Renowned Dallas-based pastor Tony Evans has become the first Black American to publish a study bible and commentary.
After celebrating 50 years in public ministry, Evans released the two tomes in partnership with LifeWay, Christianheadlines.com reports. Evans is a celebrated theologian and pastor of Oak Cliff Fellowship, a predominantly Black nondenominational church. He is also the founder of The Urban Alternative.
“What I want to say to African Americans is if you see what’s really in the Bible, you can find yourself there,” he said in an exclusive interview with Religion News Service. “You don’t have to lose yourself to believe in Jesus. In fact, much of who we are is in Jesus.”
The Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship celebrated the release of the study bible and commentary with a gospel-star-studded celebration on Friday. Dubbed “Kingdom Legacy Live,” the event brought out the likes of musicians LeCrae and Kirk Franklin, who Evans is supporting in his boycott of the Dove awards after the gospel singer’s race-related comments were omitted from a recent broadcast of the annual ceremony.
Prior to the Kingdom Legacy Live event, Evans chopped it up with Religion News Service about his new biblical volumes, during which he noted why it was vital for him to highlight the Black presence in scripture.
“Paying attention to context is extremely important if you want to accurately understand what the Bible is saying,” he wrote in the Bible’s opening instruction letter. “If you don’t pay attention to the context, you are in danger of trying to make the Bible say something that it doesn’t actually say.”
Evans added, “In fact, in Numbers 12, God judged Aaron and Miriam for their reaction of Moses’ African wife. So early on, God was dealing with racism and interracial marriage,” he told Christianity Today.
The pastor, who was the first Black American to earn a doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, noted that his Study Bible acknowledges the Black experience in the scriptures.
“In the lineage of Jesus are a number of people from the lineage of Ham. The lineage of Ham goes back to African people since he settled in Africa. We deal with the curse of Ham that was used to promote slavery in America and apartheid in South Africa,” he said. “That’s often not pointed out.”