Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Deconstructing the Bible

I have mixed feelings about this story. Jack Bacon, the pastor of an Oregon church, got a rare 1599 Geneva Bible as a Father's Day gift from his son, who had picked it up at a yard sale for a buck. Now he's selling the Bible off, page by page, to raise money for repairs to his church.

"I opened the binding and found some hair. Wouldn't that be something if that was Pilgrim hair?" he asks.

There are also burn marks, souvenirs of fireside readers, and mistakes from early printing presses, Bacon says.

"Some of the lines slant down and then come back up," he says. Inside the distressed tome are messages in faded handwritten script that details births, deaths, marriages and other important milestones. He recently discovered a note from an early owner of the bible, Helen Crombie.

"My daughter Jean Stephen was born June 26th one thousand seventeen hundred and twenty eight. Likewise my son William Stephen was borne July the eighth one thousand seven hundred and thirty years."

If he can find Crombie's "great, great, great, great grandchildren," he'd like to send them a few pages of their ancestor's Bible, Bacon says. [Link]
The pastor's intentions are noble, but I can't help be reminded of the horrible practice of slicing up atlases and selling off the maps. Even a heavily damaged 1599 Geneva Bible is worth more than the sum of its parts. Though perhaps not enough cash to fix a church roof.

Jason Presley

Sadly, unless someone has made copies of all these pages he's selling off, he's basically throwing away a great resource that will never be seen again.

This just sounds like a bad idea. Have a carwash, bake sale, book sale, yard sale. Don't destroy a, historically valuable book.

Lori Thornton

Sadly, as a librarian, I've seen people come to libraries to try to sell us similar pages. In some cases, these people are not on the up and up. It's just not a good idea. The Geneva Bible is worth more as a whole than it would be page by page and selling it page by page to people who think they are getting something valuable is being dishonest in my opinion because a single page isn't going to be worth much. Prayer can work miracles -- even with church finances.

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