Informative Links & Reader Testimonials
The Bible is many things to many people, but at its most simple it’s a collection of stories. Bibliotheca boils The Bible down to its literary essence, and the result is a beautiful and approachable version of a complex work which continues to shape what people believe and how they go about their lives all over the world.
I’ve been watching this project closely for the last couple of years and continue to be amazed by the amount of effort that has gone into every aspect of it. I got to handle the end result last weekend and it is beautiful down to the last detail. Custom typefaces, bespoke materials, and the very best printing and binding available.
–Chris Lauritzen, Facebook post
Bibliotheca is such an amazing and brilliant release that even some of the most popular publishers (i.e. Crossway and Zondervan) have hopped on the “multi-volume reader’s bible” train. While I can’t compare the physical quality of their releases with Bibliotheca, I can compare the translations themselves and Bibliotheca stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The hidden gem of Bibliotheca and why I’d recommend it over other multi-volume Bibles is the translation used. It's a custom translation they call the American Literary Version and is a thorough update of the 1901 American Standard Version. It’s updated with the help of biblical scholars and updates the archaic words (thee, thou, ye, etc). However, it keeps the elegant sentence structure so even though it’s in modern English it’s a joy to read.
–O. Ortiz, Amazon.com review
In a world where almost everything is soullessly mass-produced, including the Bible, it’s extremely refreshing to have an alternative.
And what an alternative! The formation of the Bibliotheca channels some of the first productions of the bible that were carefully crafted pieces of art. This version is ethically sourced from European manufactures that have historically focused on exceptional quality and craftsmanship.
Finally, here is a true reader’s Bible in every sense of the word, a luxury edition that every bibliophile’s collection has been wanting!
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There are a lot of versions of Bibles out there. Many were created to serve a particular slant, or to focus simply on “just getting the Word out there.” But here is the first Bible I’ve ever seen to detach from any alliance, allowing the reader to enjoy it in a purely artistic sense, treating it as the significant work of literature it is.
In this way Bibliotheca stands out as truly original, and I love that I’m supporting a passion project, a small business, and a work of art.
–Zev Neuhaus, Amazon.com review
What began as a light revision of the ASV (i.e. updating thee and thou) turned into a more in-depth revision as the funding for Bibliotheca increased. The resulting translation is more literal than the ASV, while still maintaining a relatively high degree of readability for those who are well-versed in the Scriptures and who don’t mind looking up an occasional word in the dictionary.
While many modern translations such as the NASB, NKJV, and ESV claim a high degree of literalness, they are not as literal as one might expect. Often these translations make changes to the text to increase the readability for modern readers. However, while the translation becomes more readable, the literal meaning of the actual Greek or Hebrew source is obscured. The ALV more consistently provides a truly literal rendering of the Greek and Hebrew source text.
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Consider, for example, 2 Peter 2:4. The NASB reads, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell…” The Greek word translated as cast into hell is ταρταρόω, which is a verb that means ‘consign to Tartarus’. In Greek thought, Tartarus is a place of punishment and torment located below Hades. Tartarus is different from the word γέεννα, which is usually translated as ‘hell’. The ESV and NKJV follow the NASB in translating ταρταρόω with the word ‘hell’ instead of ‘Tartarus’. The ALV is more literal in translating the underlying Greek of 2 Peter 2:4. It reads, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus…” In addition to rendering ταρταρόω more literally, the ALV also translates γέεννα as ‘Gehenna’ rather than ‘hell’, which preserves the imagery of the Valley of Hinnom, the city dump of Jerusalem where trash was burned. [Read the full review.]
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In conclusion, the ALV is the most literal modern translation of the Bible available today. And despite its literal renderings, it has a relatively high degree of readability. It is certainly much easier to read than Young’s Literal Translation, from which it draws some of its translation choices.
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I highly recommend the American Literary Version to anyone who has a relatively high level of biblical literacy and who wants to know what the underlying Greek and Hebrew text actually says.
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Regarding the format, I find that reading the Bible without chapter and verse divisions, footnotes, or section headings is incredibly refreshing. The beautiful layout of the American Literary Version in the Bibliotheca Bible is unparalleled by any other Bible I know of. I can't put it down!
–Adam Boyd, Amazon.com review
Beautiful translation and excellent publishing craft bring the Holy Scriptures to readers in a wonderfully vibrant new edition that offers a new rhythm to the text from which readers can gain fresh insight. This is a great piece of work.
–C.J. Stunkard, Goodreads review
Wow. No verses, no chapters, immaculate typeface, paper made from literal rock composite in Austria, bound in Germany. I feel like I’m reading sacred writ for the first time ever.
–Lawson Bowick, Instagram post
Absolutely beautiful. Modern design meets timeless elegance. The typeface designed specifically for this project is a joy to read and adds to the overall elegant vibe of the set. From the tree-less paper (I don’t know how they do that, don’t ask me) to the margins and dimensions of the books themselves, the entire set makes it clear that Greene and team put some serious thought into the physical form and design of Bibliotheca.
