Friday, October 13, 2017

My First Bible

There are lots of children’s Bibles out there. Some of them are basically large picture books of key Bible stories. Others are more complete, but in kid-friendly language. Then there are plain old ordinary Bibles, with some illustrations. I had the latter.

Long before I could read, I had my illustrated King James Bible. My brothers each had one, too, but theirs had built-in zippers to keep the book closed when not in use. I was very jealous. I still don’t know why theirs had zippers and mine didn’t. Maybe there were only two of the zippered Bibles at the store when my parents bought them. Maybe I was too little to use a zipper. No matter. I eventually decided mine was better because it was easier to flip the pages without that extra cloth in the way.

Nice wrap-around cover art.

Although I couldn't read it, I used to sit for ages (at least, in little kid time), just looking at the pictures. I was puzzled by Samson pushing against the pillars. I loved Ruth gleaning in the field. The front end pages had pictures of archaeological interest. I'm pretty sure that's how I learned about archeology.* I remember liking the back end pages better, but I couldn’t remember what was on them.

Until now!

I was thinking about this first Bible of mine, which either got sold in a garage sale or lost in a move somewhere along the line, and I decided to look it up. And I found it! On eBay! It looked like it was in good shape, and it was reasonably priced - I bought it immediately.

See how small it is?!

The other day, it arrived in the mail. The first thing that struck me was that it’s a little smaller than I remember.** The second thing that struck me is that “Holy Bible, Illustrated” is not centered on the front cover. I flipped through the pages, finding those illustrations. There were more than I remembered, but I recollected each one as I saw it. I also did not at all remember the front and back matter containing key passages of scripture.^ And the mystery of the back end page illustrations has finally been solved.

The one that puzzled me so.
I'd think, 'what's he doing?'
The back end pages! Flora and fauna.

My favorite picture in the
whole book.

So what's my point? I couldn't read yet, but the illustrations captured my imagination. They made me interested in the stories they were depicting. I remember specifically looking up certain passages later in my childhood, to see what the illustrations were about. Some things were obvious; I knew the story of David and Goliath, so the picture of a boy facing a huge man with only a sling was self-explanatory. Others, like Ruth, were not so easy to figure out, and these are the ones I went and looked up later.

Thus, God used some artwork to prompt much of my early Bible-reading.

*That, and Indiana Jones.

**They saved a lot of room by leaving out notes, cross-references, and any form of concordance, although there is a sort of glossary at the end.

^Again, I couldn’t read...

Bonus Pictures, with childhood thoughts:

I also really liked this one, but
couldn't figure out ancient war clothes.

I definitely thought the injured
man was Jesus.

Did my copy have a boy with
green hair, too?!

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