Bibles, Bibles, and more Bibles!
by Greg West
Whenever I go to a Christian bookstore I usually almost immediately gravitate toward the Bibles section. If I’m with my wife, this is when she decides to go browse elsewhere because she knows I’ll be a while. After I’ve combed the Bibles section, I will then wonder over to the bargain Bibles section. It’s not until I’ve combed these two sections that I move on to my other favorite sections: bible study resources; apologetics and evangelism; Christian classics; music; etc. When it comes to the Bible, I am sort of like Mel Gibson’s character in the movie Conspiracy Theory, who is obsessed with buying copies of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye; I definitely have an obsession with Bibles. Oh, well, I guess one could have worse vices.
Why this obsession with Bibles? I think it started when I first decided to start reading through the Bible on a regular basis. I started with a One Year Daily Bible, and it kind of took off from there. I suddenly had a desire to read as many different versions and editions of the Bible that I could possibly get my hands on. And Christian publishers have been more than happy to accommodate me.
There are so many different ways to read and study the Bible these days and there is a Bible for just about every possible niche imaginable. There are Bibles specifically aimed at men, women, college students, teens, and children. There are bride’s bibles, groom’s bibles, policemen’s bibles, soldier’s bibles (even ones for specific branches of service), sportsman’s bibles, African American bibles, athlete’s bibles, new believer’s bibles, and more. There are even bibles published in magazine format, mostly aimed at teens and people with short attention spans. There is a "going green" bible printed on recycled paper, and just recently I bought a NASCAR edition of the bible for a friend of mine who is a NASCAR fan. I’m still waiting for the NFL edition of the bible (helloooo publisher’s – a great idea here). I’m surprised they don’t have a bible for pets.
You can get the bible in paperback, hardback, imitation leather, bonded leather, or genuine leather. You can get a text only edition; cross reference edition; Greek and/or Hebrew interlinear edition; and there are scores of general study bibles such as the Life Application Study Bible, and genre-specific study bibles such as The Apologetics Study Bible. There are even editions of the bible that I have no stomach for such as the Joel Osteen Happy Feel Good God Wants You to be Rich if You Have Enough Faith Study Bible (not the actual title). I’m starting to feel a little like Bubba from Forrest Gump describing all the different ways you can prepare and eat shrimp.
You can get the bible on cd, mp3 cd, cd-rom, dvd, and even electronic bibles and bibles for your smart phone, Amazon Kindle, or other portable device. One of my favorites in this area is the NKJV on cd read by Johnny Cash.
Although the different kinds of bibles available can border on the absurd, the point I’d like to make is that there is really no excuse for not being able to find an edition of the bible that is just right for you. My favorite bibles are the ones I see in the hands of mostly middle aged people to senior citizens; the ones that are worn out, tattered, underlined, highlighted, written in, and falling apart. These are the kind of bibles that you know people treasure, and best of all you know that they have been and are being used.
I use so many different bibles that I will probably never wear one out like that. The last time I checked, I had eighty-some different editions of the bible in my collection. I will literally not live long enough to get through all of them, although I am certainly going to try. So far I have read the through the entire bible thirteen times and the New Testament by itself several more times than that. I have read the NIV, The Message, NLT, TNIV, CEV, ESV, KJV, NKJV, HCSB, the NET bible, and I have plenty of other versions that I’d like to tackle such as my 1599 Geneva Bible and my copy of The Complete Jewish Bible. I am currently rereading through the NKJV together with my wife, and I am also reading the NIV Archaeological Study Bible.
For the serious bible student (which should be all of us), I always recommend having a few different study bibles on hand and using more than one translation. I also recommend having a couple of good bible commentaries, a bible dictionary, and a concordance (many study bibles have these included). The photo at the top of the page is a picture of my bible shelf, which still doesn’t have enough room for all of my bibles.