Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bibles: know any text-only editions?

Reader Justin Durst wrote me asking if I know of any Bibles published without titles or headings beyond the minimum. I didn't, so I ask you.



What Justin is referring to is those "helpful" (?) chapter and section titles that editors insert, such as "Jesus casts out a demon" or "Samson swings a jawbone," or whatever. He wonders if there's an edition of the Bible free from such editorializations in the text.

Anyone know of any?

Justin says that, if he's unable to find such an edition, he'll try to publish one himself.

40 comments:

Robert said...

I've heard of an inductive study Bible where it leaves spaces for you to put your own notes and headings, but not of one that is just text.

Casey said...

Would the Literary Study Bible work? It appears to have brief chapter intros, but leaves out the headings that other ESV Bibles have.

Here are some sample pages:

http://www.gnpcb.org/assets/bibles/esv.literary.sample.pdf

Casey said...

I found a couple others. Here's one without section headings (or chapter and verse numbers), but it's in the TNIV:

http://thebooksofthebible.info/main.php

The Oxford editions of the NRSV also do not include the section headings.

Those may not be the most desirable translations, but it's what I could find.

DJP said...

...but it's in the TNIV

Casey, dude -- we said BIBLE.

Brian said...

I do not call The Message a Bible translation, but verse numbers are missing there.

Others have asked this as well, see also
http://community.logos.com/forums/p/12407/96768.aspx

DJP said...

That's interesting - though I think Justin is OK with chapter and verse numbers. He just wants to get away from the (interpretive) chapter/section headings.

Brian said...

Here is another one I just found, http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-new-testament-as-written/2645980

lee n. field said...

Sometimes the things people thing are helpful, aren't. Away with section titles! Just another way to impose what some editor thinks the text is about, onto the text, and maybe chop the writer's argument in half. Modern editions all see to do that. When I was younger, what you would see instead was a little something (ignorable) at the top of each page.

I don't know, but I'd be interested in finding something like that. Maybe one of the premium English produced editions (Oxford, Cambridge, R.L. Allen).

What I would like is that, and (single column, paragraphed) text only, with chapter and verse indicators unobtrusive and off to the side, outside the running text. I've toyed with the idea of learning a DTP program, to try to make what I want on my own.

This is a question that it would be well to run by J. Mark Bertrand, of the Bible Design and Binding blog. In these things he seems reliable. I bought an ESV personal sized reference based on his review, which was absolutely spot on.

s.driesner said...

@Robert,

You are correct: its the International Inductive Study Bible that Precept Ministries puts out in the NASB. We have a leather bound copy we purchased when we were more deeply into Precept type bible studies a few years ago. I can attest that it has a minimum of headings and has wide margins for taking notes. I would prefer it if they would put out an ESV edition of the IISB, because I like their minimalist approach and the margins, but Kay Arthur is a huge proponent of the NASB, so I doubt this will happen anytime soon.

Stan McCullars said...

I believe the New English Bible and the Revised English Bible have such editions.

Cathy M. said...

A little girl came to "Good News Club" last week with a strange old Bible. It didn't have any of the chapter, verse separations. I had a really hard time helping her to find our text for the lesson. I'll see her again today. If she has it with her, I'll try to find out more about it. I don't know why anyone would want one.

Tom Chantry said...

All Bibles should get rid of these very un-helpful introductions. I've told my people to just assume that they are always false. It's easier that way.

Latest example I came across was the ESV introduction to II Samuel 16:1-4. My current ESV (a 2007 edition) entitles this section, "David and Ziba," but my wife's older ESV (a 2003) reads, "Ziba Lies to David."

In point of fact, not only does the text nowhere identify Ziba as the one who lied, but much of the point of the story seems to be that sometimes even discerning leaders will be unable to tell who is telling the truth (see 2 Samuel 19:20-29).

