There is a part of me that is a bit sad about the waning popularity of the bible in popular discourse.
In many African spaces, the bible continues to be an influential text shaping the lives of many. For many Africans, like myself, the bible is where we formed our earliest relationship with literary text.
I am no longer a Christian, but I remember reading the bible at home and participating in Christian gatherings where we read passages in the bible and reflected on them in ways that were meaningful to us.
That’s how I first learned that a text can have levels of meanings, and that sometimes the true meaning of a text is not always readily available. It is hidden and, as such, has to extracted.
This fundamental intellectual practice called interpretation has stayed with me. Today, I work with a different body of texts—novels— but I do essentially the same thing. I interpret these texts.
To be honest, the bible doesn’t always give the best advice on certain social and political issues dear to contemporary life. But the bible is a fine specimen of literary penmanship.
The bible is an enormously rich library of stories. Lots of these stories are weird. Some are supernatural. Some are erotic.
There is a good bit of sensational stuff too. If you’re into fast-paced thrillers peppered with graphic violence, there’s enough bible stories to keep you glued to your couch for a whole weekend.
In reality though, the bible is in need of a wider readership—people who do not care about the bible’s religious message, people who would connect with the text even though they do not particularly think of it as inspired of or “written” by God.
For that to happen, the bible does need a makeover. As far as design goes, the bible is a disaster. The tiny letters, text-heavy page, tome-like volume are not particularly endearing to contemporary readers.
Is there a way to redesign the bible in such a way that makes it more accessible as a literary text?
A book designer, Adam Greene, has stepped in to fill this gap through a project he is calling Bibliotheca. He received over a million dollars in Kick Starter funds to produce a four part volume of biblical stories redesigned for literary consumption.
What do you think?