Launched! The South Asia Bible Commentary

28 October 2015

Faithful … Clear … Relevant …

After eight years’ dedicated work by scholars and editors – partnered with the persevering, generous support of Langham donors – the South Asia Bible Commentary is here!

It was launched in New Delhi, India on Sunday 4 October 2015 at the Cathedral Church of the Redemption (CNI). Paul Swarup is the Presbyter-in-Charge. He is a Langham Scholar and an OT editor of the Commentary. ‘God helped us in amazing ways’, he testifies, ‘with every detail of organisation … and I have a very supportive church team!’

The celebrations started with a liturgical Thanksgiving Service. Leaders from many different denominations took part – including bishops and archbishops – and an Ao Naga choir.

Chris Wright preached from Psalm 33: ‘The word of the Lord is right and good …’

An offertory procession by the Commentary editors symbolically expressed thanks to God and entrusted the project to him for continued blessing.

The Service concluded with Holy Communion.

Next, celebrations continued in the garden behind the Cathedral. The space had been transformed with a stage and festive marquee.

There was tight security in anticipation of the arrival of the Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari, who had agreed to officially release the Commentary.

Seated on stage were the SABC Board: all six editors – Brian Wintle, Paul Swarup (OT), Finny Philip (NT), Havilah Dharamraj (OT), Jacob Cherian (NT) and J.B. Jeyaraj (OT) – as well as Chris Wright and Pieter Kwant from Langham. In the audience of 750 invited guests were the managing copy-editor – Isobel Stevenson – and senior Langham staff, all looking smart in kurtas.

There was a huge model of the Commentary on stage, and a background poster with the slogan: ‘Faithful, Clear, Relevant’.

All stood for the national anthem. Then the Vice-President was welcomed with gifts of flowers, a shawl of friendship and a Bible. He released the ribbon-bound copy of the Commentary, followed by a warmly applauded speech. ‘I am sure’, he said, ‘the Commentary will make the text more accessible to large number of people, particularly in South Asia, and enable them to imbibe the message of love and compassion that Bible has for all humankind.’

The Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari, releases the Commentary (very left, Brian Wintle – general editor; very right, Havilah Dhamaraj – OT editor)

The Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari, releases the Commentary (very left, Brian Wintle – general editor; very right, Havilah Dhamaraj – OT editor)

The Vice-President watched a beautifully choreographed dance performance by girls from a nearby school. Then he left.

Signed gift copies of the Commentary were now presented to supporters and Christian leaders, while an overhead screen showed photos from the past eight years. Local Christian musicians performed. And a full Indian banquet was served as fellowship continued in small groups. Many people queued to buy copies. Everywhere they were ‘sampling’ the Commentary.

A Christian politician who read the titles of the special articles was excited: ‘These will be useful for my speeches!’

A church worker who sneaked an early preview of the Commentary exclaimed: ‘I can read this … it’s ordinary language!’

For several of the publishing team from Udaipur this was their first visit to Delhi.

The press conference, held on Saturday before the launch, led to several national newspapers on Monday reporting the launch.

And a Delhi-based television crew recorded the whole event for broadcast on channels across the region in the coming months!

Faithful, clear, relevant … to God be the glory!

Relaxed publishing staff after the event!

Relaxed publishing staff after the event!

Commentary facts:

  • Written in English, by 91 evangelical scholars from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh (including most of the Langham Scholars in the region)
  • 1824pp, with 90 specialist articles on South Asian realities
  • Published by Open Door Publications (ODP) in Udaipur, with Zondervan as Western partner. Finny Philip, the CEO of ODP is a Langham Scholar and a NT editor of the Commentary.
  • A Hindi translation is already underway.
  • Work has stated on an Urdu
  • A Tamil translation is being considered.

 by Pieter Kwant, Langham Literature

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