Bible

I own quite a few Bibles, a shelf of them in fact, and every few years I get a new one which becomes my main, working Bible. The translation and edition of those first amongst equals copies of the scripture give a sort of map of my Christian path over 40+ years.

My first Bible was a New English translation, reflecting my Methodist upbringing, but that was frowned on in Pentecostal circles so it was quickly replaced with a King James Version, a Schofield Reference Bible with the generally approved floppy black leather cover. At St. John's College I bought an Oxford Annotated Bible, Second Edition, which I still use and which bears the scars of  my long encounters with the text and with God.
Since acquiring it in 1977, I have used it but it has been eclipsed for a while by, variously, The Jerusalem Bible, the New International Version, and most recently a third edition of the Oxford Annotated Bible, which now uses the New Revised Standard Version in place of the former edition's RSV. As a parish priest the lectionary readings for Sunday were my main study during the week, but I also maintained a cycle of readings which took me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice every year.

Since the late 80s I have used an electronic version of the Bible, and for the past decade or so  that has been the Olive Tree Bible App, which allows me to have any number of translations, including the Biblia Hebraica and the NA28 edition of the Greek New Testament. I can have two bibles open at the same time (say the NRSV and NA28,) and linked so that turning a page on one automatically does it on the other. I tap a word and the appropriate dictionary opens. I can make annotations and have access to any number of critical tools. I have this app on my desktop computer, my laptop, my iPad and my phone. Over the last maybe 5 or 6 years I have found myself seldom using an actual paper Bible, except when reading in public and not always then. 

Well, at least that was true up until a few months ago. I'very begun again, picking up my old Oxford Annotated RSV, for the memories it holds and for the familiar tactility of  those softly worn pages and of the frayed old ribbon bookmarks, which I glued in decades ago.

And lately there has been something else. I acquired a Nonesuch Bible. This is an edition of the King James Version in 3 volumes printed by the Nonesuch Press in 1963. Mine is in a finely tooled cloth binding, printed on fine paper and it is in beautiful condition. The text has no verse numbers and no critical apparatus, and there are a few woodcut illustrations strategically scattered through it.
It is a beautiful thing to hold and to read. And this is the Bible I am now using personally. I am all for Biblical Scholarship, but, when it comes to engaging with the Bible as the Bible,  I am glad to be rid of the weight of all that thinking, and to be present just with the text; to engage, as I haven't done in years, with the magnificence of language and the power of narrative; to read it and let it read me.
 

Comments

Alden Smith said…
Kelvin, I well remember your Schofield Bible from the old Westminster Street days - an address that is always a 'trip down memory lane. I also remember from those times a 'Parallel' New Testament of sorts that someone acquired where the four Gospels were printed adjacent to each other across the page enabling comparisons.

I remember in those days purchasing a New English and a King James Bible in quick succession. I liked the old fashioned sounding King James but was a bit put off later on when I read that because language changes there are over 400 words in the King James version that today mean something different or the complete opposite of what it meant when this edition was in popular usage.



Merv said…
Fascinating.
Although I rarely open it nowadays, my New English Bible was a favourite for it's ability to use one perfect word where five would have done.

On a different note ... I wonder if we'll ever say of an iPad (or a Galaxy Note 7) "It is a beautiful thing to hold and to read".