Saving the Bible from ourselves (part 1)

A Breath of Fresh Air


Those of us who are worried about Bible designs and publishers’ trends receive this book by Paauw as a breath of fresh air. Author discusses how the Bible we read must be saved from all artifacts publishers have added through centuries since The Geneva Bible (16th c.) as starting point.

The core argument of the book is

that for most of us, most of the time, small readings prevail over big readings […] small readings [are] those diminished sampling of Scripture in which individuals take in fragmentary bits outside of the Bible’s literary, historial and dramatic contexts. […] big readings are the more magnified experiences that result when communities engage natural segments of text, or whole books, taking full account of the Bible’s various contexts.

According to these way of reading the Bible, publishers have accommodated publications to public’s orientation, adding notes, study notes, references, introductions, columns, verse divisions, headings, titles, subtitles… mere artifacts that influence the way we read the Bible as a divine inspired historical drama.

Though we are not a “Scripture-soaked society”, there are fundamental reasons to think the Church or Christian community is not a Scripture-engaged society. The Bible is more a topical book where find help for my own need, fragmenting, taking out of context some verses, and Bible publishers are responsible in certain way.

Paauw states

The Bible needs saving, not because of any defect in itself, but because we’ve buried it, boxed it, wallpapered over it, neutered it, distorted it, isolated it, individualized it,  minimized it, misread it, lied about it, debased it and oversold it. We have over-complicated its form while over-simplifying its content. We’ve become cavalier and even cheesy with our Bibles. We’ll do almost anything with them. What we have not done, truth be told, is trusted it to be itself. It may not be far off the mark to say that the Bible is completely different from what we’ve been led to believe it is.

Following a chiastic pattern the author builds this book in this way:

The Elegant Bible (chapters 1,2)

The Feasting Bible (ch. 3, 4)

The Historical Bible (ch. 5, 6)

The Storiented Bible (ch, 7-9)

The Earthly Bible (ch. 10, 11)

The Synanogue Bible (ch. 12, 13)

The Iconic Bible (ch. 14, 15)

Well, you must read each chapter to enjoy the content. And this is not the place to unveil all the arguments.

If over the centuries, publishers have added a big number of those artifacts, there must be a way to recover the elegance, pertinence and necessity of a readable Bible. Projects as Reader’s Bible by Crossway (even six volumes or single one), Bibliotheca or Biblica have taken account of this and have delighted us with elegant editions, commencing with the removal of artificial additives. This is the beginning of a Bible re-arrangement and re-engagement movement, or in purity, a back to the basics movement.

Biblica edition
Bibliotheca edition
Crossway layout (courtesy of J M Bertrand)
Reader’s Bible by Crossway
Bibliotheca layout

Form and content are knitted together, undoubtedly “form is part of the content of things. If you change the form, you change the content. If you change the form of the Bible, you have already answered the question of what it is” (p. 39)

Author reclaims simplicity, because the modern and complex form given to Bibles has lied to us.

In part 2 I will discuss about the different types of Bibles Paauw identifies in our postmodern world.

Buy at:


The Complete Jewish Study Bible

It is not an easy task reviewing a Jewish oriented Bible, as our Western culture has influenced our view of Jewish culture. But we  must never forget the Bible was shaped, written and composed in a Jewish background. For this reason, the main purpose of The Complete Jewish Bible is “Illuminating the Jewishness of God’s Word”, following the principle that the Bible was a Jewish book, primarily about Jews and for Jews and Gentiles.

Hendrickson Bibles and Messianic Jewish Publishers and Resources bring a Bible focused in Jewish aspects that “will open [our] eyes to the Bible as never before”.


It is that kind of Bible you will enjoy for many reasons:

Its outer design

Three presentations: hardcover, imitation leather dark blue, original calfskin. You can read the detailed review for the hardcover one at As you can see in the pictures, the imitation leather one brings a double golden line around the cover, together with title and two olive branches. Engraved in the front and in the back you will find another olive branch. For those of us who live surrounded by olive trees this is simply wonderful!



Three navy blue ribbons; golden headbands; Smyth sewn and glued.  The imitation leather edition offers nice flexibility as you can see here, with the limitations of this kind of leather:


The beautiful idea of using Jewish motives for the cover page and the slip case is explained by their designer, Karol Bailey:

The intent of The Complete Jewish Study Bible hardcover and flexisoft cover designs was to show the complexity of the Jewishness of God’s Word yet have it appear accessible to both Jew and Gentile readers. The traditional color palette derives from the blue and gold used on Jewish prayer shawls or tallits. Another relatable feature of the hardcover design is a portion of the ornate design which adorns the ceiling of the Cetate Synagogue in Timisoara, Romania. The gold and impressed olive branches on both covers are symbolic of peace and reconciliation between God and man through Christ Jesus. (As seen at

Its inner design

Open this Bible et voilà… you will be immersed in Jewish manners, customs, names. You’ll hear Avraham speaking to Yitz’chak; you’ll hear Yimeryahu crying to the people of Yerushalayim and Y’hudah; or Yeshua calling His talmidim. Yes! If you want to be immersed in a Jewish background this Bible is for you. People names have been kept in their Hebrew transliterations (Kefa instead of Peter; Yohanan instead of John; talmid instead of disciples, among others). This is more a cosmetic philosophy of maintaining the Hebrew “spirit”.

Bolded text for OT passages.

Every bolded word you find in the New Testament is a reference to an Old Testament passage or concept, as you can see in this chapter of Galatians.


