ImmerseMessiah NLT - Flipbook - Page 504
changing how people view the Bible and, therefore, what they think they’re
supposed to do with it.
Chapters and verses aren’t the original units of the Bible. The latest
books of the Bible were written in the first century ad; however, chapter divisions were added in the thirteenth century, and the verse divisions we use
today appeared in the middle of the sixteenth century. So for the majority
of its history, the Bible had no chapters or verses. They were introduced so
that reference works like commentaries and concordances could be created. But if we rely on these later additions to guide our reading of the
Bible, we often miss the original, natural structure. This also puts us at risk
of missing the message and meaning of the Bible. For this reason, we have
removed the chapter and verse markers from the text. (We do, however,
include a verse range at the top of each page, allowing for easy reference.)
This edition also removes the section headings that are found in most
Bibles. These are also not original but the work of modern publishers. These
headings create the impression that the Bible is made up of short, encyclopedic sections. So, like chapters and verses, they can encourage us to treat
the Bible as a kind of reference work rather than a collection of good writings that invite good reading. Many headings may also spoil the suspense
that the inspired storytellers sought to create and use to such good effect.
(For example, a heading that often appears in the book of Acts announces
in advance “Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison.”)
So, in place of section headings, Immerse: The Reading Bible uses line
spacing and graphic markers to simply and elegantly reflect the natural
structures of the Bible’s books. For example, in the letter known as 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses twelve issues in the life of the community in Corinth.
In this edition, double line breaks and a single cross mark off the teaching
Paul offers for each issue. Single line breaks separate different phases of
the longer arguments Paul makes to support his teaching. And triple line
breaks with three crosses set off the opening and closing of the letter from
the main body. By contrast, the section headings in a typical Bible divide
1 Corinthians into nearly thirty parts. These divisions give no indication of
which parts speak together to the same issue or where the letter’s main
body begins and ends.
Modern Bibles also include hundreds of footnotes and often include
cross-references throughout the text. While these features provide information that can be helpful in certain settings, there’s a danger that they, too,
can encourage us to treat the Bible as a reference work. Constantly going
back and forth between the text and the notes doesn’t really qualify as
being immersed in reading the Bible.
Third, the order in which the books appear is another important factor in reading the Bible well and at length. For the majority of the Bible’s