We’ve already has some really exciting new release this year and we’re just getting started! Here’s what is coming this spring and summer and we’re giving you a sneak peak at one of our new lines coming to the Filament Bible Collection this fall!
Streetlights New Testament released this month. This amazing combination of print and digital gets youth and young adult engaged in God’s Word in a way that feels natural and comfortable for them. In addition to the text, articles, and book introductions it also gives you access to the revolutionary Streetlights Audio Bible. Great for personal and group study. This New Testament has huge ministry potential so checkout our bulk rates. Learn more about the Streetlights New Testament.
Immerse is coming to a store near you. We are starting with Immerse: Messiah and Immerse: Beginnings, but by the end of the summer you should be able to get the entire Immerse series at your local bookstore or your favorite online retailer. We also are excited that the first large print edition of Immerse has just been released. Immerse: Messiah Large Print has the beautiful NLT text with no chapter and verse interruptions in an over 11 point font. Learn more about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience.
“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” Psalm 119:103, NLT
Chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and peanut butter filled eggs all make Easter baskets a tasty surprise, but why not give the young person in your life the sweetest gift, God’s Word. From kids to teens and beyond Tyndale Bibles offer engaging Bibles that help your loved ones savor God’s Word.
Hands-On Bible What if you could not just read but also taste, feel, and smell Bible truths? What if the Bible was filled with games, crafts, and even snacks to make Bible stories come to life? Wouldn’t that make it the coolest Bible around? Enter theHands-On Bible! This Bible takes you beyond just reading to truly experiencing the Bible through activities that you can do together with your child, making Scripture relevant, fun and memorable.
Boys Life Application Study Bible Packed full of notes and features, theBoys Life Application Study Bible is easy to use and helps answer the questions preteen boys may have about God and life. The notes help them learn to think biblically about real issues they face, such as self-esteem, friendship, and peer pressure. Discovering God’s will for their lives has never been this much fun!
The Epic Bible Get swept away by God’s awesome story in this riveting graphic Bible. The Epic Bible tells the central story of the Bible, with dramatic, full-color art created by some of DC and Marvel’s best comic book artists. Whether you’re reading the Bible for the first time or looking for a fresh perspective, The Epic Bible’s cinematic storytelling will make God’s Word come alive.
Girls Life Application Study Bible A one-of-a-kind discipleship resource, the Girls Life Application Study Bible helps girls draw closer to God and establish healthy relationships with those around them. Over 800 Life Application notes plus full-color features are designed to help girls learn more about the Bible, understand the big story, meet Jesus, know what it means to follow him, learn how to share their faith with others, and gain practical faith and relationship skills that will help them live out what they believe.
Inspired for Girls and More! Inspire Bible for Girls is designed to draw girls deeper into God’s Word and to inspire creativity and connection with God! It includes over 500 beautiful full and partial-page Scripture line-art illustrations to color are attractively displayed throughout the Bible. In addition, there are over 300 devotionals, journaling prompts, and interesting Bible facts to enhance girls’ coloring and creative journaling journey through the Bible. Girls can leave traces of their faith throughout their Bible for a unique treasure that will truly inspire!
But don’t forget our other titles in the Inspire Bible line. These best-selling coloring and journaling Bibles are perfect for girls and people of all ages.
The Streetlights New Testament is an interactive, digital experience that cuts through misconceptions about the Bible. It encourages readers to listen to, read, and study it with fresh ears and hearts. It includes access to the Streetlights Audio Bible, and features like profiles, book introductions, and devotionals that encourage youth and young adults to go deeper into God’s Word in a way they can understand.
Teen Life Application Study Bible The Teen Life Application Study Bible is filled with features designed to meet the challenges and needs of today’s high school students. Combining traditional study Bible features like book introductions, textual notes, person profiles, and maps with application-oriented features focusing on choices, real-life issues, and real-life stories of actual teens, the Teen Life Application Study Bible helps answers the tough questions and ground teens in their faith.
A Few Other Ideas:
Maybe you are looking for an Easter gift for a young adult or someone else in your life. Here are a few ideas:
Filament Bible Collection These beautifully crafted Bibles offer a simple and engaging reading experience. But just scan a page with your phone or tablet and it opens an app filled with thousands of study and worship resources and content curated to the page you are reading.
