Thinking Out Loud

May 20, 2019

The Colorization of Your Bible

On the weekend I realized that several articles we’ve done here at Thinking Out Loud and at Christian Book Shop Talk have a common theme: The progressively increasing use of color in Bibles. By this I don’t mean the addition of illustrations, such as is found in Children’s Bibles such as The Picture Bible or The Action Bible,

but rather the use of color in otherwise unedited, full-text editions.

There also isn’t time to talk about Biblezines, such as these three (lower right of photo) produced by The Gideons in Canada, with beautiful photography running through every page. Besides, they aren’t full Bible editions either, but contain selected themed text, with the Gospel of John complete at the back…

I’m sure it began with covers. I can’t imagine that black was always the cover color of choice. Evangelist Bob Harrington used a cherry red Bible which apparently some found offensive. He countered with, “The Bible should be read;” a homonym pun he repeated (and repeated) at successive appearances in the same churches.

Red letter Bibles are not that old. Wikipedia tells us:

The inspiration for rubricating the Dominical words comes from Luke, 22:20: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which I shed for you.” On 19 June 1899, Louis Klopsch, then editor of The Christian Herald magazine, conceived the idea while working on an editorial. Klopsch asked his mentor Rev. Thomas De Witt Talmage what he thought of a testament with the Dominical words rubricated and Dr. Talmage replied, “It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good.”

Klopsch published the first modern red letter edition New Testament later in 1899. The first modern, fully rubricated bible was published in 1901. The rubricated bible instantly became popular, and is sometimes favored by Protestant Christians in the United States. Especially in King James Version editions, this format is useful because quotation marks are absent.

But we want to look at more recent developments.

Even as early as 2010, I noted the following Bibles that were offered for sale by a prominent online Christian retailer, and asked readers to reader decide if we are really so excited about Bible engagement that we needed all these permutations, or if the marketers had gone a little crazy on us (and no, I am not making these up):

  • The Veggie Tales Bible
  • The Soldier’s Bible
  • The Grandmother’s Bible
  • The Duct Tape Bible
  • The Busy Life Bible (“Inspiration even if you have only a minute a day”)
  • The Chunky Bible
  • The God Girl Bible (only in “snow white”)
  • The Wisdom and Grace Bible for Young Women of Color
  • The Waterproof Bible (useful in frequently flooded U.S. states)
  • The Pray for a Cure Bible (in pink)
  • The Divine Health Bible
  • The Wild About Horses Bible
  • The Fire Bible

The cover colors offered were just as varied:

  • Raspberry
  • Melon
  • Razzleberry
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Caramel
  • Espresso
  • Toffee
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Glittery Grape Butterfly
  • Plum
  • Lavender (with flowers!)
  • Black Cherry
  • Distressed Umber (?)
  • Mocha/aqua

and remember this was before the “duo-tone” type of Bibles became more entrenched, ultimately exceeding the traditional “bonded leather” editions in terms of popularity.

In January of 2017, we reported on the trend that developed out of a convergence of adult coloring books and scrap-booking. People were apparently coloring the text pages of their Bibles and not everyone was happy with the results.

Bible Journaling 2

Bible Journaling 1

In 2017, Tyndale Publishing House decided to help some aspiring artists kickstart their personalization projects by creating The Inspire Bible, available now in a half dozen different editions.

The primary market for these is women, so I don’t actually own one. This page sample was captured online, and then I darkened it considerably so you would see the graphic art material which is actually printed in a much lighter tone.

They will disagree, but rival publisher Zondervan has never come with anything quite as striking in terms of color, print process (including the page edges) and overall aesthetics for the NIV. Meanwhile Tyndale is about to issue a girls version of Inspire.

Then last week, I discovered that even Bible tabs had joined the party. You can’t buy the ones pictured at Christian bookstores or major Christian online vendors, but through independent sources.

Of course, not every innovation pleases everyone. Just last week someone reacted to the NRSV Pride Bible which we had noted in a past edition of Wednesday Connect:

This, they felt went too far, though minus its appellation, with its primary colors it would make a nice Bible for kids.

Finally, all this is nothing new; people having been been marking their Bibles according to theme for decades. Perhaps this well-marked copy was the inspiration for the various color-coded Bibles on the market today…

…such as the Rainbow Study Bible, pictured here:

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May 17, 2014

Previously Published As…

Rachel Held Evans Titles

In 2010 and 2011 on my book industry blog, I tried to keep up with all the books that get republished under different titles.  I thought I would be able to keep this up, but there are simply so many of them.  I was reminded of this recently with two different titles.

Tim Keller’s King’s Cross and Jesus the King are the same book. It’s somewhat obvious when you — after the fact — look at the covers, but not so much when you’re ordering out of a catalog or off an online list with no graphics.

And Rachel Held Evans’ Faith Revealed is a re-release of Evolving in Monkey Town with only very minor edits.

So why do publishers do this?  To get more mileage out of a title they feel performed under its potential. But it drives readers and booksellers nuts.  Here’s a look at some of the ones I tracked a few years ago and you are welcome to add others in the comments.

(Ignore the time references)

  • This one will hit hard next month: Karen Kingsbury’s Remember Tuesday Morning is actually a re-issue of Every Now And Then.
  • Donita K. Paul’s only dragon-less title The Vanishing Sculptor resurfaces as The Dragons of Chiril.
  • Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart,  releasing this fall, was previously issued as It Came from Within.
  • Max Lucado’s One Incredible Savior is a new title for One Incredible Moment.
  • Evidence for the Historical Jesus by Bill Wilson and Josh McDowell is a relaunch of He Walked Among Us.
  • Beth Moore’s My Child, My Princess began life as A Parable of the King (missing from our previous list)
  • Another forthcoming one, The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage by Stormie Omartian is a repackaging of Praying Through The Deeper Issues of Marriage.
  • The Revell pocket book, Boys Will Be Joys is the same as the previous Stark Raving Dad. 
  • Another Revell pocket book, Elizabeth Elliott’s Finding Your Way Through Loneliness is a retitling of The Path of Loneliness.
  • Unlocking Your Family Patterns which includes John Townsend among the author list, is actually a remake of Secrets of Your Family Tree.
  • The Man Who Makes a Difference by Jim George is another round for the book God’s Man of Influence.
  • Andy Andrew’s The Heart Mender is another life for Island of Saints.
  • We just found out the ’09 title, Quiet Confidence for a Woman’s Heart by Elizabeth George is the same as Powerful Promises for Every Woman.
  • H. Norman Wright’s homage to cats, Nine Lives To Live is the new title for The Purrfect Companion.
  • Philip Yancey’s The Skeptic’s Guide to Faith is actually a reprint of Rumors of Another World
  • John Ortberg’s Know Doubt is a repackaging of Faith and Doubt
  • Donald Miller’s “newest” Father Fiction is a slightly revised edition of To Own A Dragon
  • John Eldredge’s Fathered by God is really a re-do of The Way of the Wild Heart
  • Dee Henderson’s Kidnapped is a repackage of True Courage
  • Liz Curtis Higgs’ Unveiling Mary Magdalene is the same as the still-requested Mad Mary
  • John and Paul Sandford’s Transforming the Inner Man is a kind of mash up of bits from Transformation of the Inner Man and Healing the Wounded Spirit
  • Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters is the book equivalent of a Greatest Hits album with a ‘tossed salad’ of excerpts from other titles
  • Lynn Austin’s God and Kings originally bore the series title, Chronicles of the King
  • Michelle McKinney Hammond’s How to Be Found by Mr. Right sounds like, but isn’t a sequel to Ending the Search for Mr. Right
  • Andy Andrews’ soon-to-be-released The Heart Mender was first published as Island of Saints
  • John McArthur’s A Simple Christianity was once titled First Love
  • Adrian Plass’ Silver Birches first appeared as Ghosts
  • Joseph Girzone’s Joshua and the Shepherd was formerly simply The Shepherd
  • Cloud and Townsend’s How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding was published as Boundaries: Face to Face in a rather rare example of “un-branding” from a series.

Did we miss any?  Does this happen in the general market to the same degree?  Do you notice how some publishers are more represented here than others? Have you ever been stung with a duplicate copy you were unable to return?

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