As regular readers of Preaching will recall, this summer my family moved from Franklin, Tenn., to Anderson, S.C., where I assumed new duties as founding dean of a new graduate school of ministry. Part of that move involved packing and moving what turned out to be about 15,000 pounds of books. (About 5,000 pounds of them are still stacked in boxes in a spare bedroom that won’t be available for any other function for some time, I’m afraid.)
In the process of packing and unpacking books, I realized how many Bibles I own. I’m guessing that most American pastors own a nice selection of Bibles, but I think I may have gotten carried away. As I sit at my desk and survey the nearby shelves, I see several copies of the New International Version, the English Standard Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. (Apparently my friends at LifeWay have discovered how to market to me.)
I see a King James Version (so you KJV-only guys can rest easy), a New King James Version, a New Living Translation and a New American Standard Bible. (Apparently “new” is a helpful part of a title when releasing Bibles.) I’ve got two copies of The Message, a copy of The Living Bible (affectionately known to my seminary profs as “the green monster”) and a copy of J.B. Phillips’ New Testament. (Oops, I just found another copy of Phillips’ translation. I guess I can give one of those away.)
There’s a Jerusalem Bible, something called An Inclusive Version and, if I still don’t think there are enough different versions, my handy copy of The New Testament in 26 Translations (the classic example of overkill). On a nearby shelf is a Greek-English Interlinear Bible, to remind me how bad my Greek skills are. And if that isn’t reminder enough, I also notice the NRSV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, so I can embarrass myself with weak Greek skills with two different English translations.
And it’s not just books. This afternoon I listened to a copy of a new audio CD with the Gospel of John read by a group of
gifted young actors and actresses. (I had to quit, though, when I heard the words of Jesus being voiced by some understated, breathy young actor who sounded like he belonged on an episode of “The Gilmore Girls.”)
I must admit that as I realize how many Bibles I own, I’m a bit ashamed, recognizing what riches sit on my shelves while many believers would give whatever they owned to possess a single copy of God’s Word. (I think my next charitable gift is going to go to a ministry that translates or distributes Bibles.)
But it’s also a reminder that God has blessed us with an incredible opportunity to know and understand His Word. More than any generation in history, we have no excuse for not reading, studying and sharing Scripture. It would be like owning a million-dollar-collection of sports cars but never driving.
I’m thankful for the call to preach God’s Word. Now I just have to decide which of my 63 versions to use.
Michael Duduit is founding editor of Preaching and will probably be buying another Bible translation any day now. He can’t help himself.