Incarnating the Word, or Scheming for More Money?

A couple weeks ago, Chris wrote a post about a couple of unique Bible versions published. Following up on what he had to say, a couple of catalogues came to me in the mail last week, and I can’t believe some of the Bibles now being sold. Here are two of my (least) favorites.

41ls4xbf2bxl__ss500_First, we have “The Espresso Bible.” Who knew that espresso drinkers required their own Bible? Not me. Even moreover, espresso drinkers apparently can only handle “small sips” of the Bible, and not the whole thing. Here’s the description from Amazon:

This little book provides a condensed and accessible version of the “Bible” for those who want it quick, simple and concentrated. Experienced author, broadcaster and “Bible” commentator David Winter presents readers with the ‘essential’ passages of the “Bible”, linking them with bits of introductory and explanatory text. This enables readers to go through the “Bible” in shortened form, while giving an understanding of the Bible’s story and the way it all fits together. This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to read the “Bible” without wading through every word. Unlike the recent “100 Minute Bible”, it uses actual “Bible” text (from the CEV translation) rather than summaries of passages.

So, The Espresso Bible apparently takes out the “non-essential” parts of Scripture. I wonder if the editors considered Revelation 22:19 an “essential verse.” (“… and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”)

519zr84m66l__ss500_1Second, we have “The Duct Tape Bible.” The description on Amazon begins, “Experience the latest rage.”

Where to begin….

First, I have a number of friends who have wrapped their Bible covers in duct tape, for the good reason of keeping their Bible’s in tact. But, I’d hardly consider this practice a “rage.” In fact, I’m pretty certain that about 100% of my friends who have done this did so to make their Bible last longer, and the thought of trend setting was probably not even on their radar.

Second, who on the planet will actually pay to have their Bible come prewrapped in duct tape??? Isn’t half the fun of this “rage” doing it yourself?

Third, (and this applies just as much to the “Espresso Bible,” what is the point of packaging the Bible with these kinds of marketing labels? I can see some value in putting target-specific covers on Bibles to make them more attractive and subsequently read by the owners. (i.e. The “Peacemakers’ Bible” designed for police officers.) But what is the target audience of the Duct Tape Bible? If the Amazon description is any indication, it’s targeted for those who are familiar with the “rage” of wrapping Bible’s in Duct Tape. And these people are individuals who are almost certainly Christians who already own a Bible. The Duct Tape Bible is nothing more than a marketing scheme.

Lord have mercy.

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4 thoughts on “Incarnating the Word, or Scheming for More Money?

  1. Funny. The Bible which I use most is one I’ve had for six years, and it’s one that I bought precisely because it was cheap and simple, without any of these marketing gimicks attached to it. After six years, guess what holds it together: black duct tape.

    As for the espresso Bible, the barista in me wants to push this analogy a little further. A shot of espresso will have a little more caffiene than a normal size cup of coffee, and requires more coffee grounds to produce that small shot. And while it takes talent to produce a shot with a good taste, the dark roast of espresso beans means that the unique flaovrs of the beans gets roasted out. You can’t tell if an espresso shot was made with Ethiopian or Indonesian or Peruvian beans. It’s just plain espresso: caffiene, same flavor, and an immediate pick-me-up.

    I imagine the espresso Bible may provide similar benefits: quick shots of inspiration designed to suit the taste of American Christians. But think of all the flavor that’s lost by omitting the context! Where’s the terrifying majesty of God we see in Ezekiel, or the heartache of the psalmist, or the depth of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John, if all we get are short snipits of the “important” texts? Just as beans from different countries of origin have complex and unique flavors, so too do each of the books of the Bible. How much of the unique tone of each text (and thus the richness of the Bible as a whole) is lost by reducing it to a handful of excerpts and oversimplifying their meaning? I pray the espresso Bible will get people addicted to its jolts of inspiration so that they’ll be drawn into the whole of the scriptures.

  2. Ugh, I just wrote you a whole comment and it got deleted. Anyway, the main point is that I believe the target audience for the “Duct Tape” bible, even if the editors didn’t know it, are people like my dad who believe that duct tape and WD40 fix everything and are the staples of every American home. The people who would buy this Bible are probably just looking for an interesting cover. As long as the message inside it is the same and unaltered (as in the espresso bible) I don’t think that one is that bad. The espresso bible on the other hand… that’s ridiculous.

    Ok, I had more in my previous comment, but I’m tired now and need to go. Ciao!

  3. Interesting point Rainey. You should buy a copy of the Duct Tape Bible as a Christmas gift for your Dad. (I’m being completely serious). I’d be curious to see if your theory holds.

  4. Oh boy, I certainly see your point. I wonder if those who started this trend had a similar aim to those who were in the Christian/pop music industry early on – namely to reach unbelievers where they were. As we now know, it didn’t so much do that as it started a whole little Christian music subculture marketing thing.
    Or, maybe they’re trying to appeal to those already in that subculture – you’ve gotta have the coolest Bible in the coffee house that only plays Christian music…
    I don’t mean to sound so cynical. I like Christian music. In fact, I was a fan of Jars of Clay back when they were still opening for Nine Inch Nails (and trying to reach the lost who showed up to see that band).

    On a completely different note, this post made me think of how upset my grandma was last year when my aunt got a “Women’s Bible.” It took me a little while into our conversation at the time to realize that she thought it meant that it changed the wording of Scripture to better suit women. Alas, Grandma came from a time when a Bible was a Bible, and all of them were for everyone.

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