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Friday, May 16, 2014

My "new" Bible

The newest addition to my library is a Bible, a gift from my mother who inherited it from her aunt Surilda.  It is the oldest book I own.  The Bible was printed by Robert Martin in Birmingham, England, in 1789. The printer is mentioned in a 1906 manuscript about printers in old Birmingham.   Clearly the book does not have its original binding.  My mother had it re-bound with embossed gold lettering. 

The Bible includes the Apocrypha with notes and annotations.  Page headings estimate the dates when the events described within its pages occurred such as Before Christ 1053. The Bible has wood cut illustrations.  The cover is ten inches high and nine inches wide; it is three and a half inches thick.  I’m not sure how much it weighs but it is a substantial opus.  The Ss look like modern fs.  The pages are foxed. 

 Over the years I acquired a tome about ancient coins published in 1895 when I was actively collecting coins. I also bought a dictionary published in 1879, which I use  when I write about events in the 1800s. 

It would be fascinating to know the history of the owners of the Bible over the nearly two and a half centuries since its creation.  I wonder how many Bibles were printed and how many have survived.


Jim Jackson said...

The oldest book I have in my library is from 1813, which I acquired from my grandparents. It is titled Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases and was owned, I think, by my great-great-great-great grandfather, James Jackson (the first in the line of eight of us with the first and last names James Jackson). He was a doctor and served as base physician at Sacket’s Harbor during the war of 1812.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Both Jim and your stories of old books hit upon a realm that I have no knowledge of, Warren. What is the Apocrypha? Is it Revelations?

Warren Bull said...

Interesting, Jim. My brother has the family Bible where births, marriages and deaths were recorded. I don't know how many generations are included

Warren Bull said...

EB, Historically the early Christians used different writings in their worship. There was no standard text.
When a standard text was established by a church committee some books were voted in and others were excluded. The excluded books were considered apocryphal and together called the Apocrypha. Catholic Bibles include all the books. Many Protestant Bibles now include all the books putting the Apocrypha
in a different section than the "approved" books.

KM Rockwood said...

What a wonderful family treasure to have! Unfortunately, I come from a family of anti-hoarders. Everything I owned but didn't take with me when I left the family house was tossed. Even things I'd specifically asked if I could leave.
I do remember some wonderful old books my great grandmother had. I was especially intrigued by a multi-volume self-education for young ladies--everything from cooking, sewing, gardening to proper methods of correspondence in various situations. Including how one should address one's husband if he were a sea captain and away fro home 90% of the time.I often think that if I still had access to those books, it would be wonderful background material for period novels.

Jim Jackson said...

To expand on Warren's discussion of the Apocrypha, the word is Greek and means "secret" or "hidden away."

These are book written at the time of the Old Testament and under discussion about whether or not they should be included in the Jewish canon until around the 2nd century AD.

The Christian churches finally uniformly adopted them in the early 5th century AD where they remained without dispute until the Protestant era.

One of the thing the Protestants did was "go back to the original roots" [strict constructionists were not first born in 20th century America) and they deleted the disputed books from their bibles.

There are other New Testament books that did not make the official canon as well -- again that was only finally settled around the 5th century AD. Fragments and sometimes whole books of this apocrypha (small a) turn up in the Essene writings and other old sources. The most recent one that I recall was the recenbt buzz about the Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

The history of accepted canon is fascinating, unless you are one who believes the entire Bible was written by God and has never been changed -- in which case it is the devil's work, I suppose.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

What a treasure, Warren! I have several old books that date back to the 1830s and 1840s, but none earlier than that. My treasures are first-edition copies of Charles Dickens' A Child's History of England, published in 1851, 1852, and 1853. These were gifts from my son because I'm a Dickens scholar.

Gloria Alden said...

Warren, what a treasure that is. I have many old books, but none that old. I have a Charles Lamb book of "Essays of Elia" which is a small and quite fragile tattered book. It was in the collection of books that were my dad's, I think, but then maybe not since I pick up old books wherever I find them. I know I have many in the late 1800's but not sure if I have any that date back further than that. Someday, I should go through my scattered collection and catalog them.

Kara Cerise said...

It would be interesting to know about the lives of the people who read or owned your Bible, Warren.

The oldest "family owned" books in my library are mysteries--Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, and Cherry Ames--from the first half of the 20th century. I also have a small book explaining communion published in 1939.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for more information, Jim. I'd never heard that term before, although I knew that there was a question of what was/wasn't holy doctrine.