Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Part 2--You Sure Can't Judge By The Cover

If you haven't been to a Bible bookstore lately, then you may not be aware of the blitz of marketing going on in the Bible world. When I was child, I think Bibles were pretty much black. And if you were really fancy, the pages were edged in gold and maybe had those little finger tabs to help you find the books of the Bible easier. Or, maybe you had your name printed on the cover! Ooooh!

Not so anymore. Some of them are just so attractive! This one came with a free bracelet when it first hit the stores. Here is one in camo--just because. I loved this one when I first saw it. Here is a New Testament patterned after a teen magazine. Yes, it's really a New Testament.

It seems that buying a Bible for someone is very difficult these days. I mean, which KIND of Bible? Is it for a boy or a girl? (It matters.) For a college student or a "tween"? They've got one for everybody. What probably started out as trying to make those basic black covers more attractive (I prefer maroon, personally.) has bled into trying to make the inside of the Bible more attractive as well.

What do I mean? Well, just read the description that comes with this Bible marketed to teen girls:

"Do you ever feel that the Bible is "too big and freaky looking"? Are you ever too intimidated to read it? Revolve is for you. It's a Bible that looks like a fashion magazine! With this relevant format and over 500 further-study notes, you'll feel comfortable exploring the Scriptures. Features Include: Blabs (Q & A), 12 Month-Long Calendars, Love Notes from God, Issue articles, Basics of Christianity Articles, Quizzes, Beauty Secrets, Relationship articles, Devotional Reading Plans, and more!"

Oh, how I wish I were kidding.
I first stumbled on some reviews of the many teen Bibles online. In particular, I read about the NIV Teen Study Bible and really couldn't believe what I was reading. So when I saw one of the teens at church with the same Bible, I asked him if I could look at it. Buried in the pages of the Bible are some glossy pages with cool hip colors and graphics. Each page has an alternative definition on it of a certain word. The first edition had this: "Sex-(alternative definition) another fun thing mean adults tell teenagers to keep away from." I believe newer versions have different wording. His did, anyway. But what scared me about all this is that this is EXACTLY the Bible I would have picked for my teen! I have an NIV Study Bible and I use it all the time. Great! One for teens--I'll take it.
My point about the two Bible versions above is that you are not just handing your kids the word of God, but also some articles (written by whom?), quizzes (magazine style), beauty secrets, and lots and lots of information on dating and more. Much more.
The one that concerned me the most of all the Bibles I researched was the NIV True Images Bible for teen girls. I wouldn't report on something that I had not seen with my own eyes. After reading about this Bible online and this article, which you must at least glance over to believe, I met an 11 year old girl who owned this Bible. I saw the articles with my own eyes and let me just say that I think I learned a few things by reading them and I am in my 30's! It horrifies me to think of my daughter reading these articles, while her eyes and thoughts should be on the word of God!
I know these topics are real. I know teens daily face them. I am sure you could collect stories of girls who were helped by this Bible. But I just want parents (and grandparents, and anyone else who would buy a Bible as a gift) to be aware that when it comes to Bibles these days--you really better look between that beautiful cover and past all the freebies and cool stuff that come along with it--and read exactly what you are handing your children.
Because if you are like me*, you might not like what you see. And you may just go buy a really "boring" Bible and put it in a cute cover for your daughter's Christmas present.
Next up: Part 3--Oh, Those Bothersome Little Pronouns!
*And if you are not like me--you can dismiss all of this as my own opinions. I "warned" a friend and they didn't see anything wrong with the Bible their child had. So...feel free to disagree.


  1. Recently we were in the market for a new Bible for our nine year old, Scarlett. I was amazed by the assortment of Bibles on the shelves as well. We opted for a NIRV for kids, not teens or tweens or preteens or whatever we're calling them these days. When she "outgrows" the Lucado devotions from this one, I think we'll just buy her a "grown up" Bible.

    Wonderful post, by the way.

  2. This is another great post. I found Bibles for my girls that have cute leather covers: one in pink, and the other is denim. Inside is NIV Scripture only, no commentary. Thanks for the heads up. I'll be very careful when purchasing their next Bible. For me, I just don't see the point of all the additional content in kids' Bibles. Parents should initiate discussions on the practical aplication of God's word in the lives of their children.

  3. Thank you Brenda for your careful observations. (Though the teen magazine one does not look like it would even take careful observation, just one look and you could tell.)

    My daughters all have a version of the Soft leather NIV one that you showed in a link. I have no problem with a coloful outer cover. IT is plain scripture inside.

    Brenda, I, too, own a NIV commentary bible, and even as adults, we have to be aware that commentaries in that version (and *mine* has a boring blue leather cover!!) are not always right on with the interpretation of Scripture.

  4. fill the void, what would your ideal bible look like for your daughters? write handwritten notes in there from Mom and underline and higlight the lessons from you to her, give the concept to a publisher and fill the void and give momma's like you the ability to purchase a bible with their eyes closed.

  5. Biblezine?! Just a subtle form of creating God in our own image. Look at those girls on the cover...they might as well wear a caption that says, "It's all about me."

    It's a strange form of Pharisee-ism in my opinion--not what folks typically think of--but consider that this way is teaching teens to "read" the "Bible" and wear the cross and attend the youth rallies and raise their hands and look all spiritual...

    But they are zealous without knowledge if they are taking God's Word in a diluted form. And frankly, it shows in the expressions that bubble up from their heart.

    Good post, Brenda. (Don't let anonymous get you down.)

  6. Wow that is scarily amazing! I had no idea.

  7. Hi, found you through Grafted Branch...heartbreaking post, thanks for sounding the alarm on this one.


  8. Thank you!!! I came here from grafted branch, and God led me I am sure!

    My daughter and I just selected this very Bible at the bookstore last night( a quick perusal of it looked good- I actually even steered her towards it because it seemed to have some nice topical or devotian type sections).

    I was going to return to buy it for her birthday- I am so grateful I came here first and checked out the Zondervan link- frightening! I will now have some explaining to do to my daughter, but I am so thankful she didn't have the opportunity to read about some of those topics- things her mind should NOT be tainted by.

    Thank you so much!

  9. Great post - and I totally agree!

    I don't even like devotional Bibles. Something about "add or take away nothing - not one jot nor tittle" gets me. I love devotionals, but I don't want them included in God's Word. I buy those separately and use with the Bible.

  10. Oh Brenda,

    That is just horrible. Horrible!

    I'm glad you said something.

    Once our children are fluent readers - we just buy them a nice plain Bible. I don't even like the "specialized" Bibles...Bibles for women, Bibles for hunters...etc. Just give us God's Word!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)