‘Every meeting…is evidence of our unity in the Christian world’

22 June 2015

Russians and Ukrainians, together, writing a Bible Commentary

Langham Literature is partnering with the Euro-Asian Accrediting Association (EAAA) in producing the first ever Slavic Russian-language evangelical commentary on the whole text of the Bible. It is currently being written by a team of 43 Ukrainian and Russian theologians, a project that has become far more strategic than ever anticipated.

For the contributors to be writing this together while their nations are locked in deeply divisive hostilities is no mean feat.

Konstantin Nazarov is a Russian contributor based in Moscow. More than half of the editors are Ukrainian. Konstantin has known some of them for a long time,

but with others I made acquaintance only after the Skype session related to the Commentary … people here in Russia and in Ukraine took quite different positions on some political issues. In the beginning discussions became so heated that some Christian friends struck each other off in their social networks …

However, some of us did not lose our reason and this has helped us to communicate during the process of writing …

Through prayer, our brothers and sisters are able to say that,

Every meeting of the group of editors is evidence of our unity in the Christian world. We understand that war is mostly produced by people who want to cause instability; but the only thing simple people like us want is the opportunity to do our work.

The daily realities they face have sharpened their reflection on the biblical text.

In writing on Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah, I found many parallels with our situation today: ‘kings’ and ‘vassals’, true and false prophets, oppressors and oppressed … But our brief does not allow us to sermonize or politicize … We all believe that soon the situation will normalize, and today’s problems will be forgotten … so the editors work hard to make sure that the commentary will be as relevant in ten years’ time as it is today. No specific political names or events are mentioned. We comment first on the Bible, then ‘see’ events through the biblical text.

Writing together is forging unity and a strong text; it is also inspiring new writers with confidence to write for their people!

In writing for the Commentary, I was forced to look at verses that as a preacher I can easily skip … Also, I was forced to look for practical applications of the text – every new insight became a small victory for me …

I was thinking about pastors, preachers and simple Christians … most literature of this kind is written in other languages. Some (but very few books) are translated.

But this commentary will lead to many new books being written here …

I see myself writing first of all for the 90% of Russians who do not go to church but who are asking deep questions, also religious ones. They need more than evangelistic booklets.

And for preachers, specifically those in new churches with many unchurched people in their audiences …

I hope some of us will be able to write ‘deeply’ … so that the word from the Bible will touch many more people.

Konstantin Nazarov is a current Langham Scholar. He hopes to complete his PhD in 2018. He teaches at the Training Christian Ministers (TCM) Institute of the Moscow Baptist Theological Seminary and in 2015 will be a visiting teacher in Minsk (Belarus), Vienna (Austria), Omsk (Russia) and Lviv (Ukraine). He is also preparing proposals for two further writing projects.

by Pieter Kwant, Langham Literature