Immerse: The Reading Bible Ever had a book you just couldn’t put down?Immerse: The Reading Bible takes away all the distractions and gets you right into story. With no chapters and verses and a cover that feels more like a novel than a Bible it’s like reading the Bible again for the first time. Start falling in love with the Bible all over again
Art of Life Bible TheArt of Life Bibleweaves the beautiful NLT text into a rich tapestry of artwork illustrating many living things mentioned in Scripture. Captions highlighting their significance and wide-margin design offer readers a unique way to meditate on Scripture focusing on God’s creation. Featuring 450 original hand-drawn illustrations in a unique style this Bible encourages contemplation and visual interaction with the Word.
Bibles We Love (and love to share!)
Tyndale House Publishers
Valentine’s Day is a great time to share what you love. And we LOVE Bibles!!! There are so many wonderful Bibles out there, but we have a few that make our hearts so happy. We love them so much that we just can’t help but share them! Here are a few of ours. What are yours?
Maissie Currently I love the Immerse Reading Bible. It is easy to read and understand. There is something special about reading the Bible like a novel without the distraction of verse numbers, chapters, and notes. Reading Immerse reminds me that God is the Author both of the Word and of my life.
Callie I’m so excited to own the Art of life Bible! While I wouldn’t say I am a Bible journaler per say or even artistic, I love jotting down my reflections in the margins of my Bible. This Bible gives me extra room to do this alongside new content that I can’t wait to dive into. Who’s ever wondered what the trees and plants look like in the Bible that God talks so vividly about? Or wondered why God goes into such detail on specific animals? I know I have, and it’s always fascinating when someone connects the dots on what the Bible is describing and why it’s important. It’s going to be a great way for me to explore the Bible in a fresh way.
Kim One of my favorite Valentine’s Days was when a married friend surprised me with a care package in the mail that included the sweetest note and some personalized items, including a CD with hand-picked worship songs. It touched my heart so very deeply. I would love to do the same for my close single friends and surprise each of them with a Valentine’s care package including a greeting card with a heartfelt prayer-note and either the THRIVE Creative Journaling Bible (for those who would like the blue interior and wide margins for note-taking or creating original art) or the THRIVE Devotional Bible for Women (for those who would prefer a traditional setting without wide margins—and a pink interior). Both Bibles are the same other than those two unique features—the interior second color and the margin width. I think my friends would love this Bible because it is filled with daily readings that encourage us to keep our eyes on Christ and thrive in him. As Sheri Rose Shepherd, the author of the devotionals, says: “God paid much too high a price on the cross for us to live powerless lives.” I pray this Bible would be a daily, tangible reminder to each of them that they are so very loved by God and that they can trust him with their hearts! ❤
Dave It has been a joy for me to read through the Bible over many years and I LOVE our New Living TranslationOne Year Chronological Bible . For me, this has been the best way for me to understand the big story of God laid out in order. As the Bible Acquisition Director for Tyndale I’m also really excited about a project we’re working on right now to create a One Year Chronological Study Bible……stay tuned for more details in the months ahead about this amazing new resource.
Blaine My favorite for 2021 is the Mosaic Bible. I love the finish on the leatherlike edition with the classic celtic cross design. In the front of the Bible there is a 340 page section of beautiful ivory paper. This section features 52 meditations, each with full-color artwork, thought-provoking writings from historical as well as contemporary scholars, prayers, poetry and space to write my reflections as I meditate and pray. Each week’s theme compliments the Church calendar which helps me stay in rhythm with my fellow believers. The Bible text is only interrupted by the center column references which are there when I need them but easy to ignore as I read scripture. A very nicely done Bible in my opinion.
Jim There is so much to love about the Life Application Study Biblethat it’s hard to know even where to begin. This Bible has had a special place in my heart for over 20 years. I learn something new every time I pick it up! And it is always relevant to what I am facing today.
The Other Jim I once had a Sunday School teacher who, when I – or another student – forgot to bring a Bible to class, would say: “that’s great; you must have it memorized.” I didn’t, but I’ve used his line since then. And it leads me to my recommendation of a Bible I love. I love the HelpFinder Bible because of its extraordinary 352-page Index-on-steroids. The index is an amazing guide when you’re looking for biblical counsel on more than 200 topics from Abilities to Worth, including Faith, Humility, Rejection, Sexuality, Success and Vulnerability, and so much more. Each topic in the Index has questions and answers and biblical references. And alongside the Bible text there are short teachings on many of the topics. It’s a terrific, helpful, must-have Bible for everyone from new believers to Bible veterans. Unless you have the Bible memorized!
Evie I have been loving the Swindoll Study Bible. My parents were huge Swindoll fans so I have memories growing up listening to him on car rides or hearing my parents discuss Swindoll’s thoughts on different Scripture passages. I feel like he’s my spiritual grandpa. But it wasn’t until I started reading the study Bible on my own that I understood his significant impact on my parent’s walk with Christ. It’s truly like sitting by a beloved mentor as he helps to bring God’s truth and the amazing intricacies of Scripture into a way I can understand and grapple with. One of my favorite features is the Holy Land Tour. It’s like being on a trip to the Holy Land with Chuck Swindoll (#lifegoals)!
by HEIDI DEAN, CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION BIBLE SPECIALIST, CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL
Where does Generation Z stand with Bible literacy, here in 2021? The struggles that evangelical churches and families have in discipling kids and teens to read the Bible is all too easily documented: Teachers point to the rise of screens, the decline of reading generally, and the busyness of family life as displacing the historic practice of daily Bible reading. But we are also seeing positive developments with Bible literacy here in 2021, too exciting to miss.
Tyndale House is supporting the work of Christian Schools International this February 11-12, as CSI opens its Bible Instruction Symposium to all educators and youth workers for the first time. And CSI has an exciting approach to recommend that could turn a corner on Bible literacy with young evangelicals.
CSI has gathered a group of model schools from around the nation who have been implementing a new approach for the past 2-3 years: A plan to read through the full canon during the school day so that by graduation, students have read, enjoyed, and discussed each book of the canon with their teachers and peers.
Bible class is being revamped in these model schools—yes, to address the struggle that parents and churches have in getting students to read through the Bible independently—but also with a vision to equip students with richer tools of reading and interpretation than ever before. How better could class time be utilized than to read and enjoy the adventurous, compelling, deep wisdom of the Bible?
This move away from lecture-based learning—where students hear about the Old and New Testaments in survey courses—is appealing to nearly all evangelical schools. But the trouble is imagining how this would go in the day-to-day classroom. Can students truly read their way through even the prophetic and poetic literature? Won’t they get lost or bored?
Come hear from the K-12 teachers deep into this approach who are eager to share how they and their students have been re-enchanted by the Bible through the literary tools of biblical theology. Hear how they are pairing together: Read-aloud of Scripture, hands-on skills of marking up the text, imaginative skills of getting into the story, and literary skills of connecting motifs across books.
Reader Bibles like Tyndale’s Immerse (NLT Bible) lie at the center of the approach, since students spend their time marking up Bibles like they were novels: feeling the tragedy and the triumph, finding the metaphors and the beauty of the redemptive story. Since a literary approach lends itself to frequent connections to literature, movies, art, and “real life in a concrete world,” students have found the world of the Bible’s symbolism and imagery to trigger new wonder and fascination.
We hope you will come hear the testimonials of teachers, administrators, and students, all benefiting from reading through the canon during the school day.
Join us for the 2021 CSI Bible Instruction Symposium on February 11–12, available through virtual format. All are welcome to join in this community of learning. Your $100 registration will provide connection to others who are passionate about the biblical literacy of children and teens through live interaction in every breakout session. And registration will also provide ongoing access to the recorded footage afterward.
The start of a new year means some great new Bibles are releasing in early 2021. See what’s coming your way this winter and early spring.
Filament Bible Collection
The Filament Bible Collection now includes a Personal Giant Print line. These Bibles have a 12 pt readable font and are a great size to carry with you on the go. They are available in the NLT and KJV translations and include the revolutionary Filament Bible app. Learn more
A New Testament for a New Generation
We have partnered with an amazing ministry, Streetlights Bible, to release a multimedia New Testament. This visually compelling, easy-to-understand Bible links to remarkably creative audio and video resources. The NLT Streetlights New Testamentexplains Christian truth and is a discipleship tool for young people and beyond. It’s unique tone and approach removes road blocks, allowing users to actively engage with God’s Word. Learn more.
Journaling and Art Bibles
Our Inspire Bible line continues to bring beautiful and exciting ways for you to engage with God’s Word through art journaling and coloring. Releasing this month are two beautiful new covers for the original Inspire Bible. A navy and pink floral hardcover and a pink softcover provide more cover options for this beloved line of Bibles.
We are so excited about our new Art of Life Biblethat releases next month. This Bible features 450 original hand-drawn illustrations in a unique style that encourages contemplation and visual interaction with God’s Word. Learn more about this beautiful, unique Bible. Take a look inside.
The Hands-On Bible is more than just a Bible you read; it’s a Bible you experience. The entire text of the NLT is surrounded by games, crafts, recipes, and so many more activities to get all the senses involved. It helps kids (and you) better understand and get excited about God’s amazing Word. And the new LeatherLike covers releasing next month add to the fun of this Bible. Find out more about the Hands-On Bible.
When Elizabeth first heard about her church’s initiative to read the whole Bible together in community, she was hesitant. But she discovered in the process how amazing the love of Jesus truly is for the outcast, and it changed everything for her. Watch Elizabeth’s story here.
All across America, Bible book clubs are forming to read and discuss the Bible together. They’re using Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience as the tool to facilitate reading at length. Each book in the Immerse collection is designed to be read in community over either an 8- or 16-week time frame. Immerse: Messiah covers the entire New Testament and is a great place to start.
Around 538 BC, the nation of Israel limped home. After
seventy years of Babylonian captivity, they returned to Judah to find Jerusalem
in ruins. The wall was torn down, the gates were destroyed, and the Temple was
little more than a pile of rubble. Nehemiah weeps when he learns of the
condition of the city.
The people are disoriented. The glory days of David and
Solomon are long gone, and their once world-class city is a shell of its former
self. They rebuild the Temple, and those old enough to remember the glory of
the first Temple weep tears of mourning. Nehemiah rebuilds the walls and gates
surrounding the city, but reality bites. The once-proud superpower has been
reduced to a third-rate nation with no king, no army, and no treasury.
Then something amazing happens. Once the basic
infrastructure is set up, the people come to Ezra, their chief priest, with a
“In October, when the Israelites had settled in their towns,
all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the
Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of
Moses, which the Lord had given
for Israel to obey” (Nehemiah 7:73–8:1).
Although the walls and the Temple were standing again, the
people sensed that something was still broken: themselves. They believed that
healing would come through re-immersion in their Story. Ezra responded
immediately by organizing a corporate day of Scripture reading.
“He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early
morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the
people listened closely to the Book of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:3).
Church in the Age of
The COVID-19 virus hardly needs an introduction. Over the past
few months our lives and habits have been upended. Words like “crisis” and
“pandemic” flood our thoughts and our imaginations. We’ve been isolated, cut
off from our friends and loved ones, and even spent many weeks unable to even
gather for worship on Sundays.
During this time, pastors scrambled to create infrastructures
with which to “do church” during these strange and unsettling times. And though
slowly we are coming out of isolation, what has been discovered is that
returning to “normal” will look different.
During those lonely days, technology helped us to piece
together a vague sense of community; it was and continues to be a difficult
season of change. Infectious disease specialist Michael Osterholm said while
many view the crisis as a “blizzard” that must be waited out with extreme
measures for a short period of time, the more appropriate response is to view
it as the “beginning of winter.” While the ultimate severity and longevity are
unknown, many indicators point toward a likely scenario: things are going to be
different for a while.
In their moment of uncertainty and disorientation, the
nation of Israel turned to their Scriptures to remember their identity, to
recount God’s promises and his rescue, and to be reminded of the kind of people
they were called to be. During the winter of coronavirus, could the Body of
Christ do something similar?
Returning to Our
Shaken from our usual routines and frenetic pace, the virus
has given the church an opportunity to evaluate. What can “church” look like in
an ever-changing world? Like Israel, we’re faced with a bit of a blank slate.
Like Israel, we can choose to return and re-focus on our founding Story told in
the Scriptures. A modern-day Ezra Moment, if you will.
To help, we’ve created “Immerse from Home”—a completely free downloadable resource that includes everything you need to (virtually) gather in community for a two-week book club reading of Luke-Acts.
Originally intended as Volumes 1 and 2 of the same
combined story, Luke-Acts comprises a quarter of the New Testament. In a period
of uncertainty and anxiety, what could be more orienting and grounding than the
story of Jesus and the story of the early church?
