Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Old Bible

Today I carried my oldest Bible to church. I have a collection of quite a number of Bibles in various translations. These different versions are very useful for comparison when studying. Just reading a passage worded somewhat differently between versions can open up new thoughts and new understanding.

However, today I carried my old King James Version Bible to church. I have a lot of sentimental attachment to this Bible and, in addition, it is printed in a strong, dark typeface on very good, very white paper. With my current vision problems, this is most helpful, especially since the lighting in the church building is quite soft.

I enjoy reading from more modern English versions of the Bible these days, but I grew up on the King James Version, I did my memorizing from it, and its rhythms are deeply embedded in my mind.

I no longer have my first Bibles. I don't know what happened to them (it was a looong time ago!). The first Bible I remember reading from was a little New Testament plus Psalms that was given to my Dad when he was in the army. My next Bible was given to me by the church when I was baptized at age eight. I used it until I was almost eighteen. That was when the Bible I carried this morning came into my life.

It was 1959 and I was graduating from High School. I know I received several graduation gifts, but there are only two I still clearly remember (and have). One is a copy of Halley's Bible Handbook, to which I still frequently refer and which was given me by our minister. The other is this Bible. It was given to me by my sister Grace and her family. On the presentation page two of her children are omitted, because they had not yet been born.

This was the Bible with which I finished my first complete read-through of the entire Bible. It was such a pleasure to read from it. It had a wonderful scent from the high quality coated paper it was printed on. It was a beautiful book that appealed to both my senses and my brain. This Bible is the one that went to Bible College with me. Because it received so much use, I came to identify passages for which I could not remember the chapter and verse numbers by my memory of page location (such as, about halfway down the left column of the right-hand page somewhere in Romans). If I couldn't remember chapter and verse, I could still usually find the reference I wanted.

This Bible is also the only one I have that has pronunciation markings for all proper names. I have found this very helpful! Even when I am using a different Bible, I will go back to my graduation KJV Bible to check pronunciations on difficult names.

This Bible doesn't look too great these days. The cover is held together with tape, The back is broken in one spot and I have managed to keep the pages from falling out by, again, a lot of tape. The Bible is not in this sad condition from carelessness or lack of respect. It was my Bible I used all the time for many years. It shows that wear.

I am currently reading through the Contemporary English Version. I enjoy the way it brings the Scripture alive for a modern reader. But the sentimental Bible of my heart is the one I received for graduation when I was not quite eighteen years old. I will always treasure it!

P.S. For the story of another much loved and used Bible, check my niece's blog here. (Thanks, Sue!)

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