Many Christians find it hard to read the Bible, but a couple of unnecessary obstacles make it even harder.
First, the fact that so many Bibles are laid out so horribly. The font is tiny, the page is messy and cluttered, and worst of all, there are two columns on each page–something you’re only likely to find in an encyclopaedia or dictionary.
Second, the addition of chapter divisions, verse numbers, section titles, and all other kinds of clutter on the page make it more difficult to sit and read the books of the Bible as books. Instead, you’re more likely to read in microscopic chunks so that, by the time you’ve made any progress in a book you’ve forgotten what came before (since you read it days or weeks ago). The original manuscripts of the Bible books had none of these added extras.
I’m convinced that in order to get a grasp of the broad sweep of the Bible, and of its books, you need to read in large chunks. There’s an important place for slow and ponderous reading of the Bible, but when was the last time you sat down and read a whole book of the Bible in one go?
Now, if you’re going to sit and read the Bible in big chunks it helps if you have a Bible that encourages you to do that. For publishers to produce a readable Bible it can’t be easy to get it right, because you have to balance readability (big text, nice layout, single-column) with size, which could be enormous. So, printers make compromises by making the paper thinner, or cramming more words on a page with narrower margins. The guys at Crossway have been listening to feedback from those of us who’ve taken the time to get in touch, and they have been working steadily to produce better and better editions of the English Standard Version (ESV). These editions have single-columns, and less clutter on the page. I’ve bought them all, tried them all, and so far have settled on the Heritage edition.
Crossway have printed a new edition which aims to present the text of the Bible in the most reader-friendly format, eliminating verse numbers, and using a page layout similar to a novel. It’s called the ESV Reader’s Bible (available in the UK here). Have a look at the video: