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It’s a Great Time to Be a Bible Nerd

How a Bible publishing renaissance is changing the face—but not heart—of Scripture.

It’s a Great Time to Be a Bible Nerd

How a Bible publishing renaissance is changing the face—but not heart—of Scripture.

What does it mean to be true to the biblical text?

That seems to be the top-of-mind question in the Bible publishing industry today. When it comes to interpretation, Bible publishers are clear that their role is to remain faithful to the authenticity and inerrancy of the inspired words of Scripture. But does being true to the text extend beyond those categories into others as well? If you ask the creators of some of the most innovative Bible products available today, the answer is yes.

Leaders in the Bible publishing world are considering what it looks like to honor the sacredness of Scripture in everything from cover art to digital access. Take Klaus Erik Krogh, president, CEO, and founder of 2K/Denmark, for example. An expert in design, typesetting, and concept development for Bibles worldwide, Krogh says that his interest in Bible publishing emerges from his belief that the Scriptures carry the greatest message ever.

So then, Krogh asks, shouldn’t the experience of reading it match that quality? And, if so, what does the Bible’s message communicate that can be reflected in the Bibles people hold in their hands?

Across the industry, three themes arise in answer to these questions. The Scriptures reveal a God who is attuned to beauty, delivered his Word in multiple genres, and intended for his people to read the Bible together. In an era where everyone has instant digital access to the words of Scripture, there is a sustained push to preserve the beauty of the tactile reading experience. Throughout the Bible publishing industry, leaders are considering how to honor the Scriptures themselves, their divine author, and readers by prioritizing the aesthetic, the literary, and the communal.

Altogether Beautiful

When Katie Guiliano became a Christian at the age of 19, she began to read the Bible for the first time in her life. Filled with the inspiration and joy of a new believer, she found the Scriptures to be enthralling.

“I was very newly inspired to love God through his Word,” Guiliano recalls. “It felt only natural that the Bible I was using should match the content inside, and I couldn’t find anything that I felt matched it.”

Guilliano, a college student at the time, decided to re-bind and paint a cover for her plain black Bible. That was the first step toward what is now Hosanna Revival, which excites people about engaging in Scripture through aesthetic Bibles and intentional tools. The craftsmanship extends to artistically designed covers, high-quality materials, sewn binding, gilded pages, and satin ribbons.

“The Lord is beautiful, right?” says Guiliano. “His creation is beautiful. … I think a beautiful Bible helps us connect the dots of just how precious this book is, and how worthy of our time and attention it is.”

Guiliano says that she and her team at Hosanna Revival regularly hear powerful stories from customers, especially those who have bought Bibles to give to unbelieving friends. The gift givers share that the ability to choose a design and style that matched their friends’ personality or aesthetic communicated volumes. The recipients seem to understand quickly that God is intentional and his Word is personal. “Without even cracking it open,” Guiliano says, “they were able to experience just a hint of that.”


Tim Wildsmith of the Bible Review Blog has also seen a growing desire for an aesthetic Bible reading experience.

“Despite having many great Bible apps available to us, today’s Bible readers love the tactile experience of reading a high-quality Bible,” he says. “People care more than ever about having a great typesetting that draws them in and enhances their time reading and studying the Bible. They want the paper to be highly opaque and to feel nice to the touch. They value quality bindings and aesthetic touches with leather and ribbons. All of these things, when done well, make for a joy-filled reading experience.”

“Aesthetic touches” like those Wildsmith describes are found in abundance at EvangelicalBible.com, which specializes in high-quality Bibles. Their goatskin and calfskin-clad Bibles feature unique marks and blemishes that further personalize the reader’s experience.

“With a natural grain Bible what you have on your Bible is the actual hide of the goat that was wandering the hills of Nigeria or South India,” the Evangelical Bible team explains. “If the goat rubbed against barbed wire or was bitten by a wasp or asp, these marks are retained on the leather. These alleged blemishes actually attest to the authenticity of the Bible in question.”

As for Krogh, his love for typography and aesthetics began at the age of seven as he found himself fascinated by the typefaces used to label rivers and towns on maps. He has spent more than four decades in pursuit of Bible design that reflects the message of Scripture.

