Subscribe to Christianity Today
Imagine a convention, 30 years ago, at which publishers, editors, writers, reporters, and others involved in religious publishing have gathered to assess the state of their field and to trade conjectures about its future. Their plenary session is interrupted by the inexplicable arrival of a visitor from 1998, who has come to give them a glimpse of what lies ahead.
Unlike the citizens of the 1990s as depicted in the popular art of the sixties, this ambassador from the future is not particularly exotic in her appearance; she isn't garbed in a shiny unisex spacesuit.
But she has a surprising bit of news to impart: the most important project in religious publishing at the end of the millennium will hark back to the millennium's first centuries, distilling the wisdom of the early church.
This project, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, will indeed have a futuristic aspect, for only the blinding speed of computerized searches, unimaginable to that sixties audience, makes such an ambitious venture feasible. When complete, the visitor explains, the series will consist of 27 volumes encompassing the entire corpus of Scripture, plus the Apocrypha. Each volume will present the text of Scripture in English, accompanied by the most lucid and penetrating commentary from the early church.
Naturally the assembled publishers are curious. Who, they ask one another, will undertake this extraordinary series? The Catholic publishers are confident it will be one of their number. The university presses are not so sure; such a project would seem to require their expertise. (But what university press would want to do it?) The evangelical publishers shake their heads, wondering—if this visitor is to be credited—if the Papists will dominate America by the century's end.
"You are all wrong," the visitor tells them. "The ACCS will be published by InterVarsity Press." The entire assembly breaks out in guffaws and hoots of derision. How absurd! Everyone knows that evangelicals ...