An interview on Ancient Faith Radio with Fr. Peter Gillquist, chairman of the Missions and Evangelism Dept. of the Antiochian Archdiocese and one of the leading spokespersons for the complete Orthodox Study Bible

AFR: Today our topic is the Orthodox Study Bible. Can you recall when the New Testament and Psalms came out?

PG: It came out in 1993. I had worked for Thomas Nelson as Senior Christian Book Editor for 11 years, so one day about a year after we became Orthodox, which would be 1988, Sam Moore, who was then the CEO of Nelson, called and said “you know we’ve got study bibles for everybody but we don’t have any for the Orthodox. Would you be open?” And of course, ultimately the decision was made with Metropolitan Phillip’s blessing “yes we’ll do it.”

AFR: Well and that was back in ‘93. Think of all the study Bibles that have come out just since then, but those have been Old and New Testament.

PG: That’s right. And to be honest John, we started with the New Testament and Psalms, because so many priests wanted this material to teach Bible studies in their parishes and secondly and I’m not proud to say this but Orthodox Christians modernly haven’t been known as great Bible readers. And we said let’s float the new testament and psalms and if that’s successful we’ll take a look at doing the Old Testament. So right before the publication date, Sam called and said “how many should we print?” And I said “Well Sam, how many do you need to sell to break even?” He said 25,000. I said “Print ‘em and we’ll find a way to sell ‘em.” And the good news is this thing came on just at the right time and we sold out 25,000 two weeks before the book was even on the market. So we rushed in to print another 25,000 that sold out and by the end of the year we’d sold about 100,000. And then we just kept printing them in 25,000 increments and now we’re up over 450,000 — almost a half a million — for people that were habitually not great Bible readers. And this has absolutely changed both parishes and people’s confidence that “You know what? I can read and understand this book.” So we’re thrilled it’s the best selling English publication in the history of Orthodoxy in North America.