Thursday, January 19, 2012

Article in Christianity Today about the physical forms of Bibles

David Neff, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, has penned a brief article about the effects the physical forms of Bibles have on readers:
The physical form of the Bible matters because it influences the way Christians use their sacred book. In the countercultural 1960s, for example, publishers shucked the black leather uniform in favor of more contemporary dress. The aim was to reach those who might not otherwise pick up the Scriptures. The American Bible Society's Good News for Modern Man resembled a mass market paperback, and Tyndale House's Reach Out: The Living New Testament looked just plain "groovy."
While it is an informative article about some of the little-known facts of the history of Bible publishing and use -- for example, you might not have known that it was in 1791 that Isaiah Thomas published the first American Bible to contain genealogical pages -- the piece actually has very little to say about what it promises in its title: the effects of physical Bible forms on reading.

What an article like this shows is exactly the importance of work like what is going on with the Iconic Books project and here at Material Scripture. We need a language and a means of analysis that actually can track these effects of physical form when we notice them. Hopefully this article at Christianity Today is not just a flash in the pan, and Neff and others will begin to take an ongoing interest in these questions (and their answers)!

(Thanks to Allyn Harris Dault for sending me the CT article)

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