The first Bible I ever purchased was a New International Version Student Life Bible; it was black with neon pink and green lettering. I picked it up from the bookstore of a church I was invited to in my late teens. This “expanded” version featured maps, reading plans, and questionnaires geared toward teenagers who wanted to learn how to effectively apply biblical principles to their daily lives. In other words, how to learn to be the “salt of the earth.”
While the environment was certainly foreign to me at the time, what kept me coming back to the youth group were the words: The scriptures, with their psalms and lyrical exhortations, tugged at a wayward misfit who had an affinity for poetry and vivid prose. Since then, I’ve owned dozens of Bibles in various translations and languages.
You don’t have to look hard to notice the Bible has been marketed to fit nearly every person and interest. There are editions dedicated specifically for men, women, toddlers, athletes, military wives, and people in Twelve-Step recovery programs — each edition emphasizing relevant passages and often featuring commentary from religious scholars or well-known personalities. Sometimes they’re a bit much — the Patriot’s Bible, for one, is a damn shame that wears its racism and twisted view of patriotism on its proverbial sleeves — but other times they succeed in helping bring the text to life.
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