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Monday, February 7, 2011

Boutique Bibles ...Bible series, part 4 of 6

In 2003, the book you see at left appeared on Christian bookstore shelves. It looks like a magazine for teenage girls, doesn't it? Inside, according to the cover, you will find a quiz called "Are You Dating a Godly Guy?" An article on "Beauty Secrets," one called "Guys Speak Out On Tons of Important Issues," "How To Get Along With Your Mom," and "200+ Blab Q&A's." You will find those things inside, but you will also find the entire New Century Version translation of the New Testament! This was the first "BibleZine" in a continuing series which includes 'Zines for teen girls (Revolve), teen boys (Refuel), women (Becoming), men (Align), and several more for children, Baby Boomers, whoever. The idea is to provide people with a New Testament in a format that feels familiar and non-threatening. To see a selection of them, check out this list of BibleZines at

Should a Bible look like a magazine? I remember back when this first edition of Revolve came out, there was some controversy over whether it was really appropriate to present the Bible this way. I can't say I've ever had any desire to buy one, but I will say this: if it takes wrapping the Word of God up like Cosmo to get you interested, but once you get into the Word you stay there, bring it on. Bring on the Woman's Day clones, if that's what gets your attention. God can speak to you through the Bible, whether it looks like a leather-bound book, or a paperback novel, or a huge hardback book that covers your whole coffee table, or a glossy magazine.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to buy a Bible, to borrow an old quip from the auto industry: "You could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black." At some point that began to change; people realized that paperback books were much cheaper per unit than traditional leather Bibles, making them perfect for outreach. People started liking the idea of having a red leather Bible, or a brown or green leather Bible, instead of just black. Some Bibles, such as the classic Amplified Bible with its distinctive red cover or the classic pea-green Living Bible, seemed to have a specific style all their own. And in recent years, things have changed even more, with Bibles every color of the rainbow, embossed with patterns or pictures, and sometimes, in the case of a few Bibles I've seen for kids, with the cover in 3D! If you dig it, it's probably out there. Want to see a few examples?

019457: KJV Axis: A Study Bible for Teens541538: The NKJV American Patriot"s Bible, Hardcover47359: ESV Classic Thinline TruTone Bible wild rose with floral design372334: NLT Metal Bible - Thirsty? (Pop-Top Design)
013263: GOD"S WORD for Girls Bible, Hardcover, pink537883: NCV Mom"s Bible: God"s Wisdom for Mothers, Hardcover712440: NIrV Kid"s Devotional Bible, Updated and Expanded Softcover060749: The Message: The Gospel of John

There are Bibles for men, women, mothers, fathers, brides, grooms, surfers, hipsters, teenagers, and children. There are Bibles for teachers, physicians, nurses, police officers, firemen, and members of each branch of the armed forces. There are Bibles with real leather covers, simulated leather covers, metal covers, rubber covers, paperbacks and hardbacks. There are Bibles every color under the sun. There are comic book Bibles and Manga Bibles. I once saw a "green-letter Bible" with the words of Christ in green for some unfathomable reason, and recently I've seen several Bibles that are completely waterproof, pages and all. This year Crossway is releasing an illuminated edition of the four Gospels with hand-painted illustrations and illuminations. If you can't find a Bible that you just superficially like the looks of, you're just not looking hard enough!

Many of these Bibles are simply regular Bibles with fancy covers, but sometimes there's more to the story. There may be more than one translation printed side by side (we talked about parallel Bibles last time). There are several editions of the Bible that are arranged "chronologically," interspersing the various sections of the Bible in the order that the events occurred. Many Bibles include cross-references right next to the text; you can learn an awful lot just spending fifteen minutes following those cross-references. Most Bibles have a concordance, either word-based or topic-based. But other Bibles go further; the Life Application Study Bible, for example, has notes and articles throughout, helping readers to focus on how the Scriptures apply to their daily lives. The Apologetics Study Bible for Students is filled with articles designed to arm students in high school and college to defend their faith in intellectual debates. The ESV Literary Study Bible is designed to help readers understand the Bible as the book it is, with stories, characters, plots, poems, wise proverbs, letters, and other literary forms. Bibles like this are wonderful for devotional times and light study.

Then there are the hard-core Study Bibles. Every translation seems to have at least one; these Bibles contain detailed articles, maps, photographs/illustrations, and detailed in-text study notes. Reading one of these Bibles is sort of like reading the Bible with a knowledgeable Bible scholar sitting next to you, filling you in on the details and pointing out amazing connections with other parts of Scripture. I can't recommend this kind of Bible highly enough; I spent last year reading the first half of two of them, side by side, and it was like a Seminary class in the Old Testament. I included links to one from almost every translation in my Bible Translations post, or you can take a look at this list of Study Bibles at and see if there's one you like. The ones I'm reading are the ESV Study Bible and the NIV Study Bible.

Even if you're the kind of person who simply doesn't like to read, we've got you covered. Bibles on CD are easy to come by, and I've even seen some Bibles on DVD! It's incredible what's out there! Seriously, there's no reason to not get interested in the Bible. Find one that looks stylish, that smells good, that matches your occupation, that matches your hobby. But whatever you do, find one. Find a Bible that makes you want to hold it in your hands. Find one that compels you to open it up and read it, frequently if possible. The Bible store is a good place to start. Proverbs 4:22 says that the words of wisdom contained within are "life to those who find them;" find some life today!


Karen K. said...

You mentioned once seeing a green-letter Bible with the words of Christ in green rather than in red. I remember seeing a magazine ad in the 1970s for a green-letter Bible which said green was for everlasting life and was more restful and easier to read than red. Do you happen to know who printed that Bible and whether it is still in print?

TulsaMJ said...

I have no idea who the publisher was... but that rings a bell. It may well be the same Bible I was thinking of! I never owned one; I don't even remember exactly where I saw it. I think someone must have had one at my church or something. (I've moved several times since then.)