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Tony Evans Becomes the First Sole African American to Author a Study Bible, Commentary Named for Him

Pastor Tony Evans has been a megachurch leader, a radio broadcaster, and the author of dozens of books.

Now he has a new title: the first African American to have both a study Bible and a full-Bible commentary with his name.

“Paying attention to context is extremely important if you want to accurately understand what the Bible is saying,” he writes in opening instructions of the new, 1,429-page commentary. (Editor’s note: Evans was the first African American to earn a doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.) “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.”

Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, his predominantly black nondenominational church, marked the fall release of the two tomes at a gospel-star-studded celebration on Friday. During the almost three-hour “Kingdom Legacy Live” event, musicians Kirk Franklin and LeCrae both described Evans as the father figure they needed, in person or via his radio broadcast, “The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans.”

The evening featured video tributes to Evans, 70, from other luminaries, such as former President George W. Bush and former football player Herschel Walker. It also included words of gratitude from family and friends for Evans’ ailing wife, Lois. Priscilla Shirer, one of Tony and Lois Evans’ four children, recalled how her mother worked to pack up and mail cassette tapes of her father’s sermons in the early days of the ministry the couple co-founded.

Just before the event, Evans talked to Religion News Service in an exclusive interview about his new biblical volumes, coping with his wife’s health challenges, and supporting Franklin in his boycott after the gospel musician’s race-related remarks were cut from a broadcast of the Dove Awards.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How is your wife doing, given her diagnosis of biliary cancer and has her condition been a test, perhaps, of faith for you as well as her?

A great test of faith in our lives because it’s incurable cancer, and the doctors said there’s nothing more they can do. So we are totally resting on the supernatural at this point. But because we have a strong faith, we are stable in the midst of instability and uncertainty. We stay close to each other as a family, and we stay close to God. Over the last week and a half there has been a slight improvement that was unexpected even by the doctors. So we’re just trusting God in the middle of that and taking it day by day. We’re believing for a miracle, but we trust him regardless.

Read the full interview HERE.