My father collected pocket knives. I don’t think it was a formal hobby, he just did it. When he died, I inherited more pocket knives that I counted. I kept a few to remember him by, but I sold most of them.
What do I collect? Bibles! My father’s mother, whom I barely remember, gave me a Bible when I was born, a King James Version. The church we attended gave me a Revised Standard Version when I was in the fourth grade. Neither would be particularly memorable, except that my full name was printed on the front of each.
When did my habit of Bible collecting start? I accepted Jesus after reading a Billy Graham tract. I was 15 at the time. At that point, I became very interested in reading scripture; I wanted to devour it since I knew almost nothing about it. I hadn’t attended a Bible-believing church. The Sunday School I went to sporadically, mostly discussed social issues of the day. I even remember one teacher at the church explaining away the miracle of the loaves and fish by saying that the little boy demonstrated a spirit of sharing, and the other people were moved by his generosity and shared the food they had brought with them. There was nothing in my background that would have motivated me to be interested in a book that I believed was untrue. But when I accepted Jesus, I believed the Bible was true. So, I wanted to learn as much as I could.
The first step was to read it through. I got a four-parallel translation in paper back. I read the King James on the left, and looked at the other translations for better understanding when I was unsure of the meaning.
My next Bible, which I asked my parents for at Christmas, was a New Scofield Reference Bible. I read it voraciously until it was well-worn.
While in college, hanging out at the Baptist Student Union, I found that the more committed Christians were using the New American Standard Bible. It was a more literal translation and easier to understand than my KJV. I got a copy.
Then I moved to study Bibles. My big favorite was the Ryrie Study Bible. Ryrie’s notes covered the essential information I needed to understand they text, but they were not like a commentary under the text that came with some later translations.
Next it was the New International Version. I got it in the Study Bible, which did have great notes, which I devoured.
Then I got a New King James Version, when that came out. I could read the beautiful language, but it had more understandable wording than the older KJV.
I acquired many study Bibles as well: The Nelson Study Bible, The Criswell Study Bible, The Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, which allowed me to look up selected Greek and Hebrew words.
I could go on…but fast forward to later years, Lifeway came out with the Holman Christian Standard, so my wife got me that version’s study Bible, and I have an Apologetics Study Bible in the same translation. Now that translation has been updated with the Christian Standard Bible. Oh, and least I forget, the New American Standard was updated in 1995.
Another favorite translation in a more literal complete equivalence is the English Standard Version. I have a few copies of that, included the ESV Study Bible.
All total I probably have had 70 or so various Bibles. Some I’ve worn out, others I’ve given away.
We English speaking believers have many choices, and some good choices at that. Other languages have maybe one translation, and many languages have no translation of the Bible. Some languages are not even written.
Translations do make money for publishers, which is the case in English. But what bothers me is that many people around the world have no copy of God’s word.
Read the Bible in one of the translations I’ve mentioned. Obey God’s word, applying it to your life. But be sure to support those who are translating scripture into languages that don’t currently have a copy.
Don’t be simply a collector. Be an applier, and be a spreader of God’s word.
Dr. Ashton Smith © November 1, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.