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Introduction to The Fillmore Study Bible

Mark Hicks What is the Fillmore Study Bible? We all have our favorite study Bible—Oxford Annotated, Harper Study, New Interpreter's. But none of us has a study Bible with footnotes and annotations from Charles Fillmore's lifetime of study and spiritual insight. The Fillmore Study Bible is just that—a Bible with notes and study helps embedded along side of the text, which provides students an easy way to understand the essential metaphysical truths that Charles Fillmore and his students found in scripture.

Why is this important? Many or most people today learn their theology by reading the annotations and commentary of study Bibles. These study Bibles have a theological point of view, typically Catholic, Evangelical or Liberal Protestant. While these Bibles have varying qualities of scholarship, none of them are useful for the student of metaphysics. The Fillmore Study Bible makes this method of study available to the Metaphysical Christian.

Metaphysical Christianity is an authentic and distinct expression of the historic Christian faith that acknowledges and embraces the influence of Platonic and Stoic Greek philosophy on the early development of Christian theology. This influence is especially evident in the Gospel of John, but it also may be found in the authentic letters of Paul, the church fathers, St. Augustine and scholars of the high middle ages such as St. Thomas Aquinas.

Because Metaphysical Christians rely on an inner knowingness for authority in religious and spiritual matters, they were suppressed by the Catholic Church after the 4th century and intensely persecuted by Calvinist and Evangelical leaders after the 16th century. However it is not difficult to trace through Christian history a practicing strain of those who follow a metaphysical path, such as Flemish Beguines, Byzantine Hesychasts, German Mystics, Christian Humanists, English Quakers, American Shakers, New England Transcendentalists and early 20th century New Thought students.

This study bible uses the World English Bible translation, which is a contemporary-language update of the bible used by Charles Fillmore, the American Standard Version. The WEB differs from the ASV in three ways: the language is not American nor British, but contemporary, world English, making the text intelligible to the broadest possible audience of global English speakers. Second, the translation has been corrected when a broad array of scholars have found mistakes in the ASV. Third, when referencing God, the WEB has replaced the term Jehovah with Yahweh. The WEB differs from several contemporary-language translations by not adopting gender neutral language but it has provided footnotes when gender neutral language would be appropriate.

The western church finds itself today with two competing expressions of Christianity: Evangelical Christianity with its meta-narrative of creation, sin, judgment and redemption and Metaphysical Christianity with its platonic meta-narrative of mind, idea and expression. We believe that our present day culture of information, science and technology is ready to reclaim the original thinkers who gave us not only mathematics, ethics, democracy and medicine, but also deep insights into the inner world of soul and Divine mind—the Greek metaphysicians. We believe that contemporary Christianity needs a contemporary, global interpretation applied to a contemporary, global biblical text. The Fillmore Study Bible is our offering to that spiritual need.

What is the Fillmore Bible Society? As we create the Fillmore Study Bible, we will also be creating the Fillmore Bible Society. You are invited to collaborate with us by assembling a set of annotations and footnotes for at least one chapter of the Bible. Those who collaborate become members of the Fillmore Bible Society. In time this project will be run by Fillmore Bible Society membership who will hire an executive director and manage a peer review committee for ongoing annotations and commentary.

How can I collaborate? The process is building out a set of annotations, chapter by chapter. So the Fillmore Study Bible will be built piece by piece, in a collaborative fashion, much like my daughters used to assemble a jigsaw puzzle each Christmas. Your job as a collaborator is to read the existing commentary, assemble a set of annotations for a particular chapter of the Bible and send them in. My experience is that it takes a few hours to research and write up annotations for a given chapter. My experience is also that it is immensely rewarding to see one's annotations live online.

What are acceptable annotations? Annotations are extremely concise snippets of commentary from the writings of Charles Fillmore, the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Unity publications, and writings from Fillmore students such as Elizabeth Sand Turner, Ed Rabel, Eric Butterworth and others. They convey what the Fillmores and their students have written. Later on, when we have completed these foundational annotations, we will establish a peer review committee to review contemporary reflections and extended commentary. But, for now, the goal is to convey as concisely as possible, in the original language, what the founders wrote. Exceptions are permitted if they directly address confusion about what the original authors of commentary or of the biblical text intended to say.

What happens then? For the time being, I will be the reviewer. If your annotations are not what I have in mind, I'll let you know and I will work with you to fix whatever problems I see. Next, I will format the online text of the Bible and place your annotations as footnotes, giving you credit at the bottom of the page for your collaboration. I'll also add you as member on the Members of the Fillmore Bible Society page. Finally, we will note the progress in the "project dashboard" where each completed chapter is underlined and highlighted in yellow.

Fillmore Study Bible: Romans How will we get this study bible published? Annotations will first be published online, as you can see in Romans 5. Later, when entire books of the Fillmore Study Bible are completed, we will make them available as printed volumes, as we now have with Fillmore Study Bible: Romans. One day, when we have completed all chapters for the New Testament, we will place an order for professionally printed, thin-paper, lay-flat binding New Testament Bibles.

Who has the copyright? The Fillmore commentary and the World English Bible are both in the public domain. We are copyrighting our work under a Creative Commons Non-commercial Attribution copyright and licensing the permission to use our work for personal study and teaching. The Creative Commons license is as close to the spirit of the Fillmores as one could be in today's media world. Our goal is to express the principle of giving and receiving in service to Metaphysical Christians.

Will the Fillmore Bible Society gather as a group? Yes. We intend to return to our single-day miniconferences we've been having as Metaphysical Bible Gatherings to meetings of The Fillmore Bible Society. The format will be the same but the speakers and their topics will be tied directly to what we have learned in creating and publishing the Fillmore Study Bible.

“Go, little book, go.” Annie Rix Militz, an early collaborator of the Fillmores, once prefaced one of her books as follows: “Go, little book, go.” That's how I feel about this project. But it's more than a book. It's our book, our collaboration, our movement. So I say “Go, little book, go.” I hope you will join me in this audacious endeavor.

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First Sunday in Advent, December 2, 2018