Monday, June 25, 2007

The Books of the Bible

The International Bible Society have announced a new type of English Bible (TNIV) with some (claimed) unique features: The Books of the Bible (HT: BBB)

  • chapter and verse numbers are removed from the text (a chapter-and-verse range is at the bottom of each page)
  • individual books are presented with the literary divisions that their authors have indicated
  • footnotes, section headings and other supplementary materials have been removed from the text (translators’ notes are available at the back of each book)
  • the books of the Bible have been placed in an order that provides more help in understanding, based on literary genre, historical circumstance and theological tradition
  • single books that later translations or tradition divided into two or more books are made whole again (example: Luke-Acts)
  • single-column setting that clearly and naturally presents the literary forms of the Bible’s books

The controlling idea is claimed to be that this reflects the original way in which the texts would have been received.

Here is the order of the books in the BoB: BoB Book Order

Up-date: twelve good reasons for not including chapter and verse divisions in the Bible. Worth pondering.

4 Comments:

P J Williams said...

I'm all in favour of Bibles that restrict modern arbitrary intrusion on the text. However, this attempt seems methodologically mixed.

If it's really following genre then it is striking that Kings and Chronicles are placed so far apart. The splitting up of the Gospels is also odd. In the OT it follows the tripartite division (thus allowing tradition to play a part in its categorization, having elsewhere denied its role - how on earth do they decide which traditions are worth following when the order is generally so untraditional?). The order is based on genre (a bit), chronology (a bit), similarity of theme (a bit), historical precedent (a bit).

Of course, allowing verse numbers to be less prominent is good. The basic problem is that the enterprise appears text-critically weak: we are not being presented here with the most ancient textual divisions (kephalaia, paragraphs), the sort of thing studied by the Pericope group. Nor are we generally being presented with collections of books in their most ancient order.

There is still, therefore, work to be done to produce English Bibles that conform more to ancient patterns.

Peter M. Head said...

PJW said: "The splitting up of the Gospels is also odd."

It looks like they are working with a four-fold gospel = four-fold mission idea (presumably via Ellis; cf. Gal 2.9). Thus the four-fold gospel becomes the major organising principle for the whole NT.

Alan Knox said...

For those who are interested, Chris Smith, who claims to be "a member of the team that helped the International Bible Society develop The Books of the Bible", left an extended explanation of the new book ordering in this comment on my blog.

-Alan

Peter M. Head said...

Thanks Alan,

That is helpful.

Also the cheap offer looks worth taking advantage of.

Peter