So at least the ESV got this one corrected, right? Only it seems to me that once they realize that these little "additions" to the text are easily misleading it might have occurred to them that they are entirely unnecessary! But that would make way too much sense for anyone in the publishing industry to come up with it.

(On a tangentially related note, I am still bitter about the time I got in trouble in 7th grade in a Christian School for laughing incontrollably during devotions - you had to hear my friend reading the name "Ziba." I said then and I still say now, "Honestly, Ziba? The guys name was Zibba, and I'm getting in trouble over it?")

Tricia said...

The only one I can think of is The New Inductive Study Bible (NASB). It sounds kind of like what Robert mentioned. There is plenty of room for you to write your own notes and headings in (if you want), but it doesn't give any commentary (including headings) for you...except for a few little "insights" in the margin that are just explanations of what something is (such as a pharaoh or an ephod). There are also some charts, maps, etc...but since the main point of this format is for a person to study and learn what the Bible says (rather than what someone else says), the headings and commentary that are typical of most study Bibles are left out. As for chapter and verse numbers, they're shown in the text. However, it's not printed in typical paragraph form. Each verse starts on a new line. Paragraphs are indicated by bold face numbers. The NISB was the "main" Bible I used for years until I started using the ESV. I was unsuccessful in finding an ESV that didn't have any headings.

Sir Aaron said...

There are a lot of complaints about section headings. It is widely believed that John Locke, who was not a Christian, complained about the section headings and verses being used out of context. Whether it's true or not, the controversy is pretty old.

New Oxford Annotated Bible (RSV) is probably the only version approximating an acceptable translation. There is a growing movement to ditch the section headings and some want to ditch verses and chapters (and totally reorder the books). The Bible Society and Zondervan have published the TNIV without section headings, so I would expect that if the demand were there, other versions will soon follow suit.

But honestly, this only applies to printed versions since many web readers and software programs allow the reading without section headings.

To make it worthwhile, you'd need a translation such as the ever popular ESV or my preference, the ISV.

Terry Rayburn said...

I'm surprised no one mentioned this one, since it's Dan's blog after all:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/papy66big.jpg

Gregg said...

I don't know of any but I would like a copy if he publishes his own!

DJP said...

Tom, that example's perfect, very clarifying. Thanks!

Brad Williams said...

Yes! We should get rid of those worthless section titles for sure. Just another needless imposition on the text that is simple opinion. After that, we should get rid of that junk at the bottom they call "Study Bible." Everyone knows its just a Sunday School cheat sheet. It reminds of people who used to get B's in class by reading Cliff's Notes. The nerve!

And once we are done with that, let's get rid of all English Bibles and teach people Greek and Hebrew from an early age.

Ew. Okay. I got a little carried away. I'm backing away from the torch and pitchfork now. Nothing else to see here. Sorry.

Tom Chantry said...

What frustrates me about the ESV in particular is that it is a wonderful escape from the Zondervan/Nelson obsession with study Bibles. The ESV is readily available without a bunch of added nonsense on the page. Not only that, but it is the only translation I am aware of which can be easily acquired in a black letter edition. Not only do I reject the cultism of the red letters, I also find red print nearly impossible to read in all but the most ideal light. I am delighted with my ESVs because the print is all black and there are no study notes. It seems inconsistent to continue to insert those non-sensical paragraph headings!

DJP said...

Tom Chantry is valuable if only (but not only) to make me look mellow and unopinionated by contrast.

Tom Chantry said...

I worry about you, Dan. You're such a milquetoast.

lee n. field said...

"A little girl came to "Good News Club" last week with a strange old Bible. It didn't have any of the chapter, verse separations."

I would be interested to hear what that turns out to be.

I keep an eye out for unusual bible editions when I'm our cruising old bookstores and garage sales. Some I get "'cause they're neat", and some to get them out of circulation. I looked through what I have, and a lot of older bibles do what people are saying they want. The New English Bible has chapter and verse markers off to the side, and a very, very few section headings. Smith & Goodspeed, similar. James Moffit, ditto, with no section headings I could see at all. Weymouth and the "Twentieth Century New Testament" similar, with headings indented at the side in contrasting typeface.