If you and your group enjoy the Luke-Acts experience, you can continue reading the New Testament together using Immerse: Messiah. If you live in the U.S. there is a 20% off discount on ImmerseBible.com
The Beginning of
In his wisdom, Ezra understood that an emotional one-off
event wasn’t sufficient and that he needed to create a comprehensive plan for
sustainable rhythms of immersion in the sacred texts. The Scripture Reading
Marathon became a turning point for the nation, but only because it was a
Nehemiah goes on to tell us:
“On October 9 the family leaders of all the people, together
with the priests and Levites, met with Ezra the scribe to go over the law in
greater detail” (Nehemiah 8:13).
In the same month, during the Festival of Trumpets, “Ezra
read from the Book of the Law of God on each of the seven days of the festival”
“On October 31, the people assembled again. . . . They
remained standing in place for three hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them”
(Nehemiah 9:1, 3).
For the first time in their history, the Scriptures became
central to Israel’s way of life. Synagogues, created expressly for the public
reading of Scripture, sprang up throughout Israel. Scattered song lyrics from
David, Moses, Asaph, and others were compiled for the first time into the
Psalms. By the first century AD, young boys between the ages of 6 and 10 were
expected to memorize the Torah.
So we ask: could the COVID-19 virus instigate an Ezra
Moment? Could we take this opportunity to re-immerse ourselves in our Story?
We invite you to take action. To try something new—and
ancient. Pastors, call your congregations into this experience. Small group and
Bible study leaders, challenge your groups to a two-week commitment. Regular
“Joes” and “Janes,” try this with your spouse or your kids (use the Family
Guide for younger kids) or invite some family and friends to weekly Zoom calls.
Invite that one coworker or neighbor whom you’ve never felt comfortable
inviting to a Bible Study.
As the Scriptures washed over the nation on that first day
of reading, the people began to weep. It’s unclear why—perhaps because they
hadn’t heard the Word in so long, or perhaps because they’d never heard it at
all. Perhaps because they were overwhelmed by guilt as they realized just how
far they had strayed from their calling. Regardless, guilt and shame would not
have the final say. Nehemiah jumps up and addresses the people:
“Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a
sacred day before the Lord your
God. . . . Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet
drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is
sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah
“So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them” (Nehemiah 8:12).
Though this COVID-19 crisis has caused many of us to physically isolate ourselves from people we love, we are finding comfort in remembering that God is always with us. For us here at Tyndale Bibles, a light that has shined through this darkness is the coming together of the community of believers to be innovative in sharing God’s love in a time when so many desperately need it.
If you follow us on social media, you will know that we have done several reading plans together these weeks. We also have created some additional free resources we wanted to share with you. Please continue to join us in reading God’s Word, praying, and bringing God’s hope. We are thankful for each of you and pray you feel God’s loving arms around you.
Learn About the Roots of Immerse
Where did Immerse come from? Turns
out, it’s the result of over a decade of research and experimentation by the
Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR), the creators of Immerse.
We caught up with Glenn Paauw, Senior Director of Content for Institute for Bible Reading, to dig deeper into the history, research, and mission behind Immerse.
Tell us about the Institute for Bible Reading and its mission:
The Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR) is a nonprofit ministry working to change the way the world reads the Bible. Coming out of a long history in Bible publishing, our founding team members have both the experience and passion to focus on the vital mission of making sure people not only have Bibles but also read and understand them.
We believe that the ongoing research into the place of the Bible among God’s people reveals a glaring problem. The lack of attention to the Bible, of sustained reading, of knowledge and understanding is an epidemic. Some voices are even promoting a “Bibleless Christianity”—growing out of their own inability to understand how the Bible really works and informs our faith. It is crazy that the church has been given this essential gift from God, yet it is not intimately familiar with it. Christian communities often take the Bible for granted. “Of course we’re biblical,” we say. But are we? Do we actually read the Bible? Do we understand how it works? Do we have a good pathway for living out its ancient story in our own world?
These are the questions that animate the work of IFBR. Our goal is to do new, ground-breaking research into what is actually happening with the Bible in our churches. We listen and learn from the finest biblical scholars about the meaning and context of the Bible. We interact with pastors and church leaders to hear their concerns and needs. Then we work hard to translate all this learning into real help and real resources for the life of the church. We provide education and resources like Immerse that are well-informed by the best insights of scholarship yet straight-forward and accessible to everyone.
We’re an activist think tank, therefore everything we do is deeply oriented toward giving people real-world help for reading, understanding, and living the Bible well.