“I’ve been making Bibles for more than 40 years with the same ambition,” he says. “To create an aesthetic, enhanced reading experience for the greatest message ever.”

Recently, 2K/Denmark designed and typeset the Cambridge Family Chronicle Bible, a stunning volume intended to be passed down from generation to generation. Krogh and his team spent 11 years working on the project, including the reproduction of over 200 Gustav Doré illustrations from 1865.

“When you do Bibles, you can’t be in a hurry,” says Krogh. “If we are going to produce the very best we can do, we also need time.” Krogh also thinks about time in relation to Bible publishing more broadly: in terms of eras.

Prior to the arrival of the printing press, scribes wrote the words of the Bible with painstaking, beautiful penstrokes. In the medieval age, artists known as illuminators contributed illustrations and flourishes to the text. While leveraging the power of modern technology, leaders like Krogh are continuing a legacy that seeks to match the beauty of the message with the beauty of the biblical design.


“You can call the last 20 years of Bible publishing a Golden Age,” he says. A lot of beautiful Bibles have been made in the past 20 years as technology has expanded the possibilities for unique printing options. “But Golden Ages have a tendency not to last,” he warns.

This is, in part, why Krogh has partnered with the Museum of the Bible to establish the Society of Bible Craftsmanship (SoBC), a global network of publishers, producers, and suppliers who aim to nurture and highlight excellence in Bible craftsmanship.

“If you focus on the craftsmanship,” Krogh says, “you have a chance, maybe, to at least prolong the Golden Age.”

Love for Literature

Along with a reclamation of the aesthetic beauty seen in pre-printing press Bibles, many of today’s Bible publishing leaders hope to return to an era of reading the Bible according to its literary style.

As Bible publishing professionals, Glenn Paauw and Paul Caminiti found themselves concerned by studies that showed plummeting rates of Bible reading despite the fact that sales of the Bible continued to be high. Were the Scriptures just sitting on shelves? They wondered. And if so, what could they do to create change?

They began to research why people were not reading the Bible regularly. And, among other reasons, they discovered that people were put off by the way the Bible is often packaged and presented like a reference book.

“It’s like trying to read a dictionary,” Paauw said. “The modern additives [such as chapter and verse numbers] that came late in the Bible’s history have turned it into something other than a book to be read on its own terms.”

Paauw, Caminiti, and others considered what it might look like to create a biblical text that allowed the Scriptures to be read on their own terms. They considered how chapters and verses encourage fragmented reading, rather than long-form engagement like one might enjoy with a book of poetry or a story—which both abound in the Bible but are often presented in ways that obscure their genre.

Eventually, they created Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience—a project of the Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR) and Tyndale House Publishers—that comes in six volumes: Messiah, Beginnings, Kingdoms, Prophets, Poets, and Chronicles. Designed to undo bad habits inadvertently created by the modern Bible, such as proof-texting, Immerse presents the Scriptures in a single-column setting with no chapter, verse, section, or footnote markings. The books have been reordered and given historical and literary introductions, and the text was structured with care and precision.

“A single line of Hebrew poetry [such as those seen in the Psalms] translated into English won’t fit across a two-column side of a page in a Bible,” explains Caminit. “Therefore you’re going to a second line, sometimes a third line, on what is a single line of poetry in the original.”


Two-column Bibles tend to address this issue by applying levels of indentation to set lines apart. But that can cause readers to miss how couplets of poetry respond to each other, or the way one line responds to another.

Kat Armstrong, a Bible teacher and author who created The Storyline Project with NavPress, takes a literary approach as well—and for similar reasons.

“People are bored,” she says, “and they want to be curious. When a story is curious, it holds their attention, and that’s what we want in Bible readers. We want to spark holy curiosity, so that they get invested in the story.” The Storyline Project incites curiosity and fosters rich biblical engagement by organizing its studies around a personal trait (Sinners, Saints), geographical feature (Mountains, Valleys), or object (Sticks, Stones).

Designed specifically for people who are disenchanted with the Scriptures, the Storyline studies treat the Bible like the “literary masterpiece” it is, Armstrong says. The Immerse project sets out to do the same, encouraging readers to engage with whole books rather than verses or chapters.

Dwelling in Unity

In the mid-2010s, Jenny Steinbach spent around two hours commuting each day. In an effort to make the most of that time, she listened to books and other audio content read aloud by men and women alike.

“And then I was listening to the Bible,” she recalled. “And I noticed the silent space that women’s voices were not represented.”

Steinbach, who has now served with the missions organization Cru for more than 30 years, began searching for an audio Bible that included female voices but came up empty. In fact, she found that many audio Bibles were read by the same men. The following Sunday, Steinbach’s pastor asked the congregation two questions: How has God gifted you? And what is the world waiting for you to do?

God called to Steinbach’s mind the experience she’d gained while working on the Jesus Film Project. She had plenty left to learn, to be sure, but she understood production. As the United States promoter for Magdelena, a Jesus Film Project that was made specially to show Jesus’ love for women, Steinbach had the skill and passion for reaching women with the truth of the gospel. So she decided to try to make it happen: an audio Bible in women’s voices. And not only that but an ecosystem for training women around the world to set up small in-home studios and create female-read audio Bibles in other languages.

The project would become her.BIBLE, an audio Bible read entirely by 35 women. her.BIBLE uses Tyndale’s New Living Translation (NLT), a straightforward, easy-to-comprehend version. For example, the NLT says “and that is what happened” instead of “and it was so” in Genesis 1. In partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators, the staff with her.BIBLE teach women to use the Scripture App Builder, a tool developed by SIL, a nonprofit that works with local communities around the world to develop language solutions that expand possibilities for a better life.


“It’s a free, downloadable app,” Steinbach explains. Through the app, “I can coach a woman in another country. She can create her own studio [in an area as small as a closet] and record. We created training videos that give an overview of how someone could add their own language.”

On its own, her.BIBLE is a remarkable project: the Bible read entirely in women’s voices from diverse ethnic backgrounds. One might think that such an accomplishment would be enough to have Steinbach, who has already spent decades in ministry. But it’s not. She wants more—she wants women all over the world to know what it’s like to hear the Scriptures read to them by a woman.

Gene Getz, author, professor, radio host, and the pastor who launched the Fellowship Bible Church movement, has a similar training-related passion for the Life Essentials Study Bible. A hybrid physical-digital experience, the Life Essentials Study Bible features 1,500 principles drawn from Scripture and described by Getz, who is now the president of the Center for Church Renewal. Each principle features a printed section within the physical Bible as well as a QR code that leads to a video of Getz teaching on that principle.

Because this Bible is so packed with content, Getz emphasizes the importance of training pastors in how to use it—especially when it comes to the thousands of pastors around the world who don’t have access to theological training. Getz refers to the Bible, accompanying principles, and videos as “seminary in a box.” People around the world are learning how to use this Bible and training others to do so as well, and not just in English. So far, the Life Essentials Study Bible and accompanying videos have been or are being translated into Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Farsi, and several other languages.

Getz recalls that David Isais of the American Bible Society told him that the principles will “pull together pastors throughout the whole Spanish world, regardless of their theological backgrounds.” High Adventure Gospel Communication Ministries (HAGCM), a Canadian ministry, has partnered with the Center for Church Renewal to create the Life Essentials Training Center in Uganda, where African pastors are given a copy of the Life Essentials Study Bible and trained in how to use it.

Immerse, too, is built around the idea that the Bible is meant to be read with others.

“The Bible is its own witness that it is a communal transformation book,” says Caminiti. “It’s turned into a solo sport.”

In order to bring the Scriptures back into the realm of the communal, Immerse recommends a book club approach and provides reading plans, videos, and host guides. Hosanna Revival encourages customers to give their Bibles as gifts and invite friends to read along with them. And a shared her.BIBLE experience is just a quick text message away.


In an era of innovation, the Bible publishing industry seems to be calling Christians to return to their first love. Rather than clamoring to produce the next hot product, these industry leaders are reflecting on what the Scriptures say about themselves and what it looks like to let the Bible speak for itself. In doing so, they are honoring the beauty, the literature, and the communal heart of the greatest story ever told.

Abby Perry is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and two sons in Texas. You can find her work at Sojourners, Texas Monthly, and Nations Media.


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