What is the Bible? How are we meant to read it? How does the presentation—the way it’s formatted—affect our ability to read it well? In 2003, Biblica commissioned a team of full-time staff and outside advisors to wrestle with these questions—and produce a new visual presentation of the Bible.
The Bible Design Group consisted of experts in biblical studies, design, typesetting, and pastoral ministry. We felt that any new presentation of Scripture should be rooted in a deep commitment to the Bible as a fully divine, fully human book. It should be beautiful. And it should be useful for reading and living the Bible well.
In addition, we sought input from dozens of scholars, translators, ministry leaders, people who’d read the Bible their whole lives, and those who were reading it for the first time. After four years of study and development, the Bible Design Group unveiled the first edition of The Books of the Bible.
Since 2010, The Books of the Bible has been the centerpiece of a groundbreaking new reading campaign called Community Bible Experience, in which churches read the entire New Testament in 8 weeks and participants from all spiritual backgrounds gather for informal, book-club style conversations about the Bible.
Today, The Books of the Bible has helped more than half a million people read and savor the Bible. Out of those early efforts from the Bible Design Group grew an even bigger initiative: the Biblica Institute for Bible Reading. One of the Institute’s main tasks is to confront the growing crisis of Bible engagement—by changing the way people experience God’s Word.
Bible Design Group members
Glenn has more than 25 years of experience publishing the Bible. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary. Glenn joined Biblica (then the International Bible Society) in 1988 and became an early leader in the quest for a more readable, more authentic presentation of the Scriptures. Today, Glenn is the VP of Publishing for Biblica and author of the forthcoming book Save the Bible (IVP, 2015).
Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith
Chris Smith is an author and biblical scholar specializing in the natural literary structures of the Bible. He also has more than 20 years of pastoral experience and has served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He holds degrees from Harvard, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Boston College. In addition to his blog about the Bible, Chris is the author of After Chapters and Verses, and his academic papers have been published in Novum Testamentum, New Testament Studies, and the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Chris was consulting editor for The Books of the Bible.
John R. Kohlenberger III
John is perhaps the most experienced Bible designer and typesetter today. In addition, he’s written or co-edited more than three dozen biblical reference books, including the NIV Exhaustive Concordance and the NIV Bible Commentary. With degrees in both Hebrew and Greek, John has served as adjunct instructor at Western Seminary and Multnomah Bible College.
Dr. Gene Rubingh
Gene Rubingh spent 13 years as vice president for translation at Biblica (then International Bible Society), during which time he coordinated the work of 70 Bible translation teams around the world. Gene was responsible for training these teams in translation methodology, cross-cultural communication, and biblical interpretation. He earned theological degrees from Calvin College and the Free University of Amersterdam, and later returned to teach at Calvin Seminary. Driven by a passion to share the gospel with those who’ve never heard it before, Gene and his family spent a decade serving among the Tiv people of Nigeria, starting in 1958.
In addition, several current and former Biblica staff members served on the Bible Design Group, including Lisa Beth Anderson, Paul Berry, John Dunham, Kate Hoyman, Sarah Hulsey, Jim Rottenborn, and Micah Wierenga.