A while back I wrote about my rebuilding interest in bible translations. But a recent article by Daniel Burke asks: Are there too many bible translations out there?
However, some Christian scholars wonder whether too much Good News can sometimes be a bad thing, as a major new translation and waves of books marking the 400th anniversary of the venerable King James Bible inundate the market this fall.There are so many bibles out there that shoppers of the Good News seem to get overwhelmed. Burke:
The assortment of translations and "niche Bibles" (think, "The Holy Bible: Stock Car Racing Edition") sow confusion and division among Christians, invite ridicule from relativists, and risk reducing God's word into just another personal-shopping preference, the scholars say.
The market can be so confusing and crowded that half of customers who visit Christian stores to buy a Bible leave without one, according to a study presented to Christian retailers in 2006.This seems to create a vicious cycle. To help people sort through all those bibles publishers are increasingly creating niche bibles, a bible just for you:
Christian publisher Zondervan's 2010 catalog of Bibles ("The Book of Good Books") runs 223 pages and includes Bibles tailored toward black children, students, spiritual seekers, women with cancer, busy dads, new moms, recovering addicts, surfers, grandmothers and camouflage enthusiasts.But this trend just proliferates the number of bibles on the shelf.
"The next thing will be a Bible for men in midlife crises," Jeffrey said, "with ads for Harley Davidson motorcycles inside."
However, there may be a deeper problem in creating bibles that "fit" your lifestyle. As Burke concludes:
[Leland Ryken, an English professor at Wheaton College] suspects publishers' motives may be more economic than spiritual.
By definition, niche Bibles are designed to corner a market segment, he said. In the process, "the Bible loses its identity as the authoritative word of God and becomes something trivial, on par with shoes for hikers or luggage for the international set."