Hype Meets Holy in Modern Bible Design

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The latest “premium” text has a bright red cover, street art-inspired calligraphy, and a $300 price tag.

At first, social media users weren’t sure if it was an elaborate April Fool’s joke. It was, after all, April 1 when the billboard appeared above New York City’s Canal Street advertising a Bible with a $300 price tag.

The limited edition, art-inspired Good Publishing NIV Bible is described on its website as a “modern version of God’s Holy Word” and an “ambitious project, elevating the aesthetic to God’s Holy Word with artisan qualities.”

Those qualities include gold foiling on its “striking crimson red Soft Touch cover” and sustainably sourced paper. The title of each book was lettered by New York City artist Eric Haze.

“Rooted in humility with an ambitious mission, we set out to build a fresh, relevant brand around the best selling book in history–the Holy Bible,” says the Good Publishing Co. website.

Relevant magazine called it “Hypebeast-inspired content.” Commenters on Instagram asked if the Bibles had been autographed by God and quoted Jesus’ own admonition: “Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

But so-called “premium” Bibles aren’t new. And while they may not carry the same steep price tag, a number of new and traditional Bible publishers are stressing the beauty of an old-fashioned book and the experience of slowing down to read at a time when so much of life is lived online.

“There’s a long tradition of Bibles being published, even hundreds of years ago, that were trying to use the finest materials to honor the legacy of the text,” said Tim Wildsmith, the pastor and blogger behind the Bible Review Blog.

Wildsmith, who reviews all kinds of Bibles on his blog, …

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