Redesigning the Bible: The Bibliotheca Project

A new project, funded through Kickstarter, is re-imagining the way the Bible is presented and read. Bibliotheca, created by graphic artist Adam Lewis Greene, has set out to redesign the Bible into four volumes specifically crafted for a  more traditional literary experience that is also aesthetically appealing.

Greene began with a simple question:
     “Why is it that people love stories so much, and yet they view reading biblical literature as a chore?”
On the Kickstarter page, Greene suggests the “encyclopedic nature” of our current Bibles propagates the myth that the Bible is dry or boring. Elements such as the chapter and verse numbers, the thin pages, and the density of text on each page prevent a “rich reading experience” of what was originally a literary work of art. Plus, until the Middle Ages the entire expanse of the biblical books were only available in separate volumes, not crammed into one compact version like the ones we use today.

Thanks to his background in graphics and book design, Greene understands the impact a book’s shape, print, and cover can have on the reading experience. Greene approached the project with the mindset of how the Bible used to be made: by hand, with great detail, and as a holy act of artistry.

Greene demonstrates his meticulous attitude towards the project in his choices about using the ASV translation and even creating a special font for the project. Another unique feature is that Greene based the proportions of the book and pages on the original dimensions for the Ark of the Covenant. (For those of you interested in his artistic choices Bible Design Blog featured a two-part interview with Greene.)
The four-volume set artistically designed and bound. Courtesy of
The four-volume set artistically designed and bound. Courtesy of
Besides those of us who are picky about translation and font, other potential criticisms await. There are Christians who are hesitant to call the Bible a “literary work.” The fear is that people will relate literature with fiction, and they don’t want the Bible to be considered fictional in any way. Along those lines, some people might disapprove of reframing the Bible in a standard book format. Hesitation to altering the Bible’s format also remains due to the sacred quality of the text.
Even so, in past years the Bible has been printed in a magazine format aimed to attract teenagers, in an illuminated magazine format, and as the “Brick Testament” illustrated entirely with Legos. Most recently, Zondervan published The Story, which is similar to Bibliotheca in its goal to present the Bible, without chapter and verse numbers, in a complete novel-like format. 
The concept of viewing the Bible as a grand story has actually gained significant favor in the last few years. It helps people to remember the scope of God’s plan and the importance of reading any part in relation to the whole story. Dr. Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, agreed that Bibliotheca is a good idea. “I’m in favor of whatever gets folks to read the Bible,” says McKnight, “it is after all way too long for one volume.”

One way or another, the positive response to Bibliotheca proves this is an idea people want to see more of. With only three more days until the Kickstarter campaign finishes, the Bibliotheca project has overwhelmingly surpassed its funding goal. The initial goal was set for $37,000 and Greene specified that this minimum is the amount required for production without profit. Yet now, with over $800,000 pledged and more than 8,000 backers, it is evident that an aesthetically appealing, book-like version of the Bible is worthwhile.

Responding to the success of the project, Greene speculated that “it has a lot to do with the fact that readers are ready to enjoy the Bible as the great literary anthology that it is, rather than as a text book.”

Greene states on the Kickstarter page that, for now, pledging support is the only guaranteed way to get the set. If the project does prove successful, as it has so far, Greene hopes that the set might be made available beyond the campaign, perhaps even in different translations and languages.

As of today, the Kickstarter page was updated with a “stretch goal” to reach one million dollars in support. If the new goal is reached, Greene will add the Deuterocanonical Books (commonly called the Apocrypha) as an optional fifth volume and include a traditional book board slip case with every set. At the pace they are going, a million dollars actually doesn’t seem too far of a stretch.

What do you think of the Bibliotheca project?
What is the appeal of having the Bible in a more novel-like format?

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