of New Testament Studies at Wycliffe College, Toronto.