It’s the great Bible, Charlie Brown
So, several years ago, editions of the Psalms, the Gospels and the Book Of Common Prayer came out in these lovely little cloth/board volumes with beautiful late medieval illuminations and color illustrations from 16th and 15th century Bibles. I thought at the time that it would be lovely to have the Book of Common Prayer, in deference to my first religious rebellion from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church and mentioned that to my mother. I also idly remarked how nice a full length Bible done in the same style would look. Then, in an unforeseen shift, I began skipping merrily down the primrose path of the Pagans and forgot all about them. My mother brought up the editions after I had been involved with Wicca for five years and I told her, with some regret, that it seemed extravagant to have such a pretty and expensive text from a religion I no longer espoused.
The result of these conversations was that in 2007, some ten years after the initial discussion, six years after I had begun to focus more on the Druid path, my mother (with her usual razor-sharp sense of timing) presented me with a new and unexpected ant-flattening-toe-breaking-pet-maiming-potential-murder-weapon–an enormous Bible, the King James translation, done by the company that had first turned out those little jewel like editions of smaller Christian prose works. The illustrations, from the 15th century/early 16th century Urbino Bible are amazing. (I mean the Limbourg brothers’ Tres Riche Hueres are always going to be my favorite but the Urbino pictures are astounding.) The illuminations, capitals and central page designs are even more exquisite. The book is printed; it’s not a manuscript ot facsimile; the type face is modern (and readable thank Gad). Still, between the weight and the sharp book corners this thing really could do well as a murder weapon. I’m also considering using it to bench press.
I do intend to find an edition that
doesn’t require four servants and a liter like the Ark of the Covenant is more portable. Most likely, I will buy a protestant translation; a fellow theology geek has said very encouraging things about the NRSV (And here’s a wiki link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Revised_Standard_Version).
For now, I read a certain amount every night. I freely admit to skimming Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It’s very useful to know where they are in the Bible and I have found myself encountering the revelation of “Dude, the Fundies actually DID find that in the Bible.” Other than that I plan to wait until one course or another at Divinity School pulls me Bataan march style though them. I honestly see the value in studying those books; I just prefer to do so when I have more than one professor to hold my hand (inasmuch as they are likely to.)
I also freely admit that the Bible is a wonderful sleep aid, not because it’s boring but because of the amazingly beautiful and stately language and the stories themselves. This is my first reading of any Bible edition as a purely academic exercise–or as close to that as I am likely to get. On one hand, I think it is one of the most astounding Fairy stories I’ve ever encountered. I think it’s entirely appropriate to store the book with my Hans Christian Anderson and children’s literature. I find it an epic history like the Mahabarata and the Irish Tain. Sometimes I find it profoundly thought provoking–like a passage in Deuteronomy or Leviticus talking about what the faithful should do to anyone who feels they have been called to worship other Gods. As I have…
–Speaking of calling in the most irreverent connection possible.: I have now been called away to pay for the damage that an anonymous spawn of fricasseed feces did to my car. I just wanted to set down some of my initial thoughts on encountering the Bible after 10 years as an infidel, and I expect it will come up again.