Best of all, my Revised English Version/Wescott & Hort diglot, straight text, no headings, chapter and verse outside the text. Alas, it's about 120 years old and too fragile to make much use out of.

jmb said...

I suppose it's for more specialized use, but "Tyndale's New Testament" has no verse numbers or headings; his notes are in small print in the margins. Same for "Tyndale's Old Testament," which he didn't complete by the time he was executed by the Catholic church. It only goes up to Chronicles. It's pricey - at least it was several years ago when I bought it.

Robert said...

I like the ESV, but not as much as NASB. Part of that is my preference for the capitalization of pronouns for God. Let me state clearly I'm not against anybody who doesn't have a problem with that...just a preference issue. I do think people get way too carried away with the KJV/NKJV is the only trustworthy version in the English language.

The Squirrel said...

I guess now is not the time to tell everyone how nice my new MacArthur ESV Study Bible is and how much I like it...

Squirrel

John said...

If you like KJV, the Windsor text bible from the Trinitarian Bible Society doesn't have any headings, cross-references, or footnotes.

http://www.tbs-sales.org/

Lynda O said...

That's interesting about the different editions of ESV headings -- I only have the later version heading "David and Ziba." Then again, I know a few people that probably could benefit from some basic section headings to steer them in the right direction -- like "The Amelekite's Fabrication" for 2 Samuel 1 -- but I digress...

Sir Aaron said...

@Robert: Don;t you know a true KJV onlyist would never include the NKVJ as reliable? All but the original authorized version are devilspawn.

@Tom: If you get yourself an IPad you can avoid all those pesky problems. It has a big, bright screen and plus you can change the color of the font to help you out with your visual impairment.

Tom Chantry said...

HA! Sir Aaron, just because I hang out in the meta of semi-respectable blogs, don't get the misimpression that I am a lover of technology.

I love my books too much. Need to feel the paper crinkling as I turn the pages and smell the dust rising from the spine. Don't think there's an ap for that!

Zaphon said...

I asked my friend at the Canadian Bible Society if they have a text only edition. I'll let you guys know if they find it.

The Baptist said...

Wow! Thanks DJP, and thank you everyone for all of the suggestions. I'll definitely invest time in checking them out. Although, I am still investigating having a NASB edition published.

Reasons for text only? Here are some of mine, briefly:

1) Doing an informal survey, I found out that many people mentally recall Scriptures by the section titles which aren't even Scripture! Wouldn't it be more beneficial for personal study, conversation, etc. if we could recall Scriptures by being more familiar with the narratives and, well, actual Scriptures?!?

2) I find that the section headings break up the text so abruptly in so many places that the message being communicated by the Scriptures is hindered at best, altered at worst. Try reading Luke 14 without subtitles. Try reading Paul's letters like the early churches did - like letters. I don't know many people who receive a letter (or email) read one section of it and save the other 7 for the next week. No, we read the whole thing when we get it, like we should. However, section titles don't encourage us to read letters in their entirety. Yes, we should break down the Scriptures, but I've found that I am amazingly blessed with recall and a better understanding of the smaller elements when I have a bigger picture, and know the larger portions of Scripture better. Yes, you can get the big picture by reading around section titles, but why do we have to do that?

3) I want God's revelation, not somebody I don't even know telling me what it means. Too many times in the past I would read a section title and then read that into the section I was reading - bad, bad, bad. I now notice how many things are subtly, and sometimes not so subtly said, by the section titles. I just recently read John 5:28-29 in my Zondervan NASB which had a section title "The Two Resurrections". Funny thing is that Jesus never said "two resurrections", but said something more to the effect of "two kinds of resurrections". Big difference. Give me the Scriptures! I'll pick up a commentary when I want one!

