Bible Typography

The TNIV and The Books of the Bible 3

If you go to “The Books of the Bible” site, don’t be put off by the endorsements.

It appears that IBS realizes that they’ve lost conservative evangelicalism as a target demographic for the TNIV. Too many names we all (rightly!) trust came out against it. So they’re touting endorsements from people who live on the far left side of evangelicalism—or who, sadly, have fallen off the edge.

I’ve received some real profit from Tremper Longman’s work and a little from that of Scot McKnight. But Brian McLaren? (The late) Robert Webber? Those are men who have written some very troubling things.

But I said you should not be put off by these recommendations because aside from the gender neutralization—which is not nothing, but not everything—the TNIV really does appear to be an improvement over the NIV. And if the NIV, despite its faults (recognized over and over again in the commentaries which try to use it as their base text), has become the Bible of many people who truly love the Lord, the TNIV need not be a bogey-Bible.

Bible Typography

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The TNIV and The Books of the Bible 2

When I showed my truly wonderful, open-minded boss my new TNIV without verse numbers and chapter numbers, he said, “Hmm. This is not a step forward.”

I said, “I think it is.” I explained how with my new Bible you don’t have verse numbers and chapter numbers determining where your mind will place breaks. You’re free to read the Bible in the way most conducive to understanding for a modern Westerner.

Admittedly, the paragraphing and section spacing in my new numberless Bible were placed there by fallible men (TNIV: “people”) just like the verse numbers were.

And Paul and Moses didn’t really use paragraphing.

But by communicating paragraphs typographically we’re at least making it possible for visual stops to coincide consistently with thought-flow rather than guaranteeing that they won’t.

Bible Typography

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The TNIV and The Books of the Bible

I’ve seen the power that preaching with a sound hermeneutic can have. Just one effect of a pulpit ministry based on solid exegesis is that listeners develop skill in reading the Bible for themselves.

But most printed Bibles do good hermeneutics a disservice. Good hermeneutics says, “Always read the context!” Printed Bibles, however, make that difficult by making every verse its own paragraph:

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Bolding the verse number at the head of each paragraph, as some Bible editions do, doesn’t help much. It’s the visual cue of paragraph-size (instead of verse-size) paragraphs that best serves good hermeneutics.

So many Bibles now are printed in paragraph format with verse numbers included. That’s a great step in the right direction, but I still think the flow of thought is being interrupted unnecessarily.

A few years ago I saw a single-column KJV New Testament printed in the 1930s which had no verse numbers. And I have an old NEB which tried to include the best of both worlds (in a beautiful edition) by putting chapter and verse numbers in the margins.

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Finally, however, the International Bible Society has produced an edition of the TNIV called “The Books of the Bible,” which has elided all chapter and verse numbers (except for one little hint at the bottom of every page). I snapped one up as soon as I could and I’ve decided to go on a crusade for it—because my life is already a crusade for good hermeneutics.

Here’s a picture of the layout:

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A few more notes on this new TNIV are to come (DV) in a later post.

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Church websites

I’m designing a new church website and promotional materials for Cleveland Park Baptist Church in nearby Spartanburg, and as part of my preparation I just surveyed some of the work others are doing in this field.

I came across a site which I was impressed with, MyChurchWebsite.com. Their design is relatively spare and clean. It looks a bit formulaic (and I only mean a bit) after you look at a lot of their work, but no one surfing to an individual church’s website would know that.

I have often noted that a church’s website design tells a lot about the church. That’s because a website, like general clothing or decoration or musical styles, is a clear barometers of a church’s (generally socio-economic) culture.

In my years of research for this post (I don’t know how many church sites I’ve surfed in the past five years), I note that there is variation within each category of churches. Not every seeker church has hit the critical mass necessary to include a good web designer. But there are still a lot of messages encoded in every church page. It’s a language you can improve your fluency in.

See if you don’t agree. I made these images smaller so you couldn’t read the words well. Which of the following churches (ok, one isn’t a church) is Emergent? Mainline Protestant? Seeker? KJVO?

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