As I prepare to begin my tenth year as a seminary professor, I’m going to begin the biblical capstone class I’ll be teaching by recommending that my students consider taking up a habit they’re likely unfamiliar with: bringing an actual, physical, printed-and-bound Bible to class.
My reason for the recommendation isn’t just about nostalgia, though I did grow up carrying a Bible to church each Sunday. The first Bible I recall as being “my Bible” (the possessive pronoun being a piece of Christian-speak that seems to have burrowed its way into the instinctive vocabulary of the faithful) was the Youthwalk edition of the New International Version, given to me by my parents while I was still in middle school.
I liked the swath of deep purple that stood out on the cover, but I don’t recall reading it much, aside from thumbing through it to find isolated verses, old favorites that I had already memorized or gathered that I ought to have memorized.
It wasn’t until I was in high school, when I acquired a faux-leather-bound study edition of the New King James Version, that I started reading larger chunks of Scripture, often while sitting at church when I grew bored with the sermon. That’s how I learned my way around the Bible, stringing the verse-pearls I already knew onto a more extensive narrative, historical, and theological thread.
It was while reading that study edition—which featured those little half-moon indentations at the start of each biblical book, facilitating the easy flipping back and forth between books for cross-referencing—that I first began to get an inkling of why Alan Jacobs has called the codex—the form of a published Bible that the early church of the second, third, and fourth centuries quickly came to prefer over scrolls—“the technology of typology.”
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Source: Christianity Today