Protestant Christians have much to teach the rest of us about loving and dwelling on God’s word. One striking new expression of this piety comes in the form of designing one’s own Bible. An early examplar of what we can hope will become a much more common practice is Chad Whitacre, whose new Bible is recommended by J. Mark Bertrand of the Bible Design Blog :
As he explains in the preface (which is available at the link above) Chad started with the four gospels from the World English Bible, a revision of the ASV, which is available at ebible.org , then made some Cormac McCarthy-inspired tweaks to the punctuation — removing quotation marks and converting semicolons to commas. Guided by the single column NEB layout, he removed chapter and verse numbers to the margin, but instead of the outer margin he chose the inner one. He also divided the gospels internally into a total of thirty-four sections designed to emulate novel-style chapter breaks, making it easier to divide the readings in a group setting. When in doubt, he referred to Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style , which never disappoints.
To get a flavor for the result, you can follow the link to Chad’s site and download a free PDF of the resulting layout. He has also made it available in two editions printed on demand by Lulu, a softcover and a hardback.
The Bible Design Blog itself is worth checking out. Most of its reviews are, understandably, of Bibles from mainstream publishers. One hopes it will have occasion to review even more Bibles designed by individual believers. For a community that cares about God’s word will lavish time and attention on its design, including on the individual level. It’s something we saw done by monks of the Middle Ages illuminating holy writ.
Today we see the same impulse differently expressed in believers like Chad Whitacre, whose pious practice turns out to not be so new after all. We should perhaps be less surprised than we might tend to be to see contemporary Protestant Christians—-blamed by some for modernity and all its works—-reviving this thoroughly medieval practice.