When we find ourselves in unfamiliar surroundings, we tend to look for a helpful map or visual representation that tells us “You Are Here” and offers an over-arching context that guides us on our way. That’s the premise behind The Wayfinding Bible (Tyndale House Publishers, 2013).
It’s the first study Bible to incorporate the science of wayfinding (orientation, route decision, route monitoring, and destination recognition) to help readers easily navigate the big picture of God’s Word.
Printed in full-color, The Wayfinding Bible (website) (Facebook page) was selected as a finalist for the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s 2014 Christian Book Award®.
Bible Gateway interviewed its co-editor, Jeannette Taylor.
What need among Bible readers prompted your creation of The Wayfinding Bible?
Jeannette Taylor: Since my start in the Christian publishing industry in 1984, I’ve had the wonderful privilege and responsibility of researching consumer wants and needs regarding Bibles. Over the years I noticed a clear pattern when consumers were asked about obstacles to Bible reading. After “lack of time” (the reason that inevitably comes up first), the most common obstacles are: “the Bible is so big, I get lost/discouraged trying to get through it”, “I don’t know where to start”, “It’s hard to follow the storyline of the Bible—it’s not written in chronological order”, and “I’m afraid of getting bogged down in laws and genealogies and other boring passages.”
Despite the hundreds of Bibles available for consumers, these frustrations remained. The reality that many Christians were unsure how they could most successfully read God’s Word led to the idea of creating a Bible that featured reading routes of varying lengths and complexity.
How did you come to use the science of wayfinding as you developed this Bible?
Jeannette Taylor: Honestly, the wayfinding concept was a direct revelation from God. Here’s the unvarnished story. While I had a clear understanding of the needs of frustrated Bible readers and had come up with the idea of routes through Scripture, I was stuck on how best to design this Bible to ensure it was easy and effective to use. One afternoon, while I was riding my bike and puzzling through the Bible details, the word “wayfinding” popped into my head. I have no explanation other than to say that God put it there. With a basic understanding that wayfinding was connected with traveling and staying on track, by the end of the bike ride I had roughed out the general layout of this Bible: three routes—Flyover, Direct, and Scenic; helpful features such as Historical Markers and Scenic Overlooks; and explanatory “Getting Your Bearing” articles at key turning points in the Bible.
I embarked on an in-depth study of the science of wayfinding and discovered many useful connections between wayfinding and Bible reading.
Describe “wayfinding” in general and its importance in everyday life.
Jeannette Taylor: A simple definition of wayfinding is: helping people navigate complex built environments. In life we all encounter many complex built environments: hospitals, airports, college campuses, large cities, etc. To help people find their way in those confusing locations, architects use wayfinding signs. Directional signs, maps with “you are here” arrows, route markers, and marked paths are all wayfinding tools developed to ensure people stay on track.
The Bible is its own complex built environment. It includes 66 books of various lengths and types and styles. Those 66 books are not organized chronologically. It was written thousands of years ago in cultures very different from ours today. As Pastor Wade Butler explains:
Most people who attempt to read the Bible have never been exposed to a book like it. It is not arranged like any other. It was collected according to literature type and not according to chronology. I am convinced that this is the greatest hurdle [to Bible reading] of them all.
Describe the goals of The Wayfinding Bible and how its formatting and features accomplish that goal.
Jeannette Taylor: The core goals of The Wayfinding Bible are to encourage people to start reading the Bible, to keep reading the Bible and, by doing so, to draw closer to God. The foundation verses of The Wayfinding Bible express this clearly:
“Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.”
Ps. 25:4-5 NLT
To encourage reading and keep people on track, we developed three reading routes through the Bible—Flyover, Direct, Scenic—and we designed a fun and easy-to-use graphic tool so people can stay on their chosen route. Colored route lines run across the top of Bible pages. Readers simply select their desired reading route, then follow the route line from one reading to the next.
The three paths of discovery in the Bible look almost like a subway map. Explain what they are.
Jeannette Taylor: The three routes in this Bible—Flyover, Direct or Scenic—are identified by color lines that run across the top of the Bible pages. This design was actually modeled on wayfinding signs like subway or bus route maps. Just as a subway rider uses route line signage to ensure they reach their destination, Wayfinding Bible readers simply choose their preferred route and follow the color line to complete their reading track from Genesis to Revelation.
Why is the New Living Translation (NLT) a good match for this Bible?
Jeannette Taylor: The goal of the translators of the New Living Translation was to present the message of the original texts of Scripture in clear, contemporary English. They translated the Bible texts as simply and literally as possible. The result is a great Bible for reading. And since the goal of The Wayfinding Bible is to encourage people to read—and to want to keep reading—the Bible, the NLT is the perfect match for The Wayfinding Bible.
What logistical planning was necessary to create this Bible from idea to store shelf?
Jeannette Taylor: The simplicity of many easy-to-use tools is a result of significant and complex planning and engineering. This is certainly the case for The Wayfinding Bible. In order to make using The Wayfinding Bible easy and intuitive, the routes had to be carefully planned and combined with visual tools that are helpful and logically located. Making this happen required the combined skill and experience of Doris Rikkers, who mapped out the routes and wrote the notes, and Tyndale’s design and typesetting team.
What book of the Bible was the most challenging to visualize in the wayfinding style?
Jeannette Taylor: The shorter books of the Bible were the most challenging to lay out. We had to make sure that the combination of notes and sometimes less than two pages of Bible text all worked together to be visually appealing. For instance, we had to combine 2 and 3 John into one reading in order to make the design work.
How are readers of this Bible reacting to it?
Jeannette Taylor: The response from readers to The Wayfinding Bible has been very positive. One reader posted the following review for The Wayfinding Bible online:
This Bible is such a blessing! I am literally drawn to it and am excited about the next reading. My past experiences with other Bibles always left me frustrated because I was lost, and had a hard time understanding what was presented to me. This Bible is easy to follow, and I LOVE the fact that I can choose which route I want to take. For the first time in my life, I KNOW that I will finally be able to finish reading the entire Bible! If you have ever been frustrated, confused or overwhelmed by reading the Bible, this is for you!
How will this Bible help stem what some are calling the crisis of Bible illiteracy in the church?
Jeannette Taylor: Studies have shown that millions of adults want to read the Bible but get lost in the Bible’s complexity and quit. The Wayfinding Bible encourages the reader to keep going because the reading routes follow the Bible narrative chronologically and people are essentially reading God’s story. As with any good story, the reader wants to know what’s going to happen next. And after all, the Bible is the greatest story of all.
Bio: Jeannette Taylor began working in the Bible publishing industry in 1984. Hired as Zondervan’s first market research analyst, she was appointed general manager of the Bible division in 1988. She was instrumental in the creation, development and launch of multiple bestselling Bibles including the NIV Study Bible, The Student Bible, The Adventure Bible, The Teen Study Bible, The Women’s Devotional Bible, and The Quest Study Bible.
Named vice-president of marketing for the Zondervan Corporation in 1992, Jeannette directed all marketing functions for the publishing house. After the birth of her first son in 1993, she left Zondervan and started her own marketing/market research consulting firm, JET Marketing. In 2010, Jeannette co-founded Somersault (@smrsault), a Christian publishing consulting firm, with four other partners. In addition to her consulting businesses, Jeannette is an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University, where she teaches marketing at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Jeannette lives with her husband and two sons in West Michigan.