To state the obvious, we live in a culture increasingly unaware of the Bible and its contents. Theological and popular Christian publishers have long relied on some general biblical knowledge. When quoting the Bible, the custom is to parenthetically abbreviate biblical book titles after the quote. But recently I have had some authors who say their readers don’t know or understand these abbreviations. These authors are asking to use the full name of biblical books in their references.
Of course, this is not an issue with academic publications—there we can still assume more than enough technical knowledge, on the part of readers, to continue abbreviating biblical text names. But with popular books, I think my inquiring authors are on to something. Many casual (and somewhat biblically illiterate) readers won’t know that “Gen” means Genesis, “Exod” denotes Exodus, or “Phil” indicates Philippians.
So far, I have advised these authors to retain the abbreviated references in the body of their books. But I have instructed them, per their concerns, to include abbreviation tables at the front of the books that lay out abbreviations and the corresponding full titles of biblical books. At the same time, I wonder if there will come a time when (again, for popular books) we will use the full titles within the bodies of our books. And that time may come sooner than we think.
Leave a Reply