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once wrote:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

The amazing layout is the first aspect you will love in this Bible. Single-column paragraph, no titles, 8 points typos, blue chapter numbers, golden lines as header, book name in Hebrew transcription and English… And what about verse numbers? Well, this is another story… is all you want from a Bible edition: small enough to not interrupt the narrative style of the paragraphs themselves. And why no titles? Because they are not inspired words! Titles are mere artifacts editors have added to the Bible, complicating the natural reading. Text, just text! For my own delight this Bible is almost just text. In case this is not enough for you, look:


Yes, it is a handwriting font to represent Paul’s handwriting in Galatians (6.11ff) and in Colossians 4.18; 2 Thessalonians 6.17…


Book names in Hebrew transcription


Is it poetry? Write as poetry, even keeping the Hebrew parallelism system.

Is it an explanation of OT passages? This is the style:


Is there any list? Written as a list.

dsc_0686Few notes, just only the necessary ones: cultural, background, explanations… Short book introductions with a basic outline preceding each book with a beautiful design. What else?


This is simply amazing: Hebrew words in NT passages. Yes, Jesus spoke Hebrew. And in Hebrew must be written to give force to the meaning of the text.


One artifact you will find is a number of themes, each one colored:

Anti-Jewish scriptural interpretations; Covenants; Jewish Customs; Jewish-Gentile relations; Messianic Prophecy; The Names of God; Shabbat; Salvation and Atonement; The Holy Days of Israel; The Land of Israel; Torah; The Tabernacle.


Other features included in this Bible are:

Colorful Maps; A Brief summary of Rabbinic Literature; Biographies of Rabbis and Sages; a helpful Glossary of Hebrew words with pronunciation into English… everything you can ask from a Study Bible oriented to people interested in knowing the Jewish background of our faith.


Translation or version?

Regarding the translation, read these words in Bible Buying Guide:

The translator, David H. Stern, calls the CJB a version rather than a translation or paraphrase because it is partially both. He originally completed his translation of a Jewish focused New Testament in 1989. Many fans of it requested a complete Bible which he resisted the idea of at first. Feeling his understanding of Hebrew (particularly Biblical Hebrew) inadequate for the task he tried various routes to get a modern English Tanakh all of which fell through or didn’t feel right. He finally settled on the idea of paraphrasing the newly released from copyright 1917 JPS Tanakh (which had a somewhat Elizabethan English style). He did read other modern English translations and refer to the Masoretic texts to actually translate some passages that differed in the various versions. The Complete Jewish Bible was first published in 1998.

He is the sole translator of this version. He admits that a team might of done a better job (using peer review and discussion of problematic texts) but he has done the best he could. His first purpose was to restore the unified Jewishness of the Bible. He suggests that any reader wanting to check whether a scripture means what the CJB says is means look at other translations, Bible tools including concordances, and the original languages.


And for Spanish people, you can have The Jewish New Testament. El Nuevo Testamento Judío. Se trata de la versión traducida del NT desde la versión de David Stern, y que sigue el mismo patrón que la CJSB. Presenta el texto a doble columna, y da la impresión de que es más una obra divulgativa o de consulta que un libro para usar de manera cotidiana.






En esta versión se han mantenido también los nombres en judío de personas y sustantivos más representativos. Sin duda, una herramienta útil para mostrar a judíos acerca de la salvación en el Mesías.

More information at:

Hendrickson web page



This review is my sole opinion and I have not been required to write a positive review by publishers.



Cambridge, Oxford and SBU Bibles

I would like to show you the old Bibles from my shelves. Only a brief commentary on each one. Enjoy it.

These are all together

old times

  1. Spanish Bible printed by United Bible Society at Billing and sons Ltd press, Guilford. Black pebbly leather. References. Colorful maps. Printed in Great Britain. 1950. DSC_1215DSC_1217DSC_1216

  2. English Bible printed for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Brown leather. Marginal references. 1898. DSC_1219DSC_1220DSC_1221

  3. Scofield Reference Bible. Black pebbly leather. Full yapp. Oxford University Press. 1917. scofieldDSC_1223DSC_1224DSC_1225DSC_1226

  4. Cambridge Bible. No date. Black leather. DSC_1227DSC_1228DSC_1229

  5. Spanish Bible printed by José Cruzado, Madrid, for the British and Foreign Bible Society. 1873. Leather hardback. DSC_1230DSC_1231DSC_1232DSC_1234

  6. Oxford Bible. Black leather. 1869. Printed at the OUP for the British and Foreign Bible Society. Full yapp.DSC_1236DSC_1235DSC_1237DSC_1239DSC_1238_FotorDSC_1240

  7. Spanish Bible. Cloth hardback. 1936. Printed  for the British and Foreign Bible Society. Central references. DSC_1241DSC_1242DSC_1243DSC_1244

  8. British and Foreign Bible Society Bible. Cloth hardback. No date. DSC_1245DSC_1246DSC_1247

  9. New Testament and Psalms. 1922, Black pebbly leather. British and Foreign Bible Society.DSC_1250DSC_1252

  10. Oxford Bible. No date. 7,5 cm x 14 cm. Red under gold edges. Black pebbly leather.DSC_1248DSC_1249

  11. Oxford Bible. No date. Ruby 32mo. India Paper.Red under gold edges. 9,8 cm x 15 cm. Black leather. DSC_1255DSC_1256DSC_1257DSC_1258

  12.  New Testament and Psalms. No date. ca 1958. Black leather. Colorful pictures. 8,5 cm x 12,7 cm. United Bible Society.DSC_1253DSC_1254

  13. Even it is not a Bible, I have included a Common Prayer and Hymns book printed by Oxford University Press. Ruby 32mo. Red leather. 7,65 cm x 11,6 cm. Probably 1867.