‘A dream come true for the region’

Since 2005, Langham has spearheaded multiple groundbreaking one-volume bible commentary projects. It started with commentaries for Africa (which is being revised and has had many translations), South Asia, Latin America, the Middle East.

A CEEBC editorial meeting in Budapest, 2018.
A CEEBC editorial meeting in Budapest, 2018.

Why? Because unlike churches in the West, believers in the Majority World have very few resources written by people in their regions, and speaking into their contexts. 

One such project is finally nearing the finish line after six challenging years: the Central and Eastern European Bible Commentary (CEEBC).

Lacks locally authored resources

The CEEBC was born out of a recognition that the evangelical church there is in a minority, and lacks locally authored resources to equip pastors and leaders. 

There is also a severe shortage of next generation ministry leaders.

The CEEBC is for nineteen countries*, who all share a similar spiritual and cultural geography. The countries face a number of challenges as they move on from a Communist past, in a context of aggressive capitalism.

Katharina Penner, a university librarian, is the coordinator of the commentary. She explained how she is well suited to the role because of her training and background.

National commentaries unavailable

“I was born in Kyrgyzstan when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and when 15 my parents who were native Germans decided to move us to West Germany. My studies were in the US and Canada, my library studies were in Wales, then we lived in St Petersburg Russia, and Prague, and finally now in Vienna.”

Katharina Penner, coordinator of the CEEBC.
Katharina Penner, the CEEBC’s coordinator. She grew up in Kyrgyzstan, before moving to West Germany at the age of 15.

Katharina’s involvement in the CEEBC came about just as they were leaving Prague.

“We knew some Eastern European Scholars and knew there are not really national commentaries available in these countries. Most of them are translations, and so it is a personal dream come true for me and for the region. 

“We had many contacts and friends in these countries who do not feel understood, they are never heard in their own terms. 

Part of one Church

“It’s a very diverse region – but they are part of one Church and serve one Christ. 

“This commentary brings all those voices together so that the worldwide Church will hear the voices of these diverse Scholars who often have been supported by Langham to get their doctoral education.” 

A number of Langham Scholars are involved in the CEEBC, such as Romanian Daniel Oprean, the articles editor, who is also a Langham Preaching coordinator.

Buildings in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is one of the 19 countries for whom the CEEBC has been written.

The commentary has faced many challenges, including the tragic loss of its general editor, Langham Scholar Corneliu Constantineanu, to Covid-19. 

Tensions among the team

Other hurdles included tensions among the editorial team. 

“Many of these nations had wars between each other, which are in the collective memories. Certain remarks trigger certain responses. Humanity doesn’t leave us even though we are united around the Bible. 

“There were many moments when I thought is this going to happen, will the project be completed? God’s grace and presence was part of it. It was His goal to get this done.”

At the time of writing, the New Testament is in typesetting, and the Old Testament text has all been gathered together. The 130+ articles on current issues have all been written. 

Please pray

Please pray for wisdom and guidance as the CEEBC approaches its final steps of publication, distribution and promotion.

Your support will enable this much-needed resource to reach all 19 countries in the region, equipping pastors to disciple the Church and giving believers there a voice. 

*Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia.