The first ever Study Bible to offer a deep understanding of the Bible from an African perspective was recently published in Accra, Ghana. The Africa Study Bible, described by Nigerian church leader Dr Dachollom C. Datiri as ‘God’s Word through African eyes’, was put together by 350 contributors from 50 African countries.
“Proverbs are part of the upbringing of every African child,” explains Bible Society of Ghana General Secretary the Rev Dr Erasmus Odonkor. “Their parents and elders use proverbs to advise and admonish them from a young age, and most of these proverbs completely agree with Scripture.”
African idioms and proverbs
Among the publication’s 2,400 features that offer insights into the Bible text are the linking of well-known African idioms and proverbs with passages of Scripture.
One example is a proverb from the Republic of Congo: “The leaf that a she-goat eats, her kid will eat, too.” This is linked to John 5:19, and the notes explain, “Just like a kid eats only what it sees its mother eat, so a child of God is called to follow the example of our Lord Jesus.”
Dr Odonkor shares an example of an idiom from Ghana. “The Ga people refer to God as ‘Ataa-Naa Nyonmo’, meaning ‘God, who is both father and mother’. In the Bible, even though God is described as a father who created everything, he is also likened to a mother who is full of compassion and forgiveness. So it is not difficult to speak to Africans about the reality of God.”
Benefit Christians in other parts of the world
He also points out that, as well as helping Africans to engage with the Bible, the new publication could be of benefit to Christians in other parts of the world.
“People outside Africa can gain fresh insights about Christianity from another cultural perspective, and learn why Africa is so in love with the Christian faith,” he notes.
Christianity is growing faster in Africa than in any other part of the world. In fact, by 2060, 4 in every 10 Christians will live there. But, say African Christian leaders, it is important that Christians do not simply grow in number, but in faith – and a love for and knowledge of the Bible is key.
“This new Bible should not be put on shelves to gather dust, but should be read to transform lives,” noted the former Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, at the launch of the Africa Study Bible in April. The Most Rev Prof. Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the National Peace Council agreed, noting that African Christians should “use the Bible to encounter God.”
The Africa Study Bible is the result of a collaboration between Challenge Enterprises of Ghana, the Bible Society of Ghana, Tyndale House Publishers and Oasis International. Click here for details of how to purchase a copy or download the app for iOS or Android.
Work will soon commence on the African Women’s Devotional Bible.