Bibles for Causes: how far should we go?

Pink Ribbon BibleAnd so we move from the ridiculous to the sublime: a special edition Pink Ribbon Bible for breast cancer sufferers, courtesy of those canny marketeers at HarperCollins.

I’ve blogged this topic before. No, not breast cancer: Bibles. Blue Bibles, pink Bibles, rainbow hued Bibles, Bibles for banana lovers, Bibles for cat lovers and mouse haters and Bibles printed on recycled paper for those who value the environment more than high quality print. No doubt there are even Bibles especially designed for balancing on your nose at fancy dress parties so that when the bouncers ask what you’ve come as you can say, “God knows.” Don’t worry, it’s late at night and my mind is running wild…

Seriously, do we need this? When does use of the Bible become abuse of the Bible as publishers set out to exploit every human weakness simply to sell another Bible? Or is this a genuine attempt by HarperCollins to meet a sector of the community where they are? Not a commercial decision, then, but one born out an honest desire to reach people with the words of eternal life? Except I look at the cover of that Bible and see those immortal words, Limited Edition: no, this isn’t about making the Bible available, it’s about making the most from a sales pitch targeted towards a particularly vulnerable group of people.

Had it been about making the Bible more accessible, about highlighting its relevance to their needs then yes, in this case, I think that I could actually see it. I’ve lost friends and family to cancer. I have friends who’ve had mastectomies and live with the constant fear of their cancer recurring. Would or could a special — special, not limited — edition Bible have brought or bring them some comfort?

Not in my languageBut in the meantime as we seek to serve more and more niche markets with niche products, millions of people remain without the Bible in their own language, and if but a fraction of the investment made by publishers such as HarperCollins in these fancy dress accessory styled Bibles were to be made in Wycliffe’s Bible translation projects then, perhaps, some real light would begin to shine in humanity’s darkness.

Now, if you haven’t already done so, go read Alicia Cohn’s Breast Cancer and the Bible for even more questions; and as for beating breast cancer — and other forms of cancer — there are surely better ways than branding (or brandishing!) the Bible: for one amongst many.

6 thoughts on “Bibles for Causes: how far should we go?

  1. Phil, this is an import that STL are picking up from America. This is not a product from HarperCollins UK.

    Bible publishers such as HarperCollins do in fact give considerable support to Bible translation projects, via the substantial royalties we pay to organisations like the Bible Society (who partner in publishing the Good News Bible), who do fantastic work around the world.

  2. Sam, I’m not sure that paying royalties for a product counts as ‘supporting’. Royalties are a commercial payment for a commercial service provided. However, if HarperCollins are interested in supporting Bible Translation outside of commercial considerations, I’m sure we could help you!

  3. Thanks, Phil, for another good plug for Wycliffe Bible Translators! Do you need your supply of Wycliffe bookmarks renewed? John

    • Hi John – no worries: Wycliffe is a cause I can believe in! So is fighting cancer, but as I’ve said above…

      Still got enough bookmarks for now, thanks. Maybe some more in September ready for the new/returning students in October?


  4. As I think a number know, I love the work of Wycliffe and I’m glad that’s happening as well, having given a bit of energy to related needs. I guess I wonder if the either choice is where our energy is best spent.

    Yesterday night I sat with a good friend who had her Bible open to the Proverbs. As we looked at some verses, she showed me notes in this specialized version that helped her apply those proverbs to her particular needs each time she meditated on God’s truth and prayed.

    I don’t think I’m smart enough to say when we’re spending too much money on X or Y as a society, but I’m glad my friend has that Bible with those helps.

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