4) Nothing says "Biblical Illiteracy" like having cliff notes already place BETWEEN the Scriptures I read. No thanks. If you don't know the Scriptures you need to read the Scriptures, not the cliff notes. I want to learn the Scriptures, not skim them in hopes I'll get a "C" on the exam.

5) I just want the riches of the Scriptures. I want to know them and to keep them in my heart and on my mind. I want them there so that I can see pictures of Jesus whenever and where ever I am. I want to know my God as He has revealed Himself. And, I want to know the Scriptures so that they may wash me and my wife.

6) I wonder how the heroes of the faith seemed to know the Scriptures as well as they did. One reason among others, I think, is that they didn't have section titles and "helps". They just had the Scriptures, and that's what they learned with.

The Baptist said...

Yeah, I'm cool with verse numbers. Those never seem to have any power to distract my reading or recall.

Justin said...

@ Brian - I like it!

Apeleutheros said...

I found a Holman Christian Standard Bible in a thrift store that does not have any headings in it at all.

I've never read the HCSB before so I've been giving it a chance. It's kinda, meh. But I confess, I like it better than an NIV, though that's not really saying a whole lot.

It's an adequate translation as far as I can tell.

threegirldad said...

Hmmmm. Not sure how I managed to completely miss this thread.

When Bible publishers say "text only," they almost always mean "no cross-references." The only printed Bible I've been able to find that eschews section headings is the HCSB Gift & Award edition (which I'm guessing is the one that Apeleutheros purchased).

Everything else that calls itself "text only" (at least that I've come across) has either section headings or section footings (which I found even more distracting than headings), or some sort of notes in the margin (or both), or some cases, "minimal references" in footnote style at the bottom of each page (how that meets the advertised "text only" description remains a mystery).

This is one more reason why I wish I could read Hebrew and Greek.

Sir Aaron said...

Honestly, this reminds me of my university years when my fellow students would whine. I'd have to tell them...the reason why you fail is because you write in your textbooks. If you need to take notes, you've already failed.

Honestly, you guys whine a lot about section headings. They are like labels on a file folder. They are designed to help you find what you are looking for quickly not as an interpretive guide to the documents. Train your mind to think of them in that manner and to ignore them if you must. It really isn't that hard.

William Dicks said...

The NASB at one stage was published with a single-column wide margin for note taking. I don't think it had paragraph headings. I will have to check the one I have at home.

M.E. said...

I really like the concept behind thebooksofthebible.com. I found them when i was was searching for a biboe without chapter and verse markings. They bothered me too much by breaking up the text.

Its a good concept, however they only publish in TNIV. I have not been able to find any other versions in this AWESOME format.

Justin said...

@ Sir Aaron

If you like them, then keep them. I still prefer looking at God's Word to find my place and have noticed that when I just study it alone finding my place "really isn't that hard". I don't see how your condescending tone toward a preference for an uninterrupted text is in any way warranted. I'd prefer to hear a defense of section titles rather than accusations of "whining" about how Scripture is presented mixed with words and ideas that are not Scripture. Why should any Christian even have to concede and settle for less than uninterrupted Scripture if they have the desire for it?

On another note, for any and all who are interested I have found a publisher willing to do a short run, with stitch binding and pseudo leather covering. I'm hoping that this first run will be NASB. Details to follow...

Sir Aaron said...

Dear Justin,

There is a lot of ground between having a preference for a thing and complaining about it when you can't get it.

Step back for a moment and think about how incredibly fortunate we are to have the written Word. You, like myself, probably own several printed copies as well as have access to software programs that allow you to view Scripture in a myriad of ways. How blessed we are!

You prefer just the text. Great! You want to print an edition without headings. I support you. I have a tough time, however, listening to various complaints about the burdens of having to live with section headings when there are people today who would give their lives to have a Bible in any format.