This is first and foremost a book review but before I begin to talk about this particular translation of The Bible a little history is necessary.
The Bible as we know it has a long history. The book itself is made up of 66 separate books with a total of 40 authors written over 1500 years. It begins with the first five books of the law which were written by Moses and ends with The Book of Revelations written by the apostle John the disciple Jesus loved. It contains books of history, law, prophesy, wisdom, poetry, and even drama.
The Bible is a book of faith for two separate religions. The Jewish people follow The Old Testament and Christians follow the old and New Testaments. Each book of any modern Bible whether it is being used by Jews or Christians has been broken up into chapters and verses. This was not always so.
First, the books of the Bible were all separate entities. It was at The Council of Hippo held in North Africa in AD 393 that a group of Christian church leaders put together a list of books that they believed were true scripture or the inspired Word of God. A few years later at The Council of Carthage, that list was affirmed.
These books did not have chapters and verses that most of our Bibles have today. The Chapters were added to all the books in 1227 by Stephen Langton Archbishop of Canterbury. The Old Testament verses were added by Rabbi Nathan in 1448. In 1555 Robert Estiene divided The New Testament into verses. The whole book came together in The Geneva Bible published in 1560.
Now you may be scratching your head and asking why all of this information is necessary for a book review? I’ll tell you. First, it’s fun. It’s good to know where things came from. The second reason is, that it gives a foundation for what I find best in this Bible.
The Bibliotheca is according to its publisher “a gently updated edition of the 1901 American Standard Version” of The Bible. It was worked on by some “heavy-hitting” scholars so that the language and meaning are clear. That’s the technical part. Here’s what I like about this Bible.
The Bibliotheca is amazing because it took out all the chapters and verses and reads as a book should read. The language is beautiful and well thought out. My experience of reading it was like meeting an old friend who had lost a lot of weight and you are seeing them again for the first time. All the good parts are still there but they are refreshing and new.
Removing the chapters and verses gives you a feeling of freedom to read as much or as little as you like in one sitting. I found myself gliding through The Sermon on the Mount normally known as Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7 as if it was the most natural thing in the world for there was nothing to tell me to stop. The Sermon in particular was fascinating to read as a whole like I was taking in a breath of fresh air.
The Bibliotheca is not printed in two columns like most Bibles are but as a regular full page. It was easier to read that way. I also cannot believe how much the chapters and verses get in the way. I’m not saying chapters and verses are bad. They have a purpose and help us all to find certain parts of the Bible we like or want to remember. They also help priests, pastors and rabbis prepare their sermons but they don’t as a whole lend to readability which The Bibliotheca certainly does.
I think that the greatest praise I can give this Bible is that it makes me want to read more.