Review: Prison Bible from Bible League International

I want to thank Bible League International for the chance to review this.

One of the immediate things you notice is the list of endorsements found at the beginning. This gives you a real sense of the scope of this project. This is an international situation with international dreams. Bible League, in producing the Prison Bible, seems to have aimed at prisons and prisoners the world over. The Prison Bible, based on the Easy-to-Read Version (a rather fresh translation), aims to bring relevant topics to prisoners. I do not simply mean “plan of salvation” clichès, but actual topics aimed at prison life. You and I are likely never to know what it means to live inside of a prison. The best we can do is to watch Oz or Orange is the New Black. This is a world foreign to us.

The topics are presented at the beginning of the book and divided into 4 sections. They are 1.) Becoming a Follower of Jesus; 2.) Following Jesus in Prison; 3.) Preparing for Release; and 4.) Following Jesus Outside of Prison. These sections contain, between them, 100 different sub-sections. These sections include topics such as relating to authority (A24), coping with mental health (A34), Jesus or the prison code (A48), and several on one’s release from prison (A61-A72). Each of these topics are present in simple English, speaking directly (and actively) to the person who reads it. The topics aren’t sugary, but uses “in real life” language. Again, I am not, or have I ever been a prisoner; however, these topics are interesting to me in different ways.

It also includes,

  • Approved for prison ministry use
  • Contains complete Easy-to-Read Bible
  • 52 Lessons written especially for inmates, ideal for individual or group study on topics such as God Loves You; Controlling Anger; Relating to People in Authority; and more!
  • Scripture helps on how to deal with negative emotions
  • Bible reading plan
  • Address book for friends and family
  • Word List & Bible Maps
  • Bible is on a fourth grade reading level making it easier for all audiences to read with understanding

My wife asked, when reviewing it, “why does one need a prison bible.” My simple answer is this: we don’t. We do not need one that simply lays out “you need Jesus” but doesn’t really tell the reader anything beyond that. However, this bible does more than that. This bible speaks to the topics of prisoners and their daily lives. It is not simply enough to say “here, read the Gospel of John and you will be a Christian.” Great, but they are still a Christian inside of a prison. The fact remains, we have 2.5 million prisoners in the United States. Some of them are no doubt Christian, but they must live (sometimes the rest of their lives) in prison around other prisoners in an environment unfriendly to Christianity. If your prison ministry simply includes conversion but not development then you are doing it wrong. That is why The Prison Bible from Bible League International is needed. It is a prison ministry in of itself.

Post By Joel L. Watts (10,125 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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One thought on “Review: Prison Bible from Bible League International

  1. Having frequently seen the inside of prisons and jails – howbeit from the freedom side of the bars and being able to pick up a weapon on the way out – I cannot help but believe one of the United State’s current overbooking of inmates will one day be addressed as Mr. President. While I would hope that individual would exhibit the same qualities as the late Nelson Mandela, I suspect given the conditions in America’s penal system he will be more like Adolf Hitler. Moreover, given the disproportion of people of color incarcerated in for-profit private prisons by racist white Christians, it would not come as any great surprise to discover he is Islamic.

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