the american bible society have produced the new testament as a glossy magazine bible illuminated: the book and it is a really impressive piece of art work. there's a lot of text for a magazine (it is the bible!) but the magazine is filled with wonderful photographs and quotes. it surprised me just how different it felt in a different format. the medium is the massage and all that...
i can imagine it on the magazine shelf at the tate modern. it looks that good and the art is contemporary and not 'religious' if you know what i mean.
i have left it lying on the kitchen table and read galatians this morning as if it were a feature in a magazine whilst drinking coffee.
being a magazine it's much more likely you feel you can dive in and read any article - i.e. you don't feel you need a great plan to tackle it.
similarly it doesn't feel like you need to get too holy with it - i.e. set aside a time and place to have a spiritual time - just tuck it in your bag and read it on the tube...
i'd read it on the tube.
i wondered if i would recycle it after it's been round a couple of months? i.e. it's in a more temporary format. i quite like that. it downplays its heaviness somewhat.
joel and harry liked it - it looks great, not embarrassing.
it would be a much better thing to give out in schools than the gideons new testaments (though more expensive!) or as a confirmation present or whatever...
the version is the good news - easy to read.
they are working on the old testament. i fear that will just feel too big! but it will be interesting to see. it's expensive - $35 which is the only down side. but hopefully the bible society will come up with creative ways for it to be used that won't cost people that much.
you can download a sample chapter here
Looks good. Just ordered a copy from amazon. It's quite expensive so I am hoping for big things on the artwork and photography used. The site looks really good. Love the picture for revelation!
Posted by: Robb | February 03, 2009 at 10:01 AM
Nice... but a shame they didn't have the courage to relate the pictures to the text more directly.
Posted by: Jim | February 03, 2009 at 10:21 AM
i got a copy also. nice. i must blog it soon.
Posted by: andrew | February 03, 2009 at 10:27 AM
magazines are a tricky medium. you're either a very popular thin paper production (mostly women's mags or weekend newspaper mags) or you're catering to a niche audience and cost more than a paperback book to buy. posh mags can cost more than a good hardback book as does this one.
but if the medium is the massage/message what is this saying - that the bible is exclusively for those who can afford it? would a more appropriate message be lower production values but mass coverage?
then what would that say - that the gospel is cheap and disposable?
the idea is sound - we did something similar with work by homeless young women once. we knew people didn't want to read reports so we turned the content into a lifestyle magazine. hopefully the irony wasn't lost on the people whose desks it landed on. medium is everything, for that crucial first 30 seconds anyway.
this looks great, but don't you wish they'd rewritten the whole thing like an issue of 'chat' magazine? hmm, i feel a personal project coming on...
Posted by: electric angel | February 03, 2009 at 10:36 AM
nice thoughts adrian. at yfc in bath we did a newspaper tabloid of a gospel interspersed with stroie of people locally which was fun...
Posted by: jonny | February 03, 2009 at 11:11 AM
We did the glossy magazine Bible thing in South Africa a few years ago already... didn't really ever become popular though as far as I know...
Posted by: Cobus | February 03, 2009 at 03:32 PM
I have to say, I really don't like this. There's something that just doesn't sit right with me. Their web-blurb: 'the book looks and feels more like a fashion magazine than a bible.'
I don't want that. Or, perhaps more accurately, I don't want someone aiming at that. Aim at high-quality design, yes... but it seems the target is wrong. We don't want people reading the bible like it's a fashion magazine do we?
Posted by: Kester | February 03, 2009 at 04:52 PM
Posted by: jonny | February 03, 2009 at 05:28 PM
What has most influence on people in the modern world? Fashion mag or bible?
Surely the aim is for the message to reach people. If that means making it accessible through that which is around us surely that is a good thing. It is after all what Paul did when he said "You worship this unknown god, let me tell you about the God you can know..."
Posted by: Robb | February 03, 2009 at 05:54 PM
Because, as you say, the medium is the message. As you say, it appears more disposable. Sure, people may want that, but I'm not sure we should be giving it to them.
