Sometimes the Bible can be boring. Or at least, we make it boring. Perhaps reading Scripture turns into such a chore that we begin to resent it or just stop caring about it. But its grand narrative is far from dull, even if some of its genealogies can be something of a challenge.
The past decade has seen numerous creative attempts to retell the Bible's story in a way that holds onto its heart in a way that's fresh, innovative and engaging. Could now be the time to try one out? Here are six new ways to read the Bible.
1. The Jesus Storybook Bible
There are many children's Bibles, but do they sometimes miss the point? The Jesus Storybook Bible uses stunning, colourful illustration not only to depict characters who actually look like they're from the Middle East, but also to show how all the stories of Scripture point to Jesus and find their fulfilment in him – rather than just being moralistic fables and bedtime stories.
As the book's description writes: 'The Bible isn't a book of rules. Or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story. And at the centre of that story is a baby. And every single story in the Bible whispers his name.'
2. The Message
You've probably heard of The Message translation of the Bible. Eugen Peterson's titanic effort is more technically a paraphrase of Scripture, but it seeks to deliver the heart of what Scripture intends to communicate, based on the original languages, rather than a word-for-word translation of it. Peterson wanted to 'bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become "old hat".'
First emerging in the '90s, it became a bestseller that arguably brought the Bible to life in a way people never imagined possible. It's still controversial, but whether you like it or not, it's a landmark work.
3. The Manga Bible
The Manga Bible strips away any perception of a dull, dry or safe story in Scripture: instead bringing to life its vivid bloody action, tense drama and challenging core through the Japanese art style known as Manga. From the pen of acclaimed comic-book artist Siku, it's another bestselling effort that dared to imagine the Bible's story through a rich, poetic new lens, and provokes the reader to reimagine stories they thought they knew.
4. The Bible App
YouVersion's Bible App has become the #1 mobile app for those seeking Scripture on their phone. It isn't a new translation, rather it provides all the mainstream translations at your disposal, in the palm of your hand. It smartly integrates a wealth of Bible reading plans, allows you to save your favourite sections and quickly navigate book, chapter and verse.
5. The Street Bible
The Word on the Street, or The Street Bible is another creative yet divisive paraphrase, from the late Rob Lacey, that puts Scripture in terms you've almost certainly not heard before. As its description writes: 'Bible stories are retold as mini-blockbusters; psalms as song lyrics; epistles as emails; Revelation as a virtual reality. Out with stale religious terms, here's a "Bible" that talks today's language – gritty, earthy, witty.'
Its version of Psalm 34 proclaims: 'So, come on, let's amplify, let's turn it right up!
Rave on! Let's give it up for God; let's give it up.
I sought you out: you were already calling, sorting my
Look him in the face – you'll glisten with God.
You'll gleam, your face'll scream, "GOD!"
Joe next door cries out to God – gets his voice heard,
Situation sorted, agony aborted'.
6. The Lumo Bible
What about watching the Bible? The Lumo Project isn't the first to bring the Bible into live-action format, but it's endeavoured to do so with high production values, historical accuracy and commitment to the Bible's text, all shot on location in the Middle East. So far this project, completed in numerous languages, consists of the four Gospels, some of which can now be watched for free via YouVersion's Bible App. Then there is also the vast array of other biblical films available online – some of which are better than others.
There are many creative ways to re-engage with this ancient text. The again, you don't have to reinvent the wheel: you can also just read it.