Fathom Mag

The Readability of the Bible

A review of the Comfort Print Bible

Published on:
June 4, 2018
Read time:
4 min.
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Bibles are meant to travel and, more importantly, they’re meant to be read. They are not designed to sit pristinely on a bookshelf, untouched and collecting dust. Bibles enter into life, gifting words of joy, comfort in distress, and a tangible means of learning about the God who reigns over creation.

One of the best ways to get acquainted with a new Bible is to add it to your daily routine. Stick it in your purse, stuff it in your backpack, buckle it into the passenger seat of your car. Bring it to a coffee shop, your small group, a friend’s house, or the shade underneath your favorite tree.

The Comfort Print Bibles by HarperCollins are anything but untouchable.

That said, I have to admit that I own a few untouchable Bibles. A colossal burgundy study Bible stands haughtily on my shelf, too overwhelming to hold, full of notes, references, and maps. It has never accompanied me throughout my day. And while I feel guilty that I’ve relegated it to a bookshelf, consulting it like a textbook—doesn’t the fact that it looks and reads like a textbook make it, well, a kind of textbook?

The Comfort Print Bibles by HarperCollins are anything but untouchable. Combining readable fonts in portable sizes and styles, they beg to be read.

The Comfort Print Bible

Precision with Purpose

Comfort Print Bibles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and three different translations: KJV, NKJV, and NIV. What distinguishes them from older iterations, however, is the typeface.

Concerned about readability, the 2K/Denmark type foundry created the faces to accompany each translation. Klaus Krogh and Heidi Rand Sørensen drew their inspiration for the KJV typeface from the Novum Testamentum, a Thomas Nelson publication that dates back to 1844. Rooting the typeface in the history of the KJV, while updating and modernizing it for readability and accessibility, results in a truly stunning Bible.

The NIV takes a more modern approach to a readable type. If you visit the Comfort Print Bible’s website, you can compare the old NIV font with the new, and the difference is striking. The updated typeface uses weightier lines, and smooths out some of the harsh serif edges. Describing the formulation of the typeface, Klaus Krogh notes how the NIV has always been at the “cutting edge of English Bible translation,” a fact he sought to emulate with his typeface. The translation philosophy and the typeface go hand-in-hand: “We made a typeface that is open, and welcoming. We made a typeface that can be revised with the changing of time.”

As I read, I could see God commanding form out of nothing, the words of God effectual, moving, breathing.

Living with the Comfort Print Bible

When I received my copy of the KJV Comfort Print Bible, I ran my fingers over its  “leathersoft” cover. It is soft and bendable, but not entirely lacking in integrity. The contrast stitching around the cover is a simple, stylish touch. While it comes in a variety of styles, I sampled the “thinline,” which measures at less than an inch thick, perfect for fitting into my purse. I bent back the cover, and began skimming pages.

Genesis 1, the beginning of everything, seemed like a good place to start.

It took me only four words to be struck by the beauty of this type: “In the beginning God.” Where the downstroke on the “G” meets the corner of the line, it forms an arrow. The serif nuance indicates a constant motion, the working of God in all things. As I read, I could see God commanding form out of nothing, the words of God effectual, moving, breathing.

The more I read, the more I loved reading this Bible.

Chapter and verse numbers are left-justified on the page, with each verse stationed on its own new line. Verse numbers appear in a similar size to the main text, and more stylized, the numbers reaching slightly higher, or dipping just below the baseline. Rather than hiding in the bulk of the text, the numbers intentionally indent away from the verses, set apart for clarity.

The Physical Beauty of the Bible

Jonathan Minnema describes the beauty of the Bibliotheca Bible, how the pleasure of the text is captured in its physical presence.

Each section heading creates another easy way to find passages when skimming. They stand out in all capital letters just above the verse. Moving from book to chapter to verse took hardly any effort thanks to these features. Not once did I find myself lost while reading a chapter or my mind wandering from the text. Everything flowed together.

Interacting with a stunning type, a Bible without footnotes, few maps, and limited other “features” made me wonder why I haven’t searched for a Bible that I love reading before. It’s not that I don’t love reading other Bibles for the content, but shouldn’t the experience of reading a Bible reflect the kind of reverence the word of God deserves?

The Comfort Print Bible won’t be joining my study Bible on the shelf. I think I’ve found a new travel companion.

Lisa Cooper
Lisa Cooper has a BA in literature and an MA in religion. She is a copywriter at RevelationMedia, and a freelance writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter for theology, funny things her kids say, and upcoming writing projects at @LaLaLisaCooper.

Cover image by Jazmin Quaynor.

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