Posted by: Kester | February 03, 2009 at 06:18 PM
Looks interesting. A good and helpful post. Thanks
Posted by: David Cooke | February 03, 2009 at 06:30 PM
so let's put it in a big fat book that looks like only literary types will read it? great idea ;-)
Posted by: jonny | February 03, 2009 at 06:37 PM
Adrian, sort of like 'Chat' like this?
"I Drove a Tent Peg through my Husband's Head!"
"Called from a grave: before and after pictures."
"Faith, Hope or Charity? Are you an X-Factor Scratchcard Lottery Winner?"
"Swaddling clothes suffocated my chihuahua!"
(I made the last one up...)
Posted by: Steve Lancaster | February 03, 2009 at 07:16 PM
Yeah - with a lock and key on it too. In Latin!
Obviously not. I think what I don't like is the implication that it's disposable. For $35 a pop you could make a piece that people would want to treasure, and not market it as a fashion mag. Fashion mags exist purely on the image, on the surface. And I don't think much of the text of the bible works on that level. It's not a simple manuscript. It needs reading carefully. On a surface reading I think it simply will be cast off by most people as sexist, brutal, etc. Sure there are some accessible parts like the beatitudes and the parables, but a lot of it is difficult.
Same principle with any classic literature: you can dress it up, but that doesn't make the text necessarily accessible.
Posted by: Kester Brewin | February 03, 2009 at 10:26 PM
I wonder if the constant urge to repackage might be missing the point. Most of the research that I have come across about Bible reading amongst young people suggests that the most influential factor in successful Bible Engagement is the presence of authentic long term relationships. The Bible comes alive in the dynamic environment of trusting and honest community connections (families, friendships, faith communities etc.). Dressing the Bible up and hoping that will attract significant numbers of new readers seems optimistic to me.
Posted by: Marty | February 04, 2009 at 03:50 AM
So, following on from Marty, we might ask "What does the fact that people, on some level, see relationships in terms of the stories in fashion mags and (in terms of sales) their more popular trashier cousins, Chat and the like, tell us about where the likely points of contact between them and the Biblical stories will be?"
Or to phrase it another way: "Is there any aspect of the biblical stories that has been included to stimulate or titillate? What about the miracles? What about shocking poetical images from both testaments?"
Or another way: "Is there any sense in which Chat and the fashion mags can be reappropriated as sacred texts, through the same careful reading that Kester rightly applies to classic scripture?"
Reading text is a great technology, which works because of the plasticity of our brains ("Proust and the Squid" is a good book about this). It is not hard-wired in. But reading in the wider sense of ascribing meaning to the world is surely the true mark of our humanity. Paul touches on it when he writes about God revealed in nature from the beginning of time. Our gospel has to speak to that mark, not necessarily to a particular form or standard of literacy or cultural sophistication. Maybe by reminding ourselves of this from time to time we can transcend the link between church and middle-class sensibilities?
Posted by: Steve Lancaster | February 04, 2009 at 09:46 AM
I'm not a buyer of fashion mags, or any mags for that matter, but my husband buys the occassional one that costs a bit more, and they get kept not disposed of. This seems to be true of my other mates who buy trend/interest/design/arty mags, so making something into a magazine is not necessarily making it disposable, if it's the right kind of magazine.
Posted by: kate c | February 04, 2009 at 12:50 PM
If i was giving a bible as a gift because someone wanted a bible then this would not be it. However, if i was going to have a bible out for some one to pick and flick through at my house or community centre this would be it. It has it's place, it is not a study bible but it is a bible.
Posted by: Will Taylor | February 04, 2009 at 01:03 PM
All of the above may be true or not. It's just the nasty marketing of this that gets me. Feels wrong.
Posted by: Kester Brewin | February 04, 2009 at 07:01 PM
steve - yes i do. the bible has great stories like that in it. there's a solid christian tradition of telling stories in order to reveal deeper truths.
Posted by: adrian | February 09, 2009 at 11:19 AM
Adrian - then I second Jonny and think you should go for the personal project!
Posted by: Steve Lancaster | February 09, 2009 at 04:10 PM
Mine arrived yesterday. Very impressed. Exactly the sort of thing I can leave lying around my office and have people pick up and brows whilst I am making them a cup of tea!
Posted by: Robb | February 25, 2009 at 02:09 PM