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Friday, August 22, 2008

The Bible Marketing Generation Gap

Wayne Hastings at Thomas Nelson stopped by my blog today and mentioned a post of his: Chronological Study Bible Debate Response. At this point there's really not much of a debate about this Study Bible but maybe there should be. He cites some interesting statistics as justification for the development of this new study Bible:
  • The Bible Literacy Report I finds that 98% of English teachers say that Bible literacy gives a distinct academic advantage and 90% say it is critical to a good education. They also said that an alarming loss of Bible knowledge among teens is eroding students’ ability to understand British and American literature impairing their study of art, music, history, and culture.
  • The Bible Literacy Report II reveals that English professors surveyed at leading universities – including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford – unanimously agree that, regardless of one’s faith, an educated person needs to know the Bible.
  • Recent Time Magazine and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly reports indicate that most Americans can only name one of the four Gospels and cannot name the first book of the Bible; and 60% cannot name five of the Ten Commandments.
Will such a Bible address these problems? I suspect not. Growing Biblical illiteracy is a phenomenon with multiple causes. Especially with regard to targeting the problem among teens I suspect that a Manga Bible or a LOLCatsBible will do far more to impart basic Bible knowledge than a sort-of scholarly Study Bible.

While Biblical literacy may be spiraling, Internet literacy continues to surge. Perhaps the next big product needed is not a Bible but a blog. Or a series of YouTube videos based on Biblical stories (sex, violence, magic, miracles! What more do you need?!?) Or possibly social-media will provide new ways for this generation to engage with timeless truths.

Malcolm Gladwell discusses the success of MTV in his book Blink. One of the keys is that they don't rely on middle aged men in suits to develop programming for their target market of 18-25 year olds. Hmmm, that's a thought. Maybe folks like Wayne at Thomas Nelson aren't able to answer the question of what the next generation needs. Maybe it is the next generation that will apply God's Word to today's reality in ways that us old folks would never imagine.


At Sat Aug 23, 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Wayne said...

David, check out It's a refreshing new translation, not developed by suits, but by artists and scholars whose hearts are open to helping "the next generation".

At Sat Aug 23, 09:48:00 AM, Blogger David Ker said...

I must be old. I couldn't figure out how to read the thing... ;-)

At Sat Aug 23, 11:16:00 AM, Blogger Bill said...

David, thanks for drawing attention to this. I'm very guarded about the NT chronology to be presented, but extremely hopeful that the genre increases in popularity.

Like you, I'm not sure how Wayne's motivation as stated actually justifies the project, but maybe he was speaking of bible publication generally. I also see in the PDF preview (p.4), "Portions formerly published as The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible, copyright 1997 by Thomas Nelson Inc.". Now I'm curious how much is new.

On the positive side, a skim of their preface material in that pdf was very intriguing. I remain guardedly hopeful, though more for the genre than for this book specifically.

At Sat Aug 23, 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The Voice sounds like an interesting project, but it seems odd that they are trying to promote it (and even odder that they are asking people to review it!) without as far as I can see making even a single verse of the text available online.

At Sat Aug 23, 08:33:00 PM, Blogger Iyov said...

The Bible Literacy Report II reveals that English professors surveyed at leading universities – including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford – unanimously agree that, regardless of one’s faith, an educated person needs to know the Bible.

I have had close contact with all these universities. I am not aware that they have added Manga Bible or LOLCatsBible [sic, you failed to put in the "z"]. I an say with some confidence that at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford, they would rather have their students read study Bibles, the Authorized Bible, or original language Bibles. Perhaps an exception might be made for "cultural studies", but then, that is hardly a respectable department.

At Sun Aug 24, 07:29:00 AM, Blogger David Ker said...

An advance proof of the Gospel of John is available here:

At Mon Aug 25, 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thanks, David. The sample is 11.9 MB! Hardly a user friendly way of getting people to read your text.

The text starts with an introduction which starts as follows:

My name is John. My father’s name was Zebedee. We made our living by fishing on the Sea of Galilee. I am the last eyewitness to the life of Jesus. All the rest are gone; some long gone.

Here are the first few verses of the main text of John:

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God. 2This celestial Voice remained ever present with the Creator; 3His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him. 4His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light. 5Light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazing through murky bottoms. It cannot, and will not, be quenched.

Later on in the chapter, dialogue is presented as follows:

Religious Leaders: Who are you?
John the Immerser: 20I’m not the Liberator, if that is what you are asking.
Religious Leaders: 21Your words sound familiar, like a prophet’s. Is that how we should address you? Are you the Prophet Elijah?
John the Immerser: No, I am not Elijah.
Religious Leaders: Are you the Prophet Moses told us would come?
John the Immerser: No.

They continued to press John, unsatisfied with the lack of information.

Religious Leaders: 22Then tell us who you are and what you are about because everyone is asking us, especially the Pharisees, and we must prepare an answer.

Interesting! What do you all thing of "the Voice" instead of "the Word"? I note the extensive use of italics for implicit information which has been made explicit in the text, a typographic convention which is most confusing.

Perhaps someone would like to do a more complete review for BBB.

At Mon Aug 25, 10:19:00 AM, Blogger David Ker said...

Peter, I also detest the italics but there are many things to like about this format. Especially the dialogue in a book like John which reads almost like a series of dialogues anyway is brilliant. "The Immerser" ?!? Nice try.

This is specifically presented as a translation for the church and also as an artsy-fartsy presentation. I'm cool on all of that. How come no one talks about the emerging church anymore? This would be perfect for all the soul-patch and elliptical sentence types. ;-)

Wayne might be in touch with the developers and could maybe get us an inside scoop.

Finally, why only NT? With such a good looking format and set up for interactive reading this very much looks like a po-mo BOCP if it just had OT readings and the Psalter.


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