Why did your team feel the need to create Immerse?
The Bible is the bestselling book in this country every
single year. But as pollster George Gallup used to say, the Bible is the bestselling,
least-read book in America. As we
became increasingly aware of the research showing that people owned Bibles but did
not know the Bible’s content or live out its message, we shifted the target of
our own work to Bible engagement.
Too often we end up using the Bible in minimalistic ways and are guided by our own agenda. But God had his own purposes for giving us the Bible. We have this magnificent collection of books in order to invite us into his story of redemption and restoration. The only way to know this story well, and to live it in our own day, is to regularly read it—at length and in depth.
It’s clear that even highly-motivated people are struggling to read and live the Bible well. They pick up the Bible and it’s flat-out hard to read. It’s confusing. It can be kind of dry at times. So eventually, most of them give up. We knew that just telling people to do better and try harder was not going to cut it. They need new “tools” (i.e., a differently formatted Bible made for reading) and new practices that give them a fresh experience.
But we were also motivated by the positive vision that lies in front of the church: What if people loved reading the Bible? What if more and more people knew the Bible deep down in their bones? What if the majority of Christians were not only Bible literate but actually fluent in the Bible’s story? What would be the new story of the impact of the church in the world?
So we created Immerse as a new resource and a fresh experience for the church with the Bible. We knew that it would take a different kind of Bible presentation and a new kind of communal engagement for churches to have breakthrough encounters with the Bible. So we set out to provide something no one else is providing: a simple yet significant program to help people rediscover the riches of God’s word.
Your website says that Immerse: The Reading Bible was designed with one goal in mind: to
provide the best reading experience possible. Can you talk about why the 6
volumes are designed the way they are?
We looked closely at the history of the Bible—the whole long journey from ancient oral tradition to contemporary electronic access. It’s clear the Bible is a cultural artifact that has changed in form over time. People have chosen to design and present the Bible in very different ways in different historical eras. As the medium has changed, so has the way people answer the two crucial questions: What is the Bible? and What are we supposed to do with it?
One of the critical periods for the development of the form of the Bible was the birth of the modern era. Within about 100 years of the printing press being developed, Bible translation took off, and a new chapter-and-verse format came to the forefront. As more people began to get their own copy of the Bible for the first time, what they encountered was a two-column, reference book presentation in which every verse was presented as a new, stand-alone paragraph. Add in new study notes and section headings, and the modern Bible format was born.
This led to a whole new set of Bible practices, adapted to the new form. This wasn’t a reader-friendly Bible, so it became harder and less likely that long-form reading would happen. Think about it: What other book have you ever read that is formatted like the Bible?
In place of long-form reading came the practice of proof-texting and focusing on single verses, often taken out of context. As Philip Yancey has said, we’ve now created an entire culture of Bible McNuggets.
So in order to help the church get
back to big, contextual reading, we reverse engineered the Bible to an earlier,
more holistic format.
First, by collecting the books into
six manageable volumes instead of one massive book, the intimidation factor is
Next, we placed the books in an
order that makes more sense for good reading. For example, rather than using
the size of books as an organizing principle (like in the
prophets and Paul’s
letters), we’ve put the books in those sections back into a better
historical order. This allows readers to follow events in a chronological way
and make more sense of things. We’ve also reunited books that were split into
smaller books: Samuel–Kings, Chronicles–Ezra–Nehemiah, and Luke–Acts. In the
New Testament, we’ve gathered books around each Gospel that naturally fit with
that telling of Jesus’ story—for instance, Peter’s letters are now with Mark’s
Gospel, and so forth with the other Gospels.
Then, in a crucial move to enhance
better reading, we’ve removed all the modern additives. So there are no chapter
and verse intrusions, no footnotes, no section headings or cross-references—all
features that tend to distract readers and work against big, immersive reading
of whole books. This allows us to present each book with its natural literary
sections intact. So the five natural sections of Matthew’s new Torah can be clearly seen, letters look
like letters, songs like songs, proverbs like proverbs, etc.—all across the
literature of the Bible. This restores the Bible to the kinds of literary forms
that authors chose and God inspired and helps us to have a more authentic
Finally, we’ve designed each page
for easy and smooth reading. The single-column text, comfortable type size, and
generous margins and line spacing—all surrounding the clear, straight-forward New Living Translation text—make for a
significantly rich Bible reading experience.
