The Marketing of the Bible

There is something just not right about the way Christian stuff is marketed to the public. There are millions of dollars spent on producing new Bibles every year; and I fail to understand why.

I am a big fan of two English Bibles – the King James and the English Standard. I don’t really mind other versions like the NASB, the NIV, or even the NLT. They have their uses; but for me, the King James is the gold standard of English bibles and the English Standard is the closest thing to a reasonable successor that has been produced.

But my point isn’t to argue about translations. My point is that every year, the Bible market is deluged with new editions of the eternal book. Every year, someone writes a new study “definitive” Study Bible. John MacArthur, Kay Arthur, Max Lucado, Charles Stanley, John Maxwell, Joyce Meyers, Stormie Omartian, Ray Comfort, Charles Ryrie and who knows who else have study Bibles published under their names. There are new editions of the Scofield, Thompson Chain, and Dake study Bibles. There are Bibles for seekers, Bibles for Charismatics, Bibles for students of all ages, Bibles for African-Americans, and Bibles for Reformed theologians.

Doesn’t it strike anyone as just a little bizarre that on the Christian Book Distributors website, there are over 3,000 different editions of the Bible, of which nearly 800 are different types of study Bibles? They offer thirty-one different translations in English and several in Spanish.

Do we really need all of this?

We say we believe the Bible is the Word of God; but we rely on so many different opinions about what it says. How can there ever be unity in the church when we are marketing our differences?

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4 thoughts on “The Marketing of the Bible

  1. Here’s a link to an article about the Thomas Kincade Study Bible that you might be interested in… 😉

    http://tominthebox.blogspot.com/2008/09/thomas-kincade-bible-set-for-release.html

    Actually, I’m afraid to admit this, but my wife and I were shopping for new Bibles last year and I appreciated the wide range of selection. It was kind of fun evaluating the study notes, the pictures, the fonts, the genuine vs. bonded leather covers… In the end I ended up with a Scofield–the same thing I’ve always had (but at least it’s updated…)

  2. It wouldn’t be a problem if they presented something new but they just rehash the same old stuff with “updated formats.”

    I actually don’t use a study Bible. Just the straight ESV text. I use my Libronix software for my Greek texts.

  3. Good post Erik. I am with you, the Bible industry has become pretty lucrative…

    I think it’s an education problem. People are afraid to read the Bible and interpret it for themselves. I would blame some of that on pulpit ONLY churches. Someone get up there, reads the text, flashes some Greek translations at them, tells them what the author really meant (even if it doesn’t match what it says), give them some cultural lessons, and them tell them what to do with it. I say all those things, because that’s what I do. We have become the Catholic church of 400 years ago…sadly.

    How many people feel like they could read the Bible and use the “Libronix software for Greek texts”…that scares the crap out of most people.

  4. I think the idea of just reading the Bible terrifies people because they still have the remnants of the belief in clerical superiority. For some reason, people cannot accept that the Bible would say the same thing to them as it says to the scholar who speaks Greek.

    For the most part, I avoid saying things like “in the Greek” and “according to the original.” Instead, I simply flesh out the English for people, making applications along the way.

    Certainly there are subtleties that English cannot capture; and for those things, we do need some access to the originals.

    But at the same time, I do not see the “preacher’s” role as one of interpreter but rather applicator. Our job is to apply the Word of God to our current culture.

    We actually had a family leave our church last year because I was not an “expository preacher.” I looked the wife dead in the eye and told her, “In my preparation, I do way more exposition than _______ [insert name of her favorite preacher here] but I don’t do it from the pulpit. My job isn’t to demonstrate my intellect. I have nothing to prove. My job is to connect people with Jesus.”

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