Yesterday desiringgod.com, the website affiliated with pastor and author John Piper, posted an interview with Glenn Paauw, one of our Directors and author of Saving the Bible From Ourselves. The interview, titled A Short History of Bible Clutter, focused primarily on the modernization of the Bible and the consequences of engaging with a Bible that has so much extra-biblical information packed into its pages.
“I think what happened over time is we just started inserting more things into Bible design, all with the interest of providing help, of course,” said Paauw, “There were practical reasons for these things. But by the time you get to the end of the history of the Bible in our time, these helps, these additions have pretty much overwhelmed the text.”
The interview was conducted by Tony Reinke, a staff writer at Desiring God and host of the Ask Pastor John podcast. Reinke asked Paauw about the implications of the “data smog” that comes with using a modernistic Bible, specifically the column of cross-reference texts that are present in many study Bibles.
“I think cross-references down the middle column of a Bible are kind of an early version of a built-in distraction system. They tell us to jump around the Bible looking at this verse and that verse, not necessarily stopping to take the time to read each of those references in its own context.” Paauw explained, “The danger is I think I am really getting significant Bible study, topical study, these sorts of things, but there is a clearer danger and, again, I say: The first and the primary and the most natural thing to do with the Bible is to read individual books at length in their own terms.”
You can listen to the beginning of the interview below; the full interview and transcript is available at www.desiringgod.com.