What is your vision for normalizing Bible “book clubs,” and how are
these different from Bible studies?
The original experiences of God’s people with the Bible were all communal experiences. Before the books were written down, ancient stories were being recounted and passed on to new generations; prophets were delivering their oracles openly and publicly at city gates and Temple entrances; and regular, ongoing Bible readings and discussions were organized in local synagogues. Traditions about Jesus were being told and retold in villages and early Christian gatherings. All of this was done in community.
Then, even when the Scriptures were first written, the copies were few in number and always read aloud in groups. Think of the apostles’ first letters to churches as an example. These would have been written down, transported, and then read to gathered followers of Jesus, most of whom were not literate. People overwhelmingly heard the Bible read, and they listened together.
It was only much later in church history that technological advances gave individuals the chance to have their own copy to read alone. Personal use of the Bible began to replace the previous communal experiences.
Personal reading of the Bible is, of course, a great thing, and none of us should stop that. But something different and very important happens when we read the Bible in community. It’s crucial to remember that the Bible’s own goal is the formation of a distinctive Christian community of people. It is addressed to communities and meant to be lived out as communities.
When we read and discuss the Bible together, we get beyond our own biases and filters. We get to hear how the sacred text impacts others. We see more and learn more. Our own personal understanding is enhanced. It is also important for us to practice the virtues (the fruit of the Spirit) required for true community. Patient listening, striving to understand the point of view of my neighbor, and shared learning are all critical parts of being a genuine Christ-following community.
Traditional Bible studies tend to focus on dissecting smaller parts of the Bible text. While there is certainly value in doing that, what’s been missing from the church’s experience with the Bible is taking in the messages of whole books and having bigger, more open-ended discussions about them.
A book club approach to our gatherings around the Bible is a fresh way for Christian communities to read, learn, and even struggle with the Bible together. And if we were to embrace this as a regular, ongoing pattern of the Christian life, we could begin to see more serious discipleship in understanding and following the way of Jesus. Not just in our personal lives, but our community presence is meant to be a witness to the coming of God’s gracious rule into the world.
The first vision of God’s people for engaging the Bible was a pattern of lectio continua—the continual (weekly or even daily) immersion of the community into whole books of the Bible. Ongoing penetration into the depths of God’s word allowed gatherings of believers to understand all that God had said before and to effectively live into the story in their own day. A re-envisioning of church life today—around deep engagement in the word of God—could strengthen our struggling churches and empower a new sense of identity and calling.
How do you think Immerse and
the other work of the Institute for Bible Reading can help the church?
Once upon a time, God’s people were known as the People of
the Book. Israel developed the only religion in the ancient world that was so
deeply oriented toward a set of sacred texts. Then the earliest followers of
Jesus, who were all Jewish and were shaped by this orientation, continued this
profound commitment to reading, knowing, and living by the Scriptures.
The early church did whatever it took to make sure every new congregation of believers in the growing movement had access to the Scriptures and were regularly engaged with them. This happened in a world where 90% of the population was illiterate. The practice of reading through the Bible in regular cycles was brought from Judaism right into Christianity. At one point, being a lector, or Bible reader, was an official church office. It was considered essential in early Christianity that all of God’s people were consistently and significantly occupied with God’s word.
We have fallen from this. The work of the Institute for Bible Reading is geared toward helping the church regain this status and rediscover God’s story found in the Bible. We believe that a renewed commitment from church leaders, together with great new resources that surprise people with the Bible, are the things that can feed genuine renewal in the church. The Scriptures are infused with the power of God to bring real transformation into individual lives and into the life of the world. We believed and practiced it once, and we can do so again.
Video Story: Immerse Brings Unity to Multilingual Congregation
One of the most beautiful aspects of being a part of God’s
family is that no matter our background, race, culture, nationality, or education
level, we are all children of God. The Bethesda Community Church in Fort Worth,
TX, is a thriving multigenerational, multicultural, multilingual congregation. Though
united in love for God and each other, the congregation of English and Spanish
speakers were looking for a way to grow together in community as well as in
understanding God’s Word. Immerse: The
Bible Reading Experience was a perfect fit. With all six volumes and
resources available in both English and Spanish, the Bethesda family is growing
close to God and each other by studying his Word.
Hear from members of the Spanish congregation about their
experience. (The video includes English speakers and has English subtitles when
the speaker uses Spanish.)