A British Bible society is launching the first-ever study Bible highlighting more than 2,000 verses that emphasize God’s concern about injustice and the poor.
According to a press release, the idea for The Poverty and Justice Bible came from a comment by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren that he had missed the fact that there are 2,000 Bible verses on the poor. “How did I miss that?” Warren told Christianity Today in 2005. “I went to Bible college, two seminaries and I got a doctorate. How did I miss God’s compassion for the poor?”
The British and Foreign Bible Society–also known as the Bible Society–spent months scouring the Contemporary English Version for verses related to poverty and justice. After debate, staff and experts agreed on 2,848.
“Almost every page of the Bible speaks of God’s heart for the poor,” says a description on the Bible Society Web site. “His concern for the marginalized. His compassion for the oppressed. His call for justice.”
“The Poverty and Justice Bible megaphones his voice as never before.”
“In this country, in the United States and among the affluent of the world, the issues of poverty and justice have become front and center. It’s what we are increasingly talking about,” said Bible Society chief executive James Catford.
“But what people will discover is that the Bible got there first. Poverty and justice have always been on the heart of God. The Bible is not full of rules, finger-wagging and old-fashioned ideas. The Bible has something to say about life and, in fact, there’s nothing on earth that we can experience that the Bible doesn’t tackle.”
“Poverty and justice are two of the biggest issues of our day, challenging the minds of politicians and social activists around the world,” Bible Society president Tom Wright said. “The imbalance of global wealth, famine, water shortages, exploitation and corruption are all issues that invoke outrage–and demand attention.”
Produced in partnership with World Vision, the Bible includes a 32-page study guide with topics ranging from equality to education, farming to fair trade and wages to water.
According to a fact sheet, there are more than 31,000 verses in the Bible–over 23,000 in the Old Testament and nearly 8,000 in the New Testament. Of those, 2,130 sections on poverty and justice are highlighted in the Old Testament and 718 in the New Testament.
The book with the most highlighted sections in the Old Testament is Psalms, with 247 verses. The New Testament book with most passages selected is the Gospel of Matthew, with 124. Only three biblical books have no selected verses on poverty and justice–Song of Songs, 2 John and 3 John.
The first highlighted passage is Genesis 3.17-19, where God admonishes Adam for eating the fruit from the tree and warns him that he will “struggle to grow enough food” and “sweat to earn a living.” The last is Revelation 22.12-15.
Jesus’ first reference to poverty and justice is in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, where he says, “God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.