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Features of The Books of the Bible

For The Books of the Bible, we set out to eliminate as many distractions to reading as possible. But we didn’t just take stuff out. We restored what we believe is a more authentic presentation of the biblical text, so you can read and experience each book the way the author intended.

No more added formatting

The Books of the Bible removes anything that might interrupt your reading or make the Bible feel more like a reference book than a story you can lose yourself in. That means…

  • No more chapter and verse numbers dividing the text as they do in traditional Bibles—often at arbitrary points
  • No more section headings, study notes, footnotes, or cross references to interrupt your reading
  • No more red letter elevating certain words in a way the original authors never intended

None of these features are original to the Bible. Some are useful for certain kinds of study—or for finding things quickly—but not for a rich, meaningful reading experience. Look inside The Books of the Bible

Natural section breaks

Biblical books have an inherent structure to them. The Books of the Bible presents this natural structure in a way that traditional chapter-and-verse Bibles can’t. For example:

  • Genesis is divided into twelve parts by a series of “accounts,” each highlighting a different character in the story.
  • Jonah is presented as a drama with two acts, consisting of two scenes each.
  • Ezekiel consists of three groups of prophetic oracles, depicting judgment on Israel, judgment on the nations, and then the restoration of Israel.
  • Matthew is organized around five speeches given by Jesus.
  • Acts tells the six-part story of how Jesus’ followers spread outward from Jerusalem.

Chapter and verse numbers often obscure the natural literary divisions of Scripture. Instead, we use line spacing to show sections of various sizes. Small sections are marked off by a single blank line. The biggest breaks are indicated by four lines of space, as well as a large initial capital letter at the start of a major new section.

New book order

The traditional book order wasn’t settled until the Bible was bound into a single volume a few centuries ago. And the one we have today isn’t always the best for taking in the whole story of the Bible.

  • Why read Paul’s letters from longest to shortest? That’s how they appear in most Bibles today. The Books of the Bible presents Paul’s letters in the order they were most likely written.
  • Why read John in between Luke and Acts when they were two volumes of a single work? The Books of the Bible presents Luke and Acts together, so you can experience Luke’s whole story about Jesus and the movement he started.
  • In some cases, whole books were divided at arbitrary points. Samuel-Kings, originally one book, came to be divided into four parts so it could be accomodated on ancient scrolls. The Books of the Bible reunites books that were separated over the centuries.

The end result is an arrangement of books that helps you understand more of the story.

Invitations to each book

Book introductions in your average study Bible are generally about who wrote what, when, and where. That’s useful information, to be sure. But we don’t just want to introduce you to each book of the Bible. We invite you into each book.

The invitations in The Books of the Bible do three things:

  • Tell you the “story behind the story,” placing each book in its historical setting and, crucially, in the larger biblical narrative.
  • Tell you what kind of book this is. Every literature student knows the rules for reading poetry differ from the rules for reading narrative. We introduce you to the literary forms of the Bible so you can read with understanding and enjoyment.
  • Show you how the book is arranged. We show you the natural structure of each book—not a theological outline artificially imposed on the book’s content—so you can experience the text as the author wanted you to.

These invitations unlock the context for each book, setting the stage for a more in-depth reading experience. They’ll prepare you to read and absorb books in their entirety. Download a sample

Single-column format

Two-column format is generally used for reference books—dictionaries, instruction manuals, encyclopedias—not for literary works of art. If you’re going to get swept up in the story of the Bible, then it should feel like reading a book. That’s why we present the text in a single column—for a clean, simple, elegant reading experience.

New International Version (NIV) text

Translation matters. In their original form, the books of Scripture captured what God wanted to say in the language and idiom of everyday people. That’s what the New International Version (NIV) does in contemporary English. This is a translation that was made to be read.

One of the most painstaking translations ever produced—and with almost five decades of ongoing scholarship standing behind it—the NIV strikes a careful balance between accuracy, literary beauty, and readability.

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