Monday, March 28, 2011

Can you tell a Bible by its cover?

Well, maybe not. I was in a local bookstore this afternoon, and saw a display of JPS English and Hebrew-English pocket-sized Bibles. They had a black covered Hebrew-English, a pink-covered all-English (I guess for girls), the website has other colors such as black, white, and green - nice and neutral. The translation is the usual New JPS - terrific translation, been using it for over 30 years. Where it says "b--b meaning of Heb. uncertain", it's a sure sign to go check out the meforshim (commentaries, mostly medieval).

But the one that caught my eye was the one printed in "Denim". A back-pocket, to be precise, mirrored on the back of the book. IOW, the cover of this Bible was a tuchus. I don't know what their cover-designer was thinking, probably trying to be "hip" or whatever, but what comes across is "the Tanakh is compared to a tuchus." Or maybe, the product of the backside? Really not the message I'd think a Jewish publisher would want to project about their flagship product.

Hm, thinking about denim-jeans images - I had a passbook bank account when I was in Jr High and High School. The original passbook was the same design as my parents' - a photo of a local park. I lost it at one point, and had to get a replacement, so they gave me a "kids'" model - with a drawing of a pair of jeans. I felt rather condescended to. Maybe designers of kid-versions of adult objects should consult with real children of the age they're targeting.

BTW, "tuchus" may sound Yiddish, but it's really direct from Hebrew - tuchus is an Ashkenazic pronunciation of "tachat", which means "underneath".

(image copyright Jewish Publication Society, used without permission qua fair use - quotation in a review)

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