It’s new! Yet it’s old – very old.

The International Bible Society has introduced a new type of Bible. They call it “The Books of the Bible”. The translation they used is the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) – that’s new.

They’ve removed the chapter and verse markings – that’s new…wait, that’s old! That’s the way the scriptures were originally written! The books weren’t divided up into chapters and verses until hundreds of years later. Why would they do that? Here’s what Glenn Paauw wrote about that on the Books of the Bible Blog:

Some of the folks we presented The Books of The Bible to in our development stage were shocked. Why would you do that? Why take out the chapter and verse system (c&v)?

First of all, I should say I do understand the reaction. We’re all used to what we’re used to. Who moved my cheese and all that. Bible readers have become accustomed to seeing their Bibles in and through this system. Those who go to Bible studies or listen to sermons have become accustomed to having this system used as the main way to talk about the Bible. We’ve institutionalized and embedded it as THE way to reference, read, interact with, devotionalize and argue about the Bible. Most people have come to take it for granted as part of the Bible text itself. We’ve had a hard time imagining the Bible without it.

There has been quite a lot of positive response to this new Bible. Here’s what theIBS press release says:

In early field-testing even long-time Bible readers reported a transformation in their reading experience. One participant wrote:

“I love it. Over the past month, I feel as if the Scripture has come alive for me. I found myself understanding the Scripture in a new way, with a fresh lens, and I felt spiritually refreshed as a result.”

The Books of The Bible changes the way people interact with the Bible by stripping away features that were added long after the books were written. “It recovers the freshness and clear simplicity of the original literary forms of the Scriptures,” says Glenn Paauw, Product Development Director at IBS.

The new edition differs from how most Bibles commonly appear:
* Chapter and verse numbers are removed from the text.
(A chapter and verse range is given at the bottom of each page.)
* Each book’s natural literary breaks are shown instead.
*There are no notes, cross references, or section headings in the text.
* Text is presented in one column rather than two.
* Books that have historically been divided into parts are restored.
* Books are presented in an order that gives readers more help in understanding.

Yes, it’s quite radical. Personally, I wouldn’t buy one as my “only” Bible. I don’t think it would make a very good “study” Bible. But as a supplement to a good “regular” Bible or two it would be great! Am I saying that we should be getting this Bible for our third-graders? No, I think it’s way too early to make that kind of judgment.

The point of this new Bible seems more to be that it’s for people who have a hard time reading the Bible; a hard time getting into it. It’s calculated to bring the Bible alive for people, and it seems to work! And that can’t be bad!