Two and Three-Halves Bibles

I wrote in my Bible Sunday.

This, for me, is a big deal.

By way of backstory, this is Susanna’s fault. I’ve had any number of Bibles over the years, but they’ve all been fairly conventional. She, on the other hand, had unconventional Bibles. When we met, I was intrigued by her wide-margin Bible, that had room for taking notes on the sides of the pages. A Bible that actually encouraged you to write in it.

OK, let me point out, I don’t write in books in general. Even just normal, everyday books. It seems wrong, like defacing them. Part of that is the idea that I might want to pass it on someday, and want it to be pristine for the next reader. But part of that is just, well, it seems wrong.

So the idea of writing in a book that actually is holy? Wow. The closest I had come was in sixth grade, when I attended a Catholic school for half a year, and was required to mark in my Bible. We had to go through with different color highlighters and find parables, miracles, etc. Highlighting is not quite the same as writing, but I was still uncomfortable with it. But, again, I didn’t have a choice. And I don’t think I’ve written, or otherwise marked, in a Bible since.

The other Bible she had that intrigued me was a chronological Bible, that rearranges the books from their standards canonical order into a historical order. I had read something last year saying that the New Testament was a different experience when read that way; that if you read Paul’s epistles not in order of length but in order of when he wrote them, and in the context of what was going on historically from Acts you get a different feel for them. She got the chronological Bible as a Christmas present last year, and I figured I would at some point get around to reading hers.

Over the course of the year, though, I gained a new appreciation for both of those Bibles. As I’ve written about on this blog, I did some studying of David this year. And a chronological Bible would have made it so much easier. The story of Saul, David and Solomon is spread out over a total of, what, ten books, with multiple accounts of the same stories in different places. How much easier would it have been to be able to just start reading the story of David from the beginning to the end, without having to flip around or remember, and to see his psalms matched with what was going on when he wrote them?

And one day at church recently, the pastor was talking about the story of Sarai and Moses Abram in Egypt, and why God cursed Pharoah. (The story isn’t really relevant to this post, so if you don’t know it, don’t worry about it.) And I had certain thoughts about it when he was talking about it. But I could remember discussing the same story at Sunday School at Whitesburg about a year and a half earlier. I couldn’t remember exactly what I thought then, but seemed to remember having a very different take, and I wished I could compare what I thought at the two points in my life. I’m pretty sure I still have notes somewhere from that class, but how cool would it be to be able to just open that story in my Bible, and see all the notes I’d made about it every time I studied it, to see how my thoughts had evolved over time?

So, when my mom asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told her I wanted a Bible. Specifically, I wanted either a note-taking Bible or a chronological Bible. I really didn’t know which I preferred, so I figured I’d do the easy thing and outsource the decision to someone else. I’d let her pick one, and whichever she picked, clearly that’s what I’m supposed to have.

I also told her that I wanted a Roomba, though. And that’s what they got me. And I’m excited about it. But it was a big enough present that it wasn’t accompanied by a Bible. So they told my grandparents that I wanted a Bible. Somewhere along the way, however, the details of what sort of Bible got lost. My grandparents did in fact get me one — an NIV study Bible, identical to my current Bible, the one they had given me a decade earlier.

Not a problem, of course — I could take it back to my local Family Christian and trade it out for what I wanted. Well, OK, slight problem — that meant I had to decide what I wanted. My plan to make someone else make the decision had failed, and now it was back on me.

As it turned out, though, not a problem at all. My current Bible is fancy enough; with points for the leather cover, the red-letter edition, the nice sides, etc. All it needs is my name embossed on the cover, and it’s pretty close to ideal. So I don’t need another fancy Bible. Heck, a chronological Bible wouldn’t even go out in public; you really can’t use it as your church Bible when you can’t turn to a particular book and read along with the pastor.

The Bible my grandparents got me, being, as mentioned, identical to my current Bible, was fancy. And it turns out that fanciness costs enough that you can trade in one fancy Bible for multiple non-fancy Bibles. So I left Family Christian with a note-taking Bible, a chronological Bible, a Message New Testament, two ESV New Testaments, Same Kind of Different As Me and a pre-order slip for the next VeggieTale video, all for my returned gift and five dollars. Not bad at all.

The chronological Bible remains untouched, as does one of the ESVs. The other was given as a gift. I’ve barely started reading the Message as my night-time Bible reading.

But, on Sunday, I took both my old NIV study Bible and my new note-taking Bible to church with me. Most of my note-taking was done in my notebook, since it had more to do with the sermon than the scripture.

But, for the first time, I wrote — only one full sentence, but still – in my Bible.

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