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Red letter edition

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A page from a red-letter edition

Red letter edition bibles are those in which the words considered as being spoken by Jesus Christ are printed in red ink.


A page from a non-redletter edition

The inspiration for printing the words of Jesus in red comes from Luke 22:20: "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which I shed for you." On 19 June 1899, Louis Klopsch, then editor of The Christian Herald magazine, conceived the idea while working on an editorial. Klopsch asked his mentor Rev. Thomas De Witt Talmage what he thought of a New Testament with the words of Jesus in red and Dr. Talmage replied, "It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good."[1]

Klopsch published the first modern red letter edition New Testament later in 1899. The first modern, fully "red letter" bible was published in 1901.[2] The red letter bible instantly became popular, and is sometimes favored by Protestant Christians in the United States. The format has been cited as particularly useful in King James Version editions, which do not use quotation marks.[1][2]


Because the original texts of the Bible do not have quotation marks, which words exactly are of Jesus has been interpreted, as opposed to explanatory text that follows them. For example, a footnote in the New International Version for John, 3:21 explains that "Some interpreters end the quotation after verse 15."[3]


The Deir Alla Inscription, the oldest alphabetic West Semitic epigraph, uses red for emphasis. Levine says red was "used in certain parts of the inscriptions for magical effect."[4] It could be an indicator for a different type or source of communication in the writing; authors have various ideas.[5][6] The same technique was used Kuntillet Ajrud inscriptions, the earlier still Book of the Dead, and others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Eng, Steve. "The Story Behind: Red Letter Bible Editions". International Society of Bible Collectors. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
  2. ^ a b "Origin of Red-Letter Bibles | Crossway". Esv.org. 1994-06-20. Retrieved 2011-11-22.
  3. ^ HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.
  4. ^ Levine, Baruch A. (2014). "The Deir Calla Plaster Inscriptions". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Hackett, Jo Ann (1986). "Some Observations on the Balaam Tradition at DeircAllā". The Biblical Archaeologist. 49 (4). The American Schools of Oriental Research: 216–222. ISSN 0006-0895. JSTOR 3210015. Retrieved 2024-03-24.
  6. ^ Sidebar, Henry O Thompson, page 216

Further reading[edit]

  • The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ : (Authorized Version) with all the words recorded therein, as having been spoken by our Lord, printed in color., New York : Christian Herald, Louis Klopsch, Proprietor : Bible House, 1903, ©1899.
  • Life-work of Louis Klopsch : romance of a modern knight of mercy, Charles M Pepper, New York : Christian herald, 1910.