Friday, July 02, 2010

First - Three Things

First: Three things to look for when buying a Bible.
Some advice for the elementary level, and some for the intermediate level.

Then below, three things to read after getting a new Bible.
  1. The translation, and translation or copyright dates
  2. Cover and Binding
  3. Size composition and color of type, and page transparency
1. The translation and dates tell you what language it is in, whether Modern English, Old English, American English. I devoted an article to translations some time ago. I personally recommend anyone who is at the elementary level avoid any translation newer than 20 years old. Just so you can be sure to have one that has been tested by time.

2. Look at the cover and binding to see if it is suitable for what you want it for. To give away, you might go with a paperback, and they all have glued bindings. But these don't last long. A better one is to go with an imitation leather cover and sewn binding. If the book is going to be handled a lot or loosely stood on a shelf quite a lot, it needs a hard cover.

3. Look at the size of the type, whether it has center column references (more on that below). Does it have chapter or section headings (a single line providing the main topic of the chapter)? Does it have Jesus Words in Red? Is the type easy to read in moderate light? This is especially important when you reach middle age. Sometimes with thin paper, the ink from the other side of the page can be noticeable, making it harder to read in low light. The Bibles I linked to above are good in low light, but have fairly small type and no center column. Sometimes on Amazon it is hard to find that information.

1. After acquiring a new Bible, again, read the copyright page. One thing to look at, if it is not one of the Old English translations, is what foundation, publisher, or seminary is listed there. Someone may ask you that someday, and it is good to know about those publishers. And read the preface. Often it will tell how they balanced word for word accuracy against thought for thought ease of reading. More than just a conversation piece, this information is important when trying to discern subtle shades of meaning in many passages.

2. Many prefaces have a discussion of italics, block lettering and capitalization. The original languages did not use a lot of the grammatical building blocks we use today, so in many cases words are added simply to make the passage readable in English. Often these will be in brackets or italics. And any personal pronouns referring to God will likely be capitalized, although the details may vary from one translation and/or college to another.

3. Notice the center column and the passage headings. These are good for finding other passages on similar subjects to the one you're reading about. Remember though, these are some person's opinion of the material in the Scriptures. I have occasionally found a center column reference that I couldn't figure out why it was there. But I guess it made sense to someone. The passage headings are important to all us beginners, to help us find things when looking for a certain subject, assuming we know its approximate location. Same with Jesus Words in Red. Mostly just a location tool.

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