In a recent post I mentioned The Wesley Study Bible (eds. Joel Green William Willimon; Abingdon). I am pleased now to offer you an interview that I conducted with co-editor William Willimon, Bishop of of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. I first encountered the work of Bishop Willimon through the work Resident Aliens which was co-authored with Stanley Hauerwas (1989). I also know his commentary on Acts in the Interpretation series. Most recently, he wrote This We Believe: The Core of Wesleyan Faith and Practice (Abingdon), a book that is particularly geared towards complementing the study Bible.
Without further ado,
Q1: How did you come to be involved as an editor in the Wesley Study Bible?
I was invited by the Abingdon editorial team and jumped at the chance to be part of the project. I knew that it would be a great gift to the church.
Q2: What is your vision for how it will benefit the lives of Methodist churches and others within the wider wesleyan movements?
I think that it will provide a wonderfully Wesleyan read on the scripture, “practical divinity” exemplified.
Q3: For a long time, Wesley was not considered to be a real theologian or a skilled biblical interpreter. There is some discussion that this has been changing in the last 50 years. Why do you think this change is taking place? Put another way, how and why is the production of theWesley Study Bible a sign of the times?
Well, I disagree with that reading. Wesley was a marvelously Trinitarian theologian. Alas, too much “theology” today is practiced outside the church, in the service to the academy alone, so probably these “theologians” can’t tell a real theologian when they meet one! Wesley is a theologian in much the same way that Luther or Calvin are theologians – thought in service to the church and its ministry.
Q4: For those that use this study Bible, but do not identify with the Methodist/wesleyan traditions, what do you hope they will take away from it? What kind of messages are in this study Bible for the worldwide church?
I would think that they would find this Bible to be quite useful, if they are open to an unashamedly Wesleyan read on scripture.
Q5: Are there other Bible-related/reference resources you would like to see produced for the Methodist/wesleyan faith communities? (Personally, I hope to see, someday, a Biblical studies journal from a wesleyan perspective)
I hadn’t thought about it but I like the idea of a Wesleyan Biblical Studies Journal. Great idea. Maybe God is calling you to produce such a resource for the church?