The Poverty and Justice Bible, the latest release from Bible Society, has broken new ground as the first ever to literally highlight the more than 2,000 passages that reveal God's sorrow over poverty and injustice, and His command to believers to act to eradicate them.
The new edition challenges the notion that the Bible is a dusty, outdated rulebook, and shows that God – through the Bible - was already speaking out on poverty long before anyone else.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Tom Wright, bishop of Durham and Bible Society's president, said, "Poverty and injustice are two of the biggest issues of our day, challenging the minds of politicians and social activists around the world.
"The imbalance of global wealth, famine, water shortages, exploitation and corruption are all issues that invoke outrage – and demand attention. But The Poverty and Justice Bible shows that, in speaking out on these issues, God got there first."
Far from being irrelevant, the Poverty and Injustice Bible demonstrates that God's Word has "something to say about issues that resonate today", the bishop added.
"This Bible connects with the very fabric of today's world, with all its problems and messiness – and has something powerful to say," he said.
Bible Society was inspired to develop the new Bible after Pastor Rick Warren, author of bestselling The Purpose Driven Life, admitted that had missed more than 2,000 verses that speak of God's heart for the poor despite studying theology and being a pastor for decades. He claimed that Christians risked losing their credibility if they failed to speak out against poverty and injustice.
Christian leader and commentator Tony Campolo added, "Here's proof that faith without commitment to justice for the poor is a sham, because it ignores the most explicit of all the social concerns of Scripture."
Bible Society staff and experts spent months debating and sifting through the Contemporary English Version (CEV) Bible to pull out the verses that say something about God's attitude to poverty and justice. The result was more than 2,000 sections, with almost every page from Genesis to Revelation emphasizing just and fair behavior.
The organization hopes that the Poverty and Justice Bible will also act as a springboard for Christians to take action on these issues by helping them link social action with Scripture.
The new Bible, produced with support from aid agency World Vision, includes a 32-page study guide written by bestselling authors Nick and Claire Page, and covers a wide range of timely issues from equality to education, and farming to fair trade.
The studies highlight that concern for the oppressed is foundational to faith, and encourage action – from giving and praying, to living responsibly.
"For us in this country, issues of poverty and justice have increasingly become front and center," Bible Society Chief Executive James Catford said. "What this Bible shows is that on the topics that challenge us every day, God got there first. 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.
"The Poverty and Justice Bible helps the Church engage with the Bible more effectively by linking Scripture with issues that are rooted in today's world. For Bible Society, this is just as important as our work to make the Bible available. It's all part of the fight against Bible poverty."