Yes, there is going to be a Duck Dynasty Bible.
No, the Robertsons are not contributing to the scriptural canon—the translation used in the October edition from HarperCollins' religious book publisher Thomas Nelson will be the New King James Version. But Al Robertson and Phil Robertson (he of the notorious GQ interview) both preach in country churches and have contributed life lessons and personal experiences to interstitial passages and marginalia for the upcoming Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible. Robert Sanford, vp and associate publisher for Thomas Nelson in Nashville, Tenn., is overseeing the project and told Adweek what it's like branding the good book with the Duck Commander.
So how did this get started?
We began conversations with the Robertsons 18, 24 months ago. What generated our interest in it was their commitment to family values, which you can really see on the show. We had a conversation with them, and in the last nine months or so those conversations accelerated to the point where the timing was right for us to take on the project. One of the key roles for us as a publisher is commitment to voices that are consistent with our values as a publisher.
What would you say those are?
Faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness and freedom—those are five core themes or values that we focus on. We took those, then we took the key topics from other research that we'd done—things that people are interested in like anxiety, apprehension, confidence, questions about heaven and hell, prayer—and wove them into those five core values [for the material the Robertsons were writing].
So what exactly will their contributions look like?
Phil and Al are contributing 125 articles—some of them are a page and a half, some of them are two pages. In addition to that, there are 30 of what we call "life-changer" articles that will appear in the front: stories of life-changing events that they've either been part of or seen in the lives of others as those others have interacted with them and their work. And the Robertsons are really about life change.
It sounds like they'll relate to passages from the Bible, right? Like meditations or devotions, almost.
Right, they all relate to a verse or a particular theme in scripture.
And it's all from their own life experiences?
Both Al and Phil have been engaged greatly with us. I'd say about half the articles are written by Phil and half by Al; they do reflect on their lives and lives of others. Both Al and Phil have been great to work with.
Has Duck Dynasty network A&E been involved in the process at all?
No, not in terms of editing or picking material.
I just have to ask: Phil had a lot to say about sexual morality—does he comment on those same passages he cited in an interview a few months ago?
Those particular subjects are not directly addressed in the articles, no. It didn't have to come up. He does address, as does Al, matters of family and marriage. I don't think we had to engage in any pointed, controversial matters that Phil has encountered over the last few months.
I've seen Bibles with marginalia by theologians or authors published by religious bookhouses, but this is the first time I've seen someone whose presence in culture is mostly secular add material to a Bible. Is that your recollection, too, or have their been similar cases?
That's one thing that makes this unique—it's from people whose lives are public in the nonreligious arena. Al was pastor of Whites Ferry Road Church and Phil himself is quite a Bible scholar, but they're not really known for that. I can't think of too many other Bible projects that involved personalities from somewhere other than religious circles. But one thing that has impressed me is that they both really know their Bible. They really do.