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Fixing Old Bibles

The New York Times has a nice article about a book doctor. There are some interesting comments about the differences between “family Bibles” and “study Bibles.”

The Bibles that Ms. McKay repairs can be the well-loved regular Bibles of regular churchgoers, marked up on a near-daily basis. Or they can be more than a century old. The palm leaves can be from last Sunday, or from when Grover Cleveland was president. “I would say most of the time the family has already gone through the family Bible and pulled things out with the thought it would get in our way,” Ms. McKay said. But if they haven’t? “If it’s flat and it’s not causing any trouble, we can leave it.” Those old family Bibles and the more recent Bibles, which proliferate in paperback editions, reflect different ways of practicing religion. The old family Bible put the emphasis on “family,” while the Bibles today are study aids. “There are two really different objects,” Ms. McKay said. “The family Bible would sit in the home, and they might open it for the Easter holidays to something in the New Testament, but really they are for recording births, deaths, marriages. A personal Bible today people really write in.” Today, the old family Bibles seem dated, not just for their construction, but also for the translation they used, according to Peter J. Thuesen, an Indiana University historian and an expert on the history of Bible translation.

One Response to “Fixing Old Bibles”

  1. 1
    Jon Baker:

    Some of those “old Bibles” are pretty massive things, with multiple thick cords holding them together (or more often when they get to the repairman, disintegrating).

    I have an 18th-century Yoreh Deah which one day I want to fix up like that, but I have a long way to go learning and figuring out techniques on smaller books.

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