Kevin R. O'Brien from Tyndale on the Mosaic

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Holy Bible: Mosaic is unique among Bibles currently available. We’ve used the statement “encounter Christ on every continent and in every century of Christian history” to give a glimpse of what we are trying to do with this Bible. Back in 2006 I was handed a proposal for a Bible which sought to truly engage what we (members of the Tyndale Bible team) were seeing as a real desire among many in the Church to engage their faith in a deeper more authentic way. A way that takes into account the realities that the Church is much bigger than what is going on here and now – we have a history and we are connected to it. A way that takes into account the fact that Christianity is not simply a “western” religion, but a global faith.

We have observed (and felt) a strong sense of un-ease with simply doing church as normal in a rather individualist and consumer oriented manner among many Christians. This trend defies traditional denominational lines and age groups. It can be seen in different forms and theological bents in many corners: emerging churches, house churches, missional churches, the neo-reformed or reformed resurgence groups and a whole lot of others who wouldn’t necessarily identify themselves with any of these groups. Many of these “tribes”, are very different in important ways, but they have a lot of similarities as well. Some of these similarities include really not looking for easy answers to difficult questions, a great desire to be culturally meaningful while at the same time a great desire to connect with the past and the larger Christian tradition, a desire to be the Church not go to a Church disconnected from its heritage. Culturally we have never been more aware of the world around us than we are today. We can and are influenced by the rest of the world. We are increasingly aware that centuries old conflicts and issues affect our world today. This is no less true among Christians than in the larger culture. These are the people that the original proposal and many of us on the Bible team at Tyndale wanted to provide a resource for.

The one problem that we had with the proposal was that it seemed to be organized in the standard ways and we really felt that to do this right we needed to radically re-think the ways that the reader would interact with the extra-biblical materials we would supply. So instead of passing or just following the normal templates we decided to get together offsite as a team for a couple of days of meetings. During that time we really wrestled with what we wanted to accomplish and how this would be a very different kind of Bible. We talked about how it would be organized, what kinds of content we wanted to include, what it should feel like, the whole nine yards. Midway through that discussion, one of our editors (Keith Williams) came up with the basic shape of how the content would be organized. I still have the rough design that he worked up in a Word document. It’s amazing how close the final product is to that initial rough.

After that point it was a process of going back to David Sanford (of then Sanford Communications, now Credo) who had given us the proposal with a completely new counter proposal of what our team was interested in pursuing. Even more daunting was the fact that we didn’t have a final green light from the publications committee at that point, but we wanted to be really up front with what we saw as the right direction for the project. To my great relief and delight David loved our idea and was really impressed that we had put so much time and energy into making this Bible project into something that would truly be both unique and beneficial.

We decided on a format that would separate the extra-biblical content from the text of the Scriptures itself. This was a very conscious decision on our part. From the very beginning of our meetings we really felt strongly that whatever we did needed to drive the reader back to the Scripture itself to engage and wrestle with. We were specifically not looking to create a study Bible with verse by verse notations, nor were we looking to create a devotional Bible with an inspirational thought for the day. Both of those kinds of Bibles have their place, we publish study and devotional Bibles, but that is not what we were creating here. We wanted a Bible that would push the reader to wrestle with larger issues in Scripture by pointing in a direction and giving some help along the way. So in the end, all of the extra-biblical materials ended up in a separate section in the front, followed by a center column reference Bible. Instead of organizing daily readings beginning on January 1, we opted for a weekly format which started with Advent which was more than a bit risky because no one that we are aware of does anything like it. Tyndale is the originator of The One Year Bible so the idea of starting with January 1 is fairly well ingrained in what we do. Using the Church seasons was important though because it gives a connection to the wider Church both historically and globally. More importantly it orients our schedules around Christ, not the solar cycle.

Each week has a theme which is appropriate to the Church season and includes art, Bible readings, contemporary and historical writings and quotes along with space for reflection. By the time the year is finished, every continent and every century of Christian history are covered (there were a couple of centuries that were pretty tough to fill). You’re going to be hearing a lot more about the content, so I will leave it at that for the moment other than to say that I am really pleased with the selections that we were able to include.

The bible text itself includes the full NLT footnote system and the cross reference system developed for the NLT Study Bible. Additionally, we included the NLT Word Study system which includes over 200 key Hebrew and Words. The margins are slightly wider than normal. This way, every time a passage is referred to in the Mosaic section you can easily find it and refer back to it.

At the end of the day (well, really at the end of about three years) we have produced a totally unique Bible which we believe will serve an important and unique role in the Church for years to come. One that will challenge us all to be who it is that God has called us to be. And so I will end with a small quote from Ambrose of Milan, taken from Pentecost Week 19 on service:

“. . . For since the Author of Salvation Himself redeemed us through His obedience, how much more ought we His servants to offer the service of our humility and obedience.” (page M277)

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