When it comes to Bible publishing, too much is evidently never enough. Publishing a Bible anchors a Christian publisher; for other houses, a Bible or other sacred text is a reliable product for a core audience of teachers and/or students, whether those readers are gathered for study in small congregational groups or seminaries or simply sitting at home. The range of editions for all of these texts targets more than believers; while some have small and committed audiences of faith, others capitalize on the cultural significance of sacred writings. This year’s notable volumes:
For general educated readers
The English Bible, King James Version--A Norton Critical Edition (Norton, Nov.)
The KJV, which celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2011, continues to age well in this two-volume set that includes critical apparatus by Herbert Marks, Gerald Hammond, and Austin Busch, all scholars in the humanities. Timelines, chronologies, diagrams, and color maps, in addition to the apocryphal books, make this leviathan (see: The Book of Job) edition weigh in at 3,848 pages.
For fans of David Jeremiah
The Jeremiah Study Bible (Worthy, Nov. 26)
Boutique publisher Worthy develops its nascent Bible line with popular pastor David Jeremiah’s guide to Scripture study. The Jeremiah Bible contains more than 8,000 study notes, 60 articles on essentials of the Christian faith, and links to online resources that include sermon clips, among other features. Jeremiah, who has written more than 50 books and pastors Shadow Mountain Community Church in southern California, will mark the release with an appearance in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 5, along with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers. The Bible uses the NKJV translation.
The CEB Study Bible (Common English Bible, Oct.)
The Common English Bible translation that debuted in 2011, sponsored by five Protestant denominational publishers, becomes available in a study edition this fall. The Study Bible represents the combined perspectives of 340 scholars, 260 pastors, and 100 lay people drawn from 24 denominations. Study material includes thousands of notes; full-color illustrations, photographs, and 21 indexed maps designed by National Geographic, as well as more than 300 general and sidebar articles. Sonua Bohannon, senior marketing manager at Abingdon Press, which distributes the Bible, says students as well as professors are being marketed to, with more than a dozen religious colleges targeted. More than 100,000 preview samplers have been distributed at trade shows, conferences, and events this year.
For evangelical Christian readers wanting shortcuts
The Wayfinding Bible (Tyndale, Oct.)
Tyndale’s biggest Bible release this year lets readers skip things that bog them down (genealogies, anybody?) by following one of three reading plans: an overview (“Flyover Route”); a more detailed survey (“Direct Route”); or the all-in “Scenic Route.” The “routes” are indicated by a colorful “Bible Mapping System”; study material extends the road trip theme (“Itinerary” lists major biblical events). In Tyndale’s own New Living Translation.
For the neo-Reformed
Gospel Transformation Bible (Crossway, Sept. 30)
A niche Bible for those evangelical Christians who emphasize reading the Bible to find the theological evidence of God’s grace and its fruition in Jesus Christ, this has been two years in the making. General editor Bryan Chapell is a pastor and former seminary professor. Crossway uses its popular English Standard Version translation and aims at a religiously engaged market that buys books and has a savvy online presence.
For new evangelical Christians
The Uncensored Truth Bible for New Beginnings (FaithWords, Sept.)
Popular author Jud Wilhite (Pursued) supplies introductory material and context for those new to the Bible. Wilhite, a Las Vegas pastor whose Central Christian church has national and international campuses, uses the contemporary New Living Translation.
For cultural Christians
Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life (Thomas Nelson, Sept.)
This intriguing study Bible aims at religious seekers and anyone wanting a “non-threatening package of God’s Word,” as the sampler observes. It uses Nelson’s distinctive Voice translation, which draws on the work of artists, writers, and musicians. Study material includes a one-year reading plan and instructions for a “40-day retreat with Jesus” through reading and reflection.
For contemporary Catholics
The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition (ACTA Publications, Sept.)
The contemporary American English paraphrase Bible translated by Eugene Peterson gets a Catholic and ecumenical refresh with the addition of biblical books known as the Apocrypha or deuterocanonical texts, which Catholics and others accept as part of the Bible. The additional translations are provided by William Griffin, a lifelong Catholic, who also wrote introductory material for the books he translated. Peterson’s Message Bible has sold more than 16 million copies.
For committed evangelical Bible readers
NIV Integrated Study Bible (Zondervan, Aug.)
Subtitled “a new chronological approach for exploring Scripture,” this text, using Zondervan’s New Iinternational Version translation, is for Christians who want to gain more insight and add to their shelf of multiple Bibles. The text uses a chronological format and organizes parallel and related passages.
For students of religions
The Qur’an: A New Annotated Translation (Equinox, dist. by ISD, Aug.)
Those who were neither raised Muslim nor speak Arabic will finally find a way to approach the sacred text of Islam. Independent scholar A.J. Droge has done yeoman’s work is assembling a one-volume annotated translation that guides the serious reader through a seminal text that can daunt the unfamiliar. This text, which includes a timeline, index, map, and guide to additional reading, points the way toward increased access and appreciation of the Qur’an by non-Muslims.
For Spanish-speaking evangelicals
Biblia del Pescador (Fisher of Men Bible) (B&H, July)
This Spanish-language edition is the year’s biggest Bible release for B&H, according to Tim Jordan, Bible marketing manager. “It has caught fire in Latin America,” he says. It uses the popular Reina Valera 1960 translation and includes notes and links related to key themes. The general editor is Luís Ángel Díaz-Pabón, president of the Global Missionary Society and a Miami pastor who conducts large evangelistic crusades.
For students of Buddhism and other world religions
Nagarjuna’s Middle Way (Wisdom, May)
Buddhist specialty publisher Wisdom adds to its line of Classics of Indian Buddhism this new translation of a seminal second-century C.E. text, done by Mark Siderits and Shōryū Katsura. The text, which discusses the central Buddhist idea of emptiness, is important in the Mahayana branch of Buddhism; the translation is based on classical Indian commentaries and has value for academic and serious lay readers.