Old Bibles

Old Bibles

For me, old Bibles are the best. Getting a new Bible is like having to get used to a new friend. You think you’re going to like this new person, but it takes you a little while to figure them out.

Old Bibles are like old friends. The two of you have been through a lot together. There are notes in the margins, dates of events, and thoughts I had when I read the passage. There might be a short hand inscription to remind me of where I was and what I going through when I read the passage. Sometimes, there is a note reminding me of when God answered a question through the text.

One Bible I have has a section that’s falling out. That was the section that included the book of Revelation. The year I preached through the book, I read and reread the passage so much the book fell out of my Bible. I remember that year. A lot of things changed for me that year. The ragged Bible reminds me of the journey we’ve been on.

I know all my friends tell about how cool it is to have a Bible on computer. You can speed search, keep your notes in a separate file, and have access to all of your resources.

I guess that’s all true. But you can’t trace your finger across an underlined passage and remember the reason you had to underline it. You can’t look at the coffee drip on your page and remember exactly the time when you bumped your elbow and coffee sloshed over onto your Bible. It’s funny that you can remember exactly where you were when the coffee stain was made.

Sure, I use every tool I can to best study the Bible, but I still prefer old Bibles when I read. Computers are great, but they can’t be stacked on your shelf like pictures of old friends and places—pictures that remind you of the journey and the joy that comes in every step.

Old Bibles stand on your book shelf and remind you that trends and fads come and go, but this Word doesn’t change. The meaning of this text is constant. Old Bibles reminds us there is an unchanging true north, that in good times and bad, will lead us home.

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7 thoughts on “Old Bibles

  1. So true. My parents have really old family Bibles that were THEIR parents’ sitting on the bookshelf at the house. It is so amazing to see (especially since they have all passed away) what my grandmother underlined – what she thought was important, and what she would write in the margins. So blessed to have such a rich heritage of faith…

  2. I think you’re right Mike. I sit on a computer all day at work, and there’s something freeing about coming home and picking up something tangible, something that can’t be changed. All of my Bible’s edges are wrinkled from a camp in Florida. We would walk from the bunks to the worship center in the rain to meet with God. I’ll never forget that.

  3. My mother passed away a little over a year ago, and one of my best memories of her is how she would sit at the kitchen table every morning with her coffee and her Bible. How blessed I am now to have that Bible, with all of her underlines and notes.

  4. Even a big Kindle user like myself can’t argue with this response. I have sticky notes in my bible from lessons God is teaching me and prayer requests that have been answered a decade ago. It’s not uncommon for me to flip to a portion of scripture and get distracted by an underline or a note I left years ago, and it draws me in. I wonder, “what was God doing then that I made that note.” Then before I know it, I’m reminded that the same God that was at work in my life, then is at work in my life now. That’s something The Kindle hasn’t got on my old bible. 🙂

  5. Old Bibles also reveal something else: which parts of the Bible you’re not reading. I was combing through my shelf of old Bibles recently, looking for the one I used in college. It was interesting to see the parts of that Bible I obviously “lived” in and compare it to the Bible I read now. Also, it was interesting to find that certain passages have spoken to me my whole life.

  6. I have my dad’s last Bible he used before he died. He & my mom were living/working in Saudi Arabia many years, so when he took a bible into the country, it had to have a different type of book cover on it so they wouldn’t become suspicous & throw it out. The screeners would never open the bibles; they would make the owner of the bible open it. I never took the cover off because it reminds me of how precious God’s word is.
    He bought this bible in Houston when he was going through cancer treatments at MD Anderson. Like others have written, seeing the verses and comments he wrote in it clued me in on what he was going through personally, even if he didn’t share it with the family. He treasured the Word of God, and so do I.

  7. I tried one of the new Holman Bibles I’d been given at a book show several years ago. After all, we were reading it in worship and I wanted to keep up. I gave it up after about a month not because the Holman Bible was new to me, but because it didn’t have the notes and markings of the Bible my wife and daughter gave me when I was ordained as a deacon more than 30 years ago. That Bible is the one I teach from, the one I refer to, the one that has lesson and sermon notes and notes from marriage retreats and every other special experience I’ve had in my adult Christian life. And it’s the one with my wife’s handwriting and my daughter’s handwriting on the dedication page. No matter what the new versions are, this well-worn, well-marked Bible will be the one that I cherish forever.