East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 4, No. 4, Fall 1996, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe


Russian Protestant Theological Textbook Project

Jack Graves

A cooperative effort between Overseas Council for Theological Education (OC) and Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries (RM), with the support of 14 foundations, churches, and individual donors, begun in 1993, has greatly assisted Russian-speaking theological education. It has provided texts and reference materials for more than 90 Protestant training programs in the former Soviet Union.

Phase I--Research and Collection
Following a February 1993 "Moscow Consultation for Theological Education," Overseas Council funded and Russian Ministries identified and purchased copies of over 4,000 titles on Protestant and Orthodox Christianity in the Russian language from which suitable seminary texts could be selected. Three collections of these titles have been made during the process of the research; bibliographic data on each has been entered into an electronic database; and an annotated bibliography has been published for use by schools, teachers, and publishing houses. The resulting theological collections and the detailed catalogue and database of Russian Christian books are unique resources for the study of nineteenth and twentieth century Russian theology and church history. Two of the three theological book collections have been donated to Moscow's Russian-American Christian University and to the Kyiv Theological Seminary of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.

Phase II--Reprinting
Publication of basic textbooks for immediate use by the growing number of Evangelical theological training initiatives in the former Soviet Union began in the summer of 1993. A committee of Russian and Ukrainian theologians, primarily presidents and deans of leading Protestant theological schools, reviewed the research of Phase I and made selections which would be most widely acceptable to the Protestant community. Overseas Council and Russian Ministries agreed to print or reprint up to 20,000 copies each of as many as 20 textbooks under the imprint of the Bible Pulpit Series (BPS).

Phase III--Publishing Newly Translated Books and Original Writings by Russian Authors
More theological texts need to be published in the Russian language to give greater balance and breadth. For example, Alister McGrath's Reformation Thought: An Introduction is the only serious work available in Russian on a very broad subject of critical importance to Protestants. Also, more up-to-date scholarship is needed. For example, Merrill Tenney's New Testament Survey, while respected, does not touch on some important biblical archeological discoveries made in recent years. In addition, more scholarly works are needed for higher level training programs. As examples, the Russian translation of Halley's Bible Handbook inadequately covers many subjects of interest to serious Bible scholars and no Hebrew grammar is yet available.

Furthermore, several fields still lack textbooks appropriate for Evangelical seminaries, including patristics from a Protestant perspective, biblical theology, and some areas of church history and philosophy. Finally, some extremely valuable theological texts will not be published without assistance because of high prices associated with limited demand. Reformation works are in this category because Russian-speaking Christians are unfamiliar with Reformation historical and theological issues.

Results to Date
The Bible Pulpit Series National Committee selected 40 titles for reprinting. To date 420,000 copies of 25 books, including nine reference works, have been produced. (See Table I.) Over 150 organizations have purchased BPS titles. It is probable that a majority of Protestant pastors in the former Soviet Union now have at least some of these works in their personal libraries. These books currently are serving as primary texts for more than 3,000 Bible school and seminary students in more than 14 subject areas. In addition, the work of the BPS National Committee has fostered healthy and supportive relationships among Protestant church and seminary leaders and faculty.

Texts were originally distributed to theological institutions at 15 percent (in Ukraine) to 30 percent (in other republics) of the actual printing costs. This provided theological institutions with incentive to become local distributors of theological literature, not only for their own student body, but also for local churches. Pricing the books at retail levels provided some income which helped the schools cover operating costs.

The BPS Catalogue provides information to publishers which helps avoid the problem of translations being started in different locations, as was once discovered during the research. Dissemination of the BPS book publishing plan has helped the publishing plans of various Christian publishers.

The BPS National Committee also serves as a marketing focus group. Every book that is accepted has a very high probability of being sold out within a 12-month period. The cooperation among schools, publishers, and distributors has helped to keep prices very reasonable in spite of incredible inflation in recent years. Finally, through the BPS text project, Russian Protestant theological authors now are receiving book contracts, funded by volumes sold to nonseminary buyers.

Plans for Phase III
Projections for the final phase of this text project include the publication of up to 240,000 volumes of 50 new theological and reference titles and 61,500 volumes of reprints in the next five years. (See Tables II and III.) Emphasis will also be placed on making the Bible Pulpit Series self-supporting through sales, thereby establishing a viable publishing effort which will serve the Protestant theological community for many years to come.

Editor's note: To order titles in the Bible Pulpit Series, contact the Association for Spiritual Renewal (Russian Ministries)

Jack Graves is director of  research for Overseas Council for Theological Education, Indianapolis, IN.


Members of the Bible Pulpit Series National Committee

Yuri Apotov, Executive Secretary, Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (ECB) of Eurasia
Alexander Brinza, Director, Irpen Biblical Seminary (ECB), Kyiv, Ukraine
Nikolai Kornilov, Professor of Church History, Moscow Theological Seminary (ECB)
Genadi Kostikov, Dean of Students, Donetsk Christian University
Fyodor Mokan, Director, Kishinev Bible College (ECB)
Anatoli Prokopchuk, Director, Kyiv Biblical Seminary (ECB)
Vladimir Rygyzov, Director, Moscow Evangelical Christian-Baptist Correspondence School
Peter Penner, President, St. Petersburg Christian University
Victor Avdeyev, Director, St. Petersburg Christian University
Sergei Sannikov, Director, Odessa Theological Seminary (ECB)
Genadi Sergienko, Dean, Moscow Theological Seminary  (ECB)
Maria Sternik, Professor of Old Testament, Moscow Theological Seminary  (ECB); Vladimir Charlamov, Professor, Moscow Theological Seminary (ECB)
Vladimir Shevchenko, Publishing Director, Association for Spiritual Renewal (Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries)
George Law, Vice President, Association for Spiritual Renewal.


Table I:

Russian Theological Texts and Reference Books Produced Through June 1996
Title
Author
Publisher
Pages
Quantity
Bible Atlas Daily, Tim Angus Hudson
35
50,000
Bible Dictionary Nustrum, Eric World CM
522
25,000
Bible Knowledge Commentary Vols. 1-2, 4-5 Walvoord, John and Roy B. Zuck Scripture Press
2,123
20,000
Bible Handbook Halley, Henry Hampton Zondervan
859
20,000
God's Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology Martens, Elmer A. Baker
280
5,000
Greek-Russian Lexicon Weisman, A.D.  
1,870
50,000
How to Prepare Biblical Messages Braga, James Multnomah
257
5,000
How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth Fee, Gordon and Douglas K. Stuart  Zondervan
215
20,000
In Search of Meaning McGee, Robert Rapha
112
5,000
Key Biblical Terms in the New Testament Barnwell, Katharine, Paul Dancy, and Tony Pope SIL
494
5,000
Kingdom of the Cults Martin, Walter Bethany
341
25,000
Lectures in Systematic Theology Thiessen, Henry C. Eerdmans
437
20,000
New Testament Exegesis Fee, Gordon Westminster Press
128
20,000
New Testament Greek for Beginners Machen, J. Gresham Russian Bible Society
230
20,000
New Testament Survey Tenney, Merrill Eerdmans
435
20,000
The Old Testament Speaks Schultz, Samuel J. Harper
413
20,000
Reformation Thought: An Introduction McGrath, Alister Blackwell
315
25,000
Seven Laws of Teaching Gregory, John University of Chicago Press
79
5,000
Short Greek-Russian Lexicon St. Petersburg Christian University Bibles for Everyone
140
5,000
Theology of the New Testament Morris, Leon Zondervan
392
5,000
Truth Twisters Berry, Harold Back to the Bible
390
40,000
Understanding Church Growth McGavran, Donald Eerdmans
465
10,000
    TOTALS
10,532
420,000

Table II:

Books Planned for Publication Pending Funding
1996 Titles
Author
Pages
Quantity
Basic Theology Ryrie, Charles
544
5,000
Bible Knowledge Commentary, Vol. 3 Walvoord, John and Roy B. Zuck
420
15,000
Biblical Preaching/The Preacher's Portrait Robinson, Haddan and John R. W. Stott
360
5,000
Building on Firm Foundations McIlwain, Trevor
600
10,000
How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth Fee, Gordon and Douglas K. Stuart
215
5,000
Introduction to Christian Theology McGrath, Alister
528
5,000
Librarian's Manual Weimer, Ferne L. and Kenneth D. Gill
341
2,000
Survey of the Old Testament LaSor, William
692
7,500
The Kingdom of the Cults Martin, Walter
341
2,500
Theological Glossary for Christian Translators Grosman, Eugene
360
5,000
1997 Titles
     
Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar Mounce, William D.
464
5,000
Introduction to Christian Education Karnaukh, Alexander M.
360
5,000
1998 Titles
     
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology Elwell, Walter A.
1,248
5,000
Christian Theology Erickson, Millard J.
1,302
5,000
Hebrew Grammar Machen, J. Gresham
360
3,000
Textbook on Patristics Charlamov, Vladimir
360
3,000
The Story of Christianity Gonzalez, Justo Luiz
341
5,000
1999 Titles
     
Hastings Bible Dictionary Hastings, James
992
5,000
New Testament Introduction Guthrie, Donald
1,054
7,500
  TOTALS
10,882
105,500

Table III

Translations and New Books Approved for Publication but not yet Scheduled
Title
Author
Pages
Quantity
A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Bauer, Walter
900
5,000
A Hebrew and English Lexicon Brown, Francis, S. K. Driver, and Charles H. Briggs
1,120
5,000
A Student's Dictionary for Biblical and Theological Studies Huey, F. B., Jr., and Bruce Corley
208
5,000 
A Theology of the New Testament Ladd, George E.
764
5,000
A Textual Commentary in the Greek New Testament Metzger, Bruce M.
775
5,000
Biblical Hebrew:  An Introductory Grammar Kelly, Page H.
453
5,000
Christian Apologetics in World Community Dyrness, William A.
197
5,000
Concordance Prokhanov, Ivan
1,500
5,000
Feeding and Leading Gangel, Kenneth
330
5,000
First Epistle to the Corinthians Fee, Gordon
880
5,000
Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary Kidner, Derek
224
5,000
Holman Bible Handbook Dockery, David S.
894
10,000
Institutes of the Christian Religion Calvin, John
1,700
2,000
Life Together Bonhoeffer, Dietrich 
128
7,500
Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament Rienecker, Fritz
864
5,000
Love Is Stronger Than Death Kreeft, Peter
141
5,000
Old Testament Exegesis Stuart, Douglas
142
5,000
Pocket Lexicon of the Greek New Testament Zerwick, Max
c200
3,000
Pocket Concordance to the Greek New Testament Schmoller, Alfred
534
3,000
Romans (2 Vols.) Dunn, James D. G.
976
5,000
Selected Works of Francis Schaeffer Schaeffer, Francis
800
10,000
Student Vocabulary for Hebrew and Aramaic Mitchel, Larry A.
88
5,000
The Hermeneutical Spiral Osborne, Grant 
392
5,000
The Joy of Discovery in Bible Study Wald, Oletta
96
5,000
Toward an Old Testament Theology Kaiser, Walter C.
315
5,000
Values in Changing Times Henry, Carl F. H.
96
2,000
  TOTALS
14,717
132,500

Mark Noll Critiques the Textbook Titles
It was very interesting to see what books the Russian textbook project is trying to provide. By no means did I know all authors and titles, but I would say that, of the works I recognized, things leaned pretty heavily toward the conservative Evangelical, dispensational Evangelical, and Reformed Evangelical end of things.  It is not just for fair play, but because I value some Wesleyan, Holiness, and Pentecostal insights, that it would have been good to have at least Wesley's Standard Sermons and maybe a few other works from those theological traditions represented. (Gordon Fee was the only Pentecostal author whose name I recognized.)

Table I seemed weighted to older books (Thiessen, Tenney, Schultz, even Leon Morris) that I would not pick as representing contemporary Evangelical scholarship at its most Christian and most scholarly. I missed what I would consider some classic works of Christian (even Evangelical) exposition and apologetics: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity; John Stott, Basic Christianity; F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Some of Stephen Evans' apologetical works are also quite good in my opinion.

I am very pleased to see Derek Kidner's Genesis commentary. Could even more Tyndale Old and New Testament commentaries be added?  Is James D. G. Dunn the best major Romans commentary?  C.E.B. Cranfield's on Romans is very fine for a longer work and might be more broadly acceptable to Evangelicals than Dunn. Last, it would seem to me that Dan Clendenin's books on Orthodoxy would be a must to be translated immediately. Thanks for the chance to react; God bless all who are involved in the effort.

Mark Noll is McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.


Jack Graves Responds
The list of choices for reprints (Phase II) was very much a pragmatic one--the committee had to choose from what already existed. In many cases what had been chosen for translation by earlier missionaries and workers were not works selected on the basis of research, but rather works with which the missionary or worker was familiar. This is the unfortunate, near-universal Protestant approach to new translation work.

The task of selecting new works for translation (Phase III) has been guided by research. On the one hand, the committee has chosen to give support to translation and publication efforts already underway by various parties. On the other hand, works  have been targeted for translation in the future because they address weaknesses in the literature. The goal of the committee has been to find works that would have the widest use. At least three Wesleyan works have been deferred due to poor editing. While some of the authors are from the dispensational tradition, I think an examination of these particular works will find very little reflection of that theology. (See, for instance, the New Testament commentary by Walvoord & Zuck. Similarly, Fee's book on hermeneutics was chosen not because it reflects Pentecostal theology, which I do not recall that it does, but because it happens to be an excellent small book on the subject. 
 


Jack Graves with Mark Noll, "Russian Protestant Theological Textbook Project," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 4 (Fall 1996), 1-5.

Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.

1996 Institute for East-West Christian Studies
ISSN 1069-5664


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