The Books of the Bible

by Jul 3, 2008Bible Typography, Uncategorized

The Books of the Bible is, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, something you know I’ve been excited about since December when I got my copy. I even managed to sell a whole case of them without trying! My excitement exists because I think the excision of chapter and verse numbers recovers something important for Bible reading.

The developers of the BOTB noticed my enthusiasm on my blog and asked me to provide some reflections on my experience reading this new Bible edition. I asked them to note my objections to the TNIV but said I was happy to focus my comments on the format of the BOTB.

Here’s a small excerpt of my answer (emphasis added so you skimmers out there will get the most important point):

When people read Bibles that make every verse a separate paragraph I’m afraid they are quite unlikely to trace the thought-flow. However, here’s one reflection I hadn’t been able to quite find an answer to until I wrote this paragraph: how can I be so insistent on the value of the BOTB’s typographical features when they’re not inspired? That may sound silly, but it’s a valid question, I think. Are we adding meaning to Scripture via a relatively involved system of indenting and paragraphing? Surely the BOTB developers faced some interpretive decisions when they evaluated whether or not a hard return should go in a given place or one sentence later. Those decisions will determine the interpretations many readers make of those passages. That makes it a significant and important job to decide where the breaks go! But translators have an even greater burden, and it’s one we’re comfortable with because we know it’s necessary. Perhaps typography should be viewed as one important element of the translation process. The fact is that typography does carry meaning in our written language. Bible publishers ignore that fact and stick with tradition to the peril of their readers!

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