Previously, John Dunham from the International Bible Society wrote about the unintended impact of having scripture divided by chapters and verses. It's led to what he calls "verse jacking," taking scripture out of context and using it for a purpose it was never intended. In this follow up post Dunham responds to some of your comments, and introduces an alternative way to read the Bible.
Commenting on my previous post, Glenn Krobel wrote:
There are too many Christians in ministry today who thrive off attacking our heritage without offering a solutions to problems they address.
Thanks for bringing that up, Glenn. I agree. And despite many people thinking the current system is too ingrained to move away from, I think it's worth a try. On August 1, International Bible Society will release The Books of The Bible. Chapter and verse numbers? Gone. Topical section headers? Gone. Extra columns? Gone. On the page helps? Gone. Footnotes? Moved to the back of each book. What you are left with is a no-additives edition of the Bible.
Not only have we taken out the dubiously beneficial additives, but we have also humbly attempted to bring a more faithful structure to today's Bible. There is no doubt the Holy Spirit has worked powerfully throughout the centuries through God's word in the Messiah's church, no matter what form his word has taken. But form does matter as we display the beauty of God's word.
Topical section headers are shortcuts for finding a verse or letting us know what's going on. Therein is the problem. Too often we rely on them to tell us how to interpret a passage without regard to the larger story, and sometimes these breaks come at the worst spots. While trained leaders may easily look past them, most readers are better off without them. The Books of The Bible allows the literary structure of a book to spring out by inserting appropriate amounts of white space in places where the author shows a transition (e.g., the toledot formulae in the Torah or Matthew's five sections of Jesus' activity and teaching).
A single-column typesetting is what we expect when we open any non-fiction book or novel. But most Bibles have two columns. Rick Shott correctly commented that this is for conserving space and reducing white space. This ends up saving publishers about fifteen to twenty percent on paper. But at what cost? Books like the Psalms are absolutely decimated with no reasonable way of making sense of the poetic structure. A single-column text displays poetry more clearly and narrative more naturally.
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