My Dream Bible? A Coffee-Table Book

vacationtime-bible-factory-outlet.jpg

My Dream Bible?

A Coffee-Table Book

On my word, we need a paradigm shift on The Word of God.

Just as I pointed out in a long-winded article that I titled ‘The Bible Is Dead! (I Expect Deadly Quiet On That)’ – a total of 6161 words packed in 13 pages single-spaced in Microsoft Word in the American Chronicle, it’s time to give the Bible the worldly respect that it deserves in the matter of its publication. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their Bible. Now is the time to be creative with The Word. My God, for the last 500 years, we have published the English Bible in the worst possible way, with all its factory defects. Apt image from Vacation Time who captions it ‘Bible Factory Outlet’ (flickr.com/) – we have been publishing millions and millions of Bibles like crazy. This is bad adult education, in case you never heard of it. Nobody was ever heard complaining. Those who have ears, please listen to me now; my name is Nobody.

The Unworthy-Looking English Bible

Learning from The Most Unreadable Book. Learning from the Bible is the hardest thing we’ll ever do. The English Bible with all its mix-match of writing styles and figures of speeches and obscure language and hundreds of stories, not to mention more than a thousand pages, is difficult enough to understand. I suspect Bible publishers are sadists, as they make matters worse by publishing Bibles with small, hard-to-read fonts printed in the smallest sizes readable by the naked eye straining hard, very hard. Or are Bible readers masochists they prefer to punish themselves by reading the very fine print? When will we learn?

Looking at The Worst Designed Book. Not only that, in the Bible, we print the most crowded texts in history – and to think that today we have all those desktop-publishing software every other layout artist, not to mention every other editor, is raving about. What’s the matter, our Bible publishers never heard of eye-pleasing design and layouts? Or is it that they believe that the Word of God deserves to be treated with heart, but not with art? The Bible we have look so forbidding to read it appears forbidden. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ I take that to refer to the Don’ts. One of them, I guess, is this: ‘Don’t make me a book that my people can hardly read!’ (Well, it’s the same story with the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica: it’s a hard on the eyes, so I don’t wonder that it never became as popular as it should have been.)

Understanding from The Most Divisive Book. Adding salt to injury, we have divided the English Bible into numbered chapters and numbered verses, divisions and designations that were not there in the original manuscripts. Not content with that, we have added subheads to every promising part in each book in each chapter that emphasize what the original manuscripts did not want to. All those chambered books (in chapters), chambered sections (in subheads) and chambered verses (in numbers) discourage full understanding and encourage partial reading and misunderstanding of the Bible. This book as published encourages what I call fragmentality, which is thinking in fragments, not wholes. The Word of God is presented to us with labels that were not inspired – and I’m referring to both the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible, any year starting 1560, when the Geneva Bible was published. This was the first English Bible published with all those chapter numbers and verse numbers.

If you don’t believe there’s something terribly wrong with numbered chapters and numbered verses, let me point out to you an historical error that changed the world of Christianity because of fragmentality, isolating a part from the whole and calling the part the whole. In 31 October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses against the practice of indulgences of the Roman Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenburg Church. He was given a chance to recant, but he didn’t. He was excommunicated by Pope Leo 4 years later, in 1521.

Luther then became the celebrated Protestant and he fathered a whole new anti-Catholic Church on the basis of an isolated text in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verse 17, which is this: ‘For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith’ (King James Version). Luther then made his fateful (not faithful) pronouncement that this verse convicted him to a new faith, and its essence is that faith alone saves man (sola fide). Luther is right because he was just looking at chapter 1 verse 17 and not anywhere else in the book of Romans. But sola fide is out-of-context if you look at the whole book of Romans.

Let me show you. I look into my favorite Romans chapter 12 and I find 29 things that a Christian should do to live his faith:

1. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.
2. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.
3. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
4. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.
5. If a man’s gift is in prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
6. If it is in serving, let him serve.
7. If it is teaching, let him teach.
8. If it is encouraging, let him encourage.
9. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.
10. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently.
11. If it is in showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
12. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
13. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
14. Honor one another above yourselves.
15. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
16. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 17. Share with God’s people who are in need.
18. Practice hospitality.
19. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 20. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
21. Live in harmony with one another.
22. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
23. Do not be conceited.
24. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
25. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
26. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
27. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.
28. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
29. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Worthy-Looking English Bible

Now then, faith without good works is dead. It will be good work credited to us if we publish the Bible in a worthy edition such as a coffee-table book is. This Bible will have no chapters and no verse numbers. It will be a pleasant, continuous read. It will be thinner but broader, a delight to handle. No thumb indices either – they are of little help in finding verses. The new Bible will have an extensive index so it would be easy to look for Bible text to quote.

Now, this coffee-table book, which I want to call The Reader’s Bible, has three purposes, and these are:

For display. So that others may browse it and come to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation, literally and figuratively. Remember, the Bible is a very difficult read and our dull way of publishing requires us to double or even treble the effort. Then the Bible will become a prized possession in every Christian home, if not proudly displayed in an honored place.

For reading. Who can resist reading an open mind, which is what the Bible is, the open mind of God? Who can resist reading on with wide white spaces and pleasant typography and engaging graphics? Alfred North Whitehead says ‘We live in detail.’ We have to explore the Bible, and we don’t want the crowded feeling. Exploring is a great road to learning. For instance, we can savor the language of ancient times; personally, I prefer the Elizabethan prose of the King James Bible of 1611.

For understanding. Who would not read again and again a book like that? Now, Francis Bacon says, ‘Reading maketh a full man,’ and I say, ‘Reading again and again maketh a fuller man.’ A man who knows and understands. Actually, Alfred North Whitehead says, ‘We think in generalities, we live in detail.’

As for me, I want an electronic version of The Reader’s Bible. Actually, what Francis Bacon says is this: ‘Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.’ I’m a writer, and I would like to be an exact man, whatever that means. So I would like to write more about the Bible, on condition that I understand it well enough to discuss it, and that I do not take any verse out of context. As a creative writer, I must think in generalities (creative thinking) and live in detail (critical thinking). We are only critical and we think we’re that smart; thinking isn’t perfect without creative thinking. A coffee-table Bible would be just perfect for an imperfect world!

I said I’m calling for a paradigm switch. Since I’m so hot for a coffee-table Bible book that even us Roman Catholics don’t have, if a Protestant publisher comes up with the first coffee-table Bible version, will I switch from Catholicism to Protestantism? No, but I will switch Bibles.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: adult education, Bible, book publishing, Catholicism, creative thinking, critical thinking, lateral thinking, Protestantism, readability

3 Comments on “My Dream Bible? A Coffee-Table Book”

  1. K. H. Jones Says:

    A copy of the Holy Scriptures without chapter and verse designations is available. A personal project covering the past several years has yielded a copy of the Holy Scriptures that has the chapter and verse designations only n the left margin.
    The American Standard Version was used because the copyright restrictions have expired. Some of the archaic language has been changed. Words like “ye,” “thou,” and “thine” have been changed to “you” and “your(s).”
    It is intended to “read” in much the same way as the original readers read the writings. The effort was to present the writings of the Holy Scriptures as they would have “looked” if the writings had been in English originally.


  2. Good for you. As for me, I still don’t want all those chapter and verse designations in the left margin or in the footnotes. I want my Bible clean so I can read it clean.

  3. DKH Says:

    Have you looked at ‘The Books of the Bible’ printed by IBS in 2007? No chapters, no verses, original contexts restored (Luke and Acts together, etc)

    We ordered a few….Font is script, not as clear, but more the ‘feel’ of the original writings….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: