This is the perfect season to buy a Bible! Here is Part 2 in our coverage of great Bibles for gifts and summer reading on the 400th anniversary of the King James Version. In Part 1, we recommended the Thomas Nelson Family Bible—and the much more portable Thinline NRSV Bibles.
REVIEW: THE STORY OF THE BIBLE WITH 23 PULL-OUT PAGES
If you’re selecting a single gift to mark the 400th anniversary of the KJV, order a copy of The Story of the Bible: The Fascinating History of Its Writing, Translation & Effect on Civilization, which is available from Amazon usually at a significant discount over bookstore prices. Most American families own at least one Bible and regular Bible readers own multiple copies, polls have shown over the years. If you’re fascinated by the long history of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, then you will appreciate this labor of love produced by Thomas Nelson vice president Larry Stone.
Stone opens this lavish book by trying to convey the explosive power of the Bible down through the centuries. In fact, the first efforts to translate the Bible for common people were met with violent opposition. Stone writes that in the early 1500s, the era of the Reformation, “William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English so that even ‘the boy that drives the plow in England’ would be able to read and understand the Bible. The translation was condemned in 1526 and copies were burned in public. Ten years later Tyndale himself was betrayed, captured and burned at the stake. But when boys who drove plows discovered for themselves what the Bible said, the nation was transformed.”
There are better books about the Reformation and about Tyndale’s life. What this new book does best is take what amounts to a museum exhibition of historic Bible pages—and reproduce them in full color on common sheets of paper so ordinary readers can pull all 23 examples out of pockets in the book, lay them out on a table and enjoy examining them in detail.
The photo above shows just some of the full-size reproductions in this book. Envision this: The actual book, which lies open to Chapter 4 in the photo, is about 9 by 12 inches. Many of the pull-out pages are much bigger, including the colorfully illuminated page on the left side of the photo. If you love the Bible, you’ll have lots of fun with this “hands on” exhibition of Bible history.
Here’s one more tip: This is the kind of expensive-to-produce book that won’t be around for long. Get a copy now and save it for that person you know who loves reading and studying the Bible.
REVIEW: 1611 KJV & NEW KING JAMES VERSION BIBLES (BOXED SET)
The same recommendation we’re making about The Story of the Bible, above, is true of KJV 1611 Bible / NKJV Bible: 400th Anniversary Commemorative Set, which also will be cheaper via this Amazon link than in bookstores. If you’re among the millions who regularly attend Bible-study groups, you’ll find this boxed set remarkable. The New King James Version is a common, popular translation these days, especially in conservative Christian churches.
What’s rare in this boxed set is the reproduction of a 1611 Bible. This 1611 edition is printed on modern, thin-but-sturdy Bible paper. Thomas Nelson actually describes it as “A word-for-word reprint of the First Edition of the Authorized Version presented in roman letters for easy reading and comparison with subsequent editions.”
The photo at right shows the two Bibles both opened to Psalm 90.
The 1611 book in this boxed set doesn’t look much like the “original” editions. For example, these books are about 6 by 9 inches. The originals were big volumes for reading in churches at more than 10 by 16 inches. In the first years of the KJV Bible, sloppy printers piled up thousands of errors through various printings. One of the most infamous was the “Wicked Bible,” which managed to leave out the word “not” in the 10 Commandments, so the Bible actually commanded: “Thou shalt commit adultery.” (Sorry! This boxed reproduction for comparsion in Bible study does have that key “not” in the correct place. No free passes to sin in this gift box!)
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.