Crown Professor a Major Contributor to New Study Bible
It’s a simple concept.
The Bible points to Jesus, it’s His story, but sometimes it’s good to get a reminder.
“Sometimes we get distracted and building faith is about all these other add-ons and issues and worries and fears,” said Ken Castor, professor of Christian Ministry Studies at Crown College. “Really, it’s the simplistic truth about having our lives centered on Jesus. That’s what faith is all about.”
The stark reminder led to a multi-year process of creating the Jesus-Centered Bible, the brainchild of Group Publishing, a company whose mission is to create experience that help people grow in relationship with Jesus and each other. Rick Lawrence, executive editor of Group Publishing, asked Castor to join him on the project after working together on Castor’s book, Grow Down, which Group published in 2014. In addition, Castor’s work at Crown and on the board of Association of Youth Ministry Educators, in addition to founding the NEXT Ministry Conference, made him a great fit.
“Rick wanted someone who could understand youth culture, but someone who also had knowledge of scripture and who he felt a kindred heart about living life in orbit around Jesus,” said Castor.
Castor and Lawrence spent days at a time working together at Lawrence’s kitchen table. After his first trip to Lawrence’s house, the two had only finished the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
“We found ourselves overwhelmed,” Castor said. “We were naïve. We finished the first five books and realized, ‘this is incredible.’”
The Jesus-Centered Bible, released September 1, 2015, highlights mentions of Jesus in the Old Testament in blue, with more than 600 boxed explanations to help readers filter the entire Bible through the lens of discovering Jesus.
Group describes the Jesus-Centered Bible as the “first-ever Bible that reveals the influence of Jesus in every book, highlighting how the Old Testament points to Jesus and how all the New Testament reveals Jesus.”
In addition, the Bible features Jesus’ name, titles and “nicknames” in red throughout the New Testament, explanations of how Jesus answers nine of life’s biggest questions, and a “Get to Know Jesus” one chapter-per-day reading plan. Group partnered with Tyndale Publishing to use the New Living Translation.
“We wanted to make it pretty simple for people to open up the Bible and discover Jesus,” Castor said. “It isn’t an intense study Bible. We pared it down as much as we could and made simple notes. The notes aren’t answers, they spark discovery. It’s a refreshing reintroduction to the story of Jesus.”
Castor, as the Blue Letter Editor, and Lawrence oversaw all of the blue letter content. Castor also wrote sidebar commentaries in the Jesus-Centered Bible and put together the reading plan included in it. He did not receive any royalties for his work.
“I love working at Crown because it affords me opportunity to get involved in great projects like this,” Castor said. “It was good for me, it’s good for the school and it’s good for Group.”
More reading plans from Jesus-Centered Bible are included on the YouVersion Bible App. Castor and Lawrence wrote 10 reading plans in total and more versions will be released on the app during the next year.
“The Bible really is a living and active book,” Castor said. “It really does reveal Jesus. If you look, you can’t help but find Him. We ended up writing more than 700 connections and we could have written more. When we got to the end of Malachi, we sat back and took a huge, deep breath. I said to Rick, ‘I think I can die now.’ It’s one of those projects. It was such an honor; everything else is a bonus.”
Castor said Jesus-Centered Bible is selling well and will go into a second print run. He now uses it as his primary Bible and he saw students at Crown begin using the study Bible as well.
“It’s fun to turn around and see students with this on their desks,” Castor said. “We’ve been receiving notes from people from all across the country. It’s fun to rediscover scripture.”