Bare Bible

Bare Bible is a website that displays complete books of the Bible without any features like verse numbers, headings, or cross references. It was released sometime in 2010 or 2011.


Measurement alters experience. I believe this idea applies to Bible text. The chapter and verse boundaries we find in most Bibles today affect our view of it. The same is true for the tiny letters and numbers interleaved throughout. These things make Scripture seem more like a technical document than a narrative. There is a place for both of these views, but I wanted to further explore the latter.

Could I better understand the intent of Paul’s letter to the Colossians if I read it in this way? What would it be like to read the gospel of John in one sitting without knowing exactly how much I have left? What if I didn’t have subheadings and chapter numbers to control the flow of the story? I was able to investigate these scenarios and more with Bare Bible.

Crossway, my employer, has since released the ESV Reader’s Bible. It’s a beautiful approach to the same concept. I had nothing to do with that, but we do have a Reader’s Mode in and our mobile apps. Bibliotheca is another exciting stab at it. I’m glad the same idea is showing up in different places.

Technical Details

The code that generates Bare Bible and the text on its pages is simple.

The text comes from an old ESV API for JavaScript that is no longer documented but still works. If you look at the source of any book page on Bare Bible, you will see that all I’m doing is stacking queries to this API. Add a nice-looking stylesheet, and you get what I think is an enjoyable Bible-reading experience.

A Python script feeds passage data to the excellent Jinja2 template engine to build the individual pages. Jinja2 has powered many of my side projects over the years. It’s a great tool!