Better Late Than Never: a Review of Bibliotheca

In mid-2014, Adam Lewis Greene made Kickstarter history by raising over $1.4 million for his crowd-funded project. What were all these people rushing to fund? They were donating to what can only be described as the Bible reimagined. Or maybe, restored. Adam Lewis Greene (ALG from here on) had an idea for reading biblical literature in a different way. As a typographer, ALG imagined a Bible broken down into several naturally divided sections. No verse numbers or chapter headings and not a single piece of thin tissue-like Bible paper would be involved. Instead, he would design a highly-readable, elegant font, use real, high-quality paper, and reinvent (or restore) the way we all read God’s Word. The result was Bibliotheca. I first heard of the project from J. Mark Bertrand and donated to the Kickstarter after watching ALG’s video.

I ended up being glad I did. By being a Kickstarter backer I was able to receive the 5-book set in the paperboard slipcase for a price far below what it is going for now. “Better Late Than Never” refers to both Bibliotheca itself (for having not been completed for nearly three years past the end of the Kickstarter campaign) and my review (now that I have had Bibliotheca for over half a year). Overall, Bibliotheca is a pleasure to any bibliophile. I am nearly through reading the New Testament epistles in this edition of God’s Word (I am taking my time), and it continues to impress.

Physical Form

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 ALG and team put some serious thought into the physical form and design of Bibliotheca. The color and structure of the cloth binding on the books is beautiful as is the gold trim. The feel and sight of the volumes create an emotional response that makes the sensitive soul excited to plunge themselves into God’s Word.

The Translation 

ALG 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.

A Disclaimer

I know that some are not interested or impressed by Bibliotheca or reader’s volumes like unto it. For some, this is simply because it is different. For others, I believe there may be some misunderstanding. The entire purpose of a reader’s volume like Bibliotheca is to immerse the reader into the very words of God without the distraction of cross-references, man-made chapters and verses, and 30 pastel-colored maps to thumb through during a lull in a sermon. The goal of Bibliotheca is not the same as a study Bible, reference Bible, and most of the other Bibles we are used to. Certainly, change can be scary, but this change shouldn’t be met with fear. Let the reader understand, Bibliotheca has a purpose intrinsically different from other editions of Holy Writ. Bibliotheca is not designed to be preached from or to take with you to church, it is designed to be read and enjoyed by God’s people. And, in my opinion, it certainly fulfills its purpose.

Bibliotheca can be purchased from its website and for a limited time is on Kickstarter Gold.

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Forest Antemesaris

University minister at the Finger church of Christ in Finger, TN. Florida School of Preaching graduate. Bible major at Freed-Hardeman University. Former atheist. Passionate about Jesus, apologetics, and dark roast coffee.