Saturday, August 11, 2012

Red Letter Bible?

Michael P. commented during a recent post that I should do a poll about red letter Bibles. I liked his suggestion. But instead of just putting up a poll, I want to hear from you, my beloved readers, why you like or dislike red letter Bibles. Perhaps surprisingly, I don't really have an opinion. So what are your thoughts?

15 comments:

rolf said...

I don't mind red lettering as long as it is dark enough. If the lettering is too light it makes it hard to read.

Diakonos said...

I agree with Rolf. The red letter of my St Benedict Press NABRE is too faint so I hardly use it.

Mike Roesch said...

I don't really care either way, though it does bother me that publishers don't also print the direct words of God the Father in red as well.

J Elisabeth said...

Although I have a red letter Bible, most of my experience is with a normal edition. I don't have a strong preference either way, but I do find the red letters to be useful for finding specific passages.

Anonymous said...

There are two reasons why I overall prefer not to use a red letter edition. First, I guess I never really found a way to make it useful to me. I always think of it as having a bible that's already been highlighted by someone else, so it's more of a distraction than anything else. Second, like others, the red lettering I've seen has been too bright or too faint (or both), which is perhaps why it's been more of a distraction for me.

If there were a red letter edition that is more subtle in color, perhaps more burgundy, and not bright, then I would probably be indifferent about it.

Michael P.

Amfortas said...

I'm not keen on red letter editions but as St Benedict's Press publish the only decent edition of the RSV-CE then I'm stuck with one.

Kai Welday Engel said...

I don't care either way. However, I would say that the red letters tend not to look good when highlighted.

Ron said...

I agree with Rolf, as I age a little, I find the red ink harder and harder to read. The St. Benedict Press version would be ideal for me, if not for that.

Also, red-letter printing is a relatively recent innovation and, as I understand it, there is some disagreement as to which sayings ought actually to be in red letter. I'm not a scholar, so I don't know about that.

Dan Z said...

I like the red letters, as it is a visual reminder Jesus shed his blood to save our souls.

Amfortas said...

I can just about live with red letter editions. But I can't stand thumb-indexed editions! A pet phobia of mine.

Francesco said...

For me it depends on what exactly is getting the red letters. I like it when section headings are colored a different color than the actual verses of the Bible, and red seems a natural enough color for that. When certain verses are colored in red, however, I do not like it.

Coloring Jesus' words in red makes people think that some parts of the Bible are more "the Word of God" than other parts. Additionally red-letters feed the "Jesus never said anything about X" that some use to discredit teachings found either in other parts of the Bible.

Also, I haven't heard a convincing argument as to why the words Jesus says should be in red, but not "Let there be light" or other portions of the Old Testament that are direct quotes from God.

petrus said...

Red letters are distracting, and break the continuity of reading God's Word. In addition, I have to refocus my eyes to keep reading.

Chrysostom said...

I strongly dislike it, on a sub-rational, visceral level; whether my arguments from aesthetics and typography are rationalizations or justifications, even I'm unsure, although I do understand that some like them from the interpretation: "Red to symbolize the blood of Christ".

Red letters might have been more useful before the invention of the Quotation Mark, but, like the Quotation Mark, and even more obtrusively, they demand that certain words are those of Christ's, and certain aren't, whereas in sections of the Bible (as in St John's Gospel), this demarcation can be less than clear.

Also, the ascended Christ never speaks in red letters in Revelation - that annoys me on top of the red letters themselves - and in some Bibles, his words in Acts are in red; in some, they are not.

Biblical Catholic said...

I dislike and tend to avoid red letter editions because:

1. I tends to distorts the scriptures by making it appear that some parts are more important than other parts (i.e. if it's not in red, you can ignore it)

2. It is a legitimate question in many parts of the New Testament, in particular the Gospel of John, exactly where the words of Christ end and begin, the ambiguity is in the original Greek and is probably intentional...a good translation preserves this ambiguity, but red letter editions eliminate it...what that happens, it is has ceased to be a translation and has become more a commentary.

Colleague said...

I have a Cambridge Pitt Minion (NKJV) which I used for a brief while. While I was annoyed to discover that it had red letter text, I found that the red was so deep that it didn't detract much from my reading experience. It was sort of mystifying, at first - I stared at it for awhile trying to decide if it was red or just a more pale black. Now, cheap red letter editions are more deep pink than actual red.