Monday, May 24, 2010

Poll Results: Words of Christ in Red or Black

The results are in! A special thanks to all the Bible Design Blog readers who popped in and fleshed out the voting. There were a total of 42 votes (the same as the last poll; there must be something about the number 42) and Black Letter won with a whopping 71% (30) of the votes to Red Letter's 21% (9).

Of the 71% who want Black Letter, 14% (6) stated that they only use Black Letter, which indicates a strong opinion or preference, whereas none of the Red Letter supporters went beyond stating a preference. 7% of the voters (3) stated that it didn't matter either way.

The Case for Red Letter

Red letter originated in 1899 and reflects an attempt to make the spoken words of Christ stand out due to reverence for doctrine that came directly from Christ's mouth. Red Letter enthusiasts may explain a preference for Red Letter Bibles with a theological stance that Christ's words are more easily made into doctrine. Many state that two or three verses are needed to support a readily teachable doctrine, whereas teachings that come directly from Christ's mouth become doctrine without other textual support. Many also explain their preference because Red Letter makes verses easier to find and just makes the Bible a little prettier ; ).

The Case for Black Letter

Black letter is a bit of a special feature in the U.S. these days unless you are buying a pew Bible etc. Black letter enthusiasts may explain their preference by reasoning that the Bible is all equally inspired and that certain verses should not be made to stand out, and that separating the words of Christ leads people into a poor theology that those verses are more authoritative or more important (Red Letter Christians is a political movement that seems to hold this belief). Other reasons include readability and the often less than aesthetically pleasing execution of Red Letter which results in the words of Christ in orange or pink and slightly out of alignment with the rest of the text.

The Case for "It Doesn't Matter"

Many would hold that such matters are trivial and that the contents of the book does not change, and its the contents we should focus on rather than the color of the print. That said, I hope no one considers it wrong to have a preference.

If I've missed any reasons on any side please comment and add to the discussion.

It seems my readers on the whole prefer Black Letter, which is may not be indicative of the Christian population, but may reveal a trend that is growing through the internet and the blogosphere. A new poll will be up within the week.


  1. honestly, I thought i was a staunch advocate of black letter only, but after using some cambridge bibles that employ red letter I've found that I'm not as passionate on the issue as I thought.

    I still prefer black letter, and given a choice that will be my selection every time, I find that the red letter doesn't bother or distract me if its a deep and dark red like that that is used in the Pitt Minion series.

  2. These are some interesting results. I would have thought more people preferred red-letter. I prefer red-letter for reading, but I prefer black-letter for marking. I use lots of colors and I don't want my colors looking different because some of the text is in red. I guess I would say it this way:

    Reading Bible - red letter
    Study Bible - black letter

    As far as red-letter, I've heard of a a Bible that has the words of God in the Old testament in red-letter. For a reading Bible, that would be nice.