“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:4-8 (KJV)
This is just one sentence in the King James Version of the Bible. It’s old language and complex elements means it can be very difficult to read, never mind understand and interpret. There are other versions but some of the difficulties are the same with these too. There are many people who find the Bible difficult to read. It could be because:
- They find the print too small
- The words are too complex
- The words are too close together
- The sentences are too long
- They don’t know the meaning of unfamiliar words
- The language is unfamiliar and old
- It is hard to find the chapter and verse as the numbers are spread out and so small
- They are slow at reading
- They frequently lose the point where they have read to
People with poor literacy are found in all kinds of places. Prisoners are one of the largest illiterate groups in the country. Around 17% of young people leave school without functional literacy. People have sight problems or cognitive difficulties which makes long pieces of text hard to follow. People with learning difficulties can come in all guises and we can easily assume the people in our congregations can read the Bible, when in reality, they just can’t. We often assume people are ignoring the Bible, but maybe they just are hiding the fact that they find it very difficult to read. There are people with dyslexia and other hidden disabilities that might not like to tell people that they have these difficulties.
I’ve supported adults with learning disabilities for many years in a church group. We have some readers who find the Bible texts that we normally have so difficult to access. We ended up buying children’s Bibles for them, which felt both patronising and unsuitable. Children’s Bible’s tell simplified versions of the Bible stories. We wanted the full Bible so we can study it together.
We have been using the NIrV Accessible version of Matthew’s gospel since January and our group have been so excited to read the Bible for themselves. The text size, simple but accurate text, shorter sentences, wider spacing, gaps between paragraphs and easier numbering of verses has been so helpful. The illustrations explain the passage and are not childish. And we have been able to support non-readers by providing visual pictures that follow this text. Seeing all our group read the Bible together has been amazing.
There were still some needs not being met. Those who can’t read needed an audio version and we were all desperate to have the whole Bible so we could extend our Bible exploration.
So we are so happy that Biblica have now published both the whole New Testament in print version and in audio. We have put in our initial order and will be looking to buy everyone who can read their own copy, have copies available for Sunday services and make sure that those who cannot read have access to an audio version.
Thank you Biblica. I can see so many places this Bible can be used. I’m particularly excited about the project to get them into prisons. Please do support this, and consider buying one for someone you know, your church or your local prison.
We look forward to the Old Testament too.