Lens #2: Layout

After watching, click this link to head over to Bible Gateway and look at a few different renderings of this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mark 6:1-13). I’ve chosen five parallels — not for the differences in the text but for the differences in the heading at the top of each one. Remember, those headings are editorial. The publishers of the various translations put those in. We have five different headings for the same six verses!

Now Click here to download a PDF of this Sunday’s Gospel reading in two different formats. The first is with headings, chapters, and verses, and the second is without. (Note: Originally, the link above went to a website showing the same material, but I began having difficulty with the link working, hence the new solution.)

Prompts for Discussion

Use the comments box below (under “Leave a Reply”) to discuss some of these prompts. You can post more than one comment and respond to other people’s comments The first time you do it, you many need to provide some basic info like name and email.

1) Which of the additions to the pages of the Bible does the version you most often use contain? I’m sure they all have chapters and verses, but what about headings? Red letter Jesus-speak? Annotations? What about little devotional materials in boxes?

2) The first link above sends you to Bible Gateway and five different versions of Sunday’s Gospel reading. Which heading do you thinks works best and why? (The choices are: Jesus in his Hometown, A Prophet Without Honor, Teaching at Nazareth, Just a Carpenter, Jesus is Rejected at Nazareth)

3) If you had to come up with a heading for the first half of the passage, what would it be? (One of the ones in #2 or something new entirely)

4) Stay on Biblegateway.com and search your favorite passage of the Bible in several translations. How do the headings differ?

5) Compare the two links above that send you to Oremus Bible Browser. Does reading the text with no extraneous stuff on the page feel any different?

6) On the Oremus Bible Browser, search for your favorite passage and then use the buttons at the top of the page to turn off the headings and verse numbers and other stuff. How is it reading the passage with no extra stuff?

7) What do you think would happen to Biblical discourse if no one had ever come up with verse numbers?

< Lens #1: Translations transparent transparent trspant Lens #3: Passages >

5 responses to “Lens #2: Layout

  1. Susan Mosher

    A lot to think about! My strongest reaction to this study is that Adam calls the “red-letter” editions silly and uses the term “Jesus-speak” which seems pejorative. I find the words of Jesus to be the ones I can trust, even if I am having difficulty with a passage or Idea presented. I like to think I am savvy enough to see them in context.

    I think the heading, “Jesus rejected at Nazareth” is best because it gives the most information, namely that Jesus is in his home town (Nazareth) and that he is not well received.

    I was surprised to find that I preferred the unembellished version better. The version I mostly use has all the extras(mainly because I could get giant print and bonded leather for a reasonable price and, oh yes, it is a red letter edition). I never read the section titles. It has a few annotations which are sometimes very helpful, but I resist the kind that try to tell you why this is important in every day life as too interpretive and someone else telling one what to think , ie What is their authority?

    And finally, It would be extremely difficult to have discourse about the Bible without verse numbers as anyone who has attempted to discuss a passage with one person using one of the earlier Message Bibles could tell you.

    I’m really liking this Ten lenses approach— Thanks Adam.


  2. sandyemler

    I too really liked reading the edition without seeing the verses but found it interesting to see that they stopped at different places. Think his going on from there is better as a part of the next section.

    I have never owned a red letter Bible and would probably question how well the writers remembered what Jesus had actually said; yes, the basic idea but exactly?

    How about “Mob Mentality in Nazareth” for a heading? I use headings to find sections that I am looking for but have never considered who wrote them and what they might be encouraging me to think. I agree with Susan that the verse breakdown is so useful when studying the various translations, how specific thoughts are conveyed. And in a group study, how the specific choice of words creates very different imagines for me.

    A couple of questions: Our granddaughters are Jewish and we were fortunate to be able to see the Scroll from which they read during their Bat Mitzvah’s. Reading right to left in Hebrew, with no punctuation or breaks is amazing. Vowels? Not sure. Thank goodness they can study from English translations. Until the 60’s I think, the Roman Catholic service was universally in Latin. Were the Bible readings in the local language? Were they ever in Latin? Who decides which translation a local church uses for their services?

    Thanks Adam. Lots of new ideas!


  3. Susan — I’m sorry for my insensitivity in saying “Jesus-speak.” I should have said “words of Jesus” and left it at that. I acknowledge that my off-the-cuff line strayed into the realm of disrespect.

    Sandy — For a very long time vernacular Bibles were outlawed. In fact, people were burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English even just a few decades before it was commonplace (this is in the late 1400s/early 1500s). Common people (i.e. the 99.9% who didn’t speak Latin) got their biblical education from the stained glass/popular songs/word of mouth/itinerant preachers. In the middle ages, it was not the property of the non-clergy to really know much about the story.


    • Ann Musto

      Hi all – my very good friend spent 3 years in Romania, and would send me pictures of the village churches… all covered in mosaics that depict the “important” Biblical stories in order for the people to be able to “read” the stories and pass them on to their children by their visual education. I think that’s cool… but obviously the stories were very limited.

      I , too, have been using a Red Bible, and it doesn’t even have the apocrypha! Yikes! I see your point, Adam, and I must say that it gave me pause to think about specific quotes as presented as separate from the context of the writings. I think I’m off to find a black and white Bible, with the Apocrypha, and no headings…I really don’t like the language of the Message, so I will look some more. Thanks, Adam! Great job, and I am real;ly liking my time on this darn computer!


  4. Phil Flaherty

    My every day Bible does not have headings or red letters. When I use a Bible that has them, I find both to be distracting. As for the footnotes, I do find them useful if I am in “study” mode, but somewhat distracting when using the text for meditation and prayer. In whatever form we read it, we should always be grateful to those who gave their lives that we might have it in English, which ties into Sandy’s wondering about preVatican II Roman Catholics; the old testament, psalm and epistle were read in Latin on the right side of the altar. You knew the Gospel was about to happen when the altar boy took the book and moved it to the Left of the altar, that was the cue to stand up. After reading the Gospel in Latin with his back to the congregation, the priest would come to the pulpit and read an English translation, then a sermon. That’s all the English you got. Thanks for pushing that memory button, Sandy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s