Pimping Out the Bible

Making the rounds on Facebook the last day or two is a picture of two new niche Bibles: the Little Princess and Mighty Warrior Devotional Bibles.

These may be the reduction ad absurdum (reduction to absurdity) of what I call “pimping out the Bible.” I say “may” because this is probably not the end of this kind of thing.

Though I have no personal experience in the matter, I gather that pimps oufit their girls in the kinds of attire that will appeal to their kind of clientele, flatter them by affirming their taste and predilections, and promise to enhance them. They promote and protect their girls as long as they are profitable.

This, I claim, is what the publishers of all the various niche Bibles that litter bookstores these days are doing. Various kinds of translations are legitimate enterprises (though even here I suspect we have reached the saturation point). However, to design a format and to give a title to a Bible to appeal to a consumer niche or demographic is another matter altogether.

Some of them appeal to our desire for instant gratification. They abridge and arrange readings so as to enable the reader to “get through” the “important parts” in a minimum of time. This is possibly a legitimate strategy for introducing the Bible to new readers. But once one has gotten through the “important parts,” why bother to struggle through the rest?

Others appeal to cultural types and stereotypes that signify positive images to which readers desire to aspire. Again, the text of the Bible is annotated with interpretation and adornment that promote and enhance the type/stereotype. Hence, our “Little Princess” and “Mighty Warrior” specialty Bibles!

Is this not a “pimping out of the Bible”? Its motive is financial gain. It’s method is to outfit and use the Bible to appeal to and support perceived positive cultural images (witness the recent red, white and blue covered Patriot’s Bible).

I hope there is an end to this commercialized prostitution of the Bible. It is sleazy and transparent in its objectives (to exploit the various markets the advertisers and marketers have identified. Back to the plain covered versions with only “Holy Bible” imprinted on the spine! Let the text speak for itself in its own integrity and fullness to create the images and types that guide its proper reading.

That said, I share with Paul the conviction that the Word of God, no matter how or why it is promulgated, has the power to reach its hearers with its good news. Even the “pimped out” versions of the Bible cannot shackle the Word’s power to speak out of its own integrity and authority (Philippians 1:15-18).

Nevertheless, we’d be better off without these idolatrous and off-putting knock-offs.


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