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Greene and team did not only put effort into the physical form of Bibliotheca. The translation of the text itself is unique to the volume, dubbed as the American Literary Version (ALV). The ALV is a revision of the ASV, removing the archaic “thees” and “thous” and touching up the text where deemed necessary. The result is a combination of words matching the physical form containing them: an elegance that makes you want to pick up a volume and read anytime you have a chance.
Some heavy-hitters in the Bible scholar world (like David A. DeSilva) were involved in the revision that is more modern yet no less accurate than the ASV. Some of the choices adding to the literary style and feel of the translation include “good tidings” in place of the usual “gospel” and “YHWH” in place of “LORD.” The text restores some of the timeless literary flare lost with most modern translations while still reaching a modern audience.
–Forest Antemesaris, from his review at 1st Century Faith Today
A great idea with good design is always worth the investment. . . . After two years of waiting for this to come into fruition, every detail was done with such beauty and excellence.
–Diane Choi, Instagram post
I got mine a couple of days ago. It looks incredible and feels so solid in your hand. It really shifts the perspective of the Bible, and then made me realize what true ‘design’ is. Design is a problem solving process. The creator saw a problem of the conventional Bible – how the narrative, the most important part of the Bible, was lost and faded when we started arbitrarily dissecting it into different verses. It’s almost like laying the story of God out on a cold lab table after a biopsy. While it may help study and categorize the Bible, it really loses the breath of the words as they were originally written. He wanted to change it, and what an incredible job he has done. Not only does it look great and well built, Bibliotheca re-establishes a reader’s relationship with the scripture.
Beyond visual execution, I think this is really what great design is.
–A Reddit User
One reads the Bibliotheca the way one reads The Odyssey or a book of poems or The Lord of the Rings, taking each of the texts in the library as a whole thing, not as a compendium of quotable, usable, isolated segments. It looks more like a library to be explored and read than a user’s manual to be indexed and sifted.
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But bibles are usually designed, unintentionally or otherwise, to prevent immersion. To prevent exploring the world inside the book, prevent knocking on the walls and finding what jumps out. We get trained to treat that particular library as a dictionary and not as a shelf-ful of beautiful, old, imaginative books.
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It is one of the two most beautiful editions I have ever seen (the other is the Pennyroyal Caxton and its more affordable facsimiles), and reading it is like reading these texts for the very first time, everything made new. Like a fresh breeze through the window. I’m thankful for it, delighted by it, and it has lifted my mood in a very dark month. Adam Lewis Greene, the book designer who created the Bibliotheca, has given the world a good gift.
–Stant Litore, from a review on his blog
Great reading experience. Really enjoy reading single column without chapter and verse numbers. Translation is just unusual enough to catch your attention, but not enough to be a distraction.
–C.J. Bowen, Goodreads review
My expectations were not met. They were surpassed. Bibliotheca turned out even better than I expected. And Adam’s interest in typography proved to be much more than a hipster affection (as more than one cultural commentator had opined): the level of care taken in every aspect of the page design and typesetting was breathtaking to observe.
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Bibliotheca’s triumph is a victory of details.
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To understand the spirit of Bibliotheca’s design, you have to recognize first and foremost the kind of reader-friendly book it is. This is not a mass market paperback. Not a thriller off the bestseller list. Bibliotheca is designed like an art book. (Not surprisingly, it is also printed by a firm in Germany that prints art books.) Where one kind of design strives for populist accessibility, another aims for the kind of minimalist purity that exalts its content – or rather, signals that its content is meant to be exalted. The designer doesn’t presume to make it beautiful; rather, the designer recognizes its inherent beauty and designs accordingly. That’s what Bibliotheca does.
Bibliotheca’s revision to the American Standard Version was so extensive that, as I predicted, it has now been copyrighted as the American Literary Version. . . . There is something thrilling about reading familiar passages in a new translation. You feel as if you are gaining fresh insight. The same thing happens reading a familiar translation in a new format. The Authorized Version in a single column, paragraphed edition reads like a wholly different work than it does in an old-fashioned reference setting. (Really, it does.) By presenting an unfamiliar translation in an unfamiliar format, Bibliotheca delivers an experience that is especially revelatory.
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The fact that Bibliotheca used the ASV (now ALV) was always a matter of indifference to me. . . . But for Adam Lewis Greene the translation was an essential part of the puzzle. Bibliotheca needed to be a certain kind of translation, just as the design and typography needed to follow a particular logic. After six months with Bibliotheca, I see the point. Both the design and the translation frame the ancient in a way similar to how a museum might, balancing accessibility with awe.
–J. Mark Bertrand, from his in-depth review at Lectio
More information about Bibliotheca (details regarding translation, design, production, etc.) will be available soon. Sign up here to receive a notification when it’s published.