A few years ago a Kickstarter called Bibliotheca made the rounds on social media: the Bible published in a way that is comfortable to read with beautiful craftsmanship, easy to read font, no distracting numbers or subtitles, quality paper in four volumes each about the size of a novel.
I was hooked immediately. There’s something wonderful about reading a book that’s a well crafted object, not only a well crafted narrative. The Bible deserves the best book craftsmanship. Also, a well designed book is conducive to sinking into the text as you read. Most Bibles with their tiny font, see-through pages, and distracting numbers are the opposite of that.
I’ve been using Bibliotheca for my morning Bible reading. Here’s a few tidbits I’ve been learning.
1) I can read a lot more scripture in one sitting than I realized. When I’m not distracted by constant chapter breaks and difficult to read print, I can read much larger portions of the text before I need a mental break. Since I started reading from Bibliotheca regularly, I’ve made quick and easy progress through the Scripture which has been quite enjoyable.
2) The individual portions of Scripture are far more connected than I had realized. I knew each book had it’s own arc and construction. I knew it wasn’t merely a collection of unrelated stories. But the numbers, subtitles, and chapter breaks —while helpful in certain situations — are not supportive of seeing the connectivity of the text. What has been most striking is that reading through the Pentateuch, sometimes it’s hard to guess where the chapter breaks might be since the narrative flows so smoothly. Which of course, contributes to being able to read more scripture in a sitting.
3) Since the rest of the narrative flows smoothly, the elements of the story that stick out truly stick out. I’ve been more aware of the scene changes, the large gaps in time, the stories that feel like an interjection or an aside. They are more jarring and noteworthy. Which leads to…
4) The purposefulness of the text becomes clear. Although I knew it wasn’t written haphazardly, I hadn’t experienced it’s purposefulness as fully until I read Scripture without the (situationally helpful) reference numbers most Bibles have. Even though I wasn’t aware of being aware of the chapter breaks, I was. They were shaping the way I was reading the Bible. Without those distractions, I can focus on the text and read it as I would any well-written book: enjoying it, noticing details and connections, asking questions, and looking for the answers.
5) Finally, there’s so much more to be learned from Scripture than what I know right now. Technically, I already knew this. But reading out of Bibliotheca has helped me to experience it anew. The different reading experience is like getting your glasses prescription updated. You didn’t know your vision was growing fuzzy until it suddenly becomes clear.
I still use my study Bible and a basic thinline edition that’s handy for church, but reading from Bibliotheca has given me new perspective and profitable perspective on Scripture. If you have not had the pleasure of reading the Bible without the chapter and verse numbers or any headings, I would encourage you to try it. There are several options available: