Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's here!! Bible Illuminated: The Book. New Testament

I really had no earthly idea what I was going to think of this whole new "Bible as art" concept. In spite of being excited at the thought of how it might draw people in, I was a little concerned that it might end up being gimmicky or offensive. So, I reserved judgment till I was able to hold a copy in my hot little hands.

My copy has arrived, we've flipped through it, and . . . honestly? I love it. Bible Illuminated: The Book is printed in a magazine format, with heavy, shiny pages. It is absolutely beautiful and has a wonderful feel. Looking at it is much like flipping through a magazine. The photos are stunning, although some definitely could be considered offensive or a little off-putting. I was surprised, though, to find that they don't bother me when I'm looking through the actual book. The photos jibe well with the subject matter; a verse that relates to each photo is often either highlighted on the opposite page or printed on each photograph. Here's a good example -- the 3-pack holy family set. Funny photo, but what on earth does it have to do with the Bible? The verse highlighted on the opposite page says this: "It does not matter! I am happy about it--just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives."

There are no verse numbers and the print is tiny. It's aimed at a younger population, near as I can tell. Small print is probably not a big problem for the younger set; but, my husband can't read the text, either through his bifocals or with the glasses perched on his head (his usual method). I can read the print just fine, but my eyes do become tired reading tiny print, these days. The real question, I suppose, is whether the look and feel compel those who flip through to sit down and actually read the New Testament. In my case, the answer is "Yes". I really wanted to sit down and read -- and I found myself doing exactly what I do with a magazine. First, I flip through, look at the photos and read captions. Then, I go back and read.

My husband said, "No, I don't have any urge to read it because I can't." He also mentioned the fact that a magazine has blazing headlines, throughout. He said he'd have liked to see some large headings that indicate topics (such as the Sermon on the Mount or names for each of the parables). The names of individual books are bold and beautiful. Topic headers are small, though.

Neither of my kiddos -- the target audience, I assume -- are around; but I'll ask the youngster to flip through it when he comes home and will update you on his impressions, later on. Kiddo actually prefers his gift Bible from the church over the study Bible I bought him and he does read his Bible, sometimes just for fun. He doesn't like a lot of frou-frou. But, the eldest is very visual and I'll have to ask him to see if he can find a copy to flip through. Curiosity and all that.

While this magazine-like New Testament may be considered just another way to earn a buck, by some, I'm hoping that it will reach out and yank in some of the younger crowd, encouraging them to read the Bible. My favorite part of this book: Eight Ways to Change the World. Bold photos with "Eight Ways to Change the World" written in a corner and a paragraph or two about how a single change could improve our world were what moved me the most. I found myself flipping through eagerly, wanting to know what was next. What other things can we do to make our world better?

I like this very visual new version of the Bible. It makes me stop and think about life, meaning, and our world. And, isn't that the whole point? Flip through it, if you're interested. One forewarning: There are a few disturbing images. I would not have set a copy of this book out on a table, with young children in my house. But, that's really an individual judgment call.

The arrival of this book and a whopping fine new camera lens caused progress on my other two reviews to skid to a halt. Please bear with me; I'll try to get those two posted by tomorrow. Right now, I've got to go commune with the cat. She's getting old and needs a friend to warm up her cold paws. Happy Wednesday!


  1. Yours it the first review I've read on this book. I have been waiting and very curious to read the responses. Love how you said " printed in a magazine format." That gives me a better understanding of how the book looks.

  2. J. Kaye,

    I was expecting to see loads of reviews about the book, this week, but I haven't yet. I'm curious what other people think, too. I wish you were closer, so I could drive over and hand it to you. It would be fun to hear your thoughts.

  3. Wow. That sounds really interesting. I can't wait to see a copy.

  4. Hi Amy!

    Long time no see! How are you doing? I hope you can find a copy to flip through. I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

  5. It sounds horrifying but then again, I'm a King James Version girl.

  6. Carrie,

    You are not an easy chick to please, but I was just thinking . . . King James . . . royalty addict . . . yeah. It fits. :)

  7. I'm so excited to read your review! I must get a copy 1) because I've wanted to get back into reading the Bible and I think this format will appeal to me. 2) I'm a teacher nerd and all this visual literacy stuff inspires and challenges me. I think this is a great way to touch a younger audience.

    As for the Bible as art, I find this new concept fascinating because it is the next step in the evolution of Bible as art. For centuries the Bible has been at the center of art, from illuminated version to religious art, etc. etc. This is just another step in that process. So exciting!

  8. Andi,

    I was so worried that it was going to be a gimmick that I was honestly surprised when I finally held the book in my hands. The concept of making a Bible more visually appealing is a great idea, I agree. It's good to remember that the younger generation is used to bold images and sound bites.

    "Teacher nerd". LOL! Love it!

    Oh, excellent point. This isn't the first "illuminated" Bible, by any means. It's just a different way of using illustrations to capture an audience.

  9. I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about this book, but your description actually makes it sound cool. I wonder though, at the text being so small. And how thick is it?

  10. You may have a point.

  11. Jeane,

    I was skeptical, too, but I like holding it in my hands and flipping through. The text is super small. Of course, a lot of Bibles have really tiny text, don't they? Umm, 1/2"? I guess Glamour magazine size, in an average month, or twice the size of Family Circle or the size of Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving or a holiday version of Just Simple.

    That's a lot of examples. It's not handy or I'd actually measure it.


    I know. Clever connection, eh?

  12. Great review! I plan on posting my review of this later today. I spent a lot of time looking at it, pondering it, discussing it, and it's still hard to put my feelings about it into words. I'm glad that you enjoyed it!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  13. Anna,

    I think I was able to formulate my thoughts pretty quickly because I'm such a visual person and it just grabbed me. I know what you mean, though. Sometimes I have a terrible time putting my thoughts about a book into words. :)

  14. Thanks for this. I really appreciate your perspective. I've also put in my 2 cents about the project, for anyone who may be interested.

    Grace and Peace,


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