Who else has wanted to have the book of Romans as a LETTER? Why Bible Typography Matters

Or 1/2 Chronicles, or Daniel, as a book?

I know we can fairly easily get ahold of booklet editions of the Gospel of John by itself, and Mark, but I’ve always wanted this for other books and letters. Without all the verse and chapter numbers and notes everywhere. I sometimes very much desire to read passages/books as they would have been read by, if not by those who originally read them (scrolls being rather awkward?) then in a similar literary format. The Exodus as more of a novel, or the Pentateuch even, as a single novel. Maybe it would have chapters, although I would place them differently to how we generally have them in our Bibles. At least, not in the middle of paragraphs?!?

I’d love, and will get around to preparing one day, to have Romans as a letter, take it on the bus, or wherever, with me, and read it, as a letter. Right?

Part of this comes from the literary studies-history-cultural studies nerd in me, part from earnest desire to read and understand scripture well. At the end of the day, though, those former studies, and the pursuit of reading scripture within or aided by those lenses are essentially tandem pursuits.

Take out the verse marks, headings and chapter marks. All of a sudden some of those parables seem very much a commentary on the criticism Jesus leveled at someone a couple of lines earlier. I’m guilty of this, we all are at times, I think, taking a verse out of its context. But more than the oft given example, taking the phrase “wives, submit to your husbands” apart from the admonition to husbands that we are to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” I think we are often guilty of reading passages separated by headings or chapters, out of context of the surrounding headings/chapters/events.

One example is (and I do believe it is an example, not 100% prescriptive, although I would suggest it is instructive) where Jesus is talking to the rich man, then saying to the disciples how very hard it is for the rich to be saved (camels, needles, very painful if possible, right?). Look carefully at the next chapter (it’s on the same page in the Bible I looked at), right after Jesus has said how impossible, except with God for whom nothing is impossible, we see, what? A rich man being saved!

Now one can debate what you and I in our (or just my) riches should do, but the contrast between the rich young ruler who would not part with his riches, and Zacchaeus without prompting righting the wrongs he has committed and giving away half of his wealth to the poor, would be much clearer and more intuitive without the chapter and section heading divisions. Or, one has to confess, without our reading in response to the reading directions that the inclusion of those gaps, chapter divisions and section/heading dividers give us.

All this rambling to get around to introducing a talk a happened upon at Bible Design Blog regarding typography and Bible design and layout:

Why Bible Typography Matters

Now, as referenced in the video, I would love to go out and purchase this beautiful hardbound five volume edition of the Bible in just such a novel/la-letter format. If I could justify the expense.

This particular desire comes from the bibliophile in me, I must confess. Lovely presentation, printing, binding, formatting. Just beautiful all around. Yet it is not only expense keeps me, but the translation. Albeit a very first world problem, I have concerns that the translation will be in language too old fashioned for me ease-of-reading tastes. Literarily beautiful yes, as is Shakespeare, but if I were to lay out that sort of money I could only justify the expense if it is something I would read often and at length. I think we have until the middle of the year to order it, so we shall see…I do have Christmas money to spend.

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