Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Unusual Bibles by Mainstream Bible Publishers

Two major Bible publishers have unveiled efforts to produce very unusual and limited editions. USA Today reports that

To mark the 30th anniversary of the NIV, which has sold 300 million copies worldwide, publisher Zondervan launches a campaign today to create the unique edition, which will include its 31,173 verses, each handwritten by a different person.

A huge blue RV with the logo "BibleAcrossAmerica.com" splashed on its side and "Inspiration at every turn" on its back takes off on a five-month journey bringing "writing stations" to 90 stops in 44 states at churches, landmarks and popular settings such as NASCAR races.

So to celebrate one of the greatest successes of mass printing and marketing, they create the precise opposite, a unique manuscript! Of course, the marketing potential in both the unique copy and mass reproduction are not being ignored:
A photo facsimile of all the verses will be compiled and published in time for Christmas 2009; the index will list each participant's name and the number of the verse he or she copied.

One set of originals will be bound and offered to the Smithsonian. The second set, also bound, will be auctioned to benefit the International Bible Society, which holds the NIV copyright and is co-sponsoring the project with Zondervan.

(ht Andrew McTyre and Kevin Edgecomb)

Meanwhile, the American Bible Society has produced a limited edition polyglot Bible for use by the Vatican:

Developed in honor of the upcoming Synod of Catholic Bishops, which is themed The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, the production of the Biblia Polyglotta heralds the beginning of a new relationship between the American Bible Society and the Holy See and is the result of an historic collaboration between the American Bible Society and the papacy. The Biblia Polyglotta bears the seals of the Vatican and the American Bible Society. ...

the Biblia Polyglotta features the Old Testament in five languages: Hebrew/Aramaic, Greek, Latin, English and Spanish; and the New Testament in four languages: Greek, Latin, English and Spanish.

One of the things highlighted in the working document for the Synod of Bishops is the importance of Lectio Divina within the Catholic tradition. Lectio Divina, a dynamic centuries-old method for Bible reading and reflection, is an integral part of the devotional life of the Catholic Church. The American Bible Society currently conducts Lectio Divina workshops and training sessions in Catholic parishes around the country.

The 3200 page Bible took biblical scholars at the American Bible Society over a year-and-a-half to complete. Dedicated to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the leather-bound volume is embellished with gold and silver titles. Brazilian artist Claudio Pastro, a specialist in Sacred Art, provided the artwork.

All those attending the Synod will receive copies of this Bible. An additional one thousand copies of the Biblia Polyglotta will become the official biblical gift of the Holy See to heads of state and other dignitaries.

The unique commemorative edition has a very old history in Bible production. Both these efforts show it is alive and well. But it is also very interesting to see both publishers showing interest in the performative dimension of the text, whether the hand writing of the verses or the meditative reading/chanting through lectio divina. This is a big change for these very text-centered organizations!

No comments: