Reflections

21 Bibles! Part Two

Eleanor Deckert
21 Bibles!  Part Two

Well, I am keeping all 21 of the Bibles in my collection. They each serve a different purpose. Introducing children (and occasionally adults) to the stories and teachings within has been my joy for over 45 years. Let me describe them to you. Perhaps one of these meets your needs.

5 are for children

My Little Bible Picture Book (Chariot Books) was given to our son on his second birthday by his grandmother. Thirty-seven stories are presented. There is an easily recognized picture on the right with a short Bible verse. On the left is a retelling of the story and a short prayer. “Thank-you, God, for keeping me safe, just like you kept Noah safe.”

Catholic Bible Stories (Our Sunday Visitor Inc.) retells 63 stories, and includes a Scripture reference, water colour illustrations and each of the 20 stories included in the Rosary, the source of the Hail Mary, the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer and important vocabulary a child will need to understand to prepare for First Communion. “God made a promise to Noah, a 'covenant,' that He would never flood the whole earth again.”

The Hear Me Read Bible (Concordia) I added this one to my collection because it has bold pictures and simple vocabulary, ideal for the beginning reader. 18 stories the child is probably already familiar with are retold in action packed, clear text and clever illustrations. “Hurry, Noah! Hurry! Make a big boat. Drip, drop. Drip, drop. Drip, drop, splash!”

The Rhyme Bible (Gold 'n' Honey Books) was a Thrift Store find! This time 35 familiar stories have rhythm and rhyme. Pen and ink drawings with a water colour wash convey the surprise, fear, wonder, and gladness as each story unfolds. “So Noah's family built the boat. They made it strong so it would float. But all the people laughed and said, 'They are looney in the head! Where's the water? Where's the sea? They're as crazy as can be!'”

Egermeier's Bible Story Book (Warner Press) is a classic with elegantly robed characters and a very handsome Jesus. It's the kind of bedtime book my parents read to me, and was a gift from Grandma to our children. Over 600 pages includes stories about two pages long, detailed paintings, study questions, maps and photographs of the Holy Land. “Even among these wicked people, Noah tried to do what was right.”

1 is in comic book style

Picture Stories from the Bible (Scarf Press) is nearly 200 pages with 4-9 comic pictures per page. Ideal for a young boy who likes action adventures, the bright colours, narration and dialogue brings the stories to life. Noah explains to his sons, “Now that the ark is finished, we must round up every creature on the earth and lead them into the ark!”

2 are for youth

Although not as accurately translated, this is easier to understand. The Way also called The Living Bible (Tyndale) was a gift from my fiance, way back in the 1970s. Remember Godspell? and Jesus Christ, Superstar? the Vietnam War? the riots and racial tensions? Youth in the 1970s needed something more solid than pretty pictures from Sunday School lessons. They needed a Bible that wasn't dusty and worship services that were not formal. Intended to be engaging and encouraging there are photos of teenagers, a few pages to orient the new reader and a chart with the suggestion to read through the Bible in a year. Plain language describes the state of affairs at the time of Noah. “Meanwhile, the crime rate was rising rapidly, and, as seen by God, the world was rotten to the core.”

The Good News Bible (CollinsBible) is my favourite to use for Sunday School. Instead of translating the exact words, the meaning is conveyed. One example is the units of measurements. By converting the 'cubits' into feet young people can better understand that Noah was commanded to build the ark “450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.” The charming drawings include the animals loading into the ark, the rain, the dove bringing the olive branch and the rainbow.

2 are unusual

As if the task of translating was not difficult enough, there is a specific group (General Conference of the New Church) who believe that the very letters, numbers and names in the original Hebrew carry inner, spiritual meanings. Swedenborg, a theologian and Seer who lived in the 1700s, claimed to have been given this inner meaning. His followers considered it necessary to make their own translation, bearing in mind ways to preserve this meaning. The Pentateuch, which are the five books of Moses, have been translated this way. “Then Yehowah said to Noah, Go into the ark, you and all your household.”

Also unusual, Swedenborg stated that only some of the books Protestants commonly include in the Bible contain this inner meaning. Therefore (Academy Book Room) the publication of The Word only includes: 29 Old Testament books (excluding Ruth, Job, Proverbs and others) and only the four Gospels and Revelation (excluding the Epistles). It was decided to continue the formal language to show reverence for the Divine. “God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.”

1 is a family treasure

When people travel, they bring back treasures. A family friend who worked for the United Nations in Israel brought home a very small King James Bible. The front and back covers are made of golden olive wood from the Holy Land and the spine is leather. We do not read it, open it, handle it. It has a special shelf with a red velvet wrap, two candles on either side. Is it dusty and forgotten? No! It is a visual reminder every hour of the day and night that, like in the time of Noah, God is with us.

And, the surprise

The Gideon Bible (Gideons International) is placed in every hotel and motel room, available in hospitals, prisons, and the armed forces, provided to schools and dormitories, given for free to anyone who asks. It is estimated that one million copies are distributed world-wide every 15 days. Before the Scripture text begins, there are several pages of suggested readings, problems that Jesus addressed, where to find help, Christian virtues, and the central message: God loves you, all are sinners, God's remedy for sin, all may be saved. 25 languages declare the Good News: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” which is the point of the entire message. The covenant made when God accepted Noah's offering is a little hint at what will come in fullness when the Christ offers His sacrifice. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”