Brian Chung and Bryan Ye-Chung of Alabaster Co. have signed a contract to partner with InterVarsity Press (IVP) on the Alabaster Devotional series—a version of their widely praised Alabaster Bible set, originally launched through a Kickstarter campaign in 2016.
Chung and Ye-Chung got their start in ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVP’s parent organization) and were inspired by fellow staffer and author James Choung. His book Real Life predicts the spiritual question of the next generation to be, What is beautiful? and Chung and Ye-Chung leaned into that question when they started Alabaster Co.
“We have become a culture that values design, consumes large amounts of visual media, and has given everyone access to a camera and tools for making,” said Chung and Ye-Chung. “We are all creatives. In the midst of this reality, we ask, How do we show that the gospel is beautiful?”
The Gospels was the first release of Alabaster Co. They integrated visual imagery and thoughtful design in the four biblical texts, interested in seeing how it could give readers a more beautiful reading experience. The Kickstarter campaign immediately took off and nearly doubled their fundraising goal. Since then they’ve launched more books of the Bible, including Psalms, Romans, and Proverbs.
Alabaster Co. has received coverage from numerous outlets for this project. The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, and others have all called their books “the Bible for millennials.” In a piece with Vox, Chavie Lieber wrote, “These are no ordinary religious books. They have that Kinfolk-inspired, vaguely Scandinavian vibe that has taken over coffee shops, fashion boutiques, and interior design Instagram. Their pages are clean and spacious, and the religious texts are placed next to photos that are solemn yet alluring: forests of trees, mysterious caves, a de-petaled rose, mist above the ocean, a woman holding a candle.”
The IVP Alabaster Devotional series will initially release with volumes for each the four Gospels and two volumes for Psalms, beginning in the winter of 2020. These versions will have lectio and visio divina study material throughout, which will be authored by Jan Johnson (John, Matthew, and Luke), Tracey Gee (Mark), and Kathy Khang (Psalms, volumes one and two). The books will use the New Living Translation.
“This project will combine the Alabaster Bible’s modern, reader-friendly design with lectio divina studies rooted in the ancient tradition of the church,” said Ethan McCarthy, editor for the project. “Part of our DNA at IVP has always been to invite readers into the Bible in fresh and life-giving ways—and this series promises to do just that.”
IVP, which is approaching its seventy-fifth year of publishing in 2022, has a long history of producing Bible study content. The first book published by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was written by Jane Hollingsworth titled Discovering the Gospel of Mark. Since then IVP has produced countless Bible studies, including their expansive series of LifeGuide Bible Studies.
“We look forward to partnering with IVP on the Alabaster Devotional series,” added Chung and Ye-Chung. “In many ways, the Alabaster journey began with InterVarsity, through the spiritual foundation it built for the founding team members during their time in college. To partner with IVP is to go full circle as a company.”