It was Sunday morning and the young mother and her little girl were sitting in church. Just before the service started, the parent opened a Bible and rested it upon her lap. The daughter noticed all the printing and the conversation between the two went like this, “Did God really write all those words? Yes, He did. Wow, He sure has neat hand writing!”
Have you ever wondered why the Bible is written in two columns (like a reference book, such as a dictionary) instead of in one column (like a literary book, such as a novel)? It goes back to when the Scripture was originally penned and copied. Scribes would put the words on scrolls that were often quite long (sometimes up to thirty feet in length), which were then read horizontally. So it became advantageous to put down the words in columns, enabling the reader to hold the scroll in both hands and read more vertically. Later, when Gutenberg invented the printing press and books replaced scrolls, he nevertheless followed the same two column format for the Bible. There were three reasons as to why he did this:
Sacred – The two-column format had been used for so long, it became like unto a holy tradition that this was the way God originally gave His Word.
Study – Bibles then were primarily for the clergy as the laity couldn’t read and/or afford one. And the reference-style format is far easier for studying.
But today, things have changed:
Sacred – The two column format is no longer considered sacred.
Size – The technology of thin paper has made size inconsequential.
Study – The majority of people today have a Bible for reading, not studying.
Because of the above, we are starting to see more and more one column Bibles and less and less two column ones. And when it comes to reading, a one column book-like format flows better as a story being told in paragraphs and it allows for a larger font and thus less eye fatigue. And this Bible-format changeover is not just happening with modern translations, but also with the historic King James Version.
I am not a fan of the New King James Version as far as a translation goes, but I am a fan of the “New” Old King James Version as far as the format goes. It allows for a little twist on the saying – “Read any good books lately?” to “Have you read the Good Book lately?”