Saving the Bible from Ourselves

Saving the Bible from Ourselves: Learning to Read & Live the Bible Well

InterVarsity, 2016

Modern Bibles come with all sorts of tools that are intended to help us engage the text better: verse and chapter divisions, cross references, study notes, and so on. But do they actually help us read the Bible? Glenn Paauw is vice president of global Bible engagement at Biblica, and his answer is a definitive “no.” This book is his manifesto on how the design of our Bibles has encouraged us to distort what the Bible is—breaking it into tiny pieces that can be shuffled around—and how to return the Bible to what it ought to be by adopting what he calls “big readings” of the text.

Specifically, Paauw thinks we need to make seven changes in how we view the Bible. We need to move from a complicated Bible to an elegant Bible; from a snacking Bible to a feasting Bible; from a de-historicized Bible to a historical Bible; from a de-dramatized Bible to a “storiented” Bible; from an otherworldly Bible to an earthly Bible; from a private Bible to a synagogue Bible; and from an ugly Bible to an iconic Bible. In sum, he thinks our Bible should be “presented as literature, eaten in natural forms, grounded in history, inviting in its narrative, restorative in its theme, engaged in community and honored in its aesthetic presentation” (213).

As someone who has participated in creating a Bible translation and a study Bible, I found Paauw’s arguments thought-provoking and convicting. Whatever your thoughts on Paauw’s specific prescriptions for change, this is a great book for anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about our engagement with the Bible and how it could be improved.