Mostly Harmless

A new project that promises to print a chapter-less version of the bible seems to have caught the excitement of sponsors.

Why has the idea of a chapter-less Bible caught on so quickly? Adam Greene, who was surprised by the popularity of his idea, has a few ideas:

Three major threads that have been running parallel for some time now in my world are the recognition of the biblical anthology as great literature, an increasing interest in story, and a newly widespread appreciation of design as an enhancement to human experience.

Well, I’ve read the bible. Great Literature it is not. Important, yes, as it is important to understand where western culture comes from. But great Literature in the way of writing? I think not. It’s heavy-handed, predictable, highly repetitive, fragmented, a loosely stitched-together transcript of stories that were orally passed on, and was translated right up the wazoo by people who were interested in mythology, not linguistic finesse. Worst of all, with only few exceptions, it is boring. In short, it’s a literary brute, in line with my own third-grade writings.

Luckily, there’s another reason people like the new bible version:

For starters, it is elegantly presented.

Actually, that’s pretty much it. After all, you can get the whole bible (almost any version) as a digital download for free. The newly designed book does look good. It fits perfectly into a present-day library, the kind of library people have today: the one that has many good looking backs, but where no book was ever read.

Verse-less, chapter-less formats can help readers encounter the texts for what they are […] – literary compositions

So the bible has finally reached the form it was always destined for: the fictional novel. It took it long enough.

But there are detractors: Dr. Margaret Aymer, an associate professor of New Testament at the Interdenominational Theological Center, worries that the lack of footnotes may create a false sense of certainty for readers.

Seriously? Read the first chapter. Anyone who still thinks that the story is anything but fairy tales won’t be swayed simply by form of presentation.

Nonetheless, Aymer also stated that she found the project “interesting” and “mostly harmless.”

There is a 1987 album called ‘The people who grinned themselves to death’. That was almost my fate when I read her assessment.

After all the damage the Bible has already done, this project is entirely harmless.