"To be honest, I was initially resistant" to the idea, Vogt told CNA. "I thought, 'Oh man, there's so many study Bibles out there, not just in the Catholic space, but in the Protestant world too. Why would we just create another study Bible?'"
"Our fundamental mission at Word on Fire is evangelizing the (religiously) unaffiliated, the 'nones,'" he added. "Study Bibles typically cater toward the already committed Christians that want to do a Bible study that are already into the Scriptures. So I thought - it's not really hitting our target audience. So I kind of pushed back a little bit."
But the idea stuck, and Vogt said when he was pressed to think about the potential that this Bible could have, he began to realize that it could be evangelistic in nature. He thought about how many people's first experience with the Bible is that it is difficult to read - it is typically printed in small, black and white columns on thin paper.
"We wanted to make it a feast for the eyes as much for the mind. So that was the first principle, is to lead with beauty. We wanted it to be a beautiful Bible."
Vogt said they also wanted the commentary in the Bible to be geared toward people who were reading their Bibles for the first time.
"We wanted to focus on the more basic questions of - who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? How does the Scriptures reveal God and Christ?" he said.
The third distinguishing factor of this new Bible would be that it was presented "from the heart of the Church," he said. "So we wanted to showcase the Scriptures in light of 2,000 years of saints and mystics and scholars and Bible experts."
This comes in the form of theological commentary from people like the Church fathers all the way to contemporary Catholics like G.K. Chesterton, Flannery O'Connor, or Bishop Barron, he said.
"So it's kind of a multivalent illumination of the Scriptures. You're seeing it read and interpreted through this chorus of voices from 2,000 years from the Church's history," Vogt said.
They also took as their inspiration the illuminated manuscripts from the medieval period, which were hand-written and painted copies of the Bible, usually done on animal skin pages, with gold or silver leaf detailing.
"We wanted to make it simply the most beautiful Bible ever produced for mass distribution... maybe the most beautiful Bible since the illuminated manuscripts."
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One of the first tasks was to select the scriptural commentary that would be included in the first volume, Vogt said. The team scoured hundreds of books and resources and "whittled it down" to roughly 300 pieces of commentary.
Stevens took the lead on finding pieces of sacred art that would be included in the Bible, which ended up being about 10 or 11 pieces per Gospel.
"This aspect of the Bible was an absolute joy to dive into," Stevens said. "The Church's tradition of art is so vast, and so wide, and so deep. One of the main considerations here was the fact that most Catholics know very little about the artistic tradition of the Church. Even engaged, well-read Catholics are often sadly uninitiated to the many styles and movements in the history of sacred art."
Yet, he said, he also wanted to make it engaging for the more seasoned sacred art enthusiast as well. The art featured in the first volume includes works that would be recognized by most Catholics, like the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, as well as some lesser-known works.
Fredrickson did a majority of the page layout for the Bible, which included keeping the commentary on track with its correct place in the Bible. He also did much of the work on the Angelico font, a new font created specifically for the Bible.
Stevens added that there were other design choices made to add to the readability of the Bible - it is a single column instead of multiple columns, and has a grid layout which keeps the pages organized and even ensures that the type lines up on both sides of the double-sided pages.