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Innovative New Bible Format4 min read

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A project called The Books of the Bible Project is about to release a new layout for the bible that encourages reading of the books as literature.  Endorsed by a few heavy hitters like Gordon Fee, this reformatting of the controversial Today’s New International Bible (TNIV) makes some interesting and thoughtful changes to increase comprehension.  But the most interesting and radical change made is that they are re-ordering the books of both testaments – wow!

Some of these changes are NOT trivial:

1. Chapter and verse numbers are removed from the text (a chapter-and-verse range is at the bottom of each page)

Removing chapter and verse will make reference and study more
difficult, but I guess this is fine for a volume that encourages just

2. Individual books are presented with the literary divisions that their authors have indicated footnotes, section headings and other supplementary materials have been removed from the text (translators’ notes are available at the back of each book)

It is irritating to see the chapter and verse breaks that sometimes
don’t align with the beginning or end of the author’s thoughts.  This
is nice.

3. The books of the Bible have been placed in an order that provides more help in understanding, based on literary genre, historical circumstance and theological tradition

Re-ordering the books?  Isn’t that heretical?  Seriously, at least for the OT, isn’t the order somehow important?   I guess not.  The Penteteuch is left alone, but other changes in the order of the OT make some sense.  But for those of us who have memorized the current order, this may mess us up.

But I think it does make sense to do this:

Songs and Poetry

  • Psalms
  • Lamentations
  • Song of Songs


  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Job

4. Single books that later translations or tradition divided into two or more books are made whole again (example: Luke-Acts)

Combining books?  Whoa, that’s radical.  I guess that makes sense for Luke/Acts, since they are chronological and written by the same author, but does that mean that Luke will now be the FOURTH gospel?

In fact, the NT order below is pretty cool – looks like they sorted by Author/Audience, then chronological – but it’s a mix:

Gentile-focused books

  • Luke-Acts
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Romans
  • Colossians
  • Ephesians
  • Philemon
  • Philippians
  • 1 Timothy
  • Titus
  • 2 Timothy

Jewish-focused books

  • Matthew
  • Hebrews
  • James

Peter’s Testimonies

  • Mark
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Jude

John’s Testimonies

  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Revelation

Kind of nice how all of John’s stuff is together, as well as the ones directed at Jews (Matthew, Hebrews, James).  I’d love to know their rationale for their ordering of Paul’s letters.  You can read what the bible geeks, er, scholars, are saying about the order and book combinings here.

You can pre-order the bible (paperback only?  those won’t last frequent use) with a 20% off discount ($9 plus $6 shipping) at ibsdirect (August 2007 release).  I ordered one of these nice orange ones.

UPDATE 7.12.2021

The TNIV translation was only published from 2005-2011, at which time it was discontinued. The main criticism which made it a complete failure among the intended audience was that, in attempting to use gender-inclusive language, they went too far and ended up changing the intended meanings of the text. This was just one of more than a dozen different problems with the translation. 1 2 3

I agree that this was a poor translation and deserved to die, but the innovative restructuring of the order of the books was awesome, but doomed to never gain traction after hudreds of years of the current book order.

  1. 12 Unspoken Reasons Why You Should Never Use the New International Version (TNIV) Bible ([]
  2. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead: TNIV is gone gone gone! (elderj)[]
  3. A Response to the NIV Translators ([]