I have a ton of Bibles; I guess that's to be expected considering I come from a religious family and was raised in the church. Yet, when I look on the shelf and see all these Bibles, there's a story there. (Disclaimer, I'm talking about my personal Bibles; I'm not including the family Bible or my parent's Bibles...).
The first Bible I received was from my Aunt when I was in Elementary school. I remember, it contained illustrations akin to a Precious Moments Bible—perhaps it is a Precious Moments Bible, forgive me it's at my parents' house so it's not handy for me to double check. The text was probably the New International Version (NIV), which annoyed me because I grew up in a church that only read the King James Version (KJV). Even more so, the pictures were completely inaccurate, not that I was consciously aware of that as a child, but now when I look back at the blonde haired, blue eyed depictions of everyone in the Bible I can only roll my eyes. What I did glean from this Bible was a two page spread that contained a timeline of the books and a color coded scheme to identify the books of history versus the minor prophets versus the major prophets, etc. This is what I call my introduction Bible. I would refer to that two page spread for years after, even though I never really used that Bible as a reading Bible.
Shortly after, my cousin (the one I mentioned in my post on Youth Ministries) bought me a simpler Bible. It was a KJV Bible with no frills, just text. This is the Bible I used as a reading Bible until I started high school.
At the start of high school, one of my mom's coworkers bought me my first study Bible. I have no idea why she decided to buy me a Bible; I consider this yet another intervention by God's hand because this was one of the key turning points in how I studied the Word. This Bible was called the Extreme Teen Bible. As the title implies, it is geared toward teens and helping teens connect with the text. There are breakout bubbles that provide the reader with additional information on the time period and culture, plus articles highlighting the actions of God's people. Another feature is a FAQ section pertaining to teenage life questions. Each answer is a particular Bible verse and on the page that the Bible Verse is located, the question is highlighted to the side. I used this Bible all the way through college and although you can't tell in the picture to the right, I did a bit of sticky noting and marking of pages over the years—there are even notes and church handouts still tucked between pages.
When I graduated from undergrad, one of my good friends bought me a personalized Bible (probably because I looked a bit childish carrying around an Extreme Teen Bible at 21 years old). This Bible was much like the Bible my cousin had given me years before—no frills, just text with the occasional note on possible translation errors or clarifications. I was appreciative, but I missed my study Bible. Also, this was around the era that smart phones and tablets were becoming standard. So during my graduate school years I ended up with a digital Bible. It was nice because I could search the text, it wasn't heavy, and the app let me choose favorite passages or take notes during sermons. I stuck with that until this past Summer.
Is it not amazing that from Moses to Jesus, even up until the years before the reformation, only certain people had access to God's Word? They had to rely on priests to orate the verses (which more often than not probably was more of a summarization than an exact reading). Today, I can carry His Word with me in my pocket everywhere I go. I can search for occurrences of words, phrases, people, and places; I can share the verses online, and people can access it across the world! How awesome is that?
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
But back to the topic of the post! This Summer I found the Holman KJV study Bible. It's the culmination of all the Bibles I've used before and I LOVE it. It has pictures like the first Bible, though these pictures are more accurate and more often visualizations of terrain or objects like the Ark of the Covenant instead of people. It also has a timeline at the beginning of each book. There are charts and tables that summarize information and cross referencing notes in the margins to help you locate other verses on the same topic. Maps are available for visualizing locations and routes mentioned. Introductory essays accompany each book discussing who wrote the book, when the book was written, the motivations of the book, as well as the intended audience and influence of the book on the Bible as a whole. Further, there are separate essays throughout the book on various topics. It is an epic study Bible. I'm really thankful God led me down the right aisle to find it sandwiched between thousands of other Bibles.
It seems, as with all things, God knew how to get my attention and keep it. He started me off small, a little extra information to remind me to put His Words in the right perspective. He kept feeding me a little more until here I am, a dedicated Bible studier keeping a blog on His Word. Left to my own devices, I never would have thought to purchase a study Bible—I didn't even know the little notes at the bottom of the church Bibles were telling me alternate translations until a history of the Old Testament class I took my senior year. Finding the right Bible isn't easy when there are thousands out there. To top it off many of the new translations are contested in their validity.
So, my seventh testimony is that God blessed me to be alive in an era where the Bible is freely accessible, allowed me to see how different Bibles can effect your ability to connect with His Word, and finally brought His Word to me bundled with the perfect study tools.
- "NIV Exposed". JesusIsSavior.com. 2015
- Matto, Ken. "The Revised Standard Version Exposed!". 2015
- "Fellow Christians - Beware of these 'bibles'". Bible Probe. 2015
- Melton, James L. "The KJV 1611 vs. The New Translations". BibleBelievers.com. 2015