Well, maybe the title is a bit overstated. But, it sure sounds dramatic enough.
One of my frustrations with reference and study bibles is that the various notes and annotations can actually distract the reader and take focus away from the text – there is a time and place for study, but many times we just need to sit down and read and meditate on the Word of God.
In fact, consider how tuned the mind is to the various kinds of forms that flow on the page. There’s the paragraph, which The Books of the Bible emphasizes. There are sentences. There’s indentation for quotes, etc. However, they don’t emphasize the incredible sensitivity the mind has to the forms on the page. The thing that does is the tiny, little comma.
Have you ever noticed the difference between the comma and the period. It’s not much, is it? It’s a couple of pixels of linguistic real estate on a computer screen. And yet the mind notices it and generates a semantic pause, as it were–one intended by the author. How much more does all the…well…extra analytical stuff…cause the mind to stutter?
I’m not saying we should toss analysis; what the person above calls study. Analysis is vital to an accurate understanding. However, I strongly suggest that a level of comprehension that comes from thinking the paragraph level thoughts of the original author after him is at least as important. I think these two methods of understanding the text are married, and should never be divorced.
So, I agree with the quote above. In fact, I would go so far as to say a person really doesn’t understand the text until one can simply read it. Ironic, isn’t it, that a study Bible really doesn’t support this very well. How easy is it to read a paragraph in a study Bible and say, “Ahh, yes, of course, he’s saying, ‘Insert topic sentence here’?” Not easy! We aren’t trained to read our Bibles in terms of paragraphs.
We’re trained in another way of thinking. Here’s a posting about exegesis (Software tools for original language exegesis). Notice that the exegesis he describes is verse-based and not paragraph based. This method is all too common. And, frankly, not linguistically sound.
Somehow we have to reorient our thinking. Perhaps this Bible, The Books of the Bible, is a Better Bible. Perhaps, hopefully, it’s a gentle enough push in the right direction.