Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Pastor, can you help me find a Bible?

It seemed to be an innocent question.  And common.  Anyone who has surveyed the hundreds of feet of shelving devoted to every kind of Bible known to man might echo the same sentiment.  How do you make sense of all the choices and which is the right choice for me? (Or for the person for whom I am shopping?)

Except this was not a question of finding the right translation or a study Bible vs reading Bible question.  Something more ended up behind hidden in that question.  The person was asking to find a woman's Bible.  Now, mind you, it could have meant a Bible with a rich cover that might be appealing to a certain lady.  But it wasn't.  It wasn't about the translation or the cover.  The woman wanted a Bible that would speak to her  as a woman.  At that point I did not know what to say.

There is no such thing as a woman's Bible or a men's Bible or a teenager's Bible or a children's Bible.  There is only the Bible.  Now, the translation choice might make the text more or less accessible to someone if their level of English or education or reading ability is the concern.  And it is true that a study Bible with all of its addition resources can either help a person read the Scripture or it may actually make it harder to read for someone who just wants to read the text itself.  But there is no Bible that should be tailored toward any person or any stage of life.  Of course, that has not kept the Bible sellers from advertising Bibles as if they were actually written toward a certain age or experience or need or identity.  Marketing skills have taught us to think of the Scriptures in this way but that does not make it right.

I know there are children's Bibles but many of them are not really Bibles at all -- they are collections of Bible stories abridged from the Scriptures.  I suppose this is not a bad thing as long this is not the only Bible the child ever reads but one ought to take care to make sure that the collection of stories is not slanted to a particular viewpoint or the details are not abridged in such a way that the story itself is betrayed.  The best children's story Bibles make the actual text more accessible to the child and do not replace it with somebody else's words.

I fear that marketing has confused us even more about what to look for in a Bible and how to purchase one that will encourage us to read.  There are reader's Bibles with less attention to the chapters, verses, and headings so common to all Bibles but not necessarily helpful for reading.  There are good study Bibles that do not replace God's Word with the words of a commentator but provide helps to understand and apply the text that is read.  There are devotional Bibles designed to support the daily office or the daily devotional life that forms and feeds the piety of the reader.  But there are no Bibles written for men or women or certain age groups or for any other specific cause or agenda.  

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

"I fear that marketing has confused us even more about what to look for in a Bible and how to purchase one that will encourage us to read."

Such as the so-called "Bible with a hole in it," to which CPH sells the missing hole.