That Old Study Bible

In a recent visit to my little brother’s house, I noticed Mom’s Bible sitting on a bedroom dresser. A flood of emotions overwhelmed me and I actually had to pause for a moment to compose. Like so many of the trinkets she left behind six years ago, its value is hard to see without the memories.

My study Bible may fall into that category one day. It has a value beyond the torn, tattered pages that barely stay between the cracking, bonded leather covers. It is my companion, well-worn and close to my heart, with which I have had a long and personal relationship. Unfortunately, books wear out with use, as my Bible can testify. A precious saint at my local congregation did her best to resurrect it with a new binding job but there are just limits to what one can do for a volume that has experienced so many bumps in life… literally. Maybe that is why some have opted to embrace the electronic Bible, with all its search engines, dictionaries and language helps. Those of us more “old fashioned” still prefer a book-in-hand over a screen and might defend the choice by pointing out the difficulty in passing down the old family Bible… software (from screen to screen? Perhaps, one will just text them to an offspring?).

That old, studied Bible, passed down from generation to generation, is of great value to the recipient because it has sentimental value, in that it is the actual book that mother or father used, drenched in notes, remarks and cross-references they lovingly inserted in the margins during their studies. An old study Bible can be an endless source of inquisition as to what a loved one was thinking when he or she wrote down certain comments or scriptures; even the penmanship can betray a mood. However, it has a greater value.

That old study Bible is a reminder that they studied their Bible. Sure, it is a conversation piece or sparks a recollection but the most important memory they left us is the example of one who valued God and His revelation; that is its real value. I hope that my old study Bible encourages my children to see the value I placed in knowing God and that they, too, will follow that example and come to know God for themselves. What memory will someone see in your study Bible?

Jeff Sweeten