Soul Food for Pastors, Churches in Latin America

Scheduled for release in 2012, the Latin America Bible Commentary (LABC) will provide spiritual food for Christian pastors and leaders in Latin America and help alleviate a famine of Biblical resources there.  Many leaders in both rural and urban areas lack materials to teach and shepherd the Church, which faces long-standing difficulties of poverty and isolation, plus new challenges such as unemployment and post-modernity. This dearth of quality resources has allowed the prosperity gospel and other unorthodox Christian offshoots to gain popularity.

The one-volume commentary, which will be published in Spanish, Portuguese and English, targets Latin America’s burgeoning evangelical community. At present, Evangelicals comprise roughly 15 percent of the Latin American population. Since few original texts have been published by and for this relatively young group, the LABC symbolizes a next step in equipping Latin American evangelical leaders. While the commentary will not address Latin America’s Catholic majority, Catholic consultants will examine the commentary to prevent unnecessary offense.    

Following a style similar to the Africa Bible Commentary but with unique origins, the LABC promises to provide scholarly interpretation of the Bible’s 66 books, as well as ‘bridge articles’ that help its readers draw parallels between the Bible and Latin American society. These articles will tackle hard issues facing Latin American Christian today such as spiritism, addiction, revolutionary violence and prostitution. 

Writers include 130 Latin American Christian scholars and leaders hailing from all corners of the continent. These contributors represent Latin America’s diverse theological and cultural heritage, which the commentary will reflect in its interpretive and bridge articles. Diversity, however, comes at a cost. Because the commentary’s articles are written in either Spanish or Portuguese, translation requires an extra stage in production. 

Besides supplying a need for biblical resources, the commentary offers the subsidiary benefit of promoting indigenous writing. “One of the commentary’s spinoffs is that it will encourage people to write more,” says Ian Darke, the commentary’s Project Coordinator and MAI’s Latin America regional trainer. “There is a big group of people [in Latin America] who have never published anything, so it will be exciting for them to see their names in print.”

Pastors and Christian leaders anticipate the commentary’s release with fervor. Many will participate in focus groups to assist the editors in final preparations.

Photo above: The LABC editorial team includes (from left): Dr Milton Acosta, O.T. editor; René Padilla, general editor; Gilbert Montero, project assistant; Ian Darke, project coordinator; and  Rosalee Velloso (not pictured), NT editor.

>>Watch a short Youtube video clip with Ian Darke, project coordinator of the LABC

>>More background on the LABC 

>>An interview with the New Testament editor of the LABC

By Jennifer Lewis, former MAI intern