Why you should buy a Reader’s Bible right now
Why would you want a Bible with no verse numbers? Oh, and it also has no headings. No annotations. No notes. No references. No columns. No extras. Why would anyone want such a bible?
Here’s one reason: it will forever change the way you read God’s word.
My guess, if you’re reading this blog, is you probably want the kind of Bible that changes the way you read the Bible. If so, check out the ESV Reader’s Bible.
Most Bibles are formatted for searching and study, not for reading
Most Bibles that you’ll pick up at the store are formatted in such a way to make it easy to find the place you need to be. They are packed full of verse numbers, cross-references, topical headings to inform you what the section you’re reading is “about,” and a handful of footnotes to help address translation or textual issues. Many also include a concordance, book introductions, study notes, maps, diagrams, and more. The more stuff the better right?
Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to find an elusive verse, or trying to keep up with the discussion in a group Bible study, or following the logic of a sermon that is jumping from passage to passage, you probably want verse numbers and cross-references. If you want to dive more deeply into a sentence of phrase, or get answers to questions about this or that verse or book, then you’ll want the notes and helpful diagrams a study Bible provides.
But if you want to read—just read—then you are looking for immersion. All of these extra things ruin immersion. They’re like someone blowing gum behind you at the movies, or a phone beeping at you while your deep in a good book, or a parade of motorcycles blaring their way down Fayette on a peaceful Sunday morning. They’re distractions.
A Reader’s Bible encourages you to read the way writers write
All of those extras are helpful, don’t get me wrong, but they encourage you (often without you even noticing it) to read the Bible in tiny chunks. They force you to read verse by verse or even phrase by phrase.
That’s not how you read other books. That’s not how you read the latest mystery thriller, or classic fiction, or poetry, or a biopic, or a theological treatise, or a blog post. When was the last time you read something with numbered lines?
You don’t read other books verse-by-verse or line-by-line. You read them thought-by-thought. Why? Because that’s how writers write. Writer’s don’t (usually) expect you to pick apart their sentences and break them up into little bits. They pick their words carefully, of course, and they structure their work thoughtfully, but they do so in order to encourage their readers to keep reading. They don’t want their readers to stop and puzzle over this or that phrase. They want you to be surprised, sure, but not so surprised that you stop, so a good writer will write in such a way that you are constantly learning something new, but also constantly moving forward.
Reference and Study Bibles are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. They are a useful resource for study, to be sure, but they are not as useful for processing the Scriptures as their original authors meant them to be read and appropriated. Different tools are useful for different tasks. A knife is great for cutting vegetables, but it makes a terrible (and dangerous) pastry scraper, despite the fact that both might have similar shapes and made of similar materials.
The ESV Reader’s Bible is a great tool for reading. It’s formatted, beginning to end, to look like a “normal” book. Of course it’s not a normal book—it’s the word of God—and yet it’s precisely for that reason that we should be all the more desirous to strive for immersive reading.
We have a couple of copies available at the book table at Christ the King PCA in Conshohocken. Check them out!