Bible translation audiences

If you walk into a bookstore you will often see many different English Bible versions available for purchase. Often bookstore personnel are asked, “Which version should I purchase for _____?” In the blank would be a name of a category of Bible reader. What are some different categories (audiences) you can think of who read Bibles?

5 thoughts on “Bible translation audiences

  1. Cameron says:

    The usual ones come to mind: men, women, teen, children, student.

    The last time I went shopping for Bibles I had to buy for three girls who were just starting high school (they were to be gifts from our church). One girl was about to start at a Catholic high school, one was starting in the mainstream secondary system and the third, who has a reasonably severe intellectual disability, was about to start at a ‘specialist’ school.

    Oh, I had to buy the same thing for each, and it was with the expectation that they would be used.

    Needless to say, I ended up with something in pink.

  2. Theophrastus says:

    We live in the era of the personal Bible — we choose Bibles to match our outfits and the image we wish to project.

    From the New Yorker:

    There are devotional Bibles for new believers, couples, brides, and cowboys. On an airplane recently, I saw a woman reading a surfers’ Bible . . . . Bible publishers depend heavily on focus groups, surveys, and trend-spotting firms. For cover designs, they subscribe to fashion-industry color reports. . . .

    The popularization of the Bible entered a new phase in 2003, when Thomas Nelson created the BibleZine. Wayne Hastings described a meeting in which a young editor, who had conducted numerous focus groups and online surveys, presented the idea. “She brought in a variety of teen-girl magazines and threw them out on the table,” he recalled. “And then she threw a black bonded-leather Bible on the table and said, ‘Which would you rather read if you were sixteen years old?’ ” The result was “Revolve,” a New Testament that looked indistinguishable from a glossy girls’ magazine. The 2007 edition features cover lines like “Guys Speak Their Minds” and “Do U Rush to Crush?” Inside, the Gospels are surrounded by quizzes, photos of beaming teen-agers, and sidebars offering Bible-themed beauty secrets:

    Have you ever had a white stain appear underneath the arms of your favorite dark blouse? Don’t freak out. You can quickly give deodorant spots the boot. Just grab a spare toothbrush, dampen with a little water and liquid soap, and gently scrub until the stain fades away. As you wash away the stain, praise God for cleansing us from all the wrong things we have done. (1 John 1:9)

    “Revolve” was immediately popular with teenagers. “They weren’t embarrassed anymore,” Hastings said. “They could carry it around school, and nobody was going to ask them what in the world it is.” Nelson quickly followed up with other titles, including “Refuel,” for boys; “Blossom,” for tweens; “Real,” for the “vibrant urban crowd” (it comes bundled with a CD of Christian rap); and “Divine Health,” which has notes by the author of the best-selling diet book “What Would Jesus Eat?” To date, Nelson has sold well over a million BibleZines.

    The success of the BibleZine was all the more notable for occurring in a commercial field already crowded with products and with savvy marketing ideas. This year’s annual trade show of the Christian Booksellers’ Association, in Denver, brought such innovations as “The Outdoor Bible,” printed on indestructible plastic sheets that fold up like maps, and “The Story,” which features selections from the Bible arranged in chronological order, like a novel. There is a “Men of Integrity” Bible and a “Woman, Thou Art Loosed!” Bible. For kids, there’s “The Super Heroes Bible: The Quest for Good Over Evil” and “Psalty’s Kids Bible,” featuring “Psalty, the famous singing songbook.” The “Soul Surfer Bible” has notes by Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark in 2003. “2:52 Boys Bible: The Ultimate Manual” promises “gross and gory Bible stuff.” In the “Rainbow Study Bible,” each verse is color-coded by theme. “The Promise Bible” prints every one of God’s promises in boldface. And “The Personal Promise Bible” is custom-printed with the owner’s name (“The LORD is Daniel’s shepherd”), home town (“Woe to you, Brooklyn! Woe to you, New York!”), and spouse’s name (“Gina’s two breasts are like two fawns”).

  3. J. K. Gayle says:

    When buying for other people, asking the bookstore clerk for a version suggestion, I will specify the school age of the person I’m buying for. I do give the person’s purpose for the version (for reading the whole way through in a year, for cross-reference study, for devotional reading, for a Christian school). In religious bookstores, the personnel have recommended God’s Word, the NASB, the NIV, the NLT, and the NKJV.

    It was in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore years ago where, browsing the shelves, I discovered Richmond Lattimore’s Acts and Letters of the Apostles. And many years before that, in college bookstores, I found the Nestle-Aland Greek-English New Testament and the Septuagint with Apocrypha, the diglot with Greek and Brenton’s English. Only in used bookstores and online have I been able to buy copies of In The Beginning A New English Rendition of the Book of Genesis Translated with Commentary and Notes by Everett Fox and Blues of the Sky: Interpreted from the Original Hebrew Book of Psalms by David Rosenberg and The Source New Testament and The Psalms: Translation with Notes by Ann Nyland.

  4. CD-Host says:

    But the big one is purpose:
    to read right through
    to read out loud
    to study alone closely
    for study group
    as a first bible
    as a second bible to pair with bible X

    Next consideration is the left/right axis. At this point in America bibles are political and while I might wish that conservatives would read the NISB I couldn’t recommend at as a primary bible to a conservative, it contradicts the very nature of the sort of experience they are looking for. Similarly the best systematic bibles come from the right. I happen to think that a systematic bible is the best way to learn so even though I like the translation choices better in liberal bibles I might very well recommend a conservative bible for the education value.

    Denomination hasn’t come up, the issue of apocrypha comes in here. After the immediate fork between yes/no on the apocrypha narrowing down to a denomination is pretty good. The NJB for Catholic would still be in play, or the ESVs for Reformed. And even if I wouldn’t neccesarily recommend various bibles need to be considered like The Clear Word for an adventist.

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