Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Westminster John Knox Press have begun work on an ambitious new commentary series that will follow the Revised Common Lectionary, titled Connections.
Connections will be led by a stellar group of general editors: biblical scholar Joel Green of Fuller Theological Seminary, homileticians Thomas Long of Candler School of Theology and Luke Powery of Duke University, and theologian Cynthia Rigby of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The series will begin publishing in 2019.
“We are gratified to be working with Austin Seminary on this important resource,” said Marc Lewis, president and publisher of Westminster John Knox Press’s parent, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. “Their strong history of preparing gifted preachers, teachers, and scholars for the church makes them an ideal partner.”
“Austin Seminary is thrilled to be partners in such an exciting project as Connections,” said President Theodore J. Wardlaw. “As a school centered around the Bible, theology, preaching and worship, we are honored to be doing what we can to enable interpreters of the Word to more effectively communicate it to a world hungry for its Good News. Preachers, hearers and people of faith will be the beneficiaries of this grand project!”
“I am excited to be working on this series alongside Tom, Joel, and Luke,” said Cynthia Rigby. “Connections will help preachers and other Christian leaders explore how discrete biblical texts speak in concert with each other as well as what they have to say to current issues in our world,” she continued. “Connections will invite us to reflect in fresh ways both on the what and on the so what of our beliefs.”
Connections will seek to put the individual readings from the Revised Common Lectionary in conversation with the larger narratives to which they belong, the other lections for that Sunday, the larger biblical story of God’s revelation in Israel and Jesus Christ, and the cultural and social world of the hearer, thus creating a web of meaning that draws worshipers into a deeper encounter with the divine.
The resource will distinguish itself in the market in three ways. First, rather than provide commentary on all of the verses of a biblical book, Connections will start with only the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, which is used by the majority of preachers across mainline denominations. Second, it will approach those readings, not as isolated units, but as parts of a larger whole. Its guiding principle will be to open up a conversation between discrete biblical passages, larger stories, biblical books, the gospel, and the lived experience of the hearer. Third, and most important, it will place the reader in contact with the best in theological scholarship, accessing new interpretive tools and strategies not only from biblical studies, but also theology, church history, practical theology, and more. Its central goal will be to strengthen worshipers’ own connection to the biblical text, and to God’s work in the world.
Writers will be chosen from across the academic and church worlds: experts in biblical studies, theology, homiletics, and worship; preachers, teachers, and worship leaders from the church; and religious writers and thinkers from a variety of traditions and perspectives. Approximately 800 contributors will be involved in the project.
The general editors will be assisted by a twelve-person editorial board of scholars, preachers, and teachers, which will be appointed later this year. Six of the members will be named from Austin Seminary faculty. The board will be diverse in denominational background and academic focus as well as race and gender makeup. Bob Ratcliff, WJK executive editor, and David Dobson, WJK editorial director, will staff the project.
“We are profoundly grateful to the outstanding group of scholars and preachers who have agreed to serve as general editors of Connections,” said Ratcliff. “Their vision of the intersection between the biblical text and the contemporary world will make Connections an essential tool for anyone who preaches, teaches, or leads in the church’s encounter with Scripture.”
Planning meetings will take place in fall 2015, with editorial work beginning in 2016. All meetings will take place at Austin Seminary, and the seminary will house the project offices and project manager for the series. The first volume will be published in spring 2019, for use in Year A beginning that fall. There will be nine volumes total, three for each lectionary year.
Rev. Dr. Joel B. Green (United Methodist Church)
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of New Testament Interpretation Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies
Fuller Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Long (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.))
Bandy Professor of Preaching
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery (Progressive National Baptist Convention)
Dean of the Duke University Chapel
Associate Professor of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School
Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Rigby (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.))
W.C. Brown Professor of Theology
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary