Thinking Out Loud

October 7, 2017

Bible Verse Numbers: Blessing or Curse?

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1From Paul, a blogger at Thinking Out Loud, to the church online;
2Greetings and welcome to today’s topic.

3Can you imagine if I were to write a book and give a number to every one or two sentences?
4It would break up the reading for sure,
5And people would consider it somewhat pompous.
6While it might be helpful in an historical account, it would surely break up the flow in a romance story or a parable.
7And poetry would be rather awkward.

8Yet this is what happens when we read the Bible.
9Because we have such easy, pinpoint access to particular phrases, we are able to focus on those.
10And we often miss the context in which they are being said,
11Or worse, we over emphasize them to the exclusion of other truths.

12So one reader believes he “can do all things,” but can he fly an airplane?
13Another believes God has “plans to prosper” him, but what if he doesn’t see material blessing?
14Yet one more thinks that the parenting she has done assures her children “will not depart from it,” but is that an automatic guarantee or just a statement of principle?

15Churches teach that “all these things shall be added unto you,” but the context is the basic necessities of life, not everything we desire.
16Or that, “all things work together for good,” which is simply a bad translation of the verb.
17Or that, “not allow you to be tempted beyond that which you are able,” means that God will never give you more than you can handle.

18God is good, and God can be trusted, but if we are to take him at his word, we need to read it properly and in full context.
19Sometimes the verse numbers mitigate against that.
20So we need to be more careful, and more studious in our reading.
21And perhaps we need to be more aware and more embracing of those recent publications which present the Bible as a single story,
22And those translations which relegate the verse numbers to a place of lesser prominence.

23The grace of our Lord be with you all; Amen.

July 14, 2011

Zondervan Reissues The Story in NIV 2011 Edition

Although it wasn’t part of the standard list of books available for reviewers, I begged Zondervan for a copy of The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People .   I have a weakness for anything that tries to make the Biblical narrative more flowing, anything which harmonizes the gospels and the Old Testament history books, and anything that does all this in somewhat modern language.

If you have a friend, relative, neighbor, co-worker, etc., who you’ve thought about giving a Bible to, but hesitated, this could be the type of product you’re looking for.  You need to visit an actual Christian bookstore and browse through a copy before deciding.  A concluding page ask the reader, ‘How are you going to respond…?’

This is not exactly a new title, but a reissue of something that already existed in a TNIV edition.  There were 32 chapters there, but only 31 in this new edition, plus they’ve added a children’s edition, The Story for Kids: Discover the Bible from Beginning to End, a teen edition, a number of DVD curriculum-related products, and… well, let’s just list them, it’s easier:

  • The Story adult edition
  • The Story DVD curriculum
  • The Story Church Campaign Kit
  • The Story DVD participant’s guide
  • Exploring The Story – reference companion
  • The Story adult edition in duotone leather
  • The Story for Kids
  • The Story for Kids elementary curriculum DVD-ROM
  • The Story for Kids preschool curriculum DVD-ROM
  • The Story Teen Edition
  • The Story Teen curriculum DVD
  • The Story Spanish edition
  • The Story for Children
  • The Story for Children Storybook edition
  • The Story – Going Deeper

…I think you get the idea.  Everything is a brand these days. 

So is The Story a book or a Bible?  It’s definitely a hybrid.  I would say probably it is more of book in the sense of similar things Walter Wangerin has done, but more of a Bible in the sense that the majority of the content is indeed Bible text.  But not a “take to church or study group” Bible.

The transitional sections in italics are an interesting mix of narrative and commentary.  They have been retained exactly as they were in the TNIV edition, but are in many respects, a most helpful way of bringing the story to life.  Where they appear, they tend to energize the narrative.

Added to the new edition is an introduction by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee.  And that’s all it is, a 3-paragraph introduction that it apparently took two men to write.  Worse, they didn’t bother paraphrasing it for the children’s edition.  Kinda sad to see these authors names exploited in this way.

However, having gotten that observation out of the way, the paperback children’s edition is a refreshingly original product in a market where chronological Bible story books in hardcover — which is available — tend to be the norm.    If there’s a young reader in the family, this paperback chapter book format, mostly devoid of pictures, might be ideal, and at its 9.99 US price, I can see kids ministry leaders purchasing this in bulk. 

As I stated at the outset, I like this sort of product.  Chapter and verse numbers, as well as trying to parallel things in Samuel to things in Chronicles can be confusing to people not already Bible literate, and our goal should be to try to make things easier, not more difficult for people who want to more about what we believe, and more about the Christ story.  But despite the number of variants of this item out there, the challenge continues to be making a greater number of people aware it exists. website link

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