Variations on a Theme: A Book for All

When I moved from Texas to Scotland two years ago, the Bible I had read almost daily for 8 years and had used for most of my studies somehow got lost along the way. I still miss the feel of the pages. I miss the pencil underlining, the notes in the margins, and the bookmarked and slightly dog-eared pages. My marks on the text – my marginalia – had become an integral part of that book; for by them, I knew my way around the text as if by feel and memory. I miss the beaten-up cover and the case I had made from calico and corduroy to protect its 3-inch thick spine. I miss its concordance and its maps. Maybe I should replace it. But despite having at least four other translations in hardcopy around me, none feel quite the same.

Carol’s post from the first week has got me thinking about how we see and feel about the paper and glue and text of a Bible and why they are often so hard to get rid of. Greg Garrett’s post about the influence of the versions we study only heightened this interest.  This post, then, is about two other projects that are about getting people thinking about the Bible as a living text to be shared.

The People’s Bible

The People’s Bible is touring the UK this year with the aim of producing a handwritten edition of the Bible. In small churches, large festivals, shopping centres and retirements homes, individuals are invited to handwrite a pair of verses (chosen for you) from either the King James Version or the Good News Version. The verses are handwritten using a digital pen that transmits the handwritten verse to a central data drive. Here’s a video that explains the project and its wider significance.

Viral Bible Project

Some of us write all over our Bibles: highlighting, underlining, folding over the corners of pages. What if you were to highlight a verse or passage that meant a great deal to you and then passed the Bible on? This is essentially the idea behind the Viral Bible (backed by the BibleFresh initiative and the Evangelical Alliance UK). In part, they wondered how far these Bibles might travel. Some were handed out at festivals, like Spring Harvest, New Wine, and Greenbelt. Others were left in public places. Others still were released to individuals in a particular profession. Here’s a little animation about the project:

I was approached by the ViralBible project and asked if they could send me one of the 200 copies being released into the wild. Designated as the “Academics Bible,” I’m looking forward to sharing this with my colleagues in St Andrews as well as the discussions that may arise about annotating, creating from, or writing all over a Bible. This is also about how widely we can make this copy (known as #LEADYELLOW) travel. The idea is that they will eventually return to the UK by Easter next year for an exhibition and celebration. So, If any Transpositions readers would be interested in participating, comment below or send us an email and we’ll see if we can send our copy of the Viral Bible your way.  We’d love to see it travel far and wide!

Do you have a favourite book? A special bible? Do you mark your Bible or books in general? Would you like to have Transpositions Viral Bible sent to you? Have you participated in the People’s Bible project?


  • Anna M. Blanch is a regular contributor to Transpositions. She is Australian by birth, and inclination, Anna grew up surrounded by the Australian bush, a large extended family, bush poetry, and sport. Anna is currently writing her PhD in Theology and Literature. She finds photography, enjoying her environment and its fruits, and being in community bring her joy.

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  1. says: Tim Hutchings

    I’d be happy to introduce the Academic Bible to Sweden, if you can get it to me before Christmas…

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