Monday, May 18, 2015
OBOY: Reflecting on Bibles and Translations
When I started this blog back in 2008, part of my motivation was just a desire to find "my Bible." You know what I mean? I was looking for the "perfect" translation in the best binding and cover materials (Allan's?), with the best cross-references, maps, annotations, all bound together in format that suited my needs. I was seeking perfection. (Or at least what I perceived as perfection.) Often I would complain about this or that translation or publisher, lamenting the "woes" of being a Catholic who actually likes nice Bibles. I am sure many of the posts during my first few years of doing this blog often reflected that mentality.
As I reflect on all of that now, much of my thought (and crusading) was focused on seeking something fairly unimportant, really, while missing the whole point altogether. It has taken a number of years, multiple re-bindings, dozens (although my wife would say more) Bible purchases, and hundreds of posts on this blog to realize that all of that really didn't matter. I have come to the conclusion that what matters most is represented in the picture above. Yeah, its not a Catholic version, but that is not the point. It represents the many, mostly older women, who I have seen and talked with at charismatic and other prayer groups who have been reading their one, single, solitary Bible for decades. Specifically, there was a woman I talked with at a conference about five years ago or so who was reading out of her 1966 imitation leather Jerusalem Bible. The full one too, with all those fantastic notes and the beautiful single-column format. Her Bible was tattered, underlined and highlighted, bent, torn, and worn. The Bible ribbon looked like it had fallen off sometime in the 1980's. The spine was held together with duct tape and she used a thick rubber band to close the Bible with all her hand written notes and prayers. What a beautiful sight! Outside of my wife and children (and maybe Rome), I would say that tattered, decrepit old Bible was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. It was loved, prayed with, studied, and had clearly been a constant companion to that woman for likely longer than I had been alive.
Over the past year, I have had a hard time getting that image out of my mind, particularly during morning prayer time. I know, at least for me, seeking the Holy Grail of Catholic Bibles is not an option anymore. Particularly since it doesn't actually exist! It is time to settle down with one Bible. (Now don't worry, I'll still be doing reviews and welcoming guest Bible reviews.) I want my Bible to look like the one pictured above. I will of course be using reference and study Bibles for teaching and study. I think I will stick to hardcover editions of those, since they reflect a more reference Bible style. It is time, however, to have one Bible. While the "head" knowledge is important, the "heart" knowledge is what gives life.
So, I am starting a process of gifting out most of my Bibles. I have been sort of doing that on this blog for the past year or so, sensing that this was the direction I was going to go. Stay tuned for some more opportunities on getting some of the Bibles I have left. For me, it is time to have a companion. It is time for a Bible that is more than a translation or a premium style of leather, but one that I will remain faithful to. That is the thing really, if I actually want to be honest. I have too often been flirting with other Bibles and translations, when the reality is that all I needed was just the one. It was always just the one. I am Gomer.