Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The C.S. Lewis Bible

Those of you who know me personally or through this blog will appreciate that I have a great love for C.S. Lewis.  His writings convey wisdom, intellect and character with great transparency, so much so that one who reads him widely and deeply gain a sense of really knowing the man.  This said, it may surprise some to know that the newest publication of some of his works leaves me apprehensive.  The latest publication is, The C.S. Lewis Bible.

Ever since reading my dad's Ryrie Study Bible as a teen and perceiving a definite slant in the commentary, I've been hesitant to purchase a study Bible.  I like my Bible straight.  I even refrain from making notes in my own Bible so as not to influence or dampen what the Holy Spirit may bring to mind in subsequent readings.  This is not to say that I do not recommend commentaries. I do.  But I recommend reading several and reading them after having read the passage in the Bible on which is being commented, so that one receives the full affect of scripture before anyone's further interpretation.

I also like Lewis straight and in context.  He was such a wise and prolific writer, that to find quotes about almost any aspect of life is easy and often helpful when trying to grasp an issue.  One of the contributors to the new C.S. Lewis Bible, Jerry Root, whom I've had to good pleasure to meet and learn from when he came to Roanoke to speak on Lewis, has even co-edited a book of Lewis quotations, The Quotable Lewis.  This is a great reference book, particularly when one remembers a quote from Lewis but can't remember which of his many books or letters from which it comes.  However, I would never recommend taking this book and reading these snippets in order to grasp Lewis' thoughts, yet this is what this new Bible has done.  Lewis himself hasn't written commentary of the scripture, but quotes of his which are thought to relate to a passage of scripture are printed as his commentary.  As with any great thinker, one should read what is written in context to gain a fuller understanding of the thoughts behind the quote. 

The final reason which causes my apprehension is that I think Lewis himself would be appalled to have a Bible named after him.  Lewis was a very humble man, insisting that he was just a layman and not an expert on scripture or church matters.  He even turned down Knighthood when offered to him, though he held the idea of knighthood very highly.  While it seems a great honour, and I'm sure many if not all of those who worked on this project had the very best of intentions, I don't think Lewis himself will be very pleased.

To learn a bit more about this study Bible, listen to this podcast over at Books and Culture website.


  1. So, do you read it in the original Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew? Otherwise, it's still being watered down by the interpretations of someone. Oh wait, even that is tainted by the person who originally wrote it down from the oral accounts.

  2. I'm actually learning Koine Greek, but alas probably won't tackle Hebrew or Aramaic unless I at sometime am able to attend seminary. The fact that nuances are sometimes missed in translation is a fact and one that I trust God takes into account.
    This is a different matter than a study Bible, though. There has been a large consensus in the Christian community as to what belongs in the canon, and that is a different issue than placing one's interpretation within the text of the Bible. I prefer them to be separated.