“Why is it that people love stories so much and yet they view reading the biblical literature as a chore?”
This is the question Adam Greene raises in his Kickstarter video for Bibliotheca. The same question that prompted this graphic artist and book designer to do something about it.
If you haven’t already heard: Bibliotheca is a project to print the Bible in a reader-friendly design, get-lost-in-the-story sort of way; free of chapter and verse numbers and separated into four novel-sized volumes to make it easier to hold and carry with you.
I didn’t stumble upon Bibliotheca until there were only 45 minutes left to the campaign. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s an “all or nothing” fundraising tool. Adam had to raise pledges for $37,000 (his full project goal amount) within a month, or pledgers’ credit cards would not be charged and he would get no funding for Bibliotheca.
Within just 27 hours, Adam reached his fundraising goal. One month later, when the Kickstarter campaign ended, he had raised $1.4 million. Clearly, this is a project people are excited about!
I believe this project is a bold and valiant move to preserve our culture. And by “our,” I don’t mean strictly Christian. Designing the Bible less for reference or devotionals or exegesis, and putting it in a format that is culturally relevant makes it more accessible and desirable to all readers, Christian or no. And by “culturally relevant,” I mean comparable to popular novels today.
Stories stay with us. We have used them as vehicles for information across generations and centuries. Through stories, our ancestors communicate nuggets of morality, survival techniques, cultural norms, cautions. The Bible is full of these nuggets, but so are Disney films and Harry Potter. The difference is that the format used to present Disney and Harry Potter stories are easier to digest.
“Book design is something that we don’t often think about. The book is actually doing work to eliminate distractions for the reader, and its doing its best to present the content in a way that is beautiful, inviting, and makes the story the center of the reader’s experience,” says Greene.
I think there is a time and place for study Bibles and cross-reference verse numbers, but now is the time for Bibliotheca.
The average age of church congregants is growing older. With Facebook and Twitter and texting and Skype, we spend more time connecting with people online than in buildings.
Let’s face it, driving to a building to spend an hour or two in a pew once a week to listen to one person’s interpretation of the same book is becoming less appealing to many young people. I realize this description may sound dire or extreme, and most certainly is a generalization, but it is a current perspective of the church.
The church still serves as a place of worship and fellowship, but literacy rates in even just the past century have increased to the point where a learned scholar is no longer seen as necessary to read and explain Scripture to the masses.
The function and future of the church is shifting. And Bibliotheca may prove to help Christianity survive this shift.
I imagine Bibliotheca will get just as much hype or more than when The Message Bible was first published. Can we really call this The Bible? How accurate is the translation? Greene addresses these questions clearly and head on in his Kickstarter video. And fortunately, for Bibliotheca, The Message did pave the way and more people are probably open to a different presentation of the Bible than before.
So what is the difference between The Message and Bibliotheca? Afterall, both are attempting to make the Bible more digestible. Translation and appearance are key differences, from what I can tell. Bibliotheca is using the American Standard translation. I encourage you to watch the video to learn about other differences.
There is room on the shelf for multiple translations. Many Christians are comfortable with having a study Bible in addition to a compact reference Bible by their night stand. For those Christians, this is simply another version worth having in your arsenal.
A hearty thanks and congratulations to Adam Greene. I am so looking forward to delving in to the Bible with Bibliotheca as I would a good book.
Currently, Adam Greene only plans to print one run of Bibliotheca, meaning there will be limited copies available and they must be pre-ordered. But after such a huge vote of support through the Kickstarter campaign, I imagine a large publisher will contact Adam about printing more copies in the future (if they haven’t already).
To pre-order your Bibliotheca (if still available) or to learn more about this project, click here.