Seven New Bibles That You Need (Don’t Worry, They’re All the Same One!)

From time to time on this blog I review books that have to do with the Bible.  Full disclosure: I’ve been working closely with this author for over a dozen years on various projects, beginning with The Books of the Bible.

There’s a new book out that will help you understand what’s wrong with your Bible—why it’s not working the way you expect.  The book, Saving the Bible from Ourselves, is by Glenn Paauw, vice president for global Bible engagement at Biblica and a director of the Institute for Bible Reading.

When you open your Bible, Paauw says, chances are you’re getting lost in the clutter—cross-references, study notes, topical headings, call-outs, etc.—and barely making it to the text.  What you need is an Elegant Bible, one that’s clean and clutter-free, featuring “unencumbered words on a page, pleasingly set, easy to read.”

Is your Bible just offering you “snacks”—little tidbits that never really satisfy your appetite?  Then you need a Feasting Bible, one in which you enjoy full meals— whole biblical books—at length and at leisure.

Have you been encouraged to see the Bible as something that dropped fully formed out of heaven?  And aren’t you wondering why it doesn’t read as if it did?  You need a Historical Bible, one that you can tell emerged from the covenant community’s interactions with God over centuries.

Do there seem to be no connection between the things you’re reading about in the Bible?  Is it just a law here, a proverb there, and some stuff that doesn’t really seem to fit anywhere?  You need a “Storiented” Bible, in which everything is clearly tied together into a compelling story.

When it’s just you and your Bible, don’t you feel lonely?  That’s because reading and studying the Bible were meant to be shared experiences.  You need a Synagogue Bible that will enable and empower you to read and study God’s word in community.

If, when you read the Bible, all you see are free-floating phrases from some ethereal realm, then you need a Earthly Bible, in which it’s clear that God’s word has everything to do with life here on this earth.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but is your Bible just plain ugly?  Type bleeding through from the back of thin pages, crowded printing, Industrial Revolution overtones?  What you need is a Beautiful Bible, like the ones the church produced in ages past, and which it is showing signs of producing again.

How can you get a Bible that’s all of these things?   Some of it has to do with the actual physical form.  If you wouldn’t describe any of the Bibles on your shelf right now as elegant and beautiful, then you actually do need one more copy.  But the rest of these things have to do more specifically with thought patterns: what you understand the Bible to be, and what you believe you’re supposed to do with it.  And if you want a clear, comprehensive explanation of that, then read Saving the Bible from Ourselves.  It will give you a new Bible in your mind.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

2 thoughts on “Seven New Bibles That You Need (Don’t Worry, They’re All the Same One!)”

  1. Excellent endorsement for this book that I’m currently reading. A paradigm shift needs to happen in Bible reading and I believe this book addresses some major roadblocks as to why so many people struggle with Bible reading, much less having their lives transformed by it. And isn’t that really what’s at stake here?

    1. Yes, that’s exactly what’s at stake. If people don’t have to struggle so much with Bible reading, that will be wonderful, but if their lives can be transformed by God’s word, that will be infinitely more wonderful!

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