Too many Bibles?
Yesterday, just for fun, I decided to finally try to get an accurate count on how many Bibles I have on my bookshelves. I put all the Bibles I could find in my cluttered office and bedroom on to a Google spreadsheet. You can see it here, if you like. One thing that comes to mind, now that I've performed this little(!) task, is this: is it possible to have too many Bibles? I ask this because, often, people who know me have asked me, "How can you possibly read all those Bibles?" I suspect they are picturing me painstakingly reading through each Bible, one at a time.
If you actually look at my spreadsheet, you will see that the actual number of different translations in my collection is actually closer to about fifty. For example, I have an Oxford Annnotated Bible that is an RSV, and another later edition of the Oxford Annotated that is NRSV. I have the NASB as it was originally published, and the 1991 Update of the NASB. And so on, and so forth. Then, of course, I also have several different Study Bibles that have the same Bible text, but very different notes and supplementary materials, e.g. The Lutheran Study Bible and The ESV Study Bible, both of which have the English Standard Version as their text. (And, since this is a blog on the bible.org website, I should point out that I have two NET Bibles: the First Edition, which I acquired first, and the Second Beta Edition, which I could not pass up when it was sold for ten bucks!)
This concern over "too many Bibles" leads me to a similar concern that I have heard voiced by many people: the plethora of different Bibles available at any good bookstore. I had an experience several years ago at a local bookstore (not a Christian bookstore), where I overheard a woman asking a sales associate for assistance with choosing a "regular" King James Bible. The associate basically pointed at the Bible shelf (not a huge selection, but big enough to be confusing to a novice) and said, "Well, I think these are King James here..." He then walked away, leaving the lady looking pretty befuddled. I begged her pardon for overhearing, and told her, "If you're just looking for a regular King James Bible as a gift, these Gift and Award Bibles here are King James, and they're not very expensive." She thanked me, and grabbed one, looking relieved. If you go into a Christian bookstore, and don't know your way around the Bibles, you could end up spending way more than you intended, or leaving in absolute confusion. Not to mention, as many have asked, do we really need Study Bibles for: men, women, soldiers, firemen, twelve-step programs, teens, college students, groups, apologetics, etc.? And that's simply a small selection of the different "niches" towards which Bibles are marketed. Don't even get me started on the "Biblezine" phenomenon...that's another blog entry in itself.
Getting back to my personal collection (or perhaps I should call it a "library"...sounds more scholarly), I don't really think I have too many Bibles. Well, maybe a few too many. But, seriously, I often wonder how people live with just one or two Bibles. How do you compare renderings of various passages? How do you get a perspective on how language changes have affected the understanding of the Word? I'm not saying everyone should have over a hundred Bibles. Certainly, there are tremendous resources online that can help anyone compare translations. But I will also say, off the top of my head, I can probably think of another half dozen or so additions I would like to make to my Bible library. God knows there are going to be more versions published in the future. I wonder what the KJV-Only types would think of me.