January’s thick LJ includes Graham Christian’s "Spiritual Living" column, as I mentioned in my last blog. I’ll follow up here with a bit more on two of the new Bible editions that Graham reviewed there. Basically, these two new Bibles re-package available translations to attract new readers – whether to attract those readers in the interest of encouraging study of the Bible or in the interest of selling product is up to you to decide.
The one on the right, Bible Illuminated: The Book; New Testament is the Good News Translation ("thought for thought" rather than "word for word") of the NT, all done up in glossy magazine format with large historical and contemporary news photographs whose relation to the neon yellow highlighted text is not always obvious. It was a big hit in its original Swedish version (it’s produced by Swedish advertising/design professionals). Sweden is one of the least religiously engaged countries in the world. Does that mean that a country that professes significantly more Christian engagement will buy into this provocative iteration of the Book, will gain some new sense of global obligation from this Bible’s juxtaposition of Word and image? Let me know what you think.
The Green Bible, below, printed on recylcled paper with soy-based inks and with green lettering of those parts of the Bible that seem to encourage a love and concern for the Earth, is also attracting press with some Evangelical Christians concerned. This Bible comes from a major publisher, Harper, and its stated intention is to encourage commitment to environmental concerns among Christians. It’s the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. It offers front matter from Wendell Berry, Desmond Tutu and St. Francis of Assisi, among others.
Since my previous blog referred to the exclusionary message of President-elect Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration, I guess here I should mention Obama’s recent invitation to the Rt. Revd. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, to give the invocation at the pre-inaugural celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial that are getting underway as I write this. I don’t really think it takes the sting out of Rick Warren’s presence at the inauguration, but at least it’s a gesture of inclusiveness.
Obama’s cememonial choices are of course a kind of packaging, that is, a matter of attracting more people to buy into a product. But of course there’s a difference. This product is still in the design phase, with a lot of work needed by us all to bring it toward completion, knowing that it will forever require modifications and adjustment. No matter what Bible Obama takes the oath of office on, surveys show we are optimistic about this product’s roll-out, even knowing that we are not mere consumers, but also participants in its design, development, and ultimate success.