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The Books of the Bible

Open up a Bible. What do you see? A story you can get lost in? Or the spiritual equivalent of an encyclopedia? Most Bibles today contain a dizzying array of features—reference notes, red lettering, and numbers everywhere. Is it any wonder so many of us struggle to read—much less enjoy—the Bible?

At its core, the Bible is a story. It’s not a collection of chapters and verses—those were added later. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read the Bible as it was meant to be read? What if we could read Paul’s letters as letters—as actual pieces of correspondence? What if we were caught up in the narrative drama of the gospels? What if our imaginations were captured by the poetry of the Old Testament?

What if we could read and savor the Bible the way we were always meant to?
We all know what makes for a compelling story. A truly great book is something you can read for hours on end—without even realizing how much time has passed. But let’s face it: for most of us, that’s not what reading the Bible feels like. It feels more like a reference manual. Which makes reading more difficult.

After all, no one ever lost track of time reading an encyclopedia.

Form matters

Publishers have been giving the Bible a facelift for more than 500 years. Verse numbers appeared in 1551. Study notes followed soon after. Red lettering arrived at the dawn of the twentieth century. It didn’t stop there, either. The digital age has brought new ways to fragment Scripture, making it harder and harder to read the Bible at length.

These additions were well intentioned. Many have useful purposes, like helping us find things quickly in the Bible. But what we did we lose in the process? The holy art of reading without distraction—of savoring and maybe even enjoying the Bible.

In 2003, a small team called the Bible Design Group set out to rediscover the Bible without its modern alternations. We spent the years looking at how modern Bibles are formatted. We immersed ourselves in the original literary forms and structures of the Bible. And we asked: how we can best present these in a modern edition? The answer was The Books of the Bible.

First published in 2007 and again in 2011, The Books of the Bible is a fresh yet ancient presentation of Scripture. It strips away centuries of added formatting so you can read and enjoy the Bible. No more chapter and verse numbers. No more study notes. No more cross references or footnotes. No more red letters.

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest.

The Books of the Bible sweeps away many of the pious additions that can obscure the ancient text of Scripture, revealing connections that readers have all too often missed.Andy Crouch, Christianity Today

Form matters. When you experience God’s Word in a presentation that honors the original literary form, it can transform the way you read.
This is a Bible for those who want to get lost in the story.

It’s not just what was taken out…

The Books of the Bible eliminates as many distractions as possible. But we didn’t just take stuff out. We restored what we believe is a more authentic presentation of the text, so you can experience each book the way its authors wanted you to.

  • Natural section breaks
Biblical books have an inherent structure—whether it’s the “accounts” of Genesis that divide the book into 12 natural parts or the way Matthew is organized around five speeches given by Jesus. We show the contours of each book in a way that traditional chapter-and-verse Bibles can’t. More
  • New book order
Book order wasn’t a big deal until the Bible began to be published as a single volume, about five centuries ago. The problem is, the traditional arrangement makes it difficult to follow the story. The Books of the Bible arranges individual books in an order that helps you see the unfolding drama more easily. More
  • Invitations to each book
The book introductions in most study Bibles concentrate on basic Bible trivia—who wrote what and when. Useful information, no doubt. But we think there’s more to biblical context than knowing a few facts and figures. We crafted introductions that prepare you for a more in-depth reading experience. These “invitations” tell the story behind the story, unlocking the context of the book you’re about to read.More
  • Single-column format
How many novels or literary works of art are presented in two columns? Answer: not many. Book design should provide for a clean, simple, elegant reading experience. And that’s exactly what The Books of the Bible offers. More
  • New International Version (NIV) text
Translation matters. The New International Version (NIV) was created to help you read. Its goal is to deliver the same Bible reading experience today that the first recipients of Scripture would have had in their native languages. The NIV strikes a careful balance between accuracy, literary beauty, and readability. More

A Bible unlike any other

The Books of the Bible was carefully designed to bring you closer to the original text of Scripture—so you can get lost in its pages and find your place in God’s story. Discover the holy art of reading—and enjoying—the Bible again.

There is no Bible more suited for reading — from beginning to end.
This “new” approach is actually the original approach, and